By Therese Touma
Heroes…who are our Heroes? Who do we look up to? What good qualities can I imitate in them and put into practice in my own life? What can I take back and implement in our Maronite Youth group to make a positive difference in our parish community?
These were some of the many questions that were discussed in the interactive workshops. We watched inspiring videos and reflected on the lives of different people from our everyday life, such as Mother Teresa who worked with the poor and destitute, and the pilot named Scully who skillfully landed the plane that crashed on the Hudson River- without losing the life of a single person on board.
Still today, many courageous men and women are generously making a significant difference in hospitals, in their families, on the streets and in various missions by their ongoing dedication, sacrificial love and passion to serve those who are needy and alone. “Heroes” sure stand out in the world, as they bring hope, love and joy into the lives of many people.
Overall, the workshops provided an opportunity for the teens to stop and sincerely examine their own lives, those in their community, who are poor and unloved, and the people they look up to in their own lives for inspiration and direction. Great discussions took place in and between the groups, as teens shared about their own group created superhero. Let us all always have before our eyes, the Ultimate Hero, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who loved us to the point of giving us His own life, so that we may have eternal life.
Every day, Father Gary George, director of the Youth Workshop led the teens in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He beautifully explained and showed us in prayer how the Eucharist defines who we are as Maronites. He encouraged the teens to continue to make time in their parish to cultivate a great love and worship for the Eucharist, Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity exposed on the altar, and to share the grace and beauty of the Mystery (Sacrament) with their families and friends.
Mission Service- Mercy, Compassion, Reconciliation
In the beginning of the Mission Service session, the teens were asked to take and hold onto a dirty rock symbolizing the sin and burden they carry in their lives. While the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, our Bishops and ten Maronite priests were hearing confessions, and after the teens had been absolved, they were asked to place their dirty rock at the foot of the altar along with their written prayer intention, and then get their hands washed from the dirt. This was a powerful visual and symbolic action of being cleansed from sin in the Mystery of Penance.
As one of the helpers washing the hands of the teens, I was moved by the healing power of Christ’s mercy in this beautiful Mystery.
Sports & Recreation
Basketball was the competitive and popular sport that the teens were playing for recreation throughout the week. It was great to get out there with girls on the court and enjoy the youth’s presence, energy and talents! See photo collage for the girls’ basketball team.
On the last day, the teens enjoyed a refreshing day out at Idlewild, Water Park.
Our MYO Annual Retreat and Conference is winding down (July 19-24) at St. Vincent's College in Latrobe, PA. We are exploring the theme of "Heroes" especially in the example of our saints. Over 300 are gathered for this week of Maronite spirituality and social events drawing youth 12-18 from all over the country. More on this event will be posted next week. Our Bishops, clergy, seminarians,and religious join with the youth for a photo outside the Basilica on campus.
By Tresa Van Huesen
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light travelled south to Birmingham, Alabama, to attend the 47th Annual National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM) Convention. During our stay, we were able to tour the city and local area, including a trip to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, a tour of the EWTN studio, and visits to the Birmingham Art Museum and the Civil Rights Institute.
We were also blessed to spend time with our Bishops, Priests and Deacons from each Eparchy during Safro (Morning) and Ramsho (Evening) prayers, as well as the Divine Liturgy. Once the Convention kicked off on Wednesday, it was great to see dear friends arrive into the city and to meet many new ones. We shared information on our recent adventures and activities through our table in the hospitality area, and also presented in the workshop titled A Maronite Legacy: How to Foster Religious Vocations in Your Family.
At least one Maronite Servant was able to attend each of the other workshops, which included: Maronite Music; Discovering Our “Faith of the Mountain;” Identity of the Maronite Church; and learning more about St. Maron and the pursuit to canonize the Massabki Brothers.
The week was a nice blend of spiritual and social, giving us an opportunity to come closer to our wider Maronite Community here in the United States. We are grateful to the NAM Board and Directors,
as well as our supporters, for the opportunity to attend.
It was a great experience to be on the set of EWTN LIVE on July 7th. Father Mitch Pacwa hosted our Maronite Bishops, Robert Shaheen and Gregory Mansour in a lively discussion on the Maronite Church.
The over-flow audience was predominately our Maronite clergy and faithful attending the National Apostolate of Maronites Convention in Birmingham, Alabama.
By Therese Touma
On Friday 25 June, the Maronite Servants attended the ordination of Father Vince Farhat at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing, Michigan, his hometown. The ordination was presided by Bishop Gregory J. Mansour and concelebrated by Bishop Robert Shaheen, Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, Monsignor Michael Thomas and ten of our beloved Maronite priests from both Eparchies. Following the ordination liturgy was a beautiful reception with Abouna Vincent’s family and friends.
In the Rite of Ordination which takes place before the reception of Holy Communion, the deacons are vested, and processed around the Church carrying on their heads the Eucharist in a chalice covered with a veil. This poignantly symbolizes the handing-on of the priesthood to the new priest, and Christ’s Body being their crown. It is also a sign of the priest’s Eucharistic devotion.
Let us rejoice and thank God for out three new priests here in the US. Abouna Danny Abi Ackar was just ordained earlier in June in Lebanon. May they continue to persevere in their vocations of service and radiate the awesome light of Christ. Join us in prayer for all of our priests who nourish us with Christ and bring his healing love.
“There are three levels or offices of ordination in the Catholic Church: Bishop, priest, and deacon. These offices are known as major orders. In the Maronite Catholic Church, minor orders have also been retained as they are: Cantor, Lector, Subdeacon, Deacon, respectively. For a man to become a priest he must go through all of these levels sequentially, Cantor, Lector, Subdeacon, Deacon and then Priest. A man must be ordained a deacon before being ordained to the Priesthood. There are also permanent deacons in the Catholic Church, those men who do not go on to priesthood and they may be married men.”