350th Anniversary of Dartmouth – Giving Thanks!

By Natalie Salameh
The Maronite Servants attended the closing prayer service for the 350th Anniversary of the Town of Dartmouth at St. Julie Billiart Roman Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon, October 26th.

This was an ecumenical and inter-faith prayer service, which boasted of the various faith communities of Dartmouth coming together to give thanks to God for their 350 years as a town and community. In attendance were various pastors and faithful from a number of Christian denominations; the Cantor and spokesman from the Tifereth Israeli Congregation and members of the Baha’i faith.

Mother Marla Marie spoke to the community about the history of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light in Dartmouth, and the Mother of Light Convent. I was asked to pray a prayer of gratitude as a Maronite Catholic with the youth of other faiths and denominations.

At the conclusion of the prayer service, we were able to meet and greet the people during the refreshment hour in the hall of the Church. It was here that we were able to witness to the people to our Maronite Catholic tradition and spread the word about our mission.    

Serving Our Lady of Purgatory and St. Anthony of the Desert Parishes

By Natalie Salameh
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light hosted the MYO and MFF meetings for the teens and children of Our Lady of Purgatory Parish, New Bedford on Friday and Saturday, October 24th and 25th, 2014, and for the children of St. Anthony of the Desert Parish, Fall River on Sunday, October 26th.  The theme of the weekend’s catechesis was the centrality of Our Blessed Mother in our Maronite Tradition and the rosary.

In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope St. John Paul II states:
Many signs indicate that still today the Blessed Virgin desires to exercise through the prayer of the rosary that maternal concern to which the dying Redeemer entrusted, in the person of the beloved disciple, all the sons and daughters of the Church: “Woman, behold your son!” (Jn19:26). Well-known are the occasions in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries on which the Mother of Christ made her presence felt and her voice heard….”

One such occasion that we discussed with the teens and children was the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. So central is the rosary to the Fatima message that Our Lady chose to identify herself as "The Lady of the Rosary." In each of the six apparitions she asked for the daily rosary, especially as an instrument of world peace. The Blessed Mother concluded the final apparition by showing the children three separate tableaux symbolizing the entire message of the Rosary. The first was a vision of the Holy family - representing the joyful mysteries; the second a vision of Our Lady of Sorrows - representing the sorrowful mysteries; and the third a vision of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel - representing the glorious mysteries.

The teens and children were shown by the sisters how to pray the rosary, and were then able to make their own rosaries, which they were encouraged to pray daily with their families.


Marian Day of Prayer

By Natalie Salameh
The Sodality of the Blessed Mother of St. George Maronite Church attended a Day of Recollection at the Mother of Light Convent on Saturday, October 18th 2014 hosted by the Maronite Servants.  The theme focused Our Lady’s place, role and influence in our Maronite tradition, with emphasis on the rosary.

Mother Marla Marie explained to the ladies that our Maronite tradition has always reserved a special place of honor for the Blessed Virgin. Indeed, all over Lebanon, this prominence given to the Blessed Virgin can be seen in the large number of shrines built in Mary’s honor. The Maronite heart is, after all, a Marian heart.  The Maronite Liturgy has many references to the Blessed Virgin. In the Liturgy, as well as the Divine Office, the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin is frequent.

With a focus on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, Mother Marla Marie gave the ladies plenty of food for reflection as she took each Mystery and explained its central spiritual themes. This proved to be a beautiful segway into the morning’s Adoration Hour.

Sr. Therese Maria led the ladies in a lectio divina (divine reading) of the scripture passage of the Visitation. We commemorate Our Lady’s visit to her cousin St. Elizabeth soon in our Maronite Liturgical Season of Announcements. Sr. Therese Maria walked the ladies through each of the steps of lectio divina, and encouraged them to meditate on how the passage could apply to their own lives with thought-provoking questions.


Evening Prayer and Supper - Dartmouth

On Sunday, October 12, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light hosted its monthly Ramsho Prayer and Supper at the Mother of Light Convent joined by several parishioners from our local Maronite and Roman Catholic parishes, and the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth.

The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth are a new congregation of Roman Catholic religious founded in 2011 by Mother Olga Yacob. Responding to an invitation from His Eminence, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Mother Olga began the Daughters, which now consists of three novices and four postulants. May God to bless them as they continue flourish and prosper.

The Maronite Servants, being a newly established Maronite congregation of religious, was able to share similar vocational experiences with the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth.   

A New Beginning for St. George Church - Rhode Island

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light attended the dedication of St. George Maronite Church in Cranston, Rhode Island on Sunday, October 5th 2014 at a Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving celebrated by His Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour, concelebrated with the Pastor of St. George, Fr. Ed Nedder and Chorbishop Joseph Lahoud, and a number of other clergy.

A beautiful ritual took place after Bishop Gregory’s homily, whereby the Church of St. George was formally dedicated as a Maronite Church for the honor of God and the continued service of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. The Bishop, the various clergy present, and the altar servers then processed solemnly throughout the whole church, while the Bishop sprinkled holy water.

The dedication of the church was then followed by a festive banquet for the parish and distinguished guests at the Venus de Milo restaurant in Somerset.   Many of the parishioners expressed day that this has been “a dream come true”. The dedication of their new Church has been a time-consuming and lengthy process. Nine years ago, on October 25th, 2005, the former St. George, which was located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was destroyed by fire. After the devastating fire, the Parish of St. George rented and shared a space at St. Raymond’s Church in Providence, Rhode Island.

In April of 2013, the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of St. Maron entered into an agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence to purchase the church and rectory of the now newly dedicated, St. George Maronite Church (which previously had been St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church).

We really learn from this dedication what it means to be “Church”. In the words of St. Augustine, “the work we see complete in this building is physical; it should find its spiritual counterpart in your hearts. We see here the finished product of stone and wood; so too your lives should reveal the handiwork of God’s grace”. As said by Fr. Ed Nedder on Sunday’s Dedication, we are “Church”, not the building. Echoing this theme, Bishop Gregory reminded us that we should re-dedicate ourselves to the service of the Lord, as faithful members of His Church.