A great night to help suffering Christians in the Middle East
Last night we attended the “3rd Annual Fr. Boulad Dinner for Christians in the Middle East.” It was held at Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish in Toronto. It’s charity work supported by the Archdiocese of Toronto. The funds raised will go to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, CNEWA. The night’s goal was to raise $30,000 for Caritas Egypt.
Have you heard of Fr. Boulad? He was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He studied theology and philosophy and went to Lebanon. Later we travelled to the United States to earn a degree in psychology. He became a teacher, spiritual advisor and author of many books. He eventually became the Superior of the Jesuits in Egypt and director of Caritas Egypt. Currently, he is the Director of the Jesuit Cultural Centre in Alexandria.
The evening began with Mass celebrated by Fr. Henri Boulad. This was followed by dinner in the parish hall. Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto was present and briefly addressed those in attendance. He encouraged them to pray and support our persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith. He was fully behind this charitable activity.
Remarks were also made by Carl Hetu. He’s the National Director of CNEWA Canada. Hetu stressed the point that if Christians don’t step up to help suffering and persecuted Christians who will? Are we not called to help and love our neighbour? He suggested that more can and must be done to bring the issue to the forefront by contacting politicians and letting parishioners know the tragedy is happening. Have you been given any information about the plight of Christians in the Middle East in your parish? If not, why not consider it your mission to do the apostolic work?
For the year 2017, there are a number of projects being implemented for Christians by Fr. Boulad through Caritas in Egypt: families are being helped to start small businesses; there are summer camps for at risk-children and basic essentials are given to the poor, such as emergency lodging, medicines and schooling.
Caritas Egypt is part of the association of Catholic development and humanitarian aid organizations operating in more than 200 countries. Caritas works at the grassroots to help the poor and vulnerable.
CNEWA has a number of on-going activities to aid Christians in Iraq and Syria. They support local churches, offer pastoral counselling to families, provide schooling for children and give out emergency supplies to refugees, including milk, clothing and blankets.
Fr. Boulad is 86 years old, but he is mentally sharp and spiritually provocative. In his short address, he said that the crisis of belief today stems from the fact that we have done a poor job at transmitting the faith to the young. He said that it’s better to be an atheist than a lukewarm and badly informed Christian. He urged those present to learn more about their faith and make a purposeful effort to put it into action. In short, parents cannot pass the faith to their children unless they live it fully. It’s not a belief but a way of life. It’s not an ideology but to be a follower of Christ. For Fr. Boulad, the mere claim that we love God is too easy. The struggle and hard work is to love one’s neighbour where one is to find the image and presence of God. What an inspiring talk from a priest with so much practical pastoral experience and theological knowledge.
It was a great evening to pray and financially help, even if only in a small way, our persecuted and suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Readers can also make a donation by going to the CNEWA website. Just indicate that the money is for the “Fr. Boulad Dinner.” The address is CNEWA Canada, 1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 6K9. It’s a very worthy cause.