MYO Adore Retreat 2019

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

The MYO Adore Retreat for northeast region of the Eparchy of St. Maron was on December 13–15 at the Wisdom House retreat facility in Litchfield, Connecticut. Sister Therese Maria, eparchial director for youth, the Maronite Servants' sisters,  and seminarians planned a dynamic weekend centered on the example of St. Joseph and how he can inspire us in preparing our hearts to welcome the birth of Jesus.

In attendance were 100 teens and advisors from several parishes: St. Maron’s in Philadelphia; Our Lady Star of the East in Pleasantville, NJ; St. Theresa’s in Brockton, MA; Our Lady of Purgatory in New Bedford, MA; St. Anthony’s in Lawrence, MA; St. Anthony’s in Danbury, CT; Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, and St. John Paul II in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

We were especially blessed this year to have among us His Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour, who gave a talk to the teens on the silence, purity and prayerfulness of St. Joseph on Saturday morning. Also, Fr. Dany Abi-Akar, pastor at St. John Paul II in Sleepy Hollow, presented on the obedience of St. Joseph. 

Over the weekend, the teens participated in a variety of events, activities and prayer which included Eucharistic Adoration and confession. Sr. Therese Maria faciliated a Q&A panel of speakers which included Fr. Dany Abi-Akar, Seminarian Vincent Michael, Vivian Akel from the eparchial office of child protection, Mother Marla Marie and Bishop Gregory Mansour. The teens asked a variety of good questions including vocational and the teachings of our Catholic faith. 

Many of the youth expressed their joy at having made new friends, having an opportunity to bond with God and one another, and at being free to just be themselves and have fun. One of the icebreakers which generated much excitement was the “Santa Beard Relay”, where the youth were divided into 6 teams, and with Vaseline-smeared faces had to dunk them into a tray of cotton balls to see how many would stick.

Our retreat concluded on Sunday morning at the Divine Liturgy at St. Maron’s Church in Torrington, followed by brunch. A special thankyou to the entire team of advisors and volunteers who generously donated their time, talents and treasures in making this retreat such a special event. A special thank you as well to Fr. Tony Saab and the parish of St. Maron’s for their gracious hospitality.


Are you a Rooster or a Compass?

Sunday, December 8, 2019 homily by 
Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th

Are you a rooster or a compass?
On top of some churches in Europe there is a rooster with a compass underneath it. The origins of the use of the rooster and compass go back to sometime between 590 and 604, when Pope Gregory I noted how the rooster is a good symbol on Churches because it reminds us that Saint Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. This further developed in the ninth century when Pope Nicholas requested that all churches put a rooster on the top of their steeples.
Since Churches were usually at the center of village and city life, there was also a practical element of having a rooster and a compass on top of Church buildings. The rooster moved and was used to determine the direction of the wind while the compass showed direction that never changed. The rooster moved depending on which way the wind was blowing while the compass remained constant despite the day or the temperature.

When we look at our lives as Catholic Christians we need to ask ourselves whether we are like the rooster that changes direction with every wind and passing fad or are we like the compass that despite the weather, despite the location, and despite the time of day are always facing the right direction.

This imagery of the rooster becomes particularly important for us as we prepare for Christmas. We always combine a period of fasting prior to major feast days. The traditional Christmas fast started on November 15, but we can also start today. The Church term for Christmas is “The Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Our liturgical year therefore combines periods of fasting and feasting to remind us to prepare ourselves for special holy days in the year.

The word “Christmas” simply means the “Christ mass.” It is very odd that many Catholics prepare for Christmas by decorating their homes, getting a nice tree, buying gifts for everyone, but forget to prepare every day for the coming of Jesus Some even forget to come to Church on Christmas. We should never forget that Christ is the reason for this season.
Amidst the extra busy-ness that this time of year throws at us, this is a perfect time to think of whether we are more like the rooster or the compass. With all the emphasis on buying and eating are we like the rooster on top of a building that blows in every direction or are we like the compass that clearly sees the importance of the coming of Christ into the world and into our lives?

