By Natalie Salameh
On Saturday, November 22, 2014, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light offered a retreat day for the children of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Worcester, MA, with the focus on how God teaches us to give ourselves in love in the events of the Season of the Glorious Birth of Our Lord, the “Happy Announcements”.
Mother Marla Marie explained how the Season of Happy Announcements is made up of six Sundays, during which we see how each of the people in the Bible passages is responding generously and lovingly to the call of God in their lives.
The children were reminded of the great gift of Jesus at Christmas, and were challenged to think of ways that they can prepare for Christmas by being more generous and loving. During the day, the children were able to participate in a Nativity Play which they enthusiastically staged for their Pastor, Fr. Gaby Hoyek, and a number of volunteers.
The retreat concluded with the children actively participating in Saturday’s Vigil Liturgy, which celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation. Some of the children read the intercessions and Epistle, all sang the hymns, while others offered the gifts.
We hosted an hosted an afternoon of recollection for the young adults from our Boston and Brockton parishes on November 9, 2014, followed by Ramsho and Supper at the Mother of Light Convent.
The focus of the afternoon was on the theological virtue of hope, particularly on the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his Encyclical, Spe Salvi (“Saved in Hope”). Mother Marla Marie explained how Love and Hope are closely related in the spiritual life. Love of God involves hope or trust in God. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man”. Hope enables us to look to the next life, but it also inspires and purifies our actions in this life. Mother Marla Marie explained that with so much darkness and evil in the world today, its very easy to become hope-less. But that is not the mark of a true Christian. We must be apostles who are filled with hope and joyful trust in God’s promises, always remembering that we are the salt and light of the earth.
We visited Bishop Stang, the Catholic High School here in Dartmouth on November 6, 2014 and addressed 350 girls on how to discern their vocation in life, particularly a call to consecrated religious life. Mother Marla Marie dispelled some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding religious life, and gave the girls some key points to help them in their discernment journey, such as maintaining a prayer life and staying close to the sacraments. Natalie Salameh also shared her journey of faith to the girls, particularly how she discerned the call of God in her life.
The teens received us well and were very enthusiastic to participate in our “Myth or Fact” prize segment, and pleasantly surprised when we snapped some “selfies” with them.
There were three excellent speakers: Dr. Alveda King, Fr. Brian Mullady, O.P., and Fr. Shawn Monahan O.M.V. sharing on the theme: "Rejoice Always! Preparing for the Year of Consecrated Life".
Mother Marla Marie reunited with Father Brian who had been her professor in graduate school and spiritual director.
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light were in Houston, Texas for the Sixth Annual Maronite Young Adult (MYA) Workshop on Friday, October 31st to Monday, November 3rd, 2014. The workshop theme was GPS – God, People, Self: Searching for the Light, with approximately 180 young adults in attendance from throughout the U.S.
One of the main speakers was Paul Thomas, who gave a personal testimony of his conversion story, after a long period of drug abuse. His story was inspirational as he described how Jesus’ divine grace and light pursued him in his darkest times and led him back to the arms of the Maronite Catholic Church.
Sr. Therese Maria assisted the MYA group during Morning Prayer with a moving reflection on Christ as the Light, with a particular emphasis on how to seek the light of Christ in our troubled world. Natalie Salameh also shared her journey of faith to the group, and was very much encouraged by a number of the young adults present.
The MYA group was given an opportunity during a Q & A session with their Excellencies Bishop Gregory Mansour, Bishop Elias Zaidan and other priests from our eparchies to open up about some of the issues the Catholic Church is now facing and that they are struggling with personally. In particular, the young adults were interested in the Church teaching on artificial contraception and same-sex attraction.
The MYA also had the opportunity in their program to go to confession during a beautiful hour of adoration, and to receive the Holy Mysteries during Divine Liturgy celebrated by their Excellencies and other eparchial clergy.