Formation of three priests from the archdiocese of Baalbek
Not so long ago Lebanon was the only country in the Middle East with a Christian majority. In recent years this has changed, however, with increasing numbers of Christians leaving the country. Already during the terrible civil war in the country between 1975 and 1990, around 700,000 Christians left the country, and the exodus is continuing today. Now Christians make up only around 34% of the total population, and among younger people aged 25 or younger only a quarter are Christians.
In the Maronite archdiocese of Baalbek, in the northeast of the country, the situation is still more critical, for here Christians account for barely 5% of the population. This is a poor region, close to the border with Syria, where the situation is insecure and people are afraid. Those who can do so leave the country and seek a new life elsewhere, in Canada or Australia, for example. Others move away to the capital, Beirut. Only a strong Church that can provide spiritual, pastoral, social and economic support for its faithful can stem the tide of this mass exodus. Clearly, well-trained, young priests play a key role here.
At present there are three young men from the Maronite archdiocese of Baalbek who are training for the priesthood. Archbishop Hanna Rahme has a particular concern for these young men, but lacks the necessary resources. He has turned to Aid to the Church in Need for help, so that they can be given a solid formation and be able to stand by their people as true shepherds. He writes: “I am sure you will be open to this request, especially since the Lord has already blessed us with many good priestly vocations, men who are already working with great apostolic zeal in our diocese. Permit me to say that I am counting on your goodwill and on the missionary kindness of your benefactors.”
We have no doubt that our generous benefactors will rally to the support of these future priests, and so we have already promised the Archbishop 10 500 dollars.
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