Maronite Servants Receive First Novice

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light announce the reception to the Novitiate of Therese Touma. This next step in the formation of religious life took place at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn on November 21st, 2010 during the 11:00 AM Divine Liturgy with Bishop Gregory J. Mansour presiding, and concelebrating, Father James Root, rector.

It was the Sunday of the Announcement to Mary and the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, both fitting themes for the sacrifice and dedication of religious life.  Also adding blessing to the day was the unexpected visit of six Sisters of Life who stopped in for the Divine Liturgy, as well as, a Sister of St. Joseph and a Franciscan Sister.

After the homily, Bishop Gregory blessed Therese as she was led to the sanctuary by Mother Marla Marie, who then presented Therese saying, “She has completed a period of Postulancy, and has asked to be received into the Novitiate of the Congregation of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, in the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn. As her Superior, I have granted her request and welcome her as a Novice with the Religious name of Sister Therese Maria. We ask your blessing upon her habit and rosary, the rich symbols of Religious life, and also upon the Typicon of the Congregation, which Sister Therese Maria will study in preparation to embrace the evangelical counsels of our Congregation.”
After Bishop Gregory’s blessing upon the articles of the habit, Mother Marla Marie presented them to Sister Therese Maria, and clothed her with the white veil of the novitiate. Sister Therese Maria is the first member to join with the foundress, Mother Marla Marie, in this new congregation of Maronite religious in the Eparchy of Saint Maron. Sister Therese Maria began a postulancy period last February to help her make the transition into monastery life. Following the postulancy is the novitiate, at which time the Maronite Servant is given the title of “Sister” and receives the habit. Then begins a two-year formation, which is a foundational period for the deepening of the spiritual life in preparation for vows.

Reflecting on the ceremony, Sister Therese Maria said, “One of the highlights was when Mother Marla Marie handed me the white veil which I then kissed, symbolizing the vow of chastity.” She also added, “I see the Novitiate, as a precious time of deepening my love and commitment to Jesus. These two years of formation will be a beautiful opportunity to humbly grow in my understanding of what it means to be a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light.”

Sr. Therese Maria, 26, is from Sydney, Australia and is the daughter of Joseph and Jacqueline Touma. She was raised in the Maronite Church and cherishes her early memories of family members’ teaching her the faith. She also has a strong devotion to the Maronite saints, and says St. Rafka in particular has been “a great role model” as she strives to live out her faith.

More information on the Maronite Servants can be found on the website: maroniteservants.org.


Reception into the Novitiate this Sunday

Please keep Therese Touma in prayer as she prepares to be received into the Maronite Servants Novitiate on Sunday November 21 at the 11:00 AM Divine Liturgy in Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, Brooklyn. 

Growing Vocations

 Therese Touma, a postulant in the Maronite Servants and MYO members
at the October retreat in Litchfield, CT. 
By The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light

The late Pope John Paul II used the image of a garden to help parents understand their responsibility in nurturing religious vocations, "the task of Christian parents is as important as it is sensitive, because they are called to prepare, cultivate and protect the vocations which God stirs up in their family.” The Pope explains that God generously sows the seeds of vocation and the family is the “garden” where a vocation to priesthood and religious life blossom and grow.

How can you, as a parent, tend the seed of vocation? Pope John Paul II gives guidance, “They must, therefore, enrich themselves and their family with spiritual and moral values,

· such as a deep and convinced religious spirit,

· an apostolic and ecclesial consciousness,

· and a clear idea of what a vocation is."

Parents are to be living models of mature self-giving love, flowing from generous hearts bound in the Sacrament of Matrimony. "Christian parents, demonstrating a loving care for their children from their earliest years, communicate to them, by word and example, a sincere and lived-out relationship with God, made up of love, fidelity, prayer and obedience. In this way, parents encourage the holiness of their children and render their hearts docile to the voice of the Good Shepherd, who calls every man to follow him and to seek first the kingdom of God.” (Pope John Paul II, XXXI World Day of Prayer for Vocations)

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light pray each day for an increase of vocations in our Maronite Church in holy priests, generous nuns and monks, and faithful marriages. Young women are invited to consider giving their life in service to the Maronite Church as the spiritual mothers of the parish family. Contact MaroniteServants.org for more information on a religious vocation in our Church.