When we read the Gospels carefully we always see that Jesus was very purposeful and clear in His life mission. He did not follow the wind but was like the consistent focus of a compass. In today’s Gospel we see how focused Jesus was on teaching and healing. He was teaching in the synagogue on a Sabbath and no work was allowed to be done on that day. He then healed a woman who had been sick for 18 years despite knowing that he was going to be criticized for doing a miracle on a day when no work was supposed to be done. He saw the sick woman and immediately focused with the precision of a compass and was not intimidated to turn away and spin like a rooster because of what people may say about Him.

The entire life of Jesus was like a compass and never not like a rooster. He knew what He needed to do and remained focused throughout his life. Jesus’ life should always be a model for us. He calls each one of us to be his disciples today and to have that same focus that He had. If we are like the rooster that blows in every direction, we will end up denying Jesus more than the three times Peter denied him.

Let’s look at this in some more practical ways. Fasting forces us to be conscious of the decisions we make so that we don’t spin around with every wind that hits us. We need to be conscious every day that we are making our life decisions for Christ and with Christ. We can ask ourselves a simple question: “Is what we are doing influenced by the life of Christ or by what others will think about us?” If we are influenced by Christ then we are like the compass that has a clear direction, but if we are more influenced by changing opinions then we are like the rooster that changes direction with every passing hour.

We need to always make our faith practical for it to be real. We do this when we are specific about the things in our life that are drawing us closer to a life of faith in Jesus and the things in our life that need to be set aside. For example, I love music. I love the sounds, I love to listen to how instruments are used, I love poetic lyrics, I love the different kinds of voices, and so many other elements of music. Unfortunately, I am also aware that many popular songs contain lyrics that are inconsistent with my desire to dedicate my mind, my words, my thoughts, to Christ. While listening to a song on the radio I often think “I don’t agree with what these lyrics are saying.”

The choice I make in situations as these will determine if my faith is real or not. What I do when I listen or watch something inappropriate will determine if my faith is like a compass that is clearly directed towards Christ or whether my faith is so shallow to allow me to be influenced by what is on the radio or on TV.

Saint Paul tells us: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). We keep our compass focused on Christ by committing ourselves to live by whatever is true, honorable, and just, not whatever is trendy, new, and entertaining.

Roosters and compasses were put on top of Churches to remind us that if the wind blows us in every direction we are denying the power of Christ in our life, however when we have a clear and consistent direction in our life, we are as stable as the compass.

As we get closer to the celebration of the birth of Christ there is no better time to check whether the wind is blowing us in every direction or whether our direction is towards our savior, the child who is about to be born in Bethlehem.


Confirmation Retreat – New Bedford, MA

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light facilitated a Confirmation Retreat on December 7, for 22 teens from the combined parishes of Holy Name, St. Lawrence, and St. Francis of Assisi at the invitation of the Pastor, Fr. Michael Racine.

The retreat consisted of prayer, reflections, group discussions, and games, centered around the theme of God’s “Everlasting Love” from Jeremiah 31:3.  The confirmands were asked to ponder life’s questions, such as “Who are you?”, “Why are you here?”, “What is the purpose of your life?” and “What gives meaning to your life?”.  Sr. Therese Maria led a beautiful Eucharistic Adoration which included the praying of the Psalms, and Praise and Worship music. They also focused on the significance of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation as part of living out their great dignity as beloved children of the Father.

The day concluded with the Vigil Liturgy, and the promise of our prayers for the teens who will be confirmed in 2021.


Preparation and Thanksgiving for the Eucharist

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, Maronite Servant of Christ the Light

The greatest privilege and gift in our lives as Maronite Catholics is to receive the Lord of lords and King of kings, Jesus Christ, into our souls in the Eucharist.

Reflect on this just briefly, that He who made the stars, the oceans, the sky, the sun, the moon, and the entire universe comes down ever so lovingly at the words of His priests, and becomes our food and drink to nourish and sustain our souls. He is the One who loves us beyond all telling and measure, and longs to dwell within us and become one with us. 

This amazing gift of God becoming our food and drink requires from us some preparation before receiving Him and thanksgiving after. Many of us would come to a dinner invitation with an important dignitary prepared with something in hand, and looking respectable, and I am certain that we would not come late either. In a similar way, the Liturgy is the ultimate invitation for us to dine at the supper of the Lamb, which requires important preparation.  

