BISHOP GREGORY BLESSES THE MARONITE COMMUNITY OF WILKES-BARRE, PA. WITH HIS FIRST PASTORAL VISIT.
The weekend of March 10 will be long remembered by the Parish Family of St. Anthony + St. George Church who gathered with their Shepherd, Bishop Gregory Mansour for his first pastoral visit. Among our guests was the Vicar General for our Eparchy Chorbishop Michael Thomas. All the parishioners who attended the various events over this third week of Lent have commented on how this was one of the best weekends they have had and they so much appreciated how very spiritual and gentile our Bishop was as he talked to us individually, taught us, preached to us, prayed with us and took the time to answer the questions we had for him.
Upon Sayidna’s (the Bishop’s) arrival he was given a welcome and a gift presentation in the parish hall. A Lenten meal was served and then we moved to Church for the Way of the Cross and Benediction with the Holy Cross. There was a very good attendance and the chanting and prayer participation was exceptional and all this made for an appropriate beginning for our time together.
After services, we returned to the church hall for refreshments. A list of questions and concerns were given to Sayidna which he took the time to look over before devotions. There was a small variety of questions with the greatest concern about the needs of our community and how everything will come together as one parish for the future. This coming year will be an important one for all of us.
Our events on Saturday included the funeral liturgy of one of our beloved members, Lucy Michael which Bishop Gregory celebrated. By 12:00 noon the Altar and Rosary Society gathered to pray the Rosary in church then enjoyed a meal together afterwards. While in Church Sayidna drew attention to the beautiful Stained Glass windows at St. Anthony’s depicting the mysteries of the Rosary.
That afternoon the schedule included a time for confession then at 5:00 PM the parish youth helped to lead the prayers at our Ramsho (Evening Prayer) Service for the feast of the Hemorrhaging Woman. The little children from the religious education program presented Icons (pictures) which they colored for this feast. At the conclusion of our prayer Sayidna offered a prayer to welcome the new Pastor and he invited the youth to assist in this gesture by gathering around Father Bill (Msgr. Bonczewski). Another spiritual moment that moved and touched everyone in a special way.
That evening the Parish Advisory Board and our guests were invited to the home of our Board President, Dr. Raymond Khoudary, for a wonderful reception. The members visited and continued to discuss the many needs of our parish buildings and our direction for the good of our Maronite Community in Wilkes-Barre.
The Pontifical Divine Liturgy on Sunday at St. Anthony was well attended with beautiful participation from the members of the Order of St. Sharbel, the youth and adults of our parish choir, and our faithful Altar servers. During the Liturgy our Advisory Board President, Dr. Raymond Khoudary was inducted into the Order of St. Sharbel. Also Mr. Ed Shiner was present to announce the Massabaki Award to a parish couple who are faithful and active members of NAM and the parish. This Award was granted to Frank and Maryann Nockley. A reception was served in the parish hall. A very special part to this home style, parish family, gathering was to see the fine way the parish youth took the part of serving everyone.