U.S. Catholic group escapes Egyptian chaos

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Wednesday 02, February 2011 | Category:   Clergy

For years Father Don Senior, C.P. has traveled all over the Middle East without a major incident—until recently, that is, when he and the group he was leading from the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago found themselves in the middle of what looks awfully like a revolution in Egypt.

They were in Giza, about 20 kilometers outside Cairo and home of the famed ancient pyramids, when the violent demonstrations against the Egyptian government reached that city. “At night we started to hear a lot of gunfire,” said Senior, a Passionist priest, president of CTU, and a member of the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Commission. “We could smell the burning of the Giza police station. On Sunday it became clear to me that we . . . could not just go anywhere, and you sense the anxiety.”

on one of his many travels
They had arrived on January 26 but due to disruptions in cell phone and email access were able to send home only minimal news about their status until the morning of Jan. 31, when in a message Senior described how they were able to get out. “Through the help of our long-time friend and travel agent in Israel we were able to secure places for all on an emergency El Al flight sent to Egypt on Sunday night. After a harrowing trip to the airport and a ten-hour struggle in the utter chaos of the Cairo airport, the whole group is now in Jerusalem. We arrived at 5:00 am this morning. . . . and our travel agent is arranging for us to resume our return on February 5 more or less as planned!”

Senior noted the kindness Egyptians showed them and asked to “remember the Egyptian people in your prayers at this moment of great danger and hope.”

CTU is the largest Catholic graduate school of theology in the U.S. and is sponsored by a number of Catholic religious orders.

Read the full report from Carol Marin of the NBC TV affiliate in Chicago.

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