April/May 2013 - Vol. 67
Syriac-Orthodox bishops bless association 
in Sword of the Spirit community in Lebanon
a news report by Fady Noun

The Syriac-Orthodox members of the People of God community and its associated movements in Lebanon now have their own association of the faithful, just like their brothers and sisters from the respective Catholic and Greek-Orthodox churches.

On Sunday the 3rd of February 2013, two bishops of their church, Bishop Georges Saliba, bishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli and Bishop Daniel Kourie, bishop of Beirut, granted their apostolic blessing to the members of their church who are part of the ecumenical community, the People of God.

The written text of this blessing was signed by the two bishops during a community meeting held in a school hall in Mtayleb (Lebanon). The bishops explained that they were granting their blessing to chuch members “known to them personally for their faithful service in the Christian formation centers of their dioceses.” Such a commendation by their bishops speaks of the ongoing efforts of those community members to be in good communication with their bishops and to serve at the parish and diocesan level .

The text reads: “Dear sons and daughters, we are here because you have asked us to bless your apostolic association. In light of our personal acquaintance with you and with the personal service you render in the Christian formation centers of our dioceses, and [we do so] after having studied the rules which govern your presence as Syriac-Orthodox within this charismatic movement, we grant you our blessing. We also note your serious efforts to live out a Christian life of virtue according the principles of the faith of our holy Syriac-Orthodox Church, its tradition and history, and its holy sacraments. We urge you therefore to guard the deposit of faith and the bonds of charity and to be witnesses to and apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, especially in this our beloved and troubled Middle East, through the intercession or Our Lady and all the saints.”

Bishop Georges Saliba (standing) spoke words of blessing and 
encouragement to members of the community

The joyous occasion was marked by the brothers and sisters from this oriental church chanting in the Syriac language a few hymns and canticles from their church tradition.

The bishops were welcomed by Jean Fahd, senior coordinator of the community, and by members of its pastoral council, including Malko Dunia, himself Syriac-Orthodox. The bishops were also welcomed at the event by the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Tyre, Archbishop Georges Bacouni, who is a member of the community.

Two Syriac-Orthodox bishopsBishop Georges Saliba and Bishop Daniel Kourie (fifth and 
seventh from the left respectively)with Syriac-Orthodox members of the People of God 
as well as dignitaries from their own and other churches.

In a short message of welcome, Jean Fahd described to the guest bishops the principles which govern the life of the People of God, its missionary dimension, and its ecumenical calling principles which respect the church traditions of all the community’s members.

Speaking to the assembly, Bishop Saliba underlined that the Syriac-Orthodox Church was one of the first to get involved in the ecumenical movement after the Second World War, through the World Council of Churches, and in the 1970s through the Middle East Council of Churches. Speaking of the Lord Jesus, Bishop Kourie said, “Do not be afraid to follow him. His wisdom has overcome the world....Guard the deposit of faith and the doctrine of the holy fathers of the Syriac Church, serve the church of Christ which he has purchased by his precious blood…and know that the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.”

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