Glorious Birth of Our Lord

Glorious Birth of Our Lord
(From Prayer of the Faithful According to the Maronite Liturgical Year)
The Divine Liturgy in the Maronite tradition often mentions the title "Mary, Mother of the Light." The opening prayer of the liturgy used to mention it every day. This title is rich in theological and spiritual significance and is indeed one of the treasures of the Maronite Church. The image of light conveys a sense of joy, festivity, and life. Religion uses the image of light to express the notion of purity and the presence of God, Since light is the element which is proper to the divine Being, from ancient times the pagans adored the sun. At the end of December, the pagans celebrated a feast dedicated to the "Unconquerable Sun." In fact, on December 21st the nights, which had been becoming longer and longer, begin to shorten. The ancients celebrated this conquest of the light over the darkness.

When Constantine granted freedom for Christians to worship publicly, it was appropriate to replace the celebration of the Unconquerable Sun, with the Feast of the New Sun of the world, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Light of the world (John 3: 19).
The image of light is found throughout salvation history. The Aramaic Fathers of the Antiochene tradition teach us that creation is a preparation for the incarnation of the Son of God. All was created by the Father, through the Son. Scripture tells us that the first thing that was created is the sun: it is the heavenly body which gives forth light, warmth and life itself. The sun is the image of the Son of God because Christ himself is that light which comes from heaven. As a ray of light coming through a cloud, he appeared from the Virgin Mary. When God created the world, he separated the light from the darkness and throughout the Old Testament, one finds the light and the darkness contrasted with one another. In the New Testament, there is a constant struggle between the light and the darkness.

The genealogy in the gospel account of Matthew describes the human ancestry of Jesus and, as such, lists the sinners whose sins Jesus had to bear. This is the side of darkness in the spiritual realm. Saint John describes Jesus as coming from God, light from light: "I have come to the world as its light to keep anyone who believes in me from remaining in the dark" (John 12: 46). The account of the birth of Jesus contains the image of light throughout. The shepherds saw a great light, "The glory of the Lord shone around them" (Luke 2:9). The Magi saw a brilliant star in the skies, and followed it (Matthew 2: 9-11). The shepherds said, "let us go", and the Magi said, "we saw a light and we came” (Luke 2:15; Matthew 2:2).

Throughout the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we find the image of light used to express his divinity. His baptism was a true revelation and, as such, a great enlightenment. During the transfiguration, Jesus was surrounded by light (Matthew 17: 2-5). When Jesus died on the cross, darkness came upon the earth (Matthew 27:45) and the soldier, standing at the foot of the cross, was moved to say, ''Truly, this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54). The resurrection itself was blinding light (Matthew 28:2). The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is described as "tongues of fire" (Acts 2: 3). Upon seeing a great light and being thrown from his horse, Saul came to believe (Acts 9:3). While in prison, Peter saw a bright light and was freed from his chains (Acts 12:6). Just as the shepherds and Magi saw and followed the light, we who have seen the Light must follow. Jesus told us, "Walk while you have the light" (John 2: 19; 5:34; 12: 35-36). This feast of the Birth of Our Lord, the Light of the world, should be an incentive for us to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

"The night shall be no more. They will need no light from lamps or the sun, for the Lord God shall give them light and they shall reign forever" (Revelation 22:5).



Maronite Christmas Novena

Seventh Prayer (21 December):
All: O You Who are One person but also have human nature; You Who have told us what You have heard from the Father; we beseech You, through Your Pure Nativity and the inter¬cession of Your Mother and Saint Joseph, Your Chosen One, to grant us an ardent belief in and be captivated by Your teachings, and grant us good acts to harmonize with them. Do not permit us to lose the reward of our faith because of our own wrong doings. Rather, make our lives fruitful in beliefs and good works. Amen.
Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory Be ...

Eighth Prayer (22 December):
All: O King of Great Counsel, You joined Your admirable power with the prudence of human judgment when You, the Mighty and All-Powerful God, fled into Egypt from the face of Herod. We beseech You, through Your Pure Nativity and through the intercession of Your Mother and Saint Joseph, Your Chosen One, to grant us good judgment in all our actions, that we may think and act wisely all the days of our lives, as we subject ourselves to Your divine service. Amen. Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory Be ...

Ninth Prayer (23 December):
ALL: O God, Who in Your very nature contains all the riches of heaven and earth, You loved the poverty of humanity by choosing to become one of us. You are the descendant of Kings and the Heir of David the Venerable. You were satisfied to be born in a stable and a humble manger. We beseech You, through Your Pure Nativity and through the intercession of Your Mother and Saint Joseph, Your Chosen One, to grant us an appreciation of voluntary poverty. May we be satisfied with only that which is necessary for the maintenance of our lives. Teach us to flee from excessive luxury and the love of abundance all the days of our lives. Amen. Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory Be ...