Before Receiving the Eucharist

The Catholic Church sets out specific guidelines regarding how we should prepare ourselves to receive our Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist. First, you must be in a state of grace, which means that you must be free of all mortal sin. To receive the Eucharist without being in a state of grace profanes the Holy Mysteries in the most grievous manner. If you are in mortal sin, the Church requires that you go to Confession before approaching to receive the Eucharist.

Also, you must believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. According to the most recent 2019 Pew Poll, only one third of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the Real Body and Blood of Christ. We must remember that at the Last Supper, Jesus held what appeared to be bread and wine, yet said: “This is my body. . . . This is my blood” (Mark 14:22-24, cf. Luke 22:14-20).

Also, we must observe a Eucharistic fast. Canon law states, “One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion” (CIC 919 §1). 

All of the above are minimum requirements established by the Church in preparing to receive the Eucharist. Here are a few tips to help you ready yourself before Divine Liturgy, and place yourself within a prayerful and reverent mindset for your awesome encounter with God.

·      Before Divine Liturgy, read the Sunday’s Epistle and Gospel readings in order to sharpen your focus on the feast that is about to be celebrated.  
·      Come a little early before Divine Liturgy begins. 
·      Bring your intentions before the Lord in prayer, He wants to hear them all. The most powerful time to offer these intentions is before Divine Liturgy begins, and this will keep you focused on the prayers, as you participate with purpose and meaning.

Thanksgiving After Receiving the Eucharist

There is nothing that delights the Lord more than a grateful heart. In all relationships, especially in marriages, one of the greatest dangers is to start to take the other for granted. In a similar way, we can become accustomed or used to the Liturgy and the Eucharist that we start to take the Lord for granted, and forget to thank Him for the gift of Himself.

On Sunday many are busy, rushing to get lunch prepared, gathering family and friends, greeting one another, and so forth, but I encourage you to spend a little time after Liturgy to offer intentional prayers of thanksgiving, which can be found in our Maronite Book of Offering, or online, or in any Catholic devotional.  


The Announcement to Zechariah Compared to the Announcement to Mary

A homily by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent, Saturday, November 23, 2019.

Today we end the week of reflection on the Announcement to Zechariah, but today I want to site the text in comparison to the Announcement to Mary, and her reaction to the message. 

 A 16th century writer, John of Silence, suggests that we are so familiar with this story of Mary that we imagine that we are able to make sense of it. But sometimes we are blinded by what lies right before our eyes. Aristotle said: Our eyes are like those of an owl. The eyes of the owl are blinded by the brilliance of daylight, so too the intelligence of the soul is blind to what in itself, is most evident.

John calls attention to the response of Mary when she is asked to effectively abandon the future that she has planned for herself. She had never contemplated becoming a mother, but remaining a virgin, consecrated to God. But God’s mysterious plan calls for a leap of faith. She is being asked to believe something which is humanely impossible.

She will conceive without the presence of a man, that it will be the work of God, and why is it that God had chosen her as His humble handmaid? Yet, as extraordinary as the message is, Mary does not wrestle to understand it, but she believes it.

There is a similarity in the way the angel asks Zechariah and Mary, but the way in which they respond clarify the difference. Mary responds, “how can this be?” Zechariah responds, “how can I know this?” Mary’s thoughts are about this! She pondered and reflected upon it. Zechariah’s thoughts were about himself. Mary goes to the heart of the matter, concretely and soberly wondering: How shall I conduct myself in relationship to Joseph? Would he be willing to stand by her side when her reputation was tarnished? Would he be able to endure scornful remarks and disparaging glances? And if he did not stand by her, would she be stoned to death? Despite all these terrifying prospects, Mary had the strength to say, Be it done into me, according to your word (Lk 1:38).

Moreover, Mary put aside her day to day activity to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was with child in her advanced years. It is there in the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth that the work of the Holy Spirit is manifest, in the womb of Mary, recognized by the child of Elizabeth, and by the burst of singing by the two women.

It is the two women who take center stage, there is no male voice to be heard. Zechariah is in no position to speak, much less to sing. Because he could not understand, he would not believe. His heart was not in it.

When Mary spoke her decisive word, Be it done into me, according to your word (Lk 1:38).
God’s word and Mary’s word became one for the first time since the Fall in the Garden. At that moment total agreement between God and man reigned in harmony. 

