Ain Traz Meeting hosted by Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III
1-2 August 2013

Ain Traz - 3 August 2013

Representatives of Aid to the Church in Need, Caritas, Cor Unum, the Good Shepherd Sisters and other charitable institutions hosted by Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III at his Ain Traz summer residence, met with him and other Church representatives over the first two days of August to study common approaches to humanitarian aid in crisis-torn Syria.

Organised by ACN's Fr Andrzej Halemba, the meeting allowed HB Gregorios III together with Abp Mario Zenari, Papal Nuncio to Syria, Mgr Paolo Borgia of the Lebanese Nunciature, Abp Samir Nassar of the Maronite Church in Damascus, Mgr Giampetro dal Toso of Cor Unum, representatives of the Syrian Catholic bishop of Homs and representatives of Caritas Syria, Caritas Lebanon, Caritas MONA, CNEWA, Fundazione AVSI, CRS Lebanon, Good Shepherd Sisters and ECHO to deliberate co-ordinated courses of action and study appropriate methodologies for relief work.

Spiritual support and loving solidarity, together with prayer underpin financial and practical assistance.

Many families in Syria are suffering from the crisis and children's education is frequently jeopardised. Though a coordinated response to these problems is often difficult due to lack of personnel and resources, Caritas MONA can serve to coordinate responses from different branches of Caritas.

 

Despite a lack of non-governmental organisations in Syria authorised to carry out relief work, the Church is free to step in to meet the need, and NGOs may work through Caritas Syria.

The Melkite Patriarchate of Damascus presented reports about the emergency relief work done by the Patriarchal Committee. Similar reports were given about the Archeparchies of Homs and Lattakieh.

The Melkite Eparchy of Zahleh (Lebanon), for example, in coordination with other institutions, is currently offering various kinds of relief and assistance to some seven hundred Syrian families, though its task will become more difficult as winter approaches.

Sisters of the Good Shepherd are doing similar relief work at Deir el-Ahmar with about eight hundred displaced Syrian families, of which thirty-two are Christian. This illustrates that the Church's assistance is open to all without distinction, as Syria's Muslim families gladly recognize.

On day two of the meeting, Mr Bruno Rotival of ECHO (the Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission) was able to consult with representatives of the Churches and charitable institutions present and advise them about the best way to proceed in order obtain financial assistance and project guidance from the European Union.

At present, ECHO finances life-saving food, shelter and health care for Palestinian and Syrian refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon, but social and educational funding for projects in Syria is hardly available due to the multiplicity of demands on Europe's charitable funds and practical difficulties at local level.

For the future, a partnership agreement could be signed between local Caritas organisations and those in European countries, such as France.

Another avenue of approach may be for the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate to coordinate its efforts with those of UN institutions, such as UNICEF, with which it already has a partnership agreement, besides working with the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Co-operation is the key to success in building a better future for everyone in Syria and the region.


Joachim and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)