Priests are God's men on Earth, for besides serving as an instrument used by God for the salvation of souls, they also help hopeless people find a noble way in life.
It is an ineffable miracle taking place in Syria where a Melkite priest, who lives in Vienna, undertook a tenacious project that restores hope to many helpless families in Syria and map out smiles on their faces with a promise for a bright future that augurs stability leading to a life with good promises in the offing.
Despite the war and the COVID pandemic, Fr. Hanna Ghoneim managed to build a bakery about 12 miles away from Damascus. This bakery will employ more than 40 people and produce high-quality bread for about 10,000 families and guarantee work and food to the city of Maaruneh and surrounding towns.
Commenting on his daring project, he said: “We are very interested that the Christians don't leave their home, because Syria is the home of Christianity. Christians in Syria need our help. We can help them through money, to build schools or hospitals, or to offer work to the youth.”
Fr. Hanna Ghoneim added, "Bread belongs to everyone, and Jesus says, 'Give them something] to eat.' He didn't say only for a group, but to everyone."
The remarks made by Ghoneim is in line with the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ which calls for helping people get enrooted in their homeland which can be attained by building schools and hospitals as well as offering them work which ensures their sustainability.
With this bakery Fr. Ghoneim opens a new horizon for employment giving a chance for a better future to people who lost hope in life. The bakery produces high-quality bread, and the revenue from sales is used to cover the employees' salaries. Some of the bread produced is given to poor families in the area regardless of their religious affiliations.
With the project sustainable through hundreds of donations from people in Austria, Germany, Hungary and Sweden, Fr. Hanna Ghoneim is now looking for help to launch an agricultural project that will also offer employment, a future, and dignity to many other young Christians in the region.
His Holiness Pope Francis had earlier funded a similar initiative called "the Garden of Mercy" at Our Lady of Peace Center in Amman, which is humanitarian project dedicating sustainable agriculture, with 600 olive trees planted on an area of 10,000 square meters. It employs 15 workers chosen among the Iraqi refugees who fled to Jordan and also among the unemployed Jordanians.
"The Garden of Mercy” was designed to restore dignity to the forcibly displaced Iraqis who live in Jordan and to provide aid to needy families. It also sought to restore dignity to the forcibly displaced Iraqis by providing them with job opportunities, where aid would be provided to Iraqi refugees living in Jordan from the income generated by the project.
As priests are highly venerated in all societies for the divine services they provide to people, we ask Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, to hear our humble prayers by giving them a deep faith, a bright and firm hope, and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of their priestly life. We implore the Lord to comfort and strengthen them.