Stories On Syria
With the mercy of God Almighty
Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
My brothers, pastors of the Holy Antiochian Church
And my sons and daughters wherever they are in the parts of this Apostolic See
“As Thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, Thou hast sent unto us Thine Angel of great counsel, granting us peace. So are we guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, and watching by night we glorify Thee, O Lover of mankind”
With these words, beloved, the hymnographer described the great event of Nativity. With these words, Kosmas the Melodist, son of this east, surpassed ages and times to tell about what he might chant and ask concerning the Nativity of the Lord Christ, messenger of love and spring of peace.
Noursat and Tele Lumiere, Christian television for Lebanon and the Middle East, will broadcast an encounter with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip on Sunday, December 22, at 3:30 pm Eastern time, repeating at 9:00 pm Eastern.
Nisrine, 23, a Syrian refugee, huddles with her heavily bundled newborn daughter next to the welcome warmth of a propane stove provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Winter storms brought heavy snow and frigid temperatures to northern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley where thousands of Syrian refugee families live in flimsy vinyl tents or tenement buildings that are little more than concrete shells with no electricity or water. Lebanon has no designated refugee camps in spite of the estimated 840,000 Syrians who fled there to escape the civil war raging in their homeland. The severe winter weather and lack of adequate shelter leaves vulnerable families with young children exposed to the elements and threatens their health and well-being.
IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is responding now to the urgent needs of 900 Syrian refugee families living in Lebanon's coldest regions with the distribution of stoves and fuel for heating and cooking. IOCC is also providing new refugee mothers like Nisrine with pre and post natal care as well as health care for refugee infants and young children under five years of age.
Since March 2012, IOCC has provided humanitarian relief to more than 890,000 Syrian people displaced in their own country or living as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Armenia. For more information, contact: Rada K. Tierney, IOCC Media Relations, 443-823-3489
December 12, 2013
The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has aired an interview with Roy Azar, project coordinator for the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), on OCN Now Radio. As Syria's civil war now enters into its third year, it is the families still living in the country who suffer the most and the IOCC is one of the few humanitarian organizations still in Syria providing desperately needed relief to people affected by the conflict. The organization has been working inside Syria since it began responding in 2012 to the humanitarian needs, and OCN was able to supply this firsthand account from Mr. Azar, who has been working on the front lines of this crisis.
On Friday, December 6, 2013, Metropolitan Philip issued a letter which was read on the following Sunday in all the parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese. In it, he expressed his deep concern over the recent abductions of the bishops, nuns, and children in Syria.
Dear Clergy and Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese,
Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ in the midst of this Holy Advent season.
It is with great sadness that we have received the news of the abduction of our beloved nuns and orphans from the Convent of St. Thekla, Maaloula, Syria. It is inexcusable for such peaceful, God-loving and defenseless people of God to be abducted and displaced from their place of residence and worship, after having suffered so much angush for the past three months. St. Thekla Convent, through the intercessions of its patron Saint and the prayers of all its nuns, has been since its inception in the first century a beacon of light for peace, miracles, and the spreading of our Lord's message of love for all. It is unfathomable to hear that peaceful servants of Christ are being treated in such barbaric manner, as have Metropolitan Boulos and Archbishop Youhanna been treated.
The video below of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip's teaching on December 8, 2013, and remarks on the abducted nuns of Maaloula, has been provided by St. Nicholas Cathedral:
December 7, 2013
The President and Mrs. Obama; The White House; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; Washington D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama,
Greetings and best wishes to you and to your two precious daughters in the spirit of this Holy Christmas season. I was honored to receive your invitation to attend a White House holiday reception on Friday, December 6th, 2013.
I remember fondly my attendance at the White House reception two years ago. The photograph which we took together on that auspicious occasion continues to adorn my office. Unfortunately Mr. President, I did not attend your holiday reception this year because while I do have the joy of Christmas, I do not have the peace of Christmas. This is the peace which the angels proclaimed on that Holy Night "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14). Although I am Lebanese by birth and a proud American citizen for the past fifty-seven years, I received my secondary education in the cities of Homs and Damascus, Syria.
His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, issued the following remarks on December 5, 2013 at a press conference in Balamand, Lebanon:
Amidst the calamities besetting Syria and the bloodshed afflicting our people and amidst the uncertainty that still surrounds the fate of our metropolitans Boulos and Youhanna in Aleppo, it is with deep pain that the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has received news of the abduction of her daughters, nuns and orphans of the Monastery of Saint Thekla in Maaloula on December 2, 2013 and their being transported to Yabroud. Because our initial attempts to obtain the release our abducted daughters did not achieve the desired outcome, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East calls upon the international community and all governments to intervene and make efforts to release them safely. She likewise calls upon the conscience of all humanity and upon the spark of living conscience that the Creator, may He be exalted, sowed in the souls of all those who worship God, including the kidnappers, to release our sisters the nuns and the girls of the orphanage.
The following report was issued by the National News Agency of Lebanon on Dec. 3:
Orthodox Patriarch Yuhanna Yazegi on Monday leveled a heartfelt cry for the world to mobilize to free a dozen of Lebanese Syrian nuns that were evacuated in the historic Christian town of Maaloula in war-torn Syria.
"Our cry is addressed to the international community and the world's government to release Saint Taqla's nuns and orphans detained since yesterday," the Patriarch said.
"Detaining the nuns is a blatant offensive to people's dignity and the voice of peace throughout Syria and the entire Levant," he indicated.
Update: See also this report from the Associated Press.
Deacon George Nashawati of St. Ephraim Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas, announces a fundraiser concert benefiting the people of Syria. "Hope, Humanity, Healing - A Benefit Concert for Syria" will be held on Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at 7:00 in the evening at St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston. The admission cost is $15 per person, and all concert proceeds will be distributed to the suffering people of Syria through the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, and the St. Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus.
For questions regarding the concert, please visit St. Joseph's website, contact the church's office at (713) 973-7001, or send an email to email@example.com. Artists at the benefit concert will include: Lama Nashawati DeVries (my sister) and Tracey Parker: Duo Piano; Bassam (Deacon George) Nashawati: Violin; Mariam Haddad and Christine Yacoub: Voice; The St. Romanos Pan-Orthodox Chorale; and Osama Raad: drums. The program will include classical and liturgical music in addition to some Arabic songs made popular by Fairuz.