By Natalie Salameh
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light participated in the annual NAM Convention 2014 hosted by the parish of Our Lady of Victory, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  It was wonderful to see so many Maronites from all over the US, and some from Canada and Lebanon come together for faith sharing, fellowship and community.  A special thanks to Fr. Rudolph Wakim, Pastor of Our Lady of Victory, and his parishioners, for all their efforts and outstanding hospitality.

We had the great privilege of listening to renowned scholar, Dr. Scott Hahn, speak to our Maronite clergy and religious on the centrality of the Eucharist in Sacred Scripture. It was inspiring to delve into Sacred Scripture to discover, in greater depth, Jesus present in the Holy Mysteries.

Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Director of Education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, delivered an excellent presentation to the clergy on the ethical and moral issues associated with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Fr. Tad helped us comprehend this complicated issue in a clear and concise manner, and from an ethical, moral and pastoral point.

A personal highlight for me was hearing Fr. Tony El-Khawli, O.L.M. speak about his personal conversion story and entrance to religious life. Many may remember Fr. Tony under his name of fame, Rabih El-Khawli, when he was one of Lebanon’s biggest names in the music industry in the 1980s and 1990s. It was amazing to hear how Jesus had touched and moved him to give it all up for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He has an absolutely beautiful voice, which he has now offered to the Lord to praise him alone.
In commemoration of the centennial of St. Rafqa, two sisters from her order and convent in St. Joseph, Jrabta, spoke about the continued legacy of St. Rafqa. They reported that many pilgrims are continuing to flock to the tomb of the “Lily of Himlaya” to ask for her intercession. The sisters are regularly receiving mail from people all over the world reporting special graces and miracles they have received through the intercession of St. Rafqa. May her prayers be with us all!

It was wonderful to see so many of our Maronite young adults at the Convention. We accompanied them one evening to a Theology on Tap. We were able to listen to their genuine concerns and questions about our Catholic Faith, especially how we live our faith in our somewhat confused world. The interaction among the young adults themselves was very heartening, as they each tried to help each other understand the importance of our Christian values and moral life.

We met so many of our lovely people, and were so fortunate to celebrate daily Divine Liturgy with our Bishops and clergy, not to mention the numerous social gatherings.  God willing, we plan to visit Cleveland, Ohio for next year’s NAM!