By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh
We enjoyed several days of prayer and visiting with friends at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, North Jackson, Ohio in celebration of the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God.
The pilgrimage began on Sunday, August 13, with a Divine Liturgy of the Roman Rite celebrated by His Excellency, Bishop George Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, followed by a candlelit procession and blessing with the Icon of Our Lady of Lebanon.
On Sunday afternoon, before Divine Liturgy, Mother Marla Marie gave a presentation to the pilgrims on the message of Our Lady of Fatima, in honor of the Centennial celebrations.
As usual, we had a table in the Cedars Hall where we were able to speak with many people one on one. This year the layout of our table was a little different. Once again, as at NAM this year, devoted parishioner, Cecilia Romero of St. Joseph’s parish, Atlanta, had crocheted an assortment of baby items which she generously donated to the sisters as sale items on our table. We also promoted the pro-life message with magnets and precious feet pins that we gave away.
On both Sunday and Monday nights, we spent time in prayer, adoration and fellowship with the MYO of the parishes of Youngstown and Cleveland with their Excellencies, Bishop Elias Zaidan and Bishop Gregory Mansour also in attendance. Both Bishops spoke to the teens on the virtues of Our Blessed Mother and the various apparitions of Our Lady in Guadalupe and Brazil, respectively.
On Monday evening, August 14, we were blessed to celebrate a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, offered by His Excellency, Bishop Bohdan Danylo, 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, Tuesday 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. Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us.