Chaldean priest giving hope to Iraqi Christian refugees in Turkey amid despair

An itinerant Chaldean priest is giving hope to Iraqi Christian refugees staying in Turkey while waiting for their asylum applications to be processed.

(REUTERS / Murad Sezer)Syrian refugee women stand outside their tents at a refugee camp in Nizip in Gaziantep province, near the Turkish-Syrian border March 17, 2014.

Father Remzi Diril, fondly known as Father Adday, is the only Chaldean Catholic priest who is authorized to perform pastoral duties in Turkey. Each year, he travels thousands of miles to reach out to Iraqi Christian refugees in the country and offer them hope amid the physical and psychological problems they are facing, Crux details.

"People need spiritual help. They need a priest. They want the church with them," said Father Adday. "I can't give them material things, but I can give them my time and give them hope."

Father Adday knows that many of the people he ministers to have already been staying in Turkey for several years as they wait for feedback regarding their asylum applications to Australia, Canada, the United States and other countries. The Chaldean priest is able to sympathize with them because he had also experienced having to move to another place as a child when his village was burned during a clash between the Kurds and Turks.

During his trips, Father Adday celebrates mass with the refugee families, distributes Communion, baptizes children, conducts matrimonial ceremonies and administers last rites. He depends on locals who connect him to Iraqi Christians in the community. Even though the church does not shoulder his expenses, he knows that visiting these refugees are important because they are in need of spiritual refreshment.

"I hope that my visits allow them to become more spiritual and in touch with the church, and to refresh their belief in Jesus. Every Christian needs to refresh his spiritual life," said Father Adday. "I also hope to give them hope and remind them...that God makes miracles, and for that they need to believe. I tell them let God do the working for you. He is our Father and he wants the best for you."

As of now, Turkey is home to around 300,000 Iraqi and 1.7 million Syrian refugees. The Wall Street Journal says the government helps the refugees regardless of their religious and ethnic background. The publication has also emphasized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strong ties with the Armenian community and the Armenian Orthodox Church.