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Build a Pastoral Center in Lebanon
Will you join in supporting the effort to build a pastoral center to help keep local and refugee Christians rooted in Lebanon and give them a lively and full parish life?
More and more Christians are leaving the Middle East. It is an exodus that no longer affects Syria and Iraq alone, but also Lebanon. This country, which in the quite recent past was the only country in the Middle East with a Christian majority, now has a steadily dwindling Christian minority.
This wave of emigration by Christians from the Middle East is repeatedly described as a “tsunami.” Patriarch Gregorios III, the head of the Melkite Catholic Church in the country, wrote an open letter to young people last August, in which he said: “The general wave of emigration among young people, especially in Syria, but also in Lebanon and Iraq, breaks my heart, wounds me deeply and is like a death blow to me. What future does the Church have in the face of such a tsunami of emigration? What will become of our homeland? What will happen to our parishes and Church establishments?”
In Lebanon, at least, the Church is attempting to hold back this tsunami by building new churches and parish centers. It is evident that wherever people feel sufficiently rooted in their parish communities they are less likely to leave and more likely to stay. This is why working with children and young people is of paramount importance.
In Maalaka, 4 ½ miles or so from the town of Zahleh and not far from the Lebanese Syrian frontier, the Melkite Catholic faithful have built a new church, dedicated to St. Andrew. They spent 10 years fundraising for it, making great sacrifices. Currently there are some 650 Lebanese families here with an average 2 to 3 children in each. Then there are 60 families who have fled here in recent years from Syria. All in all, there are close to 3200 people living in the parish – of whom well over half are children and young people.
Now they are planning to build a pastoral center here, beneath the church, in order to bring fresh vigor to the life of the community and provide the people with a place where they can come together, whether to celebrate or to mourn. Every kind of ceremony and festivity will be held here – from weddings, baptisms and funeral gatherings, to catechesis, youth movements, educational courses and social programs. The center will also be crucial in the work of caring for the children of the Syrian refugees and helping them to become more fully integrated into Lebanese society.
ACN has promised help of $57,000 for the creation of this pastoral center. Will you join in supporting this effort to build this pastoral center to help keep local and refugee Christians rooted in Lebanon and to give them a lively and full parish life?
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