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Archives Diocese prepares for visit of Bishop of Latakia, Syria

Dec. 6, 2017

Bishop Terry R. LaValley will welcome Bishop Antoine Chbeir of the Maronite Diocese of Latakia, Syria, to the Diocese of Ogdensburg Dec. 11-18. Several public events have been scheduled through the week.

The Ogdensburg diocese has established a twinning relationship with Latakia as a response to Pope Francis’ call to assist Christians of the Middle East who have been persecuted for their faith.

In his 2017 Chrism Mass homily, delivered April 6 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop LaValley said, “Particularly in the Middle East, the birthplace of our Savior and home to the beginnings of our Church, Christians are experiencing an ‘ecumenism of blood’ where our sisters and brothers in faith are under constant pressure to abandon their land, even their faith - or die. 

“The decrease in the Christian population in the Middle East is staggering,” he said. “If nothing changes, soon there will be no Christians left residing in the most ancient of Christian places. Genocide is happening in our midst.”

The twinning initiative, Solidarity in Faith, “is our practical diocesan response to the Holy Father’s call to assist these suffering families and communities,” the bishop said.

The Maronite Catholic Diocese of Latakia is comprised of about 45,000 Catholics with 30 parishes, 27 priests and 27 consecrated religious. War has wreaked havoc on the region; in addition to normal pastoral activities, the Church in Latakia also must minister to thousands of displaced Syrians who have sought a safe refuge.
The Solidarity in Faith Committee, headed by Father Steven Murray of Watertown, has worked with the two bishops to facilitate Bishop Chbeir’s visit to the North Country.

The Syrian bishop will preside at liturgies and meet parishioners at the following sites:

•Dec. 12 at 11 a.m. and the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Watertown

• Dec. 13 at 12 p.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg

• Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. at Seton Catholic Central in Plattsburgh

• Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg

• Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Holy Family in Watertown.

Further information about Solidarity in Faith is available on the website www.rcdony.org/solidarity.

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