Mother Olga grew up in war-torn Iraq but found peace within the Catholic Church, establishing a new religious order to share Christ’s light with others.
Montse Alvarado, host of EWTN News In-Depth, recently spoke to the foundress of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth about her childhood in war-torn Iraq, her steadfast devotion to Our Lady, and her community in Boston.
Originally a part of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mother Olga joined in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church on Sept. 8, 2005. She talked about what led to that moment in her faith, which happened around the time she was sent to the United States for school.
“I was really very drawn to the … strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Holy Eucharist,” she said. “I was really drawn to adoration, to the daily Communion, daily Mass, and all the beautiful devotions … when I got to learn about Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, [and] our Lady of Fatima.”
Our Lady seemed to serve as a source of personal renewal for Mother Olga. Growing up in war-torn Iraq in what she called an “intense” family situation, Mother Olga described how — even at an early age — she found solace through the intercession of Our Lady.
“I used to hear the sound of the bomb and missiles and I used to … put my head under the pillow and squeeze my rosary,” she explained. “[Even] now, I … don’t do anything without squeezing my rosary … it was really Our Lady who gave me hope … she has been always my mother, mother of my life … she has mothered me in my wounds … she’s been mother of my faith.”
It was this long-lasting connection to Our Lady that eventually led Mother Olga to found the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth after a retreat to Mexico’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine.
“When I knew the Lord gave us confirmation through Our Lady of Guadalupe that … she wanted this order for Americans in the United States, I just knew that it [had] to be a Marian order,” she said. “I remember I said to the bishop, I cannot imagine myself being a sister of Mary … because I know it has to be a Marian order and I said I really love to always be a daughter of Mary.”
Mother Olga explained how the name of the order’s connection to Nazareth was inspired by — and perhaps was a response to — what she viewed as the current state of the Church during her time in Boston and how she sought to bring those who have left the Church back in the folds of its Holy Family.
“I felt like we need to go back to Nazareth … how we can bring the Church out to them by creating these small Nazareth communities … how … [Jesus, Mary, and Joseph] lived among ordinary people in Nazareth,” she said.
Mother Olga also encouraged those who have been distraught over the current state of the Church and have subsequently left the faith to find strength within the resiliency of the Church and its ultimate connection to Christ.
“These are very troubled times,” she lamented. “It’s almost like I feel the ship of the Church has been tossed in so many … murky waters … when I think [about how] our Church has survived 2,000 years and [there] were tough times in every generation … The Church has survived because it’s not ‘our Church,’ ‘your Church,’ ‘my Church,’ but it’s a Church of Jesus Christ, and he will protect it.”