When God said, Let there be light and there was light, when God said through the angel, Let my Son be born in you, Mary answered, Let it be! And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. The greatest word that a human being has ever uttered is so simple.

Yet some will question: is that all? Yes, that is all. She said, “yes”, and she allowed God to be God! God cannot enter into a heart that is only half-way full. How much more blessed our life would be if we learned from Mary to be whole-hearted. If we learned like Mary to say, Be it done into me, according to your word (Lk 1:38). But too often we stand defiantly before God and say, I will not serve! And perhaps God will respond as He did to Zechariah, Be still and know that I AM God (Ps 46). 


Pro-Life Witness – Assonet, MA

On Saturday, November 9, Sr. Natalie Sayde attended the “Come and See” Ladies meeting at St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Assonet, MA. Sister presented a pro-life witness of the personal story of her conception, and how her parents felt pressured to abort by medical personnel.   Sr. Natalie Sayde only recently learned the full truth about her conception story and shared it with all the ladies as a testament to the power of life, love and prayer. 

Saturday of Consecration Week

A homily by Fr. Herbert Nichols

During this week we have focused on John 17; the prayer of Consecration by Jesus of His Church and of His children as a “temple of Christ.” Today we backtrack a bit to John 15, where Jesus instructs us how to live this consecration in a new covenant

“No longer do I call you my servants; but my friends.” Friends are invited into a deeper intimacy than employees. Though you are not my servants but my friends I have a commandment for you--

New, yet ever old—Love one another as I have loved you.” It is not you who have chosen Me-- It is I who have chosen you.” My children if you make every effort to get to know God well, you will share in the joy of His friendship.
Perhaps this message is no more ironically portrayed than in Charles Dickens’ character: Ebenezer Scrooge, who is such a curmudgeonly gruff and cruel person; that he is friendly to no one. He pushes away his pain; and takes it out on everyone around him.

Scrooge is a Victorian-era accountant who lived a miserly and solitary life; but he is capable of some emotional breaks… After the death of his business partner, Jacob Marley, introduces Ebenezer to a walk with three ghosts who will forever change his life; and make it whole again…
Focused on these messages brought by spectral visitors, Marley (Dickens) sees the opportunity to sew back together the health and welfare of an entire community.
These “spirits/ghosts/angels” certainly messengers read back to Scrooge some awful things that he has said and done. Not loving things of family or employees.

As you sit there for a moment, imagine someone reading back to you the things that you have said or done in a moment of anger. Perhaps the ties that you were short with a MYO teen or perhaps one of your own community members… you might begin to wonder about what you said or didn’t say or perhaps you chose to walk away and ignore someone. 
The character of Scrooge is based on the propositions of what if—what if I reacted cruelly? What if I let my anger get the best of me? All the characters in this play work together to help Scrooge to open his heart.
You and I can use this painful resume as a beginning move from the week of consecration to the week of repentance/ renewal. What a wonderful, opportune time that Mr. Dickens offers us to grow like Ebenezer—to grow through this glorious season of preparation for the birth of our Savior.
To come to the realization: God loves us, everyone.  


Healing from Abortion: Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat – Stockbridge, MA

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

I attended and participated in a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA on Friday, November 1st through the 3rd.  Rachel’s Vineyard was founded by Dr. Theresa Burke, co-author of Forbidden Grief,[1] to provide a safe place for women and men to express, release, and reconcile painful post-abortive emotions and to begin the process of restoration, renewal and healing.[2]

I, personally, am not post-abortive, however, God stirred my heart to attend one of these retreats to understand the pain of abortion and its devastating effects on the human person, in order to be better formed to help our Maronite women and men suffering from the pain of abortion.  I can honestly say, after having attended this retreat with six other women and one gentleman, that the pain of abortion goes so much deeper than anyone can ever imagine, and touches some horrendous traumas and painful memories.

We are ever so good in our society at brushing aside abortion as simply “another medical procedure” or an “emptying of the contents of the uterus”, or “no big deal, just get on with your life”, but I can assure you, after attending this weekend and attentively listening to each retreat participant and their deep post-abortive grief, that this is simply not the truth. 

The shroud of darkness and silence that penetrates our culture regarding abortion is overwhelming. Very few open up about their painful trauma with abortion and are content to sweep it under the carpet. However, the undealt-with trauma of abortion, has many negative effects on one’s spiritual, emotional and psychological well-being. Dr. Burke’s book helps in understanding this, and I personally understood this first-hand during my retreat experience.

