On the first Sunday of Advent, namely December 3, 2023, a celebration was held in Chicago marking the launching of the Arab Catholic Community in the city of Chicago, under title, “Our Lady of the Holy Land” so that Blessed Mary would be the mother, shepherd, companion, and protector of this nascent community.
The Latin Patriarchate has launched this community following the model of others in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. This is considered a fulfillment of a long-standing dream by Palestinian and Jordanian families affiliated with the Catholic Church in general, and the Latin Church in particular in Chicago.
The Holy Mass was celebrated, at Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic Church, by Fr. Wissam Mansour who was named by Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, as the first priest of this nascent community. In attendance were Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Fr. Adnan Bader, a number of the Latin Patriarchate priests from various diocese, and groups of families.
In his first address, Fr. Wissam Mansour said, “I stand before the Lord and before you, while being honored by the responsibility entrusted to me by our Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa and local Archbishop Blase Cupich to serve as the first priest of our beloved Arab-American Catholic community in the city of Chicago.” He added, “Despite the fact that we are geographically far from the Holy Land, we remain the people of the Holy Land. It is in our blood. Our people were among the first to hear the good news after the glorious Resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ, and it is the same message that will unite us, define our identity, which we will live and proclaim with joy among our families, our community, and our society.”
Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, delivered an address at the end of the Holy Mass during which he conveyed well wishes, as well as expressed full support and willingness to cooperate. He also expressed regret for the painful events currently taking place in the Holy Land, stressing that war is always a defeat, and peace is always a victory. He underlined the need to cease the cycle of violence, pointing out that the response to the difficulties and challenges facing the Holy Land must not be conducted through military solutions, but rather through peace alone, so that the historical land of Lord Jesus will always be a land of peace, unity, and love.
After the Holy Mass, a banquet was served during which Knight of the Holy Sepulcher Mr. Majdi Bader noted that the launching this Arab Catholic group “did not stem from a feeling of alienation and weakness, but rather from a desire to ensure a greater presence and unity.” He added, “We wanted to form a community to support individuals and families scattered in this city, and to build bridges among us, as well as with our Mother Church there, in the Holy Land, for the good of our mother, the Holy Universal and Apostolic Church, as well as to consolidate affiliation with our Mother Church in the hearts of future generations, namely the sons and daughters of our families.”