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Local Maronites keep charity work thriving ahead of Easter

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MOM’s missonaries travelled to the Philippines prior to Lent to assist poverty-sticken communities. Photo: Supplied
MOM’s missonaries travelled to the Philippines prior to Lent to assist poverty-sticken communities. Photo: Supplied

The Maronites on Mission charity prepared for Holy Week by raising close to $60,000 in a fundraiser sleepout, which will go towards assisting Australians who experience homelessness.

It follows the work of MOM’s missionaries that travelled to the Philippines prior to the Lenten season to assist poverty-stricken and suffering local communities.

Over 20 people travelled to the city of Naga from 7-21 January to assist a range of medical, pharmaceutical, dental, education, construction and food outreach programs.

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Participants built a new village home, funded schools with up to 12 months’ worth of educational items and uniforms, set up medical clinics at orphanages and distributed food for locals from around the region.

It included over 1000 hampers and more than 5000kg of rice for struggling families.

“It was a chaotic scene to see the most basic of foods provide so much relief to people who are desperate and hungry,” said MOM mission leader George Nasr.

“We know that we can’t go to the Philippines and change a whole country, but what we can do be a beacon of hope and light for a little while”

He said the beneficiaries of the mission are not just those in need.

“I always say the trip is for the missionaries to overhaul their mind, body and spirit. By the end, they will have helped so many people, but realise it was they who received all the graces.”

It was the second trip to the Philippines with MOM for Christiane Nakhle, who learnt this time around to “live in the present to experience all the fruits of the mission.”

“Last time I lived through my phone and captured every single moment or cool experience, but this time it was a matter of being intentional with my time,” she said.

“I saw that the people were so materially poor but so rich in spirit. Every interaction was underscored by that, and by default it coloured the whole trip and showcased the difference to our everyday life here in Australia.

“It allows you to not worry about anything except how much of yourself you’re going to give the next person you meet.”

Christiane was one of nearly 50 people signed up to the charity’s sleepout in Appin on Friday 22 March to experience homelessness for a night.

Participants braved the cold night as they received a simple meal before stations of the cross and adoration as they raised much needed funds for homelessness in Australia.

“A big part of Lent is charity. It’s very difficult to grow in your spiritual life if there’s no aspect of charity involved or embedded into it,” Christiane said.

“To love is to serve. Allowing ourselves to feel what so many of our brothers and sisters in Sydney and globally feel and have a glimpse into what that life is like is very humbling.”

Bishop Tarabay told The Catholic Weekly MOM looks to put faith into practice to glorify and show the love of Jesus.

“This is the journey that the volunteers at MOM are living and experiencing,” he said.

“Volunteers and missionaries come back on fire with faith and want to do more, pray more and be more charitable to people in need. This is something we are seeing is very attractive to younger people.

“It helps to understand the aim of Lent, which is about conversion, repentance, and at the same time, charity.”

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