Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church Reaches Out with Relief

September 8, 2006

Source: The Baltimore Sun


On September 8, 2006 The Baltimore Sun reported, "For 34 days, the clash between Hezbollah and Israel tore up villages of Lebanon, and much of the world's attention focused on the suffering of Muslims and Jews. But caught in the crossfire were Lebanon's Christians - nearly 40 percent of the country's population - like the families of those who regularly attend Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church. Here at this Eastern Rite Catholic Church in northwest Washington, as children prepare to start religious education classes and parents plan for the fall Middle Eastern bazaar, everyone is dedicating prayers and money to rebuilding communities overseas. 'We will continue to do it, and we will not stop until everything is good,' said Our Lady of Lebanon's pastor, Monsignor Dominic Ashkar. Israeli officials have lifted their air blockade on Lebanon, potentially allowing more aid to reach the affected communities, but a sea blockade is still in place for now. Our Lady of Lebanon's parishioners, like other U.S. Maronites, have donated to groups such as the Catholic Schools of Lebanon and Caritas Lebanon, the main local partner of Catholic Relief Services, the Baltimore-based international aid organization that just expanded its efforts there. The groups are helping Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics such as the Maronites who are struggling to reconstruct their villages after a cease-fire agreement ended major fighting a few weeks ago... There are about 300,000 Maronites worldwide, according to the online Catholic Encyclopedia. About 71,000 live in the United States, according to the 2006 Official Catholic Directory. Though they are a part of the Catholic Church based in Rome and believe the same doctrine, Maronite and other Eastern Rite Catholic Churches practice some different rituals, including dipping Eucharist bread into Communion wine and not kneeling during the liturgy."