By Elise Harris
Erbil, Iraq, May 28, 2016 / 05:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, the first of three rounds of displaced Iraqi children made their First Communion in a refugee camp in Erbil, providing a silver lining to an otherwise bleak situation.
Out of the 5,500 people living in Erbil’s Aishty 2 camp for the displaced, the majority – more than 2,000 – are children. Of these, 470 will make their First Communion in the coming weeks.
The number of children receiving the sacrament is up from last year’s class, which numbered about 400.
Since this year’s number of recipients is so high, the children have been divided into three groups. The first, numbering around 175, made their First Communion on Friday, May 27.
Next Friday, June 3, a second group of about 145 will receive the Eucharist, while the third and final group of about 150 will receive the sacrament Friday, June 10.
All of the children are from the Syriac-Catholic rite, and most fled the city of Qaraqosh, the former Christian capitol of Iraqi Kurdistan, with their families when ISIS militants attacked the night of Aug. 6, 2014.
The May 27 Mass for the first group was celebrated by Syriac-Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Yohanno Petros Moshe in the camp’s large, prefabricated church.