We attended and participated in the Mid-Atlantic East Regional NAM Convention on November 6 -8, 2015. Monsignor James Root and the community of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York hosted the convention with the theme of “In His Great Love and Mercy.” The talks were to help prepare for the Jubilee Year of Mercy called for by His Holiness, Pope Francis, which begins on December 8, 2015.
Saturday’s schedule began with Safro (morning prayer), followed by a wonderful presentation by Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, former Rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Seminary, Washington D.C. Chorbishop Beggiani highlighted how our Maronite prayers and Liturgies emphasize God’s greatest attribute, his Mercy. This mercy is so clearly manifested God’s ready willingness to forgive us, and how we, as Christians, are called to be “God-like”, that is, to show mercy to others in generously overlooking and forgiving them their shortcomings. Chorbishop Beggiani also reminded us of what we often forget, that is, we desperately need the mercy of others to overlook and forgive our failings. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Mt 5:7).
Following Safro, Mother Marla Marie facilitated a workshop for the children from ages 5 – 12. The focus of the workshop was “God’s Great Love for Us”. Mother Marla Marie highlighted to the children that God’s greatest gift to us, and the best way He showed us His love, was by sending His only Son, Jesus, to die for us and save us from sin. The children were encouraged to think about other ways in which God has shown them His great love. The children were each given their own Frisbee to decorate, as they “soar high with their Savior”, to always remind them that God’s love is the only thing they need to help them soar to Heaven.
Sr. Therese Maria shared her vocation story with other 70 teenagers in the MYO Workshop presented by Bishop Gregory Mansour, and encouraged them to open their hearts to our merciful Savior. Sr. Therese Maria also spent time with the MYA and Fr. Vincent Farhat, Pastor of St. Maron in Philadelphia, in a Q&A discussion on some of the faith challenges our young adults face in our world today.
On Saturday evening, we had a wonderful time mingling with our people and clergy at the Hafli (banquet). Sunday morning Divine Liturgy, was celebrated by his Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour who reminded us how it is often difficult to forgive those who have hurt us, but it becomes easier when we remember who we are, that we, ourselves, are sinners in need of God’s mercy. Sayedna quoted an interview from August 2013, when the Pope was asked, “Who are you? Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” The Pope responded, “I am a sinner who has been looked upon by God”.