Faith Formation - New Bedford

On December 15, we hosted a Maronite Faith Formation class and Christmas celebration at Our Lady of Purgatory in New Bedford. In the presence of a nativity we shared the Christmas story with the children and had a program for the parents which included, christmas carols, prayer and refreshments.


First Vows

On Saturday, December 8 2012, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Therese Maria Touma professed First Vows as a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light during the Qurbono at Saint Anthony of the Desert parish in Fall River, MA.  His Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour, several concelebrating clergy and over 200 people attended the celebration.  Mother Marla Marie received Sister Therese Maria's vows after the homily (as you can see from the photos).
It was a beautiful and blessed day in the journey of the foundation of the Maronite Servants.  Sister Therese Maria addressed the congregation at the close of the Qurbono:

“My soul rejoices in the Lord my Savior…The Mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1: 47, 49)
Yes, truly he has filled me with the fullness of his awesome love. Thank you to all for your encouraging presence and prayers, and for sharing with me such a joyous occasion. In gratitude to our Good God, I thank him for the gift of my calling as a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light, and for the grace to respond to this life-giving invitation to be all for Jesus, and to love and serve our Church.
I thank my parents Youssef and Jackie for all their sacrifices and love in raising me and my siblings Alison and Roumanos. I am honored to have my mum here with me all the way from Australia, representing my loved ones, family and friends back home in Sydney.
There are many who have touched my life and made a positive difference. They know who they are and I thank God for each of them.
In particular, I thank His Excellency Sayedna Gregory Mansour for his inspiring words, caring presence and faithful witness of fatherly and brotherly love.
I am deeply grateful to the generous abounas (priests) who have supported me in my journey of discernment and formation, and especially for those here today.
In a special way, I thank you Mother Marla Marie for your self-giving dedication and uplifting presence in my life as a guide, formator, and dear friend. In the last three years of formation, I have seen myself grow in the acceptance of my humanity, and in compassion for my neighbor. Thank you for your goodness, for all the joys, challenges, and the sharing of your life experiences with me, in community. This all has helped me to grow in my understanding and living of true communion and love.


Parish Visit - Utica NY

We visited St. Louis Gonzaga parish in Utica, N.Y. last weekend December 1-2 and spoke to the religious education class on vocations.
Chorbishop John Faris, pastor of the parish graciously welcomed us and gave Mother Marla Marie the opportunity to speak at the Liturgies sharing on our Maronite Servant mission and the importance of praying for and encouraging vocations in the family and parish community, to religious life and the priesthood.
We also met with some of the ladies from the St. Mary’s Ladies guild, the MYO and the Catechists. We were blessed with a fruitful visit and were part of the family spirit of the parish. God willing, we hope to come back to Utica in 2013 to facilitate a ladies retreat for the St. Mary’s Guild and offer practical workshops for the catechists.


Year of Faith - To Do List

Here are a few simple things we can do during this Year of Faith:

Pray the Rosary. The Holy Father asked us to pray each day the Nicene Creed. Why stop there? We  an do the entire Rosary; it will take us twelve minutes, and we will be all the better for it.

Do something good for your marriage. If you are not married, do something good for someone else's
marriage. Live true to your state in life and find God's presence there.

Read Saint Ephrem: Get to know better your Maronite liturgy, history and tradition and the valuable
contribution our Church continues to make in the Middle East and throughout the world.

Go to Confession. Attend daily Liturgy once a week. Forgive someone who hurt you. Reach out to someone who is estranged from you. Volunteer for something at Church.

Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church or YouCat or the Compodium. Know better your faith. Read our eparchial website (www.stmaron.org). Talk to those around you about the importance and
meaning of faith.

