During their visit, Momika said he and the women “and we had a special time. It was a good idea to take all these women to this monastery because we have a special memory with this monastery, because it's our monastery.”
The monastery has not yet been blessed after the destruction, since efforts to rebuild are still preliminary, he said, but the Church “is good for prayer.”
Many people have returned to Bakhdida and are trying as much as possible to live life as normal while rebuilding their city, Momika said, but noted that there are many others who can't come back yet “because their house is not rebuilt, or it's burned or destroyed.”
Currently Syriac Catholic Church leaders in the area are working hard to rebuild the houses that were destroyed with the help of several charitable organizations, including Aid to the Church in Need, SOS and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. But funding is a problem, he said, since there is so much that needs to be rebuilt.
However, despite the challenges that face them, including the possibility of fresh conflict as a result of the recent Kurdish referendum, which voted nearly unanimously for an independent Kurdistan separate from the Iraqi central government, Momika said the people want to stay.
“For us in Qaraqosh, it's because it's the center of Christianity in Iraq and it's the center of the Syriac-Catholic Church in Iraq. I think this is why so many came back to Qaraqosh.”
In its position on the Nineveh Plain, Bakhdida sits between the Kurdish and central governments, “and I think this is the bigger problem for us,” he said, but noted that at the moment “we are living here in peace.”
“I think our God will save us, not the soldiers or anyone else,” he said, explaining that he personally chose to come back “because this is my place and it's liberated and it's my history, it's my family place and it's my own place...I won't stay in another place that's not my place.”