Relic of St. Anthony - Springfield

Veneration of the relic of St. Anthony of Padua in Springfield, MA!
By Natalie Salameh

On Saturday, September 6, 2014, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light witnessed the arrival and veneration of a relic of St. Anthony of Padua at our Maronite Parish of St. Anthony in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Prior to our journey to Springfield, the nature of the relic was unknown to us, although many people know that the famous relic of St. Anthony of Padua is in fact his incorrupt tongue. St. Anthony of Padua was a great preacher in his time (13th Century). We later learned that day, as we ourselves approached to venerate the relic, that the relic was in fact two pieces of the saint’s incorrupt cartilage of his larynx, which controlled the vibration of his vocal chords. These are the parts of the body used in speech and was discovered in recent times in 1981.

The relic of the great saint had come all the way from its native shrine in Padua, Italy from the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, and was welcomed in the parish by a great number of pilgrims. We, and many other pilgrims, accompanied the relic in procession from the middle of Island Pond Road to the altar of the Church. In the procession, the relic was held in the stole of His Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour, accompanied by His Excellency, Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, and Fr. George Zina, Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Church.

After the relic had arrived in the Church, Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Bishop Gregory Mansour, followed by the Litany of St. Anthony. During the day’s prayers and devotions, we carried your petitions to the feet of St. Anthony of Padua. The relic will remain in the Church at Springfield for 9 consecutive days from September 6th through the 14th, before returning to its resting place and shrine in Italy.  During these nine days the Maronites of Springfield, who dedicated their church and parish to St. Anthony, will conduct a very special novena in thanksgiving to him for two separate miracles that represent over a hundred years of his patronage and protection.

All are welcome to join the parish in their novena to St. Anthony of Padua, which is available on the EWTN website.

St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us!


First Profession of Vows- Boston

By Sister Therese Maria Touma

with Sr. Theresa and Sr. Cheryl

On Saturday August 30th we happily attended the first profession of two Pauline Sisters, Sr. Theresa and Sr. Cheryl at their Provincial house in Boston. The theme of their first Profession of vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience was: "For me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). In participating in the beautiful profession Liturgy and watching the sisters take their vows I was taken back to the joyful time in which I took my vows in December of 2013. It is by God’s grace that we freely respond to his Divine invitation of love and moreover deepen our baptismal promises through the total offering of our lives in the love and worship of God.

When the sisters professed their vows before the altar to their superior I recalled the Profession I made nearly two years ago:
First Vows 2013
I glorify and praise you, O Christ, your Father, and your living Holy Spirit for calling me to a vocation of greater perfection, and I joyfully lay down my life in your service and that of your Church in this Congregation. In the presence of Almighty God and before you, Mother Marla Marie, our superior, I Sister Therese Maria, humbly vow for one year to live the Gospel counsels of obedience, chastity, and poverty according to the Typicon of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. Relying on the help of Mary, the Mother of God, our patron Saint Maron, and the support of this community, I promise with God's grace to observe my vows faithfully.

The vows of obedience, chastity and poverty which we take essentially capture our being totally given over to the praise and glory of our loving Father. A beautiful witness so needed in our world today. Jesus is the true joy and light of our lives. Have you considered giving your life in service to God and his people? As John Paul II has taught us, it is in giving of ourselves in love and service to others that we truly find ourselves and experiences the deepest fulfillment.

With the postulant director, two postulants and their family and friends.


To The Conscience of the World: Iraq’s Christians, A Double Catastrophe

 To The Conscience of the World: Iraq’s Christians, A Double Catastrophe
An Urgent Appeal by Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako
(taken from the Blog of His Excellency, Bishop Gregory. J Mansour posted on 25 August)