(Taken from a letter of His Excellency, Bishop Gregory J. Mansour)



The Maronite Music Website

by Fr. Geoffrey Abdallah, Director
This new website is provided by the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission as an official resource for the Maronite Catholic Church. The Commission was established in March 2008 by the four Maronite Bishops of the English speaking eparchies (dioceses) - Bishops Gregory Mansour and Robert Shaheen (USA), Bishop Ad Abikaram (Australia) and Bishop Joseph Khoury (Canada) - in response to the decision at the annual Maronite Bishops' Synod at Bkerke (Lebanon) to establish an inter-eparchial committee to work on one English translation of the Maronite Liturgical texts.
The demanding task of accurately translating and adapting over 250 Maronite Chants of the Qorbono (Mass) into singable English, while remaining faithful to the original Syriac melody, is now omplete. The Entrance Hymns, Qoleh, and Mazmooreh for the whole Liturgical year are available on this website. The hymns for the Proper of the Mass, such as Glory to God, Pre-Anaphora Hymns, Peace Hymns, Fraction Hymns, Communion Hymns, etc., have also been placed on this website. This will allow parish choirs time to begin learning the new texts/hymns prior to the arrival of the new Mass Books.
The new English translation of the Book of Offering (Mass Book) has been approved by the Maronite Bishops of the English speaking eparchies and has been promulgated by the Maronite Patriarch, His Beatitude Bechara Peter Rai. It is in the process of publication. Since the work of any Music  commission is always a "work in progress," this website will be constantly updated. It will provide Maronite Hymns in English, articles about Maronite Music, recordings and other resources to make the richness of our authentic Antiochian Syriac Maronite tradition available to future generations in the English speaking world.



Nurturing faith in MYO - Rhode Island

If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there; and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”(Mt 17:20)
We presented on Growing our Faith to the MYO on Sunday November 11 at St. George Maronite Catholic Church, Rhode Island. We shared with them what faith is (utilizing the YouCat), and how we can practically grow it, especially in this Year of Faith. We gave each of the teens a copy of the Creed and encouraged them to pray this often, as our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI recommends that this be our daily prayer during this year.

The main ideas that we shared are:

-We need to know our faith and understand what believe, to better live it and appreciate it.

- The Creed helps us to learn our Christian beliefs and the Youth Catechism or YouCat is an excellent tool in aiding our understanding of the faith.

- Faith is a precious gift from God given to us at Baptism and increased when we ask for it in prayer.

- Faith is having knowledge and a trusting love in God’s promise of salvation.

- Faith grows more when we listen and read the Word of God, and live out the Gospel values of love, forgiveness and service.

- Faith is absolutely certain, because Jesus guarantees it!

OLOP Bazaar- New Bedford

On Saturday November 10, we attended the Our Lady of Purgatory annual bazaar in New Bedford, M.A. The children of the parish are pictured singing Christmas carols and entertaining the crowd with Abouna Jack Morrison, pastor of Our Lady of Purgatory Church and Matt Thomas, music director. It was an enjoyable and successful family event, thanks to the goodness and efforts of many volunteers coming together in the parish.


Patriarch is appointed Cardinal

On October 24, 2012, during his weekly General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI announced a consistory for the creation of six new Cardinals of the Catholic Church. “It is with great joy that I announce my intention to hold a consistory on November 24th in which I will appoint six new members of the College of Cardinals. Pope Benedict XVI proceeded to read out the names of the new cardinals. They are:

Archbishop James Michael Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household who, Pope Benedict XVI said, “I intend to appoint as Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls”

His Beatitude Bechara Boutros [Peter] Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon


2012 MYA Workshop- Washington D.C.

We attended the MYA Workshop Nov. 2-4th held in Washington DC where 170 young adults from across the U.S. present.  The main presenter speaking on Maronite history and spirituality, in particular the Maronite Liturgy was Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, Rector of the Maronite Seminary. At the workshop we assisted by leading Maronite morning and evening prayer. Sr. Therese Maria also shared her journey of faith to the group and below is a copy of her life testimony.
The MYA also had the opportunity in their program to go to confession, receive the mysteries of the Eucharist celebrated by His Excellency Bishop Gregory Mansour and other priests from our eparchies. The highlight of the program was the visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. On Sunday at 11:00AM the MYA group attended Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, and a farewell brunch.

