By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light were on a three week visit to Lebanon which consisted of one week of mission and apostolic activities. The last full week of our visit was dedicated to our annual silent retreat.
We arrived in Lebanon on October 17, and our week of mission began with a youth gathering on October 20, with Bishop Michel Aoun of Jbeil and the youth of the district. The day was hosted by the Rosary Sisters in their college in Blat, Jbeil and was attended by 400 youth. The theme, “Plant Your Fingerprint”, consisted of spiritual conferences, Divine Liturgy and adoration and testimonials. Sr. Therese Maria gave a testimonial on the Maronite youth of America and the challenges they face today.
We also attended another youth gathering in Zahle on November 3 with Bishop Joseph Mouawad. The theme was “What is my Vocation?” Bishop Joseph spoke beautifully on the gift of vocation, and what it means to ‘discern’ one’s vocation in life. We had a fun evening with the youth, and enjoyed the awesome choir of Mission de Vie.
We spent a day with the Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament in Jbeil. The sisters have a house of mercy for the elderly in Kfarmasshoun where spent the morning with the elderly, visiting and praying with them. In the afternoon, we went to the sisters’ school and orphanage in Beit Habbak, where we were also able to visit with the children and spend some time with the sisters there.
On Wednesday, October 24, we visited the Sesobel Institute in Ain El Rehani, which takes care of 250 mentally and physically disabled children. We were with Mrs. Fadia Safi, manager of Sesobel. We experienced Sesobel first hand, from their physical therapy center and autism center to their textile workshop, just to name a few. It was a blessed day to spend with the children who taught so much about true happiness, and joy in the midst of their challenges.
The last couple of days of our mission week were spent with the team of Telelumiere. The sisters were able to film a number of short videos on various topics such as, vocations and our Maronite Servants’ congregation highlighting our tenth anniversary of foundation.
On the day before we left, we visited with His Eminence and Beatitude, Cardinal Bishara Peter Rai, in Bkerke. In our conversations with the Patriarch, he touched upon the subject of vocations in Lebanon, and how vital it is for religious to be faithful and authentic witnesses of the Gospel. His Beatitude also spoke about his recent visit to Rome, where he participated in the Synod on Young People. He said it was a most fruitful Synod and highlighted how important it is for us to listen to the concerns of young people in our Church today.
Our visit to Lebanon and our apostolic activities were a great blessing to us, and filled us with so much joy. It was such a wonderful experience to meet and participate in the lives of so many people, to be able to touch their suffering and listen to and sympathize with their challenges in life. We thank God for these opportunities.