A Letter From Gaza

by Sister Nabila Saleh

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My name is Sister Nabila Saleh. I have served at the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza since 2007, directing its kindergarten for five years. After a two-year hiatus, I returned to take my present position as the principal. Throughout my years of service as a Rosary Sister, I have served as a theology teacher, helping children and university students learn the way of Christ, grow in self-knowledge and learn to practice reconciliation and forgiveness.

My mission began when I was very young in my native Egypt. My family was intensely committed to the church. Sundays were important — the Divine Liturgy, religious classes and youth and church activities formed the foundation that led me to consider religious life.

I first met the Rosary Sisters in Cairo. There, I was introduced to their charism, their faith and spirituality in accordance with the spirit of the Virgin Mary and of St. Dominic. I was truly impressed by the life of the sisters and would whisper in my parents’ ears that I wanted to become one and devote myself fully to spiritual work. At the time, I was unable to grasp the full meaning of these words. Yet, an inner voice persisted even as I pursued my university studies.

After graduation, I felt driven by a spiritual power to join this congregation for their way of serving the Lord through service to the poor and the marginalized — work that is highly needed in the Middle East. And so in 2003, I entered the novitiate, taking vows three years later and final vows in 2010.

Religious life carries great requirements and obligations: It demands vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; it requires the ability to break with worldly desires in order to pursue union with God. The road before us is quite thorny and fraught with hardships, but I knew then that the way to God is worthwhile if we allow him to work through us as he desires.

My life, heart and soul are enlightened by the existence of the extreme beauty of God. I tell him continually, “take what you have given me, and use me as you wish me to serve you.” I do believe in God’s providence because he has everything and he can do great things through me.

There are three sisters in the convent in Gaza: I am from Egypt; Sister Martina Bader and Sister Bertilla Murj are from Jordan. We dedicate much of our time to prayer, to the Liturgy of the Hours and worship of the Lord in the Eucharist. We have a harmonious relationship despite our respective differences — different backgrounds, cultures and accents. I cannot deny that I found it difficult at first, but our common love of Christ has brought us to work together in an almost perfect communion.

We believe that God has chosen us to work for him in Gaza to spread love by our care and to offer ourselves as a sacrifice to counter evil from wherever it arises. I am convinced our sacred mission is our daily struggle in teaching ethics, virtues and moral values and instilling the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for all, regardless of race, gender or creed.

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