“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This was the biblical theme for the Mass of thanksgiving for the intentions of the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Monsignor Antoine Chahda, celebrated yesterday, Sunday December 20, in the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption in Aleppo.
Among the guests were heads of seven other churches in the city, Catholic as well as Orthodox [Armenian Orthodox Bishop Mons. Massis Zouboyan; Armenian Catholic Bishop Mons. Boutros Marayati; Greek Orthodox Bishop Fr. Mousa Al-Khasi; Latin Bishop Mons. George Abu Khazen; Chaldean Bishop Mons. Antoine Audo; Greek Melkite Bishop Mons. Jeanbart; Maronite Bishop Mons. Joseph Tobji], as well as numerous priests and religious. At the beginning of his address, the Bishop stressed the importance of this interdenominational cohesion: “We gather to pray as one family even if we are multiple churches and different groups, but with our unity today and with the sharing of the Divine Sacrifice we show to our Redeemer that nothing separates us from each other except sin and hatred, and what unites us is love, peace and joint action for the good of our families, children and churches.”
326 projects supported in Aleppo
Above all, however, the Bishop expressed his gratitude to ACN for the worldwide solidarity with his country. Since the beginning of the war in 2011, the organization has supported 326 projects in Aleppo, 53 this year alone. But this aid would be impossible without a host of generous benefactors: “During our multiple visits to many countries in the world, we saw first-hand those who are helping to save thousands of people through their simple donations; the people who support us are workers, employees and even people of very low income, but they feel what is happening in countries that are under the weight of war and experience famine,” the Bishop said.
At the same time, he also asked the benefactors not to slacken in their willingness to help: “We meet today […] to remind this organization that the war in Syria has not ended yet […] “To this day, we still ask and implore that ACN continue to support Aleppo financially, because poverty has dominated the majority of the city’s people, and everyone is in need of help.”
The celebration was broadcast live on Facebook and followed by many people from all over the world.