Reflection: NAM 2016 – San Francisco

By: Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light attended this year’s National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM) Convention in San Francisco, California from July 7th to July 10th, 2016.   We were blessed with the opportunity to meet and mingle with over 1,500 of our Maronite parishioners who attended from all over the US to meet and greet our Patriarch, his Eminence and Beatitude Cardinal Beshara Peter Rai. This is the second time in NAM Convention history that a Maronite Patriarch has blessed us with his presence.

On a personal note, my parents, Joseph and Wendy, and my brother, Peter, also came to the Convention all the way from Sydney, Australia.

We had a table in the exhibitors area where we met so many new (and not so new) people and were able to speak to them one on one. There were a number of highlights: we attended two Theologies on Tap. The first was held at the Exploratorium in Downtown San Francisco and was hosted by Fr. Tony Massad and  Sister Therese Maria. The second was held in the Atrium of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and was hosted by Fr. Guy Sarkis. We were able to listen to a number of talks on a wide variety of topics including “prayer and entrepreneurship” and the “four pillars of healthy living”.

We attended the Patriarch’s Panel Commission on the affairs of Lebanon in its current political and economic state, where we were able to listen to the many concerns and issues plaguing Lebanon at the moment.  Directly after the panel, the Patriarch filmed his weekly teaching on the Gospel on Telelumiere. His topic was the life of St. Charbel in honor of the saint’s feastday coming up on July 23.

Also, we were interviewed by Telelumiere and were asked about the foundation of our community, and what brings us to NAM each year.   We attended the evangelical concert of Lebanon’s Christian singer, Joumana Mdawar, who moved the audience to tears by her strong faith, radiant joy and sweet angelic voice.

At the conclusion of the Convention, we spent a day of sight-seeing in San Francisco with my family. We saw the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Cable Car Musuem, the famous Lombard Street, the Victorian houses of old and even the house of “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

May God bless the efforts and work of all those involved in this year’s Convention. It was a great success. We look forward to attending next year in Greenville, South Carolina, God willing.