A Cry Of
Despair- St-Maron Parish.
I would like to introduce myself as a simple family man requesting your sincere attention on a small community in despair. My name is Joseph Khouri, born in Canada, has been part of a Lebanese community church called St. Maron Parish. Throughout the years, our parents emphasized maintaining our heritage and encouraged us to be part of the Lebanese culture. As we all know, Canada is built on a society of different cultures and heritages, which we call a mosaic society and not comparable to a melting pot society, such as our neighboring country. Our only hope to maintain our Canadian/Lebanese culture was through our community church. With unsuccessful attempts throughout our 25 years of existence in Montreal, the community failed time after time, leaving families and teenagers with hopeless missions of being Canadian/Maronites, dispersing a community of thousands of families into rubbish.
Since 1995, St.Maron Church has succeeded to gather again the Canadian/Lebanese Maronites of Montreal region and has returned trust into the church by the honesty and the hard work of the community efforts, including a stable financial management. With the efforts and honesty of church priest (Father Richard Daher), in 1995 a municipal cooperation (structured under the charity by-law) was created by the command of the Bishop Georges Abi Saber, with one goal in mind, regain the trust of the community and purchase a community church for St- Maron Parish. Although the cooperation had a self-financial management commitee, St-Maron church was under the religious commands of the Maronite bishop. The reason for this structure was to avoid the previous failures of the Maronite churches in Montreal, where the community blamed the priests and bishops for sale of their church in cause of bankruptcy.
Facts to consider:
· On 1995, St- Maron Parish reestablished in Montreal with a goal to own a church.
· Regardless of the previous failures of the Maronite church, today the municipal corporation has succeeded to maintain 420000.00$ Canadian Dollars in secure funds from charities and church community efforts.
· End of 2000 and start of 2001, the committee was financially ready to buy a church for the St- Maron Community. The committee found a suitable church for the available finances achieved by the designated cooperation
· After communication and negotiations with the vendors of the chosen church, the presently assigned Bishop Joseph El Khoury, rejected the plan, since his objectives were to open a church, which will be a Cathedral of the Maronite community merging all churches into one, by closing Ste-Audile and St- Maron. The bishop has commanded the committee and the church priest to forward the secure funds of St-Maron to his command since he decided to close the community church. Through unanimous vote in the St-Maron committee, the order to transfer the funds was rejected, therefore resulting the bishops decision to close down the presently rented St-Maron community church, again leaving hundreds of families in rubbish.
· Bishop Joseph El Khoury created Ste Audile church in 1996 for reason of distance to the Lebanese community and he claimed St-Maron was not able to handle all maronites, and his objective then was to increase the number of Maronite community churches in Canada. What has changed now?
· With a different objective now, the committee claims they never rejected the plans of the bishop to purchase a Cathedral for the Maronite community, yet they insisted that the project was way over budget, and they had a commitment to the people of the community church of a purchase of St-Maron Parish. The committee continued numerous negotiations with the bishop. Without success, the Parish has been shut down AGAIN!!
· Is the cathedral project well planned and suitable?
· Can it handle all the Maronite community in Montreal and the suburbs?
· Would it be better to build a cathedral from a community church than to sacrifice a community to purchase this cathedral?
· Why dont we accept to have more than one church for the Maronite community, since there are other smaller communities that have more than one church?
· Is the bishops decision teaching our Christianity, or a Canadian/Maronite culture?
· Is the Lebanese Bishop considering Canadian/Lebanese families, and their needs for this community church?
In conclusion, I am writing this letter with the faith of Jesus, which your excellence may intervene with our Bishop to consider our spiritual being of Canadian/Maronites under the church of St-Maron. I represent Canadian families seeking a lost community with one request from our Bishop, A CHURCH OF PRAYER AND FAMILY GATHERING!!!
Thank you, your excellence, for your precious time and consideration.
(a faithful Canadian/Maronite)
CC: Sua Em Za Card;
Sa Beatitude Mar Nasrallah Boutrous Cardinal Sfeir;
Congrès des Evêques Maronites Libanais;
Son Excellence Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte;
Son Excellence Nonce Apostolique Mgr Ventura.