Discovering the Love of My Life!
by– Sister Therese Maria Touma, MSCL
It is a great joy to share with you my journey of faith and how I came to develop a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ, the love of my life! I would like to begin by sharing a little about my family history. I was born in 1984 and raised in Sydney, Australia. My dad was born in North Lebanon and my mother was born in Sydney. I have two siblings younger than I, a sister and brother. Growing up, we went every Sunday to the Maronite Church.  We were blessed to be raised in our Maronite faith and traditions. My mother taught us by example to pray and value our faith by the way we lived out our Christian values.
In high school, I started to ask questions, seeking answers to what the point of my existence was? We get up, eat, go to school, work, eat, sleep, and the cycle goes on? Deep down I was yearning to understand my purpose in life, and to find a deeper fulfillment in who I was. So I started to attend weekly bible discussion at our parish hoping to find some answers. At home, I began reading the Gospels to discover more about the attractive person of Jesus and his teachings. I found Christ’s Words to be nourishing and also challenging at the same time, as I discovered I had to change (let go of my pride and selfishness) to be more like Jesus who in contrast is humble, compassionate, and forgiving. I also started to put my faith into action and get more involved in serving at our parish, as a lector, in the choir, and in various spiritual and social activities.  
In college my thirst to learn more about the Catholic faith grew so in my free time I read the lives of many interesting saints, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One saint that very much captivated me was St. Therese the Little Flower. Her book the “Story of the Soul” totally inspired me and I believe helped form my spirituality of simplicity, trust and child-like confidence in God’s infinite love and mercy. It is worth reading. I highly recommend it!
In my younger youth, I enjoyed life, family, friends and frozen yogurt! As a Sister, my enjoyment in life has expanded in community with the humorous Mother Marla Marie. Some of my hobbies were playing basketball, swimming, skiing, calligraphy, and going out dancing with friends.
At the age of 20, a significant event that led me to realize my desire to be “all for Jesus” was the 2005 ADORE Eucharistic Conference I attended in Sydney. I recall coming home from the conference crying tears of joy…as I had experienced more intimately God’s awesome love for me, his beloved daughter. I also felt a deeper sorrow for my attachments to sin. I desired to be healed and freed to love Jesus even more. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God for his unconditional love and goodness in my life. My mum thought something was wrong with me. She could not fully understand how those beautiful days of Eucharistic Adoration, praise and worship, going to the Mysteries/Sacraments of the Eucharist and penance had moved me, filled my heart with an inexpressible peace and joy. This was also the first time I told her of my desire of becoming a Religious Sister and loving Jesus totally by giving him back the gift of my life. At this point, my mum was not happy with this desire of mine as she wanted me to pursue my accounting career, get married and provide the many grand children.
After completing my Business degree in 2005, I was offered an excellent position in commercial accounting. Six months into my job I handed in my resignation as I was dissatisfied in such a competitive , empty and materialistic career. I decided to go and discern my vocation in Lebanon with the missionary sisters of St. Therese. I stayed and lived with them, observing and joining in their way of life for 5 months. My experience with the Sisters gave me a greater love and appreciation for the Maronite Liturgy/Spirituality and teaching the faith. However, I did not see that this was where God was calling me to serve him, so I returned back to Australia in 2006 with an openness to still serving God as a Religious Sister.
In Sydney, I continued to discern my vocation through prayer, ongoing faith formation and spiritual direction. I studied part-time a diploma in Education while working at the Religious Education Office. In 2008, a friend wrote to me about the new community of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light and encouraged me to visit their website. I did visit the website and found myself drawn to the charism as I saw it to be a much needed and vital mission in our universal Church. The mission of the Maronite Servants is a beautiful call to service as spiritual mothers working alongside our priests. As consecrated women, we are to pray for, sacrifice, and lead our people to the Christ the Light, the true joy and treasure of our lives!
God’s ways and timing are amazing. I contacted Mother Marla Marie and asked if I could do a Come and see visit. In that same year, I visited Mother Marla Marie in Boston for 6 weeks. After my enjoyable and fruitful visit, I applied to join the community and entered as a postulant in 2010. Now I am a novice preparing to take my first vows of obedience, chastity and poverty. God willing, December 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception I will make my first profession of vows at St. Anthony of the Desert Church in Fall River, M.A. I am very excited to be taking this step as I publically give my life to Jesus in service to his people, and to share the gifts of His love and life in community. We are praying that many young women will join us in this beautiful life and mission. Maybe some young ladies reading this article or that you know in your parish who might be open to serving God as a Maronite Servant? Please spread the word about us.
If you would like for more information about our community please visit our website www.maroniteservants.org and blog RadiateHisLight.blogspot.com and watch our video. I promise you my prayers and I ask for yours. I invite you in this Year of Faith to deepen your love for Jesus by: making prayer a priority in your day, praying the Rosary, reading the Scriptures, spending quiet time with Jesus, and growing in the understanding of your Catholic faith by buying the Youth Catechism or YouCat and studying it!
I personally am joyful because Jesus, who is truth, goodness and beauty, is the center and love of my life! I challenge you to make him the center of your life. You won’t regret it! He is our way to eternal bliss, Heaven! God bless you.


“The Attack on Religious Freedom in the United States of America”

Joining in peaceful prayer Thursdays in Attleboro.
“The Attack on Religious Freedom in the United States of America”

by Rev. Fr. Kevin Joseph Beaton, S.F.O.

