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.