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The Return of the Maronites



Ascension Press, a Catholic Media Company based in America, through Ascension Presents, released a feature on the Maronites. The regular show entitled Jackie and Bobby Angel discusses the life of the miracle monk of Lebanon, Saint Charbel Makhlouf, which premiered on July 22, 2022. Bobby, (Jackie was away), solely, tells the life story of the saint. He, himself is mistaken for a Maronite, and given communion in Arabic. He expressed how impressive St. Charbel is with the degree comparable to that of Saint Padre Pio (Available on YouTube).


We did an interview with George Nasr, team leader of Maronites on Mission, a few years ago. After watching Bobby Angel’s show it made us ask, “Whatever happened to the Maronites missionaries?” Little did we know that as early as Australia lifted travel restrictions, they were raring to go back to Balatas in The City of Naga. We received a request for another interview with Nasr yet again. This year he led a twenty-two-member-team.


Honestly, we thought it was a one-time-endeavour for the collaboration and that we would not see the Maronites again, Nasr even asked if we still have his e-mail address, to which we replied, “Of course, we have it on file.” Why? Theirs is a noble cause.


Bicol Mail had a center-page-feature on their mission last week. They came prepared, fully-loaded, and, well-equipped with a 100% support from the more or less 500,000 thousand strong Maronite Community in Australia, furthermore, with the blessing of Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay.


They arrived in January 8, 2023, destination Naga, and departed on January 21, 2023, back home to the land down under. With that short period of time they were able to accomplish substantial projects.


A disheartening 11.8% of Filipino families, around 3.0 million, experienced involuntary hunger based on a survey done in December 10-14, 2022 (Source: Social Weather Survey). The Maronites had given at least a thousand food packs. We had seen them neatly organized with rice and canned goods and other essential and basic necessities. He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).


“For I will restore Health to you and heal you of your wounds,” says the Lord. -Jeremiah 30:17. The missionaries together with doctors and nurses and other volunteers carried out their medical and dental mission for a total of 762 patients. Dr. Amith Shetty (NSW Health) gave medical attention to them with John Youssef, a Pharmacist of Glenorie Pharmacy, who dispensed 2,500 medications.


Approximately, there are 4.5 million homeless people, including children, across The Philippines (Source: The Borgen Project). The Maronites together with other volunteers rebuilt a Chapel and reconstructed a house of 13 family members. They even distributed mattresses to other indigent families. The Chapel is the spiritual and physical home of the micro-local community. The poorest of the poor. “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - Saint Francis of Assisi. One becomes two, then three, then four, and then five, and so on… It is a snowball effect. A forceful change that happens one at a time like a Domino effect.


Roughly, 10% of more or less 39 million Filipinos 6-24 years old were out-of-school children and youth (Source: Annual Poverty Indicators Survey). The missionaries delivered to students much-needed school supplies i.e. stationary etc. They also conducted training for the missionaries of the poor with O.T. and S.P. sessions. They handed educational books and provided a sound system for the recipients’ use in their own mission. The San Rafael Institution benefited from this feat. “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” The Maronite missionaries are also teachers. The new friendship and camaraderie changed each other’s lives and charity and love are etched in their hearts forever.


The Maronites mission fosters volunteerism. On the home front in Australia they have a soup kitchen among a myriad of other projects. However, their situation is on a different spectrum, here people are in dire need of employment, a shelter, an education, medicine, water, and, food. They came home with a more grateful heart with much appreciation to what they have, more importantly, to give back or pay it forward, and most relevantly, to continue doing their mission. Continuity and consistency are the keys to success of any Charity Organization. Trust matters.


Nasr, in his parting message, wishes to thank all who helped in the 2023 mission and looks forward for the next one in 2024. Special mention to Father Alain Fares, to the Carmelite nuns, the missionaries of the poor, the silent charitable community of the City of Naga, and, the Maronite community. Truly, God works in mysterious ways.


“Teamwork is the force that binds people together toward a common vision. The force to make individual contributions toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” (Edited) - Andrew Carnegie. Finally, how can you help in your own way? Easy. Share the good news about the Maronites. If you are gifted to give then donate, sponsor; or give your own time volunteering, helping others with your skill, knowledge,and, talent-- the smile that you would see on their faces will, abundantly, tug at your heartstrings. Remember, it is a noble cause and when the next one comes, be ready and seize the opportunity. Because it is, authentically, worthwhile.

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