It has become obvious that Iraqi Christians along with other minorities have received a fatal blow at the core of their lives and their existence whether through displacing more than a hundred thousand Christians by force, or looting their possessions, money, and documents, or occupying their houses for just being Christian! I visited the camps of the displaced persons in the provinces of Erbil and Dohok and what I saw and what I heard is beyond any imagination!
Since the 6th of August until now there is not yet an immediate concrete solution for the crisis we are facing. On the other hand the flow of funds, arms and fighters continues to the Islamic State. Despite the fact that we are living an organized campaign of elimination from Iraq, the world conscience is not fully awake to the gravity of the situation. Now, the second phase of the calamity has already began, which is the migration of these families to the different parts of the world, thus dissolving the history, heritage, and identity of these people into void.
Displacement and migration have their great impact on us, both on Christians and Muslims. Iraq is losing an irreplaceable component of its society, the Christian one; hence begins the vanishing of a genuine tradition!
The international community, principally the United States and European Union due to their moral and historic responsibility towards Iraq, cannot be indifferent. While acknowledging all that is being done to solve this crisis, it seems that the decisions and actions undertaken until now have made no real change in the course of events and the fate of these affected people is still at stake, as if these people are not part of the human race!
The same is true with regard to the Muslim community, whose statements about the barbaric acts in the name of their religion practiced against the life, dignity and freedom of Christians were not according to our expectation, knowing that Christians have contributed and fought for this country, living in partnership with their Muslim brothers alongside the Islamic civilization.
Religious fundamentalism is still growing in its power and force, creating tragedies, and making us wonder when the Islamic religious scholars and the Muslim intellectuals will critically examine this dangerous phenomenon and eradicate it by educating a true religious consciousness and spreading a genuine culture of accepting the other as brother and as an equal citizen with full rights.
What has happened is terrible and horrific, therefore, we need an urgent and effective international support from all the people of good will to save the Christians and Yezidis, genuine components of the Iraqi society from extinction, knowing that silence and passivity will encourage ISIS fundamentalists to commit more tragedies! The question is who will be next?
Many of these displaced persons wish to return to their towns and houses in the Nineveh Plain, and hope to see it safe under international protection. But the full safety of this zone cannot be achieved without the cooperation of the International Community along with the joint action of the Central Government and the Regional Government of Kurdistan. These innocent people deserve to live in peace and dignity after the terror afflicted on them by the ISIS and after being looted by their own neighbors.
The Church: Certainly we are proud of the faith of our sons and daughters and their steadfastness and courage in the face of this calamity for the sake of their belief. We invite them to live this crisis in a real communion with all the people around them without any distinction. What we need is not exhausting statements but real communion with others which we experienced during the visit of the delegation of the French bishop’s conference, Personal Envoy of Pope Francis and Patriarchs. This crisis is empowering us for a spiritual, moral and material reconstruction of our communities. We do respect the decision of those who wish to migrate, but for those who wish to remain, we underline our long history and deeply rooted heritage in this land. God has his own plan for our presence in this land and invites us to carry the message of love, brotherhood, dignity, and harmonious co-existence.
Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako,
President of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq




Assumption Pilgrimage 2014 - Ohio

By Natalie Salameh

We enjoyed several days of prayer and visiting with friends at the National Shrine to Our Lady of Lebanon, North Jackson, Ohio in celebration of the Dormition of the Mother of God.

The pilgrimage began on Wednesday evening, August 13, with a Divine Liturgy of the Roman Church celebrated by His Excellency, Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville, Ohio, followed by a candlelit procession and blessing with the Icon of Our Lady of Lebanon.

On both Wednesday and Thursday nights, we spent time in prayer, adoration and fellowship with the MYO of the parish with their Excellencies, Bishop Elias Zaidan and Bishop Gregory Mansour also in attendance. Both Bishops spoke to the teens on the role of Our Blessed Mother in our everyday lives and they emphasized that we should never be afraid of loving Mary too much because she is our mother, given to us by Jesus as he was suffering on the cross. Like a good mother, she is always there to nurture, guide and support us, her beloved children.

On Thursday, August 14, we were blessed to hear a number of conferences and to celebrate a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, offered by His Excellency, Bishop John Bura, Bishop of the Byzantine Eparchy of St. Josaphat Parma, Ohio. Following Divine Liturgy, the Byzantine Tradition has a very beautiful ritual of burying the Mother of God on the vigil of her Dormition, a ritual they call the “Funeral of the Theotokos, the Ever-Virgin Mary”. We processed behind the tomb and shroud of the Virgin Mary, which was later placed in the chapel for all to venerate.

On the day of the Feast of the Assumption, Friday August 15, we celebrated the Maronite Pontifical Liturgy outside beside the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon. The Liturgy was followed by a huge candlelit procession around the entire shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, with a great number in attendance. The procession concluded with a beautiful display of fireworks above the shrine, and festivities in the Cedars Hall.

We remembered you in our prayers during these holy days of pilgrimage at the Shrine and we especially remembered our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Our Lady of Lebanon, pray for us.