All of us retreat participants, including the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat facilitators and team, started on Friday night as complete strangers, but by Sunday afternoon, we were a beautiful family. Most of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat team are post-abortive women themselves who completed their weekends in years past and now want to help others heal from post-abortive grief, as they themselves did. They were a beautiful, attentive and caring team, working alongside a professional therapist, and a Priest from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.    

During the course of the weekend, I witnessed powerful miraculous transformations. Women who had once been engulfed and plagued by shame, guilt, self-loathing and unforgiveness, tasted and experienced the healing mercy of God and were transfigured by it. I was humbled by the experience and what I was able to witness. All I could do was praise God for the ocean of His great mercy and the power of His grace which transforms all darkness into light.

Not only were the retreat participants able to reconcile with God over the course of the weekend, they were able to reconcile inwardly with themselves and with their unborn children in Heaven, and were given countless opportunities to honor the dignity and memory of their unborn children. 

On a personal note, this retreat was life-changing for me and I am not even post-abortive. Imagine what a retreat like this can do for those women and men in our communities who are struggling with post-abortive grief, but are too ashamed to come forward and break their silence. A Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is a safe, confidential space to process and heal from grief. Jesus came to liberate us, to set us free from the sins that torment us, and Rachel’s Vineyard is an opportunity to be liberated from what many falsely call “the unforgiveable sin”.[3] There is, of course, no sin that God cannot forgive, on the contrary, He longs to forgive us and set us free.    

To find a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat near you, please see their website https://rachelsvineyard.org this is how I found the retreat I attended in Stockbridge, MA or call the national line on 877-467-3463.

[1] Dr. Theresa Burke with Dr. David Reardon, 2002, “Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion”, Acorn Press. 
[2] Rachel’s Vineyard website: https://rachelsvineyard.org


Syriac Translation from the Liturgy of the Glorious Birth

Maronite Seminarian 
Alejandro Landin, Translator 

Today a child was born, and His name was called Wonder [Is 9:5]. Indeed, God is Wonder because he has shown Himself as a baby. ܝܰܘܡܳܢ ܐܶܬܺܝܠܶܕ ܝܰܠܕܳܐ ܆ ܘܰܫܡܶܗ ܐܶܬܩܪܺܝ ܕܘܽܡܳܪܳܐ ܆ ܕܘܽܡܳܪܰܐ ܗ̱ܘ ܓܶܝܪ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܆ ܕܰܐܝܟ ܥܘܽܠܳܐ ܚܰܘܺܝ ܢܰܦܫܶܗ ܀ 
Behold! The Virgin conceived and gave birth to the […]


The Rosary in the Month of October

A reflection by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

This month we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 6. The whole month of October is dedicated in a special way to the prayer of the Rosary. After the Divine Liturgy, the Rosary is my favorite prayer.

Over the centuries, the Rosary has come to be known as the greatest Marian devotion of our times. We can think of countless saints, among them our own Maronite saints like St. Sharbel and Nimatallah El-Hardini, who loved praying the Rosary.

We’re very blessed as sisters in the Convent to have prayer time each day where we can offer a Rosary. 

So what is it about the Rosary that makes it the special and powerful prayer that it is? Many people have often got the wrong idea about the Rosary. I’ve heard it countless times, Sister, how can you sit there and just say Hail Mary, after Hail Mary, don’t you get bored? Shouldn’t you just go straight to Jesus, why do you need to pray the Rosary, it’s a waste of time?

Unfortunately, misconceptions over time have tainted the true meaning and power of the Rosary. The Rosary is fundamentally a Christ-centred prayer. As St. John Paul II in his Letter on the Rosary, “one thing is clear although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that this act of love is ultimately directed, with Mary and through Mary.” 

Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, not on herself, treasuring his every word. Pope John Paul II says again, “Mary’s contemplation is above all a remembering. In the recitation of the Rosary we enter into contact with the memories of Mary.”

The rosary is a contemplative prayer. What do I mean by that? I mean that we are using our imaginative and mental powers to reflect on the various scenes of Jesus’ life. Without this contemplative dimension the Rosary loses its meaning and runs the risk of becoming mechanical, repetitive, and yes, boring. 

