Simi Vallley Mass & Lunch
A Touch of Holiness… An Honor to Behold
With joyful anticipation and renewed spirits, Saints Peter and Paul Maronite Mission in Simi Valley, California, welcomed on Sunday, November 19, 2017, his Excellency Boulos Matar, Archbishop of Beirut, along with clergy and dignitaries from ‘Mary Mother of Wisdom – Sagesse Foundation’. Archbishop Matar presided the celebration of the divine liturgy at 11:00 am, assisted by Fr. Joe Daccache, the administrator of Saints Peter and Paul Mission, Fr. Gabriel Tabet, and Fr. Joseph Charbel, respectively the rector and the intendant of the ‘Sagesse High School – Ain Saade- Lebanon’.
The Divine Liturgy was attended by the esteemed guests: Ambassador Johnny Ibrahim, consul general of Lebanon in Los Angeles, and his wife Maya, Mr. Louis Lahoud, the general director of the ministry of agriculture and the general secretary of the Catholic Council in Lebanon, Judge James Kado, and the Sagesse Foundation officials: Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Karaki (President), Ms. Helen Daou (Managing Director), and Mrs. Amira Matar (Treasurer), along with members of Order Saint Sharbel and many officials and faithful from the Mission and abroad.
The Mass was glorious and Archbishop Matar’s homily was inspiring. On the Sunday of the “Announcement to Zechariah”, he recounted first the Sundays of the Christmas season and its ramification on the daily lives of the faithful. He then stressed the importance and value that the diaspora brings to the Maronite Church: “The church needs both halves of its lung, the western and eastern sides, in order to survive, grow and prosper” he emphasized. As an affirmation, he mentioned that the Maronite Church is currently served by fifteen bishops in Lebanon and fifteen bishops abroad including two bishops in the USA.
At the end of the mass, Fr. Daccache thanked the Archbishop, the priests, the dignitaries and the guests for joining in this special celebration, as well as he thanked the Pastoral and Financial councils’s members along with the volunteers at Saints Peter and Paul Mission for their multiple and priceless efforts in bringing success to the celebration and to the Church in general. As Fr. Daccache was thanking the Archbishop, he provided us with a brief description of His Excellency mentioning that the latter is more than a mere Bishop, he is a Symbol of the Maronite Church in Lebanon and abroad. Fr. Daccache also acknowledged the presence of The Sagesse Foundation congratulating them for a successful launching and wishing the Foundation growth and success in its endeavor.
After mass, a reception was held at the church hall. A wide array of fresh fruits and delicious sweets was prepared by volunteers of the church. The parishioners were overjoyed to have the chance of a lifetime to meet Archbishop Matar and the accompanying guests. Following the reception, the members of the Pastoral council and the Financial council and their families had the honor to spend a quality time with the Archbishop and the guests over a delicious meal at the Boccaccio’s Restaurant in Westlake Village, California. The setting was serene as it overlooked a beautiful lake with majestic sceneries. At the restaurant, we were also joined by Fr. Elias Sleiman, Rector of Our Lady of Mount Lebanon – Saint Peter Cathedral, to make the celebration even more complete.
All in all, this was a historic day for Saints Peter and Paul Maronite Mission as we were graced by the visit of consecrated men of God and honored by the men and women who responded generously to the Lord’s call in Matthew 20:26 (NIV), “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” On this day, the Mission community experienced the Christmas message, mainly that God showed His love by humbling himself and so, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
By Dr. Habib Tawk
President of the Pastoral Council at Saints Peter and Paul Maronite Catholic Mission – Simi Valley, CA