NAM Convention in Birmingham - July 7-11

Coming soon is the 47th Annual Maronite Convention and is hosted this year by St. Elias parish in Birmingham, Alabama.  The theme of this gathering is "Stewardship of our Maronite Church."  
"The definition of stewardship is “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care.” The moment we are Baptized and Confirmed into the Maronite Church, we become responsible for its teachings. We become responsible for living our lives as Maronites. We challenge everyone to walk away from Birmingham, Alabama this year as true stewards of the Maronite Church."

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light will be part of the vocation workshop encouraging parents to support and foster religious vocations.  The postulants, Therese and Tresa will give a witness to how their own families accepted the news of their vocation to enter the convent.  Also speaking are Tresa's parents, Chuck and Marie Van Heusen sharing on their experience of having a son in seminary and a daughter in the religious life. 

A Maronite Legacy: How to Foster Religious
Our Bishops cry out to us, “Send Out, O Lord, Laborers for Your Harvest!” Many young people hear this call, but are met with resistance. As stewards of our Maronite Faith, we need to understand how to be open and understanding to our children’s desire. The challenge is ours, young and old, women and men, to respond to God’s vocation, and thereby find our way home to the Kingdom by being divinized and divinizing the world as disciples of the Lord. Each person must offer the gifts, talents, skills,
knowledge and experience of his/her life in the service of the human family, and for the glory of God, whom we call Father, Son and Spirit.

Pilgrimage Sites for Year of Saint Maron

Bishop Gregory has designated the following parishes as official Pilgrimage Sites to commemorate the “Year of Saint Maron,” proclaimed by Patriarch Sfeir in his Lenten letter of 2010:

• Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York

• Our Lady of Lebanon Seminary Chapel in Washington, D.C.

• Saint Anthony Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts

• Saint Louis Gonzaga Church in Utica, New York

• Saint Anthony Church in Glen Allen, Virginia

• Saint Jude Church in Orlando, Florida

Pastors are strongly encouraged to promote and/or organize groups from their parishes and missions to make a pilgrimage to one of these sites, in celebration of the Jubilee of the 1600th year of the death of our Father, Saint Maron. Anyone making one of these pilgrimages, from June 29, 2010 – March 2, 2011, will receive an Indulgence according to the usual conditions.


Honoring Saint Maron - Our Spiritual Father

February 9, 2010 - March 2, 2011

Saint Maron, born in the middle of the 4th century was a priest who later became a hermit, retiring to a mountain of Taurus near Antioch. His holiness and miracles attracted many followers, and drew attention throughout the empire. St John of Chrysostom sent him a letter around 405 AD expressing his great love and respect asking St Maron to pray for him.

Origin of the Maronites
St Maron is considered the Father of the spiritual and monastic movement now called the Maronite Church. This movement had a profound influence on Northern Syria and Lebanon. Saint Maron spent all of his life on a mountain in the region of Cyrrhus in Syria. It is believed that the place was called "Kefar-Nabo" on the mountain of Ol-Yambos, making it the cradle of the Maronite movement.
The Maronite movement reached Lebanon when St Maron's first disciple Abraham of Cyrrhus who was called the Apostle of Lebanon, realized that paganism was thriving in Lebanon, so he set out to convert the pagans to Christians by introducing them to the way of St Maron. The followers of St Maron, both monks and laity, always remained faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

St Maron's way was deeply monastic with emphasis on the spiritual and ascetic aspects of living. For Saint Maron, all was connected to God and God was connected to all. He did not separate the physical and spiritual world and actually used the physical world to deepen his faith and spiritual experience with God.

St Maron embraced the quiet solitude of the mountain life. He lived his life in open air exposed to the forces of nature such as sun, rain, hail and snow. His extraordinary desire to come to know Gods presence in all things, allowed St Maron to transcend such forces and discover that intimate union with God. He was able to free himself from the physical world by his passion and fervor for prayer and enter into a mystical relationship of love with God.

St Maron was a mystic who started this new ascetic-spiritual method that attracted many people in Syria and Lebanon to become his disciples. Accompanying his deeply spiritual and ascetic life, he was a zealous missionary with a passion to spread the message of Christ by preaching it to all he met. He sought not only to cure the physical ailments that people suffered, but had a great quest for nurturing and healing the "lost souls" of both pagans and Christians of his time.
This missionary work came to fruition when in the mountains of Syria, St Maron was able to convert a pagan temple into a Christian Church. This was to be the beginning of the conversion of paganism to Christianity in Syria which would then influence and spread to Lebanon. After his death in the year 410 AD, his spirit and teachings lived on through his disciples.


Pope's Visit to Maronites in Cyprus

Watch this video of Pope Benedict XVI's visit.

Venerable & Incorrupt Stephen Nehme

The Maronite monk, Venerable Stephen Nehme will be beatified on June 27, 2010 in Kfifan, Lebanon. He is also known as Estfan and Joseph. He was born in 1889 at Lehfed, Jabal Lebanon and died of natural causes on August 30, 1938 in Kfifane, Batroun. 

Brother Stephen entered religious life in 1905, and professed his vows in 1907.  He was known for his creativity, silence, prayer, exercising divine and human virtues.

Estfan Nehme was declared venerable on December 17, 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI, and a decree of a miracle was promulgated on March 27, 2010 leading to his beatification at which time he will be called Blessed.

Here are some photos of his incorrupt body enclosed in glass and in a public area of the Maronite monastery in Kfifan. 


Studies in Washington DC

By Therese Touma
The Maronite Servants are in Washington DC this week to attend classes with Chorbishop Seely J. Beggiani , Rector of the Maronite Seminary. The topics we studied were Maronite Liturgy and Eastern Catholic Spirituality. We discussed the origins of the Liturgy and went through the parts of the Liturgy, making references to the chapters of Chorbishop’s books on ”Maronite Divine Liturgy and Eastern Catholic Spirituality”. Pictured here is Chorbishop Beggiani with Mother Marla Marie, Tresa and Therese at Our Lady of Lebanon Seminary Chapel.
Some highlights from class on the Divine Liturgy:

- The Quorbono (Syriac name for the Divine Liturgy) literally means to come close, God reaching out to us in the Liturgy and we the faithful reaching out to Him. It is not a static prayer but organic in its nature, flowing from one part to the other through its different elements. “The language, music, gestures, and ornaments of the Liturgy are directed to bring about dialogue and union between God and the worshipping community.”

- According to John Chrysostom, Church Father of the East and Doctor of the Church, he beautifully portrays the Liturgy as a “celestial spectacle” where we the faithful join and imitate the angels in heaven, as we sing praise to God in the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”. Chorbishop in his book captures this awesome idea about the prayer of the Liturgy “An invisible exchange takes place between earth and heaven. While on Earth, it is near the celestial throne.”

Relics of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
On June 2nd we were blessed to see and honor the relics of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta which were in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Sisters of Charity were there at the Shrine reverently presenting and taking care of her relics which included her blood, hair, Rosary, Sandals and a piece of her Sari. We were grateful for this opportunity to honor her relics and to ask for her intercession. The picture is of us at the relics of Blessed Mother Teresa.