A little about how we recite the Rosary, there are 4 main prayers that comprise the Rosary (the Apostles Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be). A Decade is one Father and 10 Hail Mary’s. There are 5 decades in each Rosary and we are focusing on the scenes of each mystery. Briefly, there are 4 sets of mysteries, the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious. Each mystery captures different scenes in Jesus’ life. 

The Rosary is both contemplation and petition, where we are asking Our Lady to intercede for those intentions we bring to her. Mary can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his mother.

For me, there is no way I could live without the Rosary. I pray the Rosary every day and I can’t tell you how profoundly I have experienced the presence of the Blessed Mother each time I recite a Rosary. There is nothing that I have ever, ever handed over to her by means of the Rosary where I haven’t received a response. When you ask of the Blessed Mother, don’t be afraid to ask too much, because she is very generous. 

The Rosary is the means not only of contemplating the beauty of the face of Christ, but the greatest weapon against the assaults of the evil one. The evil one hates the Rosary, he shudders with fear with each ‘Hail Mary’ and after the name of Jesus, there is no other name he fears more than the name of ‘Mary’.

So let us go to our mother, by means of the Rosary, she is waiting for us with open arms, and is only to eager to embrace us to herself and lead us to her Son.

For how to pray the Rosary visit: Rosarycenter.org


MYA National Workshop 2019 – San Antonio, Texas

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

Sr. Therese Maria and myself returned this week from the National MYA Workshop, which was held in San Antonio, Texas from October 4-6, and gathered over 80 young adults from across the country. This year’s Workshop took place at an excellent retreat center, T Bar M, surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature. 

We were blessed with the presence of both Bishops, Bishop Gregory Mansour from the Eparchy of St. Maron and Bishop Elias Zaidan from the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, Los Angeles. 

The theme for this year’s Workshop was “Leading by Example” and all the speakers touched upon the importance of having a servant-leadership heart following the example of Christ. 

We were honored to have a guest speaker, Mr. Joe Farris, a vibrant and authentic national Catholic speaker, from Cincinnati, Ohio. Joe’s message was a powerful one of how he encountered Christ in his life, and how we can encounter Christ in our lives. 

By the end of Joe’s first talk in the morning, he had me in tears, and many of the young adults were moved by his powerful personal testimony; his radical love for Christ; and how he was able to faithfully proclaim that Christ had never failed him in his life.

With the presence of both bishops among us for the whole weekend, including a number of clergy, we experienced the wonderful power of prayer and grace in the Divine Liturgies celebrated, in Eucharistic adoration and prayer, and in confession.

On a personal note, I have been to many MYA Workshops, but this one was the very best that I have attended. I truly felt that Jesus was so powerfully present among us, and that the young adults were serious about encountering the Lord, and they did. They came with open hearts and Christ did not disappoint.

During our small group sessions, the young adults opened up beautifully about their worries, doubts, fears, restlessness and yearnings. I was deeply moved by this. 

I heard great feedback from a number of young adults who said that they greatly appreciated the new format of the Workshop, that is, of having it in a retreat setting rather than a hotel as in times past. They said they appreciated the down time and getting away from the constant busyness of their everyday lives to be with the Lord and with one another. Great friendships were established and strong bonds were forged. Praise God!

A big thankyou to Fr. Tony Massad, Sr. Therese Maria and the entire MYA Board for putting together this truly wonderful event.        


Fall News from the Sisters

CLICK HERE to read our Fall Newsletter and pass it on to your friends.  We are happy to share with you God's blessings in our mission.  


Our Postulant, Emily Lattouf

Emily Sharbela Lattouf  entered the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light on September 19th at the Convent Chapel of St. Maron.  At the end of the Ramsho prayer, Monsignor James Root gave a blessing to Emily and Mother Marla Marie presented her with a medal of Our Lady of Lebanon and a formal welcome into the community.  Emily enters religious life from St. Theresa Maronite Church in Brockton.
I am so happy to be starting my new life as a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light postulant. Our greatest calling in any vocation is to love, as Saint Teresa of Calcutta says “the fruit of love is service.” It is with great joy and honor that I start this incredible journey of serving God through serving you.

