News & Events


Sisters-to-Sisters, Scranton-to-Syria

Syrians are now returning to rebuild their homes with all the fears of a lost generation. That was the title of a video that the Vatican News Agency recently shared.

It is very true; eight years of war in Syria have led millions of Syrians into a state of real hunger and poverty. War has displaced and forced them to find shelter wherever possible. Many Syrians are now trying to return to their homes only to find their homes uninhabitable. The Good Shepherd Sisters in Damascus and Homs are continuing to help and encourage those families to rebuild their houses and educate their children.

The sisters welcome the children after school to do their homework in the Good Shepherd centers and provide them with food and psychological support.

With the help of our IHM sisters, the Good Shepherd sisters in Homs were able to offer an Easter lunch to many families. The sisters also visited the prison and prayed with the prisoners at Easter and offered them food.

After Easter, Maya, a 15 years old girl, knocked on the door of the sisters residence to tell them that the almond trees near her house are bearing fruit. She was so happy to share that good news with the sisters. We see in this story a sign from the risen Jesus that He is always revealing to us the good news that our country of Syria will rise with him and be fully alive one day!

-Sister Monique Tarabeh, RGS

Last month Bakers Dozen Mission Group described the ministry of Sister Kinda Tarabeh, a Good Shepherd sister in Syria. The Good Shepherd sisters serve in Syria and Lebanon. Pia Ferrario, sister of Sister Mary Pio Ferrario, IHM, and the 2017 IHM Foundation Honoree, spent time this spring on a Journey of Hope with Catholic Relief Services. Pia visited with Sister Amir Tabet of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd Sisters. Recounting her trip Pia remarked,” We met many children, beautiful and innocent. While at school, these children are given an opportunity to learn and return once again to being children. As I watched them interact, I kept saying to myself, ‘I wonder what their innocent eyes have seen.’ It is clear that education is making a difference in their lives.”

At the Good Shepherd Center in the Bakaa Valley, Pia witnessed children and families being respected, loved and treated with dignity. The sisters prepare approximately 250 refugee children to be able to attend Lebanese schools. In addition to education the children are provided extra-curricular activities, recreation, speech therapy, and psychosocial support. Most of the students are undocumented and some were never in school in Syria. Their experience at school is a time of joy for them compared to their difficult life in refugee settlements.

Thanks to the generous contributions from Scranton IHM sisters, we recently sent the Good Shepherd sisters a check for $2,525. We are still receiving donations. Sisters, Associates, and friends that meant to, but forgot, can still contribute to this cause.


L-R Sister Amir Tabet and Pia Ferrario. The children in the background are Syrian refugees. It was the end of their school day and they are waiting for transportation back to their settlements

As the Baker’s Dozen mission group considered the plight of people victimized by the violent, four year old civil war in Syria, direct assistance did not appear to be an option. Collaborating with missionary sisters of other congregations, not a new concept for Scranton IHM’s, did seem to be a viable avenue of participation.

The Good Shepherd Sisters are actively assisting war refugees both in Syria and Lebanon. There are four refugee centers in Damascus and two in Homs. Catholic Relief Services assists the sisters by providing medications, food and milk.

Sister Kinda Tarabeh, a Good Shepherd sister, serves the refugees in Homs. Two floors of the convent have been cleared for children to have before and after school support. The children need food, hygiene, medicine and a sense of safety in the midst of violence. Sister Kinda’s own nieces and nephews call her each day to let her know they got home safely from school. Because the average rent for a refugee family in Damascus costs almost 20 times their average salary, multiple families need to live together and children are sometimes sent to work rather than to school.

For this reason, Baker’s Dozen chose to assist refugee families by trying to subsidize their rent. During Assembly 2018, they invited other IHMs to participate in this endeavor. The mission group felt that the sisters “on the ground” in Syria, would know how best to use their donations. To date, the IHM sisters have contributed almost four months’ rent. During the 2018 Chapter we committed ourselves to re-envisioning how we can best serve the world both now and in the future, contemplating ways true to our charism, deep collective stories, and diverse gifts. In that spirit, Sister Angela Mary Parker generously donated to the Sisters-to-Sisters project, noting that she gave in memory of her parents who were born in Syria.

Contact Information

Contributions are still needed and appreciated.

Send cash or just make out a check to "Sisters of IHM" with a notation on the check “for Sisters-to-Sisters” and send it to Sister Vincentia Dorsey, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509. We are proud to continue our support of the sisters' protective and compassionate ministry.