The country of Lebanon had already been suffering under a ‘perfect storm’ of Syrian
unrest, high unemployment, the COVID-19 pandemic and a corrupt government.
Then comes the devastating explosion which, by many reports, was the result of
incompetent leadership in the government. One can only imagine the additional
health, economic and personal complications affecting communities and families
in Beirut and all across Lebanon, which can be attributed to this blast.
At the time of this release, reports estimate that around 200 people were killed,
5000 to 6000 were wounded, and 300,000 displaced while much of Beirut is in ruins
and “researchers are testing air and dust samples for toxic compounds”, writes Rasha
Aridi, reporting for Science Magazine.
The parishioners of Saint Michael Church don’t have to imagine that scenario. Many
of them, including their newly arrived priest, Reverend Adib Salameh, have friends, immediate families and extended relatives living there, some directly in the blast radius of the explosion. Those personal ties are partly the reason which led church members to increase assistance to the Lebanese people.
One parishioner related an experience this way, “My friend’s parents live in Beirut and the explosion blew out the windows in their home, covering them with glass and inflicting cuts and scratches. They had to move in with relatives until the damage can be repaired, with no timeline as to when this can be done.” This is just one incident among many, including more serious injuries and death, experienced all across Beirut.
Reverend Adib’s parents and several of his relatives live in and around Beirut and Jounieh (ju*nee), a moderate sized coastal town approximately 10 miles from Beirut. Because of them he was acutely aware of the suffering caused by economic distress and other factors previously mentioned. He knew that high unemployment coupled with the burgeoning cost of basic living expenses was creating a wretched state of existence for the entire country of Lebanon. He has regularly been sending money on a monthly basis, directly to families needing assistance.
When he first began sending monetary aid, Reverend Adib quickly learned that the physical amount actually reaching his intended destination was reduced by almost fifty percent because of “wire charges, charitable foundation commissions and government appropriations.”
So instead of employing those traditional channels, Reverend Adib set up a direct pipeline for funds to reach affected Lebanese families and communities. Now ninety five percent of the funds are getting to the people who really need them.
Inspired by Adib’s example and because the local Saint Michael Archangel Catholic Church was founded by Lebanese immigrants who migrated to America and settled in Fayetteville, the parishioners of this ‘little church with the big heart’ began raising money in earnest and sending it through the pastor’s pipeline directly to Lebanese families and individuals who needed it most.
The results have been heartwarming. Basic living needs such as home repairs, food, water and medical treatment have been provided to several families. Lives have been saved because of this, as at least two people who needed surgery, were able to get it.
Reverend Adib has been gratified and impressed by the generosity and diligence of his flock. He says, “They know as disciples of Jesus that we are called to help those in need. It is a tribute to that spirit that this small group of parishioners are able to produce help for those they might never meet. It is our calling.”
The Challenge Continues
Adib is aware that there is still much to be done and the church will work to provide as much help as it can over the coming months, raising money, sending cards and letters of support and praying for those that are oppressed. They welcome all the help they can assemble.
Donations by check or money order may be made out and sent to Saint Michael Church. The address is 806 Arsenal Avenue, Fayetteville NC 28305. Note ‘Lebanon Relief’ on the check. Administrators can be reached by phone at 910-484-1531.
About Saint Michael Church
Saint Michael Archangel Maronite Catholic Church is a small parish located in Fayetteville NC in the community of Eastern Catholic Churches and is under the guidance of the Pope in Rome.
Many American community Catholic parishioners have experienced the Maronite Eastern mass and those who have, encounter a special participation experience, involving singing and the spiritual richness of the Maronite Liturgy, with many prayers spoken in the ancient Arameic language.
Everyone is welcome to celebrate Mass at Saint Michael and do not have to be Catholic or Maronite to attend. However, only baptized Catholics can receive communion or other sacraments. Find out more by visiting the church website: www.stmichaelsmaronite.net
St Michael Archangel Catholic Church
806 Arsenal Ave, Fayetteville, NC 28305
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