“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Help for the Training of Seven Seminarians in Lebanon
Until recently, Lebanon was the only Middle Eastern country with a Christian majority. Today, Christians make up no more than approximately 34% of the total population; among young people under 25, only one quarter are Christian. Continuing Christian emigration is a big reason for the decreasing numbers. During the civil war, between 1975 and 1990, some 700,000 Christians left Lebanon.
Now the country’s disastrous economic and political crises, and, most recently, the devastating explosion which destroyed a section of the capital city Beirut, including one of the Christian neighborhoods, have only intensified this trend.
In the Archdiocese of Baalbek, in the Bekaa Valley in the northeast of the country, the situation is worse. Here Christians now account for barely 5% of the population. This is a poor region, one that is very insecure, owing to the proximity to the frontier with Syria. People are afraid. Those who can, are leaving the country and seeking a better life in Canada or Australia, while many others are moving to Beirut. The only thing that can check this mass exodus is the presence of a strong Church, capable of supporting its faithful spiritually, pastorally socially and economically.
Young, well-formed and energetic priests have a crucial role to play in keeping the Church alive in the area, and Maronite Archbishop Hanna Rahme of Baalbek is happy to have seven young men in his archdiocese currently training for the priesthood. Already they are helping actively in parish work, including in youth work and catechesis.
The archbishop wrote to ACN, “These young men have a strong missionary spirit. They want to serve the Church, whether in Lebanon, in the mission lands or elsewhere where there are large immigrant populations. They want to be ‘priests forever.’ We thank God for these young vocations; they are already serving the diocese with apostolic zeal.”
ACN plans to contribute $11,800 towards the cost of the formation of these seven future priests.
Will you help these young seminarians complete their training in Lebanon?
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