Daily bread and hope

Several months ago this column under the heading “Venerable Antiquity” reported on the Maronite Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See. Word has arrived today that following the resignation of the esteemed and elderly Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, a successor has been elected.

One is reminded of similar tele-evangelizing endeavors in the North America, some of which have been reported on here such as WordNet in California, Salt & Light in Toronto, the Oblate Media,  and the Daughters of St. Paul Media in Boston. There are of course others.

The new Patriarch, the 77th Patriarch of Antioch, is Archbishop Jbeil Beshara al-Rahi, who is known to be a moderate with good relations with all factions within Lebanon. News of his elevation is being met with joy throughout that country.  We should all pray that the news will also fortify the fragile hope that exists throughout the Middle East.

Another force of hope emanating from that beautiful, tense country is the television station known as TeleLumiere (“Noursat” in Arabic”).Headquartered in Beirut, TeleLumiere reaches millions of Catholics and non-Catholics alike in the Middle East and North Africa and brings all Christians (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox) closer together – an objective which is increasingly critical in that rapidly de-Christianizing part of the world. TeleLumiere (www.telelumiere.com) is the first and only such television station in that corner of the globe.

It was founded in 1991 by a group of committed lay people. A shining example of ecumenism, it is owned by Catholics and Orthodox, and its interfaith programming includes Melkite, Maronite, Armenian, Chaldean, Orthodox and Protestant programs. Islam is presented with respect and a desire for understanding. To cover its growing operating expenses TeleLumiere relies on financial support from friends and admirers around the world.

Among its goals set forth on its website, TeleLumiere is committed to promoting the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church while respecting other religious beliefs. It endeavors to work with all religions for the dignity and worth of the human person. Its website also states that TeleLumiere has encouraged a large number of Muslim viewers to watch and to participate in the campaigns and programs it airs that aim at strengthening peace, opposing immorality, and eschewing violence and terrorism.

One is reminded of similar tele-evangelizing endeavors in the North America, some of which have been reported on here such as WordNet in California, Salt & Light in Toronto, the Oblate Media,  and the Daughters of St. Paul Media in Boston. There are of course others.

Twenty years old and growing, TeleLumiere’s television apostolate is the “daily bread and hope for the Christian minority in the Middle East” and a source of inspiration for countless numbers of viewers of all faiths. In the advance of the Kingdom when there is little or nothing else to go on, such inspiration is real sustenance.

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