Delivered at the Rally for Religious Freedom, 8 June 2012 at Lee Plaza , Roanoke, Virginia

Anyone who reads the Catechism of the Catholic Church (promulgated by Pope John Paul II in October of 1992) knows that, in the eyes of the Church, contraception (CCC 2370), sterilization (CCC 2297, 2399) and abortion (CCC 2270-2275) are regarded as serious moral evils. That teaching, in the area of sexual ethics, was not new in the early 1990’s. For example, the doctrine on contraception set forth on behalf of married couples by Pope Pius XI (Encyclical Casti Connubii, 1930) was reaffirmed by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in 1968.

Why, then, would the Catholic Church in her efforts to evangelize the culture undermine her own teaching with respect to non-Catholic employees who work at Catholic institutions, such as colleges and universities, hospitals and day-care centers, nursing homes and soup kitchens? The answer, of course, is that the Catholic Church does not promote two different moral codes: one for her own members and another for non-Catholics.

It is both amazing and disturbing that the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in its mandate of January 20, 2012, is trying to force Catholic Christians and others to compromise our consciences as regards contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs. Have our leaders in Washington, D.C. forgotten the meaning of the word “complicity”? It is an important word found in criminal law and in moral theology. Complicity has to do with being a partner in wrongdoing. For example, a person who provides money for an abortion is complicit in the same evil as the one who seeks the abortion and the one who performs the abortion.

How is it possible, in this “land of the free and the home of the brave,” that faith based communities are being threatened by the federal government for not making a mockery of our beliefs, for not giving to Caesar what belongs to God? The 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America declares, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” If, however, we have arrived at a point in our history where Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, Protestant Christians, Jewish congregations and other religious entities can be coerced into going against our convictions in order to satisfy an arbitrary federal mandate touching upon insurance coverage, then the Constitution shall be rendered null and void in the matter of religious freedom and people of faith shall be turned into second class citizens.

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, dear fellow Americans, our founding fathers who gave us The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution knew how to go to their knees and pray for this nation, this one nation under God; let us also kneel and pray. May God bless you and your families: God bless the U.S.A. Amen.

Sodality Retreat - Dartmouth

On Saturday October 27th we hosted a retreat day for St. George’s Rosary Sodality, Providence, R.I..  In the morning,  Fr. Ed Nedder, pastor of St. George, offered Divine Liturgy in our chapel assisted by Deacon Enzo Digiacomo. The day’s program include  two presentations on prayer and scripture, lunch, group sharing, quiet time for reflection, and adoration. The women found the day to be spiritually refreshing, peaceful and relaxing. 
We were assisted by two young adults , Sandra Mattar from Our Lady of the Cedars Church, and Emiy Lattouf from St. Theresa’s Church. They did a great job in helping us to facilitate the day.



Recent MSCL Events

Life Teen Conference

     SisterTherese Maria attended a three day Life Teen Leadership Conference in Dedham, M.A. This was a great opportunity to learn how to effectively engage teens in their faith and bring them closer to Jesus through; relational ministry, authenticity, joy, love, modeling prayer, breaking open the Word of God, skits, fun activities, dynamic small groups, praise and worship.    
It was an awesome and uplifting experience!
MYO Fun 
Our Lady of Purgatory MYO along with their pastor, Fr. Jack Morrison and the Sisters enjoyed lazer tag in Fall River on Friday Oct 19.  We had an evening of fun and community building as we played two laser games and then had pizza.

Ramsho & Supper
On Sunday October 21 our Ramsho & Supper evening at the convent was joined by lovely group from various parishes, including two priests Fr. Jack Morrison and Fr. Hicham Chemali, S.J.. Our next Ramsho evening is Sunday November 11 at 5:00PM. RSVP call 508/996-1753 or email sister@maroniteservants.org  by Friday November 9 if you would like to attend.





Encounter 2012 - New Jersey

We attended the Eastern Catholic Churches Encounter 2012  last weekend October 11-14 at St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The theme of the conference was “Together In Christ”. Clergy and the laity from the Armenian, Chaldean, Malankar, Malabar, Maronite, Melkite, Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian, Syriac and Ukrainian Churches were invited to attend and approximately 80 priest and 200 lay people were present.
Dynamic speakers included Bishop Nicholas Samra (Melkite Bishop of the U.S.), Fr. Damien Geiger (Melkite pastor, Florida), Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci (Bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire), Maureen Daddona, PH.D and Sr. Marla Marie, who spoke on the Blue print for Church Growth. Sister Marla Marie  emphasized the importance of deepening our prayer life and personal desire for holiness, in order to become effective witnesses of Jesus Christ especially in this Year of Faith.
His Excellency Bishop Gregory Mansour also attended the conference and beautifully led Safro (morning prayer) for the clergy and lay faithful. We also befriended a group of vibrant and active Melkite young adults pictured in the photo collage. It was a successful event and a great opportunity for us to deepen our ties with one another, witness to the beauty of our faith traditions and come together as one body in Christ.


Syriac Library Dedication - Rutgers

We attended the dedication of the Rutgers University  "Beth Mardutho Research Library: The Syriac Institute on October 15, 2012.  During this event, Doctor Sebastian Brock, the world-known Syriac scholar, gave a presentation. 


New Evangelization - Pope Benedict

"The Christian must not be lukewarm. Revelation tells us that this is the greatest danger for a Christian: not that he says no, but a very tepid yes. This tepidness really discredits Christianity. Faith must become in us the flame of love, flame that really ignites my being, becomes the great passion of my being, and so ignites my neighbor. This is the way of evangelization...that truth becomes charity in me and charity like fire ignites my neighbor." (Pope Benedict XVI, Opening Remarks, Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization)


Year of Faith Begins

 October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013
the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 
Likewise, the opening of the Year of Faith coincides with the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held this month, with the theme of The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.
Read more about this holy year in our Church, and enter into the call to renew your faith in Christ. 

100+ Anniversary Celebration - Fall River

On Sunday 7th October we attended St. Anthony of the Desert’s 100+ Anniversary Divine Liturgy and reception. In addition, to this commemorative event we celebrated Chorbishop Joseph Kaddo’s 40th Anniversary to the priesthood. It was a beautiful gathering and tribute to Chorbishop Kaddo and the hard-working parish community of St. Anthony of the Desert.


Year of Faith - Bishop Gregory Writes

Brother Priests, Deacons and Subdeacons, Religious Men and Women, Seminarians, Lay Faithful, Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The Year of Faith proclaimed by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will begin October 11, 2012, and it could not come at a better time for our world. On the one hand in the Middle East, we have a religious fanaticism that threatens every peace-loving believer by a misguided sense of what God asks of us. On the other hand, in the West there is what the Holy Father calls a “crisis of faith” that makes even the best of believers question whether or not anything is objectively true. Thus everything seems to be “negotiable”, even to the point of thinking that we, not God, decide what is true and what has value.
This year in the United States we mark 40 years since Roe vs. Wade, which has made abortion a “right” throughout all nine months of pregnancy. We sadly note that assisted suicide is now on the ballot for Massachusetts. Marriage has been redefined in some states. The Federal Government has imposed “health” mandates, which, contrary to being healthy, impose on our consciences to do that which we firmly believe is wrong. Catholic institutions and faithful are faced with legal penalties if they do not accept this or other government decisions.
Somewhere between the misguided religious fanaticism of the Middle East, and the misguided secular fanaticism of the West, we Catholics must now know our faith better than ever, and live and pass on this faith, in all its splendor and beauty, to our children.
Our Holy Father’s recent visit to Lebanon brought the beauty of our Catholic faith into sharp contrast with what the world has to offer. For in between a world plagued by violence, division and hatred, and a world depressed by apathy, where nothing is true and good in and of itself, we Maronite Catholics find ourselves with a renewed mission and purpose for our weary world.
Dear brothers and sisters, only true, sincere, and reasonable faith, can save and guide us on the right path. Our marriages, our families, our engagement with society, our personal well being and happiness all need this faith in God.
It is my sincere hope that each one of us will find a way to renew our faith, rekindle its flame, water its seeds, planted so long ago by our ancestors, love and live this faith vibrantly within our Maronite Church with all the love of our hearts.
With prayerful best wishes, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ, +Gregory John Mansour


St. Theresa’s Parish Festival - Brockton

We attended St. Theresa’s parish festival in Brockton last weekend September 29-30. Despite the rainy weather it did not deter the people, young and old, from enjoying a fun community event! We are pictured at the festival with our beautiful friends from Our Lady of the Cedars Church, Jamaica Plain. A special thanks to Abouna Tony Mouanes and to all the parishioners for their gracious hospitality and hard work.


