Dear brothers and sisters,
After a nice summer break, where many of you vacationed at the cabin fishing, enjoying water sports, family gatherings and bonfires or by visiting family and relatives here in the states, a land of faith and mission and values, or the homeland of many of you, Lebanon, with what it symbolizes as the land of the cedars, six thousand years of history, a biblical land, the land visited and honored by the Lord Jesus’s visits and preaching, the land where Christianity first started to expand all over the World. After all these summer breaks and vacations we come again together to our community life despite all threats and diseases, in a steady, careful and safe way.
Our Church Youth Summer Camp was held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, August 17-18-19. It was organized and directed by our MYO youth committee led by John Corey and team. Over a dozen children ages 8 to 17 participated. We thank all of the sponsors who generously supported the summer camp through food, cooking, clothing and logistics. We also thank the parents who sent their children to spend three days and two nights, filled with activities, games, and fun. The kids spent the first day with late afternoon and evening activities while setting up the tents and equipment. They were extremely excited the second day as they enjoyed a wonderful trip to Lebanon Hills, where they spent an abundant amount of time canoeing, hiking and swimming, all of which was followed up with an evening talk with Fr. Tony Salim. The third day, they had a session of scouts style cooking food and outdoor games. The camp concluded with a dinner prepared by the camp crew ladies and children for everyone, including the parents. The dinner even included a slideshow of the MYO activities for the last 3 years.
We are glad to come back together again to continue our walk in the church dynamic mission of evangelization and preserving heritage. Evangelization is not only being sent to an unknown land in an unknown continent preaching the Gospel and feeding the poor. Evangelization can be practiced here in your house, within your family and within your church and community. You can do so by your participation in church activities or even by inviting a relative or friend to join in and volunteer in special events and activities. We remind everyone that Liturgy is back to normal. If you are able to go shopping, run errands, or visit relatives and friends, you should not hesitate to resume attending Sunday liturgy and commit yourself to respect the day of the Lord for an hour a week, unless you are sick or elderly and attend remotely through Church Facebook and Website. Sometimes we fall into the temptation of having Church as the last of our priorities on Sunday, the Day of the Lord, and we discard giving just one hour of that day to the Lord, at least to thank Him for keeping us alive and healthy in these times of virus and sickness, and praise His Name and meditate His words. Sometime we accept that sports or social activities or visits distract us from the most important hour of our faith, the Eucharist, where we meet with our Savior, Jesus. Hopefully we will not be His last priority when one day we are called from this world to the other eternal one.
The most marked event of the Holy Family year program and agenda is the Holy Family Fall Festival. This year we are so glad to announce to you that the Festival is back. We are grateful to our Festival team who are organizing the event with the support of the all of you. With the determination of the church teams, the Festival will take its regular form with some adaptation to the situation. It will include traditional food mezza and meals that will be served on the spot outdoors for everyone, Saturday, September 11. Even the Festival is a way of Evangelization through food. This reminds us of the Lord Jesus, and His mission that included lots of food. With Jesus, will transform food, from a reason to fight and kill, to a reason of unity and life eternal.
In these days of the end of the wave of the Coronavirus, many people in today’s society still feel lonely and have no one to talk to, no friends, not even a spiritual guide. They feel happy to belong again to an active and dynamic community of Catholic faith such as Holy Family and participate in activities and in a beautiful and rich liturgy around the year, going deep into the history of the church since the Apostles. It even uses in its some few passages the Aramaic Syriac language which was spoken by our Lord Jesus. Don’t forget that the first of the four gospels of the New Testament was written by the Evangelist Matthew in the Aramaic language.
During the month of September, the Faith Formation session 2021-2022, will resume mid-month. It is a crucial and essential activity that the Church provides to all children of the parish age 6 to 12. Parents have the duty to commit their children to Faith Formation sessions, so they can be raised on the Catholic Maronite faith. Our team of teachers lead by Gary Schwery commit themselves to teach children with patience and dedication. The program includes preparations for First Holy Communion, and now for the renewal of the Confirmation Sacrament for children who didn’t follow a Sacrament of Confirmation course in a Catholic school. Many parents in these days complain about children who lack Christian values and faith, and are taken in by some risky ethical and social behavior. This reality should alarm the parents of today to be extremely careful and stand more firmly for their faith and the faith of their children and make sure to transmit it to the new generation the faith of their ancestors, their jeddoos and sittoos.
We are happy to announce to you that the Church purchased some beautiful new gowns for our Altar Servers, made in Lebanon, in the Maronite Catholic style.
Wednesday, September 8, is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Liturgy will be celebrated at 6:00 PM. May the Virgin Mary bless the annual Church Fall Festival.
Monday, September 13, the eve of the Holy Cross, will mark the 7th anniversary of my appointment as pastor of Holy Family Church of Saint Paul and the 35th anniversary of my ordination (September 13, 1986). I take this opportunity to ask your prayers and your support and I express my appreciation to you all for your support and care, and on this occasion, I would like to thank Bishop Elias Zaidan, for his trust and constant support to my service.
Tuesday, September 14 is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Liturgy will be celebrated on Sunday September 12 at 10:00 AM. This feast will start the Season of the Holy Cross which goes until the beginning of November.
We thank again all families and individuals who continue to support our brothers and sisters in Beirut, which was deeply affected by the disastrous explosion of August 4 of 2020. A massive campaign is still going on by the Maronite Eparchy and in Minnesota, with the participation of Saint Maron in Minneapolis and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul. The campaign is supporting Caritas Lebanon, the major Catholic charity of Lebanon and the Middle East. Posters and announcements with details will be on Facebook and the website.
Wishing you a blessed month of September, assuring you that the church is glad to offer all spiritual assistance needed for all parishioners and friends.
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