Growing up in the United States I have seen a need for Maronite religious sisters. I have been attracted to this congregation for quit some time (around seven years). I have enjoyed going on spiritual retreats hosted by the sisters, and volunteering in their various ministries such the summer Bible camp, visiting the elderly, attending wedding and funeral services and much more. The sisters are involved in the lives of the parishioners and they accompany them in their journey of faith. We laugh, cry and grow with you and with one another. I look forward to serving you and living a life of prayer and service along side such wonderful sisters.”


Reflection on my Trip to the Holy Land

By Sr. Therese Maria, MSCL

The week of September 8th, I along with twenty others from diverse backgrounds were given the unique opportunity to visit the Holy Land on the Philos Catholic Tour. A gift that I am grateful for and will always treasure, especially the meaningful encounters, and interactions we had with the local residents and each other.

There are so many layers to unpack from this trip as we met with Christians, Jews, Muslims, government officials, Church leaders and journalists who are working on the local ground with the Philos Project to help promote dialogue, positive engagement and peace in the Middle East. One of the things I observed first hand was the pluralistic landscape of Israel and the intricate and complex situation, and dialogue that is occurring between Christians, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians and Israelis as they “strive” to peacefully co-exist.

In addition to visiting the holy sites of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Magdala to name a few, our focus for this trip was to learn more about the Christians and their role in the Middle East. Unfortunately, due to the lack of political stability, persecution, ongoing discrimination, and poor job opportunities thousands of Christians are leaving Israel and other places in the Middle East to seek security and stability. Today, Christians are a minority of less than 2% of the population in Israel, and after hearing from Christians in their own villages about their daily struggles, I have come to see even more why we need to materially and spiritually support Christian families. Their impact and presence in the Middle East is a much needed witness, especially in the areas of education and healthcare.

Each day, I found myself switching gears as a tourist visiting the holy sites to a pastoral/service mode in visiting various places such as the Saint Rachel’s center for undocumented refugee children. Also, being present in attentively listening to the difficulties of Christians who seek to be free, to be seen, to be healed, to be accepted and to have their human dignity and rights recognized and respected. In these vulnerable and raw moments, the group bonded, as various people expressed their heart-breaking stories. I assisted to translate from Arabic to English so that the group could better understand their narrative and enter into their plight. 

During the trip, I felt that I was truly living out my spiritual motherhood as a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light, leading prayer, answering questions on the faith, and letting those sharing their stories know that they are being heard, seen and loved. Let us continue to intensify our prayers for peace in the Middle East and for our fellow brothers and sisters, and those whose voices need to be heard.

On a final note, it was such a blessing to take your prayer intentions with me as we remembered each of you and your loved ones in our Liturgies and prayer times. 


At the IDC Conference – Washington D.C.

The Maronite Servants participated in the 6thannual In Defense of Christians (IDC) Conference in Washington, D.C. on September 10-11.  IDC was founded in 2014 in response to the tidal wave of violence towards Christians in the Middle East. One of the main goals of IDC is to advocate for policies that preserve Christianity in its ancient homeland.

The IDC Leadership Conference commenced on the evening of September 10thwith the Solidarity Dinner featuring a number of congressmen, ambassadors, dignitaries and religious leaders, among them our own Bishop, His Excellency Gregory Mansour. We heard from Mr. Samuel Brownback, the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. Mr. Brownback encouraged all participants to keep up the fight for religious freedom, predominantly through constant prayer, as God is the source of all freedom and unity. 

Towards the close of the evening, we heard a moving and poignant testimonial by Mrs. Mona Rizk Rowan who shared her harrowing story of surviving the Damour Massacre in Lebanon 1976. 

The next day on September 11, the sisters joined Mr. Steven Howard from IDC and the Massachusetts constituents, among them were Mrs. Rowan and her family, to advocate for the Coptic Christians in Egypt and recognition of the Armenian Genocide.  We visited the offices of Congressmen William Keating, and Joseph Kennedy, as well as, the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren.  

These were two very grace-filled days for us, as we witnessed to the importance of religious freedom in the Middle East and provided a voice for the voiceless. We are grateful to the President of IDC, Mr. Toufic Baaklini and his dedicated Board of Directors for their ongoing efforts of fighting for equality, freedom and security for religious minorities in the Middle East.