The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) concluded the “Days of the Season of Creation” 2021, a first of its kind event in the east, under the patronage of the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, on Sunday October 3, 2021, at the Monastery of the Visitation, Philokalia Institute and Organization, in Aintoura – Keserwan, Lebanon, chosen by His Beatitude and recently restored for the celebration.
Maronite Patriarchal Vicar of Sarba, Lebanon, H.E Bishop Paul Rouhana, representing the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, presided the Prayer in which participated the President of the National Evangelical Union in Lebanon and President of the Council for the Evangelical Family HE Reverend Dr. Habib Badr, the Maronite Patriarchal Vicar HE Bishop Hanna Alwan, the Curate of Mount Lebanon Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese HE Bishop Georges Saliba, Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Catholic Church in Lebanon HE Archbishop Georges Asadourian, Syriac Catholic Patriarchal Vicar of Eparchy of Beirut Our Lady of Annunciation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Beirut His Eminence Bishop Mathias Charles Mrad, Mrg. Raphael Traboulsi representing the head of the Chaldean Community in Lebanon HE Bishop Michel Kassarji, MECC Secretary General Dr. Michel Abs, Pastor of the Coptic Catholic Church in Lebanon Father Antonios Ibrahim, Youth Pastoral Coordinator in the Maronite Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East Mrg. Toufic Bou Hadir, and President of Aintoura Municipality Engineer Labib Akiki.
The Ecumenical celebration was prepared by the Philokalia community President Sister Marana Saad, Vice President Father Farid Saab, the MECC Ecojustice Adhoc Committee, bringing together believers from different ecclesiastical families.
The Philokalia Choir presented a bouquet of hymns to glorify the Lord. The celebration included the Ecumenical Prayer service of the "Season of Creation".
In the name of His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, His Eminence Bishop Paul Rouhana gave a speech in which he welcomed the audience and everyone who worked on both the “Season of Creation” project and the organization of the final celebration. He said: “Praising the Lord and environmental culture are not intellectual luxury. It is at the core of the Church mission and civil societies to preserve the integrity of the common home, granting us common good. Under this sacred roof, the interests of individuals and groups are organized so that we can live together in agreement, peace, partnership and equality in rights and duties.”
He added: "May God bless the efforts of our officials in Lebanon, and those of people with good will, to mind in their reform project the environmental culture and consider it in educational curricula and legislation and implementation of laws without favoritism, until we find radical solutions to the many environmental problems in water, electricity, waste and urban chaos burdening our people since decades due to neglect."
In his turn, Secretary General Dr. Michel Abs gave a speech in which he explained the Council’s role and the journey it went through to launch the Season of Creation in the East. He stressed that the Council was keen to bring the environmental culture to the region and how "the project came at the right time, and God grants things that work for the good of those who love Him."
Dr. Abs thanked everyone who worked hard for the success of the season, he continued: “This is the end of a beginning, or the first chapter of the book of the environment, God’s gift to humanity. He honored him with it, as he honored him with many things. Today we open the following chapters of the Book of Creation, as we have an essential role in protecting this gift, by all means, and it is not insignificant in the hands of the Church of Christ.”
He added: "This is a model of faithful and purposeful collective action based on love and competence. This is a proof of what the Christians of the East - and indeed all the people of the East - can create if they cooperate, support one another, and join hands. The children of our nation are called to join hands to protect the environment."
Dr. Abs invited everyone to take the environmental cause seriously and put the environmental protection, reform, and development as a priority among our daily and future goals. “Prevention is the best treatment.”
In the end, the Middle East Council of Churches presented a date tree as a commemoration of the occasion. Secretary General Dr. Michel Abs and Sister Marana Saad planted it in the Biblical garden at the main entrance to the Monastery.