Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beirut, Lebanon is in our Backyard

In June, I had the privilege of visiting Lebanon for an international meeting.  As we drove onto the compound where the Daughters of Charity and Vincentians serve, a statue of St. Catherine Laboure greeted us as we entered the courtyard.
Inside the courtyard is a beautiful tribute to Blessed Mother.  In the background you can see the Lourdes Grotto with Bernadette kneeling.  In the foreground is Blessed Mother as depicted in one of the apparitions experienced by St. Catherine Laboure.  Don't miss St. Catherine sitting on the bench in the right corner!  Hundreds of people gather here each day for Mass. 
One night while I was there we attended a children's school program.  The Vincentian Priests (Congregation of the Mission) work with other organizations to provide education for immigrant children who are unable to attend the other schools.
The program had an around the world theme with music and dances from around the globe.
The Daughters of Charity run an elementary and high school on the same campus as the school for the immigrants where the provincial houses for the Daughters of Charity and Vincentians are both located.  I had the opportunity for a brief visit with Sr. Ann Sauve who is a Daughter of Charity from the US.  She has been a missionary in Lebanon for over 30 years.
Beirut, where I was, is located along the Mediterranean Sea.  One evening we drove up in to the mountains.  Here is a Maronite Church, Eastern rite Catholic Church.  One of the fruits of Blessed Mother's appearance to St. Catherine (1830) was the creation of the youth movement "Children of Mary".  In the hallway of this church is a Children of Mary banner from 1847--if I remembered the exact number correctly.  We were impressed how quickly the message and movement traveled so long ago.
This is the mosque in downtown Beirut.  It is beautiful from what I saw outside.  It is a good symbol of how the Muslims and, the country's majority, Christians (various kinds of both) seek to peacefully co-exist as the situation in Syria begins to bubble over into Lebanon.  The Daughters of Charity in Syria are now all moved to Damascus where they serve at a hospital and school.  We pray for them, as they suffer with the people of Syria, that peace may come to the Syrians SOON!
I took this photo in the town up in the mountains.  The town was beautiful with so many flowers around the homse built on the steep mountainside.  So much beauty in this rugged area.  There are many figurative doors that can be opened during these difficult days in the Middle East.
The other day I was reading Mother Seton School's newsletter (Emmitsburg, MD) and was surprised to read an article about fundraising for Lebanon!  MSS held a Walk-a-thon to raise money to reinstate the hot lunch program at the Daughters of Charity's pre-school and primary school.  They raised $5,837 and the letter stated that this would feed 46 students lunch for the year.
Yes, so many doors we encounter.  Which do we pass by and which ones do we knock on and enter?

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