Dear brothers and sisters, members and friends of the Holy Family,
I hope you are all keeping safe with your families at home.
In these uncertain days, when everybody is enclosed with their families at home, not able to come to church for all of these very much missed masses and various church activities, the church bulletin, more than ever becomes the main way of communicating between church and community . Nobody could have imagined such a situation. Cancelling masses, Faith Formation, choir practice, MYO meetings, Lenten dinners, bible studies, all activities and meetings, was a very painful but necessary decision. However, we must comply with decisions of both our Eparchy and the Saint Paul Archdiocese. Safety comes first for you and your families. Some parish activities have been converted to online virtual services via live-streaming on Facebook and the church website. Masses and services are still being celebrated on time, but with no physical attendance and live-streamed on the Church Facebook and website, keeping us in touch with over 570 worshippers and (temporarily) aiding them in fulfilling their spiritual obligation of attending mass (4 PM Saturday and 10 AM Sunday) from their homes. Thanks to Gary Kloncz, for installing updated technology which allows us to provide live-streaming to all. Weekday masses may be streamed when feasible. We are still working on having a better image and a better sound so parishioners can be better served. Please remember that virtual attendance at mass is only temporary due to difficult times of inability to attend mass in person. This difficult period has a positive side: it has united families. Parents, their children and grandchildren united at home, the whole day and night, where like the old times, they can enjoy being together praying, eating, playing, for few weeks. No nights out, no eating out. Nobody wants to be in this situation caused by the coronavirus, but we need a positive side of it to help us survive through it. Many of our families have transformed a corner in their house to a small chapel where they gather for daily prayers. Many homes have become a church extension where prayers are there daily like shopping and cooking. I know how frustrated our parishioners and friends are feeling now for not being able to attend mass and it is a beautiful action to dedicate few minutes daily for short prayers morning, noon and night, and an hour of their time to pray and attend mass on the church’s Facebook, which includes with an act of Spiritual Communion.
Thank you to the parishioners who continue their weekly donations by mail, dropping off in the church mail box or PayPal. We thank you all for your thoughts and dedication and prayers. Your generosity will help keep the church able to pay bills and save for much needed projects. We are working on an online Faith Formation activity, as well as the MYO, and Bible Study Sessions.
Our church Lenten food shelf and food drive continues. People can donate food which will be given to the needy. Through your giving and sacrifice, may God listen to the cries of humanity and help in curing it from spiritual sins and physical sickness and affliction. We thank the Lord Jesus for keeping us all safe, and we have all faith in Him that, with the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and all the Saints and Angels, he will transform our miserable conditions of hopeless sickness and viruses to a bridge to salvation.
I take the opportunity of this bulletin letter of April to wish you all a blessed spring season and a blessed second part of the season of Lent. We were so happy to welcome Bishop Elias Zaidan who visited our parish on Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14. He celebrated the Stations of the Cross with us on Friday and liturgy with us on Saturday. Following liturgy, Sayedna (His Excellency), joined a group of us consisting of representatives of the church councils and other group chairs at a dinner where he expressed his appreciation to them and all Holy Family parishioners for all of the dedicated and committed work being done for the church. We presented the Bishop with a beautiful copy of the Holy Family Centennial stained glass window as a memorial for his visit.
The first three Holy Family Lenten dinners gathered a good number of people and we were so frustrated to cancel the remaining dinners. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ladies and men, this wonderful and spectacular team, for this very successful event and we hugely miss these dinners. The Holy Family Lenten dinners were designated this year to be the 2nd best Lenten dinners in the Twin Cities last year.
We thank all Holy Family parishioners, supporters and volunteers for all their dedication and commitment. In particular we thank the anonymous, generous donors, who recently made a generous donation to the church that will be used for the church building expansion when possible. With the mortgage paid off, the parish is able, with the participation of the community, to focus on building a fund for a limited church building expansion that would include a classroom, additional (one or two) washrooms, and a new office, based on the needs and possibilities.
Easter Sunday Masses will be live streamed Saturday April 11 at 4 PM and Sunday April 12 at 10 AM. In Lebanon and the Holy Land they name this feast the big (the Major) feast "Heed-el-kbeer". This is how the Maronites and the Catholics of the Holy Land greet each other in Aramaic language on Easter. You will notice that even our liturgy in Easter season, when we chant the Aramaic Syriac Maronite Trisagion, the Qadeeshat Aloho, we answer: "MsheeHo d Qom Men Beit Meeteh, Etraham 'Alain", which means "O Christ who rose from among the dead, have mercy on us". This reminds us of the thief crucified at the right side of Jesus on the cross, saying to the Jesus: "Lord, remember me in your Kingdom" (Luke 23, 42). In the old authentic Maronite traditional Divine Liturgy and just before the communion the celebrant used to say: "Remember us Oh Lord in your Kingdom, Holy Gifts to the holy (Saints), in perfection, purity and Sanctity". And this is awesome because it is a Gospel text like many others contained in the Maronite Divine Liturgy. It is as the same as in the Roman Catholic Liturgy that was also part of the Maronite Liturgy where just before the Communion where the celebrant announces: "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World" (John 1:29). And the faithful answer a Scripture based phrase: "Lord I am not worthy that you enter under my roof but say a word and my soul shall be healed" (Mt 8:8 and Luke 7:6).
God Bless You All.
Father Emmanuel Nakhle-Ghorr, Pastor
Copyright (c) 2020 Holy Family Maronite Church, St Paul. (v2004.04)