Diversity

Dear Parishioners,

For more than a century Saint Maron Church has been home to many Maronites, who are united by a common faith in Jesus Christ and an unshakable trust in each other. The motto “out of many one” is truly a perfect description of Saint Maron Church, which is a community of many communities. The diversity that exists within our parish community should be celebrated, embraced and nurtured.

One of the great lessons we learned in recent years is that unity of purpose and mission does not necessarily mean uniformity of perspective and opinion. However, diversity can only flourish if and only if members of the same diverse community embrace one another as brothers and sisters and treat one another with the utmost respect worthy of the dignity of the children of God.

Another fundamental aspect of diversity, which I like to call the glue that holds the system together, is acceptance of the other as other. Without acceptance, social organization will eventually disintegrate and disunity will reign supreme. Acceptance allows diverse groups of people to be members of the same community based on faith, love, and hope.

In the past few weeks, these issues have been widely discussed on social media. Although some of the comments were positive and constructive; many others, however, were derogatory, negative, and even destructive.

To ensure that we all converge on the same understanding of what it means to be Maronites and what the identity and mission of Saint Maron Church is, I am outlining several basic principles, which should never be compromised:

  1. The Church exists for the sole purpose of evangelization. The ministry of the Church is to carry out the work of Jesus Christ in the world. The Gospel of Saint Matthew tells us that Jesus commissioned his Apostles to go out into the world and make disciples from all the nations. In the community of Jesus Christ no one should feel excluded or discriminated against on the basis of language, race or nationality. Saint Paul teaches us that in Christ Jesus there is no difference among the believers, who are equal members of the body of Christ. Moreover, the Book of Acts informs us that the early Christians—Greeks, Gentiles, Arabs, Hebrews, etc.—were all of the same mind and shared a common purpose of taking care of the poor and spreading the Word of God to all the nations.
  2. Ethnicity, nationality and language can never determine the identity of the Church. The Church is above culture and politics.
  3. The recent Maronite Synod, which concluded in 2004, came to the realization that the Maronite Church is universal and can no longer be restricted to any specific geography or culture. The Synod encourages all Maronites to embrace this new reality as a way of life.
  4. Saint Maron Church in Cleveland is truly blessed to have Maronites from different nationalities and cultures; it is safe to say that Saint Maron Church is not any one nationality but rather a melting pot of many, a blessing of the wonderful country we live in today. The Church is simply Christian as defined in principle 1. What is common to all nationalities and cultures is the Maronite Heritage. Saint Maron Church belongs to all Maronites.
  5. In the community of Jesus Christ, as manifested at Saint Maron Church, the relationship among the believers is based on love, mutual respect, and unconditional acceptance. Hence, there is no difference between a Maronite and another Maronite safe for his/her love and zeal for Saint Maron Church.
  6. There is no place for politics and divisive rhetoric in the Church. These are challenging times in our nation and around the world in the cultivation of diversity and inclusion. We cannot be afraid to talk openly, in ways that are both honest and respectful.
  7. At the beginning of my term as pastor of Saint Maron Church I sent a letter to all parishioners in which I laid out my plan for the Church:
    1. I defined my role as empowering parishioners to take charge of their own destiny;
    2. I invited all parishioners to have an active participation in the life of the parish;
    3. I encouraged all parishioners to take ownership of the parish;
    4. And most importantly, I called on all parishioners to be leaders with shared duties and responsibilities.
  8. Full membership in the life of the parish requires participation in the mission and activities of the parish. There should be no excuse for anyone to stand on the sideline. Our church cannot grow based solely on Sunday participation only.  Inclusion, not exclusion is paramount to a thriving parish family.
  9. To ensure a sustained future for our parish community we should do whatever in our power to bring back those who have left the church. We have seen the decline of first, second, third and fourth generation of Maronites attending weekly Liturgy as well as participation in clubs and organizations. To you I ask the question, why? I urge everyone to invite them back, get involved, bring your ideas and expertise and let us work together.  The failure to do such risks losing our future.

Saint Maron Church has an open door policy whereas there is never a time your input on any issue that arises will not be discussed. Come to the office and privately and confidentially we can discuss that which is important to you.   Whatever challenges we have, they should lead us to recommit ourselves to building a community of respect, love and mutual support that reflects the spirit of our patron Saint Maron.  Remember always, we are One Church.

I shared these thoughts with you to assure you of my commitment to Saint Maron Church as a community of brothers and sisters who believe in the ideals of the Maronite way of life.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Msgr. Peter Karam

Pastor

Clergy

Pastor Monsignor Peter Karam
Associate Father Roby Zibara
Deacon Reverend George Khoury
Sub-deacons Mr. Bechara Daher
Mr. Georges Faddoul
Mr. Lattouf Lattouf
Mr. Ghazi Faddoul

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