St. Theresa’s Conducts First Maronite Heritage Day

 By Fr. Anthony J. Salim
Brockton, Massachusetts

On 6 November, Saturday of the Weekend of the Consecration of the Church, our liturgical New Year, the parish Religious Education Staff conducted the first of six Maronite Heritage Days of the 2010-11 Religious Education Program. The parish has, of course, a weekly Sunday School program which is conducted before the Sunday Qoorbono (Divine Liturgy). This program is composed of students attending area public schools.
But what about those children whose parents send them to Latin Catholic schools, and who get religion classes five days a week? Traditionally the parents of these children often think that this education is enough for the Faith. Consequently, too often they do not see the need to send them to the parish Sunday School program. The problem with this, of course, is that while getting a Catholic education from the Latin-rite vision, how will the children learn about anything Eastern and Maronite?

To address this common eparchial problem, pastor Fr. Anthony Salim, working with the parish religious education staff, notably Coordinator Gordon McKinnon and catechist Alison Saade, Heritage Days Coordinator, has developed six sessions to address this need. These sessions are called “Maronite Heritage Days.” Held on selected Saturdays from 1:30 to 3:40 pm (ending before the 4 pm Saturday vigil Qoorbono), the program offers teaching in 4 areas: Maronite Identity; Maronite Worship; Syriac Culture, and Basic Catholic Beliefs. Helping with these special days are Sr. Marla Marie Lucas and Postulant Therese Touma, of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. Alison taught about the background of the Maronite Church; Sister and Therese taught about St. Maron, and Fr. Anthony explained about the Syriac—the written form of Jesus’ Aramaic—that we use in the Qoorbono, and focused on the meaning of the Trisagion (Qadeeshat Aloho) and how the variable responses of the Liturgical Year help us to enter into the spirit of the seasons and their meanings. The children impressively sang this ancient hymn in Syriac and leaned to sing it in English as well.

Our first session was a big success, with about 35 children—of both public and Catholic schools—and a dozen parents, some of whom stayed for the entire session, then took their children to Divine Liturgy. All in all, with staff, about 50 people participated.

The next session, on Saturday 4 December, will focus on the Righteous and Just (i.e, the Saints), including St. Barbara (feast day 4 December) and St. Nicholas (6 December). The children will plant legumes, according to the custom, and the sprouted plants will be brought to the Créche-Manger for Christmas. We will also begin to explain the Service of the Word and about our Lectionary, among other items.


Maronite Young Adult Workshop- Miami

By Therese Touma
Last weekend (October29th-31st), the Maronite Servants took part in the Maronite Young Adult (MYA) Leadership workshop in Miami, FL. Fr. Elie Mikhael pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon, Miami hosted the event along with the help of Fr. Elias Sleiman (Los Angeles), Fr. Jean Younes (Danbury/ Westchester), and the MYA Board.

Over 100 Maronite young adults were present, traveling from across the U.S. to learn more about leadership and growing the MYA. Also in attendance were some of their clergy, Fr. Vincent Farhat (Lawrence), Fr. Naji Kiwan (Waterbury), Fr. Pierre El Khoury (Houston), Fr. Toni Akouri (Somerset) and Fr. Rudolf Wakim (Carnegie/Aliquippa).

The guest speaker for the workshop, Fr. John Cusick, addressed how to effectively initiate parish young adult groups and strategies to keep them going. Fr. Cusick suggested a number of key ideas to get a group started, such as the following:

• Think of the people before getting the program and activities started. Be direct with people, get to know them personally, think of a suitable time and invite them to come to the parish.

• Have a realistic goal of how many people you will need to form this group. Be optimistic!

• To create an effective group, dream BIG, go slow (a few things done well is vital) and think small.

In one of the workshops, Dorothy Polchinski, director of young adult ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and close collaborator with St. Joseph’s MYA, gave a talk on practical strategies for ministry. She also spoke about travel plans to attend World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. Dorothy invited Maronite adults ages 18-35 to attend World Youth Day in conjunction with her group from Atlanta. She emphasized that this would be a great opportunity to give witness and celebrate the gift of our faith with other Catholic youth from around the world. For more information, see the Archdiocese of Atlanta website http://www.yam.org/events/wyd2011.php.

The weekend concluded with the Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Lebanon, Miami followed by a luncheon in the parish hall to honor of those who attended the workshop.