Abouna's Message of the Month

Dear brothers and sisters,

I hope you are all doing fine with the grace of the Lord and having a blessed season of Lent. The month of March leads us through the Lenten Season preparing us for Holy Week and the celebration of Easter. Many events fall in this month beginning with the principal feast day of the Maronite calendar. The first feast of this month is the feast day of Saint John Maron on March 2. He is the first patriarch elected in the history of the Maronite Church at the end of the 7th Century in the year 686 AD.

A very special and main event of Holy Family Church is its famous Lenten Dinners, six Fridays of Lent. They were described by the papers as being the second best Lenten Dinners in the Twin Cities. They are served every Friday from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, including takeout meals. On behalf of all of you, I thank the wonderful team of organizers and volunteers. I also thank all of you for your support and participation. A portion of the Lenten dinner profits will be donated to assist the poor and the needy.

The Maronites around the World chant a famous Lent Mazmooro during Lent weekdays Mass in Syriac Aramaic, and it says: "Lent opens the gates of Heaven, and Fasters enter in, and inherit the Kingdom". And the phonetics are: “Bsawmo metfat.heen tar’eh dfardaisso, w‘oleen sayomeh w yorteen malkooto".

The season of Lent began on Ash Monday, February 12, according to the Maronite Calendar with mass and blessing of the ashes at both 9 AM and 6 PM. The faithful are asked to take this opportunity of the Season of Lent to focus on their spiritual life, especially attending Sunday Masses, and enrich their faith and their souls by committing themselves to their daily prayers and the giving up of things and vices they are attached to, exercise fasting and sharing of spare food with the needy. This season is a perfect occasion for all of us to examine our consciences and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Confession which is mandatory for all Catholics, Maronites and Roman, at least once a year. May we all pray that our families and parishioners will be blessed in this season of Lent. To help in this endeavor, Holy Family is celebrating the Stations of the Cross every Friday at 4 PM. Also, during this Season of Lent, we will have two rich sessions of faith enrichment in the form of Bible studies on Saturday, March 9 and Saturday March 16, from 5:15 PM to 6:15 PM. They are open to everyone, parishioners and visitors alike, physically or virtually through the Church Facebook and website with live interactive participation. The session is prepared and led by Deacon George Younes, an expert scholar on the Bible and Maronite and Catholic Spirituality. All participants can participate with questions, comments, and conversation.

Sunday, March 19, is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph, the chosen father and Guardian of the Holy Family. He is also the patron of family values, charitable institutions caring for orphans, children, elderly and sick, and the patron of good and righteous death. On Saturday March 25, we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. The month of March will conclude with the Holy Week celebrations: Palm Sunday March 24, there will be a procession with the blessed palms indoor or outdoor depending on the weather. Families, children and individuals will carry palms or olive branches and shout Hosanna to Jesus the Lord. Holy Wednesday evening Mass includes Blessing of the Oils. Holy Thursday Liturgy includes the Washing of the feet followed by Adoration of the Holy Sacrament and confessions. Great Friday of Crucifixion includes the taking down of Jesus from the cross and burial. Holy Saturday we will have confessions from 11:00 AM -12:00 Noon, followed by the Ritual of Forgiveness and 4 pm Easter Eve Liturgy. Easter Sunday includes Easter Liturgy at 10 am.

Please tell your relatives and friends that they can access the church bulletin and announcements which are updated daily on the church Facebook website: https://www.facebook.com/HolyFamilyMaroniteChurch which is accessible from the website directly too, or website: holyfamilymaronitechurch.org. Sunday masses are being live streamed on Facebook for the sick, elderly, or out of town parishioners. We thank all those who made this technology possible, our team and our generous donors.

Attendance in Church is increasing. I would like to remind all parents to ensure your children come to Church and participate in the many activities available to them, especially on Sundays. The unstoppable MYO youth group has their weekly Sunday afternoon gatherings. The MYA Young Adults group is active for young adults ages 18 to 35. Faith Formation classes are held every Sunday 9 AM – 10 AM. We thank Gary Schwery, his team and parents for their dedication and commitment. Our choir never stopped serving liturgies summer and winter, with passion and dedication. Our technology system kept constantly improving in quality and efficiency. Our lay deacons never interrupted their participation in weekend and weekday Liturgies. Our events crews and chairs kept the church activities going amazingly. Our Church office never took a break. With your support and solidarity all this was made possible.

Church financial situation and "where the Church money goes".

I have included in my bulletin letter, information about the Church Financial situation and plans. I take the opportunity to answer the question this time, too. Donations, collections and event revenues, are accurately deposited in Church accounts in a timely manner. As in every Church, the Church office pays the Church bills, insurances, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, heating, cooling, landscape, equipment, clergy, Eparchy and all other expenses. A determined percentage (5 or 10%) of "some" events income goes to charitable giving. The leftover money goes to a Church savings account or investment to be accumulated for future Church plans and building expansion in a constant quiet and capital campaign. As I said before, the Church finances have continued to increase, constantly but slowly, since my appointment nine years ago from -70k in 2014 to +420k in 2022, the total increase is about 490k or 54k every increase year average. The last year our increase was about 70k by the end of December. Considering that 180k of the 400k increase was donated by one donor and his wife, while the 220k were donated by our community of generous donors. The last year average donation per donor was approximately $960. Now, somebody might ask why are we accumulating all this money. As you know, the Church building lacks essential space needed for its basic functions: A couple of small classrooms for our children and youth, secretary and clergy offices and their storage, additional bathrooms, bigger hall and sacristy and kitchen storage. This future plan will be costing way more than the double of the amount reached until now. So every single saved penny will be used for the Church of the future generation of your children and grandchildren. In simple numbers, we reached presently the second half of the amount needed to start the project. We are about to organize a way to speed the campaign to reach the goal. So, be assured that we know exactly where we are financially and where we are going to be in the future. And we are sure that with your generosity and passionate participation, the Church goals will be reached with the help of the Lord Jesus, for the Church of your children and grandchildren.

God bless you all.

Abouna Emmanuel Nakhle-Ghorr, Pastor +

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