My dear friends in Christ,
Like all of us in this nation, my heart aches for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Our neighbors in the southern region of the United States are suffering immeasurable destruction, loss, damage, and despair. They need our help. I join my faithful brothers and sisters and pray to Almighty God, the Father of Heaven, to grant rest to those who have perished in this catastrophic weather, to console the hearts of their loved ones, and to send aid to those who need food, shelter, medicine, support, clothing, and love. Together we can provide them hope.
Members of the United States Office of the Apostolic Union of Clergy and Laity Association, on behalf of its International President Msgr. Giuseppe Magrin in Rome, will come together on Sunday September 17, 2017 to offer Mass for the victims. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is appealing for a special collection on SEPTEMBER 17th in parishes throughout the country.
As the national president of the Apostolic Union of Clergy and Laity Association and pastor of St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church, I will offer Mass on Sunday, September 17th at 10:30a.m. We will raise prayers and will ask for an extraordinary one-time collection to help in providing emergency assistance to the victims of this natural disaster. After the Mass services, I invite all to join me in prayer. For those who cannot attend, I encourage you to find your closest place of worship to pray, light a candle, or send a donation through our website. We will post any updates on our disaster relief efforts on our website.
The Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope/St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy, under Bishop Elias Zaidan’s immediate moral and ecclesiastic care, will send our collection to the office of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles for the Maronite Church in America. Some of these funds will go to support the displaced parishioners of Our Lady of the Cedars Church in Houston. Remarkably, the Maronite Catholic parish in Houston, Texas is one of the most active parishes in the church. In better times, the good people of their parish kindheartedly provided much aid and support to migrants who fled from persecution in the Middle East.
The Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope/St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy knows very well the reality of heartbroken people. Thus, we formed ourselves to be soldiers of Christ, good Samaritans, and apostles of hope and mercy, who extend support to the millions of persecuted and oppressed people in the world. We must act in generosity and support, but most of all, we will offer prayers and implorations to God to rescue his people who are experiencing devastation, for they are true people of faith, hope and love.
We must never disvalue the heart and conscience that God granted when He created us. So, we pray that people of good will and public officials in our Nation, come together with the Spirit of working in the spirit of solidarity to assist in the needs of the neighbor. We urge religious leaders in this nation to hold prayers of encouragement, healing, protection, consolation from grief and protection for survivors so that their needs may be truly be met.
May God bless all those who will act according to the love of God and the love of thy neighbor. Time is critical. Thank you for your caring and support during this devastating time in the southern United States of America.
Fr Andre Y Sebastian Mahanna
Pastor, St. Rafka Maronite Church
Founder & President, St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy