One nun's journey from Iraq to the US and the Catholic church

  • Mother Olga Yaqob (CNS/Georgia Bulletin/Michael Alexander)
Preview of a story in our print-only Religious Life special section.

Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart bursts through the door, arms flung wide in anticipation of an embrace. "How brave of you to come," she says, hugging me as if I were her long-lost sister. Outside the convent window, a January blizzard whirls, and the nun, an Iraqi native, marvels that anyone would drive in such conditions.

Olga Yaqob, 48, is barely 5 feet tall, clad in a Marian blue habit. In her hands are rosary beads, which she fingers constantly. When she reaches up to tenderly clasp my head, I smell perfume.

Boston University used to call this popular nun "Blue Lightning," a reference to Yaqob's boundless yet intensely focused energy. After six years as a part-time campus minister, she became the university's Catholic chaplain in 2010, the second woman to ever hold that position. Today, she is founder and superior of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, a fledgling community of women religious in the Boston archdiocese.

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This story appeared in the Feb 14-27, 2014 print issue under the headline: Consoling the heart of Jesus .

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June 16-29, 2017