A Spiritual Meeting for the MECC team in Syria

The MECC Theological and Ecumenical Department (TED) organized a spiritual meeting for the Council’s team in Syria on Friday, August 2, 2019. Father Gabi Hachem, the director of the TED, and Mr. Samer Laham the director of the Diakonia Department participated in this meeting which was entitled “Tabitha, Arise”.
The title of the meeting embodies genuine fraternity and the love of Jesus through loving the other. The meeting started with a prayer and a reading from the Holy Bible. 
Then, the Theological and Ecumenical Department’s Coordinator, Sister Emily Tannous explained the meaning of the retreat and its importance through the path of MECC workers in the fields of relief service and care. 
Sister Emily emphasized on the importance of respecting the human dignity in the relief work, stressing that humanitarian and spiritual service should always precede the material service. She also explained the importance of spiritual growth of relief workers, so they can follow the example of Jesus Christ, who encourages us to work with the church that serves all without distinction.
Sister Emily added “Today, we are gathering to stand with ourselves and to think about how we should strive to protect the human dignity and to meet people’s needs, as well as how to help the weary to rise through our service that includes spiritual care, in order to follow the example of Jesus Christ who raised Tabitha.”
In a similar context, the Diakonia Department’s director, Mr. Samer Laham, stressed that the MECC workers serve the church by serving the other. He pointed out the importance of the retreats in the development and spiritual depth of relief workers to enable them see Jesus Christ in the others.
From his end, Father Gaby Hachem spoke about the meaning of genuine fraternity. Explaining that through the love of the other, we can love Jesus Christ who loved us first by sacrificing himself to save us, and asking us to love one another. 
In the same context, Father Gaby said “The New Testament presents a unique model of fraternity that Jesus Christ, The Son of God, accepted us even though he is different as he is the Lord and he created us. He is the closest Good Samaritan because he fulfills the genuine meaning of fraternity, not only because he heals our wounds, but also because he fulfills the secret of divine fraternity through sacrificing himself for those he loves”. He added “Jesus Christ gave us an example of the true fraternity when he asked God to give us His Son’s Glory. We can raise our brothers with the Christ like He did with us”.
In addition, Father Gabi stressed the importance of providing relief services with love, regardless of all the difficulties that the workers face in this field. He clarified that relief workers are serving the church through providing services to our brothers given by the Lord. thus, the church works through us the same way as God’s work. 
At the end, Father Gaby presented practical recommendations to the MECC relief workers during their humanitarian service. The most important ones are:
- Serving every human being, listening to him/her and respecting the image of God in him/her.
- Respecting the time factor through steady work.
- Following a participatory approach of work, because together we constitute the body of Jesus Christ.
- Inclusiveness: the fraternity is always inclusive and doesn’t exclude any human being.

Afterwards, the participants contemplated through biblical texts on the resurrection. They had discussed and shared experiences, then presented success stories from their professional work and personal experiences in this field of service.

Saydnaya Visit
Following the spiritual retreat, the team visited the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Saydnaya, and met the prioress, Mother Fibronia Nabhan who talked about the Monastery, its school and orphanage. 
The MECC team also met the abbot of Saint George Monastery, Archimandrite John Talli, then visited the old Monastery Church and discovered its cave.