Saint Shayna & Saint Sassine- September 15

(Translation from the Maronite Martyrology)
Saint Abramius, also called Shayna (which means protection), was from Antioch, chief of a band of thieves. One day he wanted to rob a convent of nuns. He and his fellows dressed up as monks and entered the convent to rob it. The nuns received them in and one nun started washing his feet following the customs of the time and the place in receiving guests. One of the nuns was sick and paralyzed. She anointed herself with the dirty wash water and was healed. When Abramius saw this miracle along with the righteousness and holiness that reigned in this convent, he was so moved and immediately touched by grace that he decided to repent and give up his sinful way of life. At once he revealed his identity to the nuns and told them about his purpose for entering their convent. And to prove that, he showed them his hidden sword then put it in their hands to indicate granting them protection; therefore he was nicknamed Shayna meaning protection. He and his fellows became monks and ended their lives in works of repentance and asceticism. Shayna became their prior in the monastery. Through his guidance he converted a great number of pagans, then died in peace.

Saint Sassine was the bishop of the city of Cozikis. The governor of Cozikis arrested him. He bravely admitted his Christian faith. The governor got angry and ordered him to offer up to idols. He refused and began demonstrating that pagan worship and its superstitions are vain and that the Christian religion is the true religion. The governor raged and ordered him to be tortured. They tied him to untamed horses until his body got smashed. Then they whipped him hard but he held fast in his faith. They threw him in prison shackled with iron cuffs. When King Constantine the great rose to power, he defended the Church and liberated her from persecution; he released the holy bishop and restituted the bishopric seat to him. When the Arius heresy appeared, and the first Nicene Council convened in the year 325, Sassine began debating the followers of Arius and confuting them with his sound demonstrations. Then he returned to his seat spreading the teachings of the Nicene Council.
Galius was an enemy to Constantine and the Christians. He arrested bishop Sassine and inflicted upon him the worst tortures. He was beheaded and dies around the year 328.


Our Lady of Purgatory - New Bedford

MYO is back!
On Friday September 21st at 7:00PM we had our first MYO meeting at Our Lady of Purgatory, New Bedford. It has been eight years since the parish had an MYO. We had eight eager teens attend the meeting and more to come! It was a fun and eventful evening as we introduced the teens to what MYO is and gave them an opportunity to express what they would like to see in their meetings.
We had different faith activities, ice-breakers, and minute-to-win-it games to kick off our first meeting.  Abouna Jack Morrison, pastor, led the group in prayer, and spoke to them about the nature of prayer as talking to God, loving him, thanking him, asking for his help, and forgiveness.  Our next meeting is Friday October 19th for a night out at laser tag.

20th Anniversary
On Sunday 23rd September, the Divine Liturgy was offered in thanksgiving for Fr. Jack Morrison, and in celebration of his 20th anniversary of priesthood. Our prayers, love and support are with you Abouna! May God grant you many more years of health and fruitful ministry.
Pictured are the children and teens from the parish giving Fr. Jack a congratulatory card at the 10:00AM Liturgy.  The card was made at the religious education and MYO sessions.


Catechetical Year Has Begun

Catechesis - New Bedford, MA
At the request of Fr. Jack Morison, pastor at Our Lady of Purgatory, we began a Maronite Faith Formation program on Saturday September 15 for children in grades Kindergarten to sixth.
These monthly classes will include Scripture, teachings on Maronite traditions, spirituality, doctrine and prayer, crafts, visuals such as videos, music and interactive technology to help our children to grow in their Maronite faith and love for Jesus. Our next session will be Saturday October 6 ,10:00AM to noon.
Tips for Parents  - Providence, RI
At the request of Father Ed Nedder, pastor of St. George Maronite parish in Providence, Rhode Island, we attended the opening day of the parish catechetical program. Sister Marla Marie addressed the parents offering five practical tips for supporting their child’s faith formation.
Below are the “Five T's”:
1.     Talk- talk to your children about God and to God.

2.     Tradition- teach your children the Maronite traditions. Learn them and read more about them as they are being taught to the children in the Faith of the Mountain series.

3.     Ten Commandments- Teach your children the commandments and live them at home.

4.     Take- take your children every Sunday to Divine Liturgy, to the Mysteries of Penance, to  formation classes where they can encounter Jesus and grow in their knowledge and love of Him.

5.     Thank- Thank God and teach your children to have an attitude of gratitude! Help them to see that everything they have is a gift from God.


Pope Benedict in Lebanon

by His Excellency, Bishop Gregory J. Mansour
Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn

Over fifteen years ago, Blessed John Paul II visited Lebanon. He met with youth, religious and civic leaders, and everywhere he went the streets were packed. What hope he brought! What joy! What confidence for a brighter future! During this historic visit he offered his much quoted word of encouragement: “Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message for East and West.” Lebanon has never been the same! A few years ago in the spirit of the Blessed Pontiff, Lebanese Muslims and Christians together petitioned the government saying that there are Muslim feast days and Christian feast days, but no Muslim-Christian feast day in Lebanon. It was therefore decided that March 25 every year was to be set aside as the first ever in the whole world, Muslim-Christian feast day, to prove there is still great power and joy in the “message” that is Lebanon!



