Local Maronite Catholic Parish Shows Solidarity with Victims and First Responders in Lebanon Tragedy
by Father George Hajj, pastor
In the name of the Maronite Catholic parish family of St. Anthony of Padua and the Lebanese community of the tristate, we thank everyone for the moral support and for being together during the tragic explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020. Thank you for standing by the people of Lebanon during these indescribable hard times.
The situation of Lebanon has been exponentially deteriorating for the past decades. It is a beautiful land with wonderful people, as well as the last stronghold of Christianity in the Middle East, with a rich culture and history. Lebanon has been the victim of civil war since 1975, then under the yoke of serious economic duress. Unemployment that reached 56 percent in 2018; endemic corruption in the public sector transformed the government into a puppet toy of radical ideologist countries. The government has failed to provide basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation legislation that is perceived to shield the ruling class from accountability.
On Oct. 17, 2019, amidst a civil protest that embraced the entire country, a ray of hope emerged. In 2020 the country was hit hard by the coronavirus, caused mainly by infected individuals from the outside who were brought in to quarantine in Lebanon. The months of March through June 2020, witnessed the bankruptcy of the banking sector caused by a government orchestrated Ponzi scheme, that inflated the currency 400 percent in three months.
Finally, the mainly Christian sector of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was hit by an enigmatic explosion, the third biggest in the world after Hiroshima, that killed hundreds, wounded thousands and destroyed hundreds of thousands of structures, as if human life and dignity has no value. The cross is indescribable, yet the prayer of the Lebanese people is based in their solid faith, their genuine love and care for each other and their mature hope in the Resurrection!
The parish family of St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church established in 1910 in Cincinnati, largely composed of Middle Eastern Christians with a Lebanese preponderance, celebrated the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, on Saturday, Aug. 15, highlighting their solidarity with the victims and first responders of the tragedy in Lebanon. A candlelit procession followed the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The Our Lady of Lebanon icon led the procession, followed by the Maronite Saints, reaching the front of the church, on Victory parkway. Together the faithful chanted hymns of the feast honoring the Blessed Mother of God. This is our human journey to eternity, standing with each other, according to the readings of the feast, Romans 12:10-21: “Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (NAB).
Donations and prayers can be sent to Saint Anthony of Padua Maronite Catholic Church, for the victims of Lebanon, going to the Archdiocese of Beirut, to help the victims directly.