The country of Lebanon had already been suffering under a ‘perfect storm’ of Syrian
unrest, high unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic. Then comes the devastating
explosion, which the United States Geological Survey compared to a magnitude 3.3 earthquake. The USGS website reads, “news reports state the explosion was cause by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which is roughly equivalent to 1100 tons of TNT.
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. 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.
Help Is On The Way
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 part of the reason leadin church members to increase assistance for 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.
Reverend Adib’s system for funds to reach affected Lebanese families and communities has been very effective, with ninety five percent of the money arriving faster, to help the people who really need it.
Inspired by Adib’s example and partly 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 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 diverse flock, which contains members from all over the world. 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 attend Mass at Saint Michael Church and do not have to be Catholic or Maronite to participate. However, only baptized Catholics can receive communion or other sacraments. Find out more by visiting the website: www.stmichaelsmaronite.net
St Michael Archangel Catholic Church
806 Arsenal Ave, Fayetteville, NC 28305