Visit to St Joseph Maronite Church in Atlanta

By Cecilia Romero
From Sept 17 to Sept 21, 2008 St Joseph Maronite Catholic Church of Atlanta, Ga welcomed Sister Marla Marie Lucas, founder of Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. Sister was invited by the Young Adults to be the guest speaker of Theology on Tap and she extended her visit to also meet with parishioners of St Joseph. The journey was a miracle since the flight tickets had been inadvertly reversed by yours truly. Thanks to God's divine providence and a good Catholic flight assistant in Logan's Boston Delta office who also waived the change fees, Sister Marla Marie was able to arrive in time for her talk to the young adults.

The rest of the week consisted of visiting Fr. Peter Boulus, various parishioners and the Maronite young adults. A spiritual pilgrimage was also arranged by the young adults to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama.

We were also able to pass by St Elias in Birmingham Alabama for Saturday Divine Liturgy and spend some time with Fr Richard Saad and fellow parishioners.
On Sunday Sept 21, Sister Marla Marie addressed the congregation at both 9 and 11 am Divine liturgies and talked about her life and answering God's call to accept a religious vocation. She recently answered a call within a call and accepted Bishop Gregory's request to found a new religious congregation for women in the United States. Sister Marla Marie explained that while the Maronites in the US have been blessed with their spiritual fathers and seminary in Washington DC for the formation of priests, there was no religious order for women. Therefore, in the past many women of the Maronite rite responded to the call of religious life by entering the various congregations of the Roman Church. Now with the founding of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, the opportunity to have spiritual mothers is a reality thanks to the vision of Bishop Gregory and the extraordinary work of Sister Marla Marie.

She asked all families with children and especially young adult women, who are very dear to her heart, to be open to God's call in their lives. She expressed the honor that families have when they promote an environment that is open for religious vocations for future priests and sisters. Sister Marla Marie emphazised that the Maronite Servants is not only her mission but the mission of each an every Maronite in the US. The sisters of this congregation will be working at the pastoral level and assisiting the priests in works of mercy for the Maronite church. As an example the sisters will be working in religious education, helping the MYO, MYA, the elderly and the music for the liturgy. Sister Marla Marie also asked for our prayers and financial assistance for the new congregation. Current plans are to have a convent in the Massachusetts / Rhode Island corridor.

Sister Marla Marie was very delighted to receive a spiritual bouquet in which the children of the religious education program will be offering prayers for the new mission. Sister also received generous donations from various parishioners and the Ladies Altar and Rosary Society to support our mission.

On behalf of Fr. Peter Boulos and all the parishioners of St Joseph we would like to thank Sister Marla Marie Lucas for taking the time to visit our parish.

more photos...


TOT Atlanta: Praying with the Maronite Saints

The MYA (Maronite Young Adults) of Atlanta were honored to have Sister Marla Marie as guest speaker for Theology on Tap at Manuel's Tavern September 17, 2008. This event was co-sponsored by the Atlanta YAM (Young Adult Ministry) and the MYA. Pictured with Sr. Marla Marie are some of the MYA of St. Joseph's Maronite Church.
Sr. Marla Marie gave an impressive presentation on sainthood, Maronite spirituality, and Saint Rafka's holy life. After Sister's talk, many of the Roman Catholic members of YAM expressed a desire to learn more about the Maronites and attend a Maronite Liturgy.
St. Joseph's hosted Sr. Marla Marie's visit which will include speaking at the Sunday Liturgies.
...more to come next week...

By Cecilia Romero


Exaltation of the Holy Cross

"Today's feast is one of the greatest feasts of the Eastern Churches. It is frequently mentioned in ecclesiastical writings and always has as its object the triumph of Christ, his resurrection, and the veneration of the holy cross, the sign of his victory over death. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was first instituted in order to commemorate the dedication of the Church of the Resurrection on September 13, 335. The Emperor Constantine built this church and the one in Bethlehem and they are both in existence today.

The Church of the Resurrection had five naves and in the interior a circular structure covered by a dome which protected the sancturay of the sepulchre or tomb of Christ. The date of September 13 was chosen in order to supplant the pagan feast of the Temple of Jupiter in Rome.
The second historical event which is the source of our present feast was the return of the holy cross to Jerusalem under Emperor Heraclius. ...

On this day the Maronite Church celebrates the Rite of the Cross, which is a service of adoration of the cross, the sign of our salvation. This feast which comes at the end of the annual liturgical cycle is also directed toward the second coming of Christ, who carries his cross of light and triumph. It is this theme which is the object of the readings and prayers of the seven weeks which follow and which close the liturgical year.
Adoration and honor to the Cross of our Savior!
Glory and praise to Christ our God, for ever! Amen.

(Taken from the Synaxarion of the Prayer of the Faithful)


Who is Saint Maron?

"Maron (350-410 AD)
Maron, a priest and hermit, known to John Chrysostom, walked the land once traveled by Peter and Paul. On the banks of the Orontes River, Father Maron converted an old pagan temple into a church. He spent his life teaching about the faith and ministering to many people with the gift of healing and counsel. Over 800 monks later followed in his footsteps. These early followers of the lifestyle and way of Maron were known as MARONITES.

Their history reveals great sacrifices of their lives and possessions for their religious convictions and freedom. They defended the Council of Chalcedon (taught Christ is God and man, and Mary is Mother of God). Maronites came to Mount Lebanon and later elected John Maron as their first patriarch in 687. By this, the Maronite Community became established as an organized church and Lebanon became the third geographical center of influence for Maron's family of faith.

From its monastic origins to today the Maronite Community of faith includes several religious orders of monks and sisters whose important ministries to the Church provide continued nourishment, growth and maturity. Maronites are Catholics of many nations and diverse cultures. Presently, the Mother Church is in Lebanon and daughter communities exist in ever nation of the world. Often the sons and daughters of Maron are referred to as Beit Maroun, (the house of Maron)."

from "Being A Maronite Catholic" by Msgr. Ronald Beshara