Maronite Catechesis Workshop - Atlanta.

By Cecilia Romero

St Joseph Church of Atlanta, GA held its first Maronite Catechetical Workshop on Labor Day weekend, Sept 2 and 3, 2012. Sister Marla Marie Lucas was our guest catechtical presenter who guided the three session workshop over two days. Experienced and new catechists of different generations from our church were present. Sister Marla Marie's main theme was based on scripture: " Go and Make Disciples " Mat 28: 19 - 20. During the talks, Sister reminded us to take confidence since the catechetical program is God's program. She began the workshop with an excellent video/song about the impact that catechists make on their students. Sister then talked about the mission and journey of faith with emphasis of the roles of the catechists, the pastor, the families and the children. Sister gave us valuable Maronite information and resources to use for the program. She also spent time teaching us the six tasks of catechesis: promoting knowledge of the faith, liturgical education, moral formation, teaching to pray, building up our Maronite Christian communities and missionary initiative. In Sunday's session, Sister Marla Marie offered a presentation on praying with children. The session ended with the catechists praying before the tabernacle. Then each catechist was presented with a certificate by Deacon Bob Calabrese. On behalf of all the catechists and our Pastor Fr. Dominique Hanna, we gratefully thank Sister Marla Marie for her presentations which are invaluable sources of information that will help guide us to be more effective catechists to our children. It is our hope that Sister Marla Marie can give a future regional Maronite catechesis workshop in the southeast area.

MYO Atlanta - Lock In Retreat
At the MYO-MYA Lock-in held September 2nd to September 3rd Sr. Therese Maria gave an interactive presentation titled “Thirsty? Come to the Life-giving Well”  to forty young people at St. Joseph’s parish hall. The afternoon session included: an opening ice-breaker “balloon pop”, a PowerPoint, prayer from the psalms, reflective questions, singing, group sharing, trivia questions, prizes and Scripture activities.
Sr. Therese Maria reflects, “On the whole, I felt that the group responded positively to the presentation as they asked great questions, listened attentively and contributed well in the group sharing. The objective of the talk was to help young people to discover their deep need and thirst for God, and how they can quench their thirst for true love and communion by developing and nurturing an intimate friendship with Jesus, the eternal thirst-quencher! I gave them five tips to help them to do this in their daily lives. Here they are:
1. Pray every day and live in God loving presence each moment.
2. Read and live the Word of God and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you.
3. Read the inspiring lives of the saints especially our Maronite saints.
4. Go to Divine Liturgy each Sunday and be present to the awesomeness of what is happening.
5. Go to Confession regularly and receive the gift of Jesus’ merciful love & forgiveness.”


Women’s Retreat - California

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light traveled to Southern California to facilitate a women’s retreat for Saint John Maron parish in Orange County.   A parishioner opened her home in Lake Arrowhead for the venue which offered a beautiful setting for retreat.  We began with 20 women on Friday evening August 24th and concluded Sunday morning with Divine Liturgy back at the parish church.   
Fr. Antoine Bakh, pastor, and the retreatants warmly welcomed us with their gracious hospitality. On the Saturday evening, Fr. Tony came to the mountain home to hear confessions and to bring the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic Adoration.
During the retreat, Mother Marla Marie gave three presentations on: finding strength, light and healing in the prayers of the Maronite Liturgy, how to reflect on the scriptures through Lectio Divina, and the importance and blessings of the Mysteries of the Eucharist and Penance.
Below are reflections from two of the retreatants:
“Your presence and spiritual guidance, at our first Saint John Maron women's retreat made the occasion ever more special and meaningful. Hearing how God called you into your vocations gave witness to His love and mercy in all of our lives.  I believe the light you radiated at the retreat gave us all greater insight, knowledge, respect and appreciation for our Maonite traditions and provided that feminine dimension of our church, that is so much needed here, in the United States.   Seeing you later, meeting, greeting, and speaking with our parishioners and youth gave me such a great feeling of hope for our church.”    Pattie

”The Woman's Retreat was such a success in so many ways . Everyone of the woman have not stopped talking about how each of them were ministered to in such a beautiful way with much love and kindness.  The combination of the Teachings and the Holiness of our Maronite Prayers, Songs and  Tradition  made it perfect for all the woman. It would not of been the same if we had arranged to have the retreat with someone else. Thank you for giving of yourselves completely this weekend and all of us are looking forward to you coming back in 2013.”  Regina