Sr. Luma Khudher is an Iraqi Dominican Sister of Catherine of Siena, a community founded in Iraq. She is a lecturer at the Salahaddin University in Erbil (Iraq), and also teaches philosophy and theology in a public college. She is specialized in Old Testament and teaches Prophets, Wisdom Literature, Greek and Introduction to Hebrew Bible. She has twice taught a course on the Book of Prophets at the École Biblique.

Why did you come to Jerusalem?

I arrived here 31st of May for the retreat of the dominicans that I presented during five days on the themes “being holy” and the Book of Revelation.

Is it the first time you are giving a retreat at the École biblique?

It’s the first time I’m coming for a retreat, yes. But I have come before to teach here. I have already come twice for a full semester to give classes on the Book of Prophets.

Why this retreat?

The title or the theme of the retreat was “being holy”. I choose things from the Book of Revelation and we reflected on them giving my background being christian from Iraq, and also trying to connect it to my rite, the Syriac Catholic rite.

A retreat is a time you take off from normal life to reflect on your priorities in life and your relationships with God. We usually make some choices or decisions that we try to live through the year. It is important to go back to yourself, to your priorities, where you are with your relations with God, how do you want to improve yourself and your religious life. It’ is usually a nice stop. You look at the past, at your present and hope for better future.

A retreat is not a time to study Bible, it is a time to reflect on themes. So we chose different themes. One of the topic was compromising. Other theme was “what have we abandoned”. Another one was martyrdom and witnessing. We chose different topics and we reflect on them: why is this theme important for us and how is it related to our christian life today?

Why is a sister doing the retreat of dominicans?

I don’t know, ask them. (laugh)

For a retreat we either ask someone in the house or someone from outside to give this retreat. A retreat is something any religious congregations does. So we all do 5 to 7 days of retreat per year. It’s called an annual retreat.

I know the friars but I don’t know anything about their community life. As a religious myself, I know the difficulties of daily life. We talked about this part. But the aim was more to question our relationship with God: to focus on what God expects from us and from others.


Interview by Agnès Arthaud