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Faith In Brooklyn for March 11

March 11, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Phyllis Simon (center), her sons, Bishop Gregory Mansour (second from right) and Msgr. James Root (second from left). Simon, described as a tireless volunteer and a shining example of Maronite humility and kindness, received the Cathedral Lifetime Award.  Photo by World Photography
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Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral Celebrates Feast of St. Maron

By Salma Vahdat, Special to Brooklyn Eagle

Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral recently celebrated the feast day of its patron, St. Maron. This Mar Maroun was the 90th annual banquet for the church.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The cathedral’s parish council sponsored the event, with chairs Marian Ciaccia, Norma Haddad, Eva Boumoussa and, assisting, William Abou-Chrouch and Sonia Abi Habib

Honored guests included Majdi Ramadan, consul general of Lebanon in New York, and his wife Vanessa; Caroline Ziade, deputy ambassador of Lebanon to the United Nations; Most Rev. Gregory Mansour, bishop of the Eparchy of St. Maron; Msgr. James Root, rector of the cathedral; Rev. Michel Lahoud, assistant at the cathedral; and Subdeacon Norbert and Leila Vogl.

The evening began with a welcome from Roger Shamas, followed by the Lebanese and American national anthems. Msgr. Root led the invocation, then guests were introduced and Root segued into the presentation of awards, which are a highlight of the celebration. Each year it becomes more difficult to discern who will be named for service to the community. So many are deserving of the honor.

This year the NAM Silver Massabki Award had two honorees; Jeanette and Adonis El-Asmar, and Lily and George Elhaje were the surprised and happy recipients. The NAM Youth Faith of the Mountain Award went to Fidelle El-Asmar. The Cathedral Lifetime Award was presented to Phyllis Simon and Roger Shamas.

The delight of the celebration was palpable when Sayedna (an honorific title) Bishop Mansour rose to greet his flock. Emcee Roger Shamas introduced Sayedna as the “bishop of I-95,” referring to his time spent on the road visiting the parishes of the Eparchy. Sayedna reminded guests of the legacy they bear as Maronites.

Mar Maroun lived a monastic life, choosing to reside in the open air, to be one with God’s universe. His attributes were integrity (living what we profess), coherence (husband and wife loving one another and living their faith in the home with family) and passion for God (being an “open air hermit” brought people to him, and a spiritual monastic movement ensued within the church). It was a faithful Chalcedonian church, yet faithful to the East and West, faithful to Rome with a desire to build a nation of all religions and people.  In that vein, he remarked that Pope Francis would meet with the Russian Orthodox patriarch, a meeting that had not occurred for 1,000 years. Sayedna urged the faithful to assume the qualities of St. Maron in daily life.

The formal program of the evening concluded and the music of Eddie Osama brought the community to its feet to joyfully sing and dance to traditional music. The dabke (cultural Lebanese dance) snaked all around the ballroom and smiles and laughter filled the space.

-Salma Vahdat is a parishioner of Our Lady of Lebanon

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Jewish Journalists Discuss Being Objective When Covering Topics of Concern

Can Jewish journalists appear or actually be objective when writing about Israel, anti-Semitism, scandals in which Jews are implicated, or Jewish political and financial influence? Are Jewish journalists confined by editorial policy? And whose reporting can the Jewish community trust, given divergence of opinion?

Several acclaimed Jewish journalists will seek to answer these and other questions when they participate in a panel discussion about objectivity on Sunday, March 27, at the East Midwood Jewish Center. The Institute for Living Judaism in Brooklyn, Hadassah-Brooklyn Region and the Jewish center will present the discussion, titled “A Jew in the Newsroom.”

The speakers are, as of press time, Ethan Bronner of Bloomberg News, formerly of The New York Times; Alyssa Katz, of the New York Daily News’ editorial board; David Firestone of ESPN (538), and formerly of The New York Times’ editorial board; Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of The Forward; Gary Rosenblatt, editor-in-chief of Jewish Week; and Ed Rothstein, of The Wall Street Journal and formerly editor-at-large for The New York Times; and David Goldman, technology editor at CNN.

There will be morning and afternoon sessions, with light breakfast and lunch. The $15 pre-registration fee must be received by Wednesday, March 23. For registration and more information, call 718 339-0230 or email [email protected].

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Scholarship Competition Will Benefit High School and College Organ Students

The American Guild of Organists (AGO)-Brooklyn Chapter is sponsoring a scholarship competition this weekend.

It is the first such event sponsored by the Brooklyn Chapter, and will award first, second and third monetary prizes to high school and college organ students in the area.

Chapter Dean Ellen Wright and Sub-Dean John Wolfe told the Brooklyn Heights Press that many AGO chapters host similar scholarship competitions, with the specifics determined on a chapter-by-chapter basis. All the money for this competition, to be held on Saturday, March 12, has been raised through donations and through ticket sales to special concerts created specifically for this purpose.

Wolfe presented one of these fundraising recitals at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral last fall and, more recently, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church hosted a Valentine-themed concert for the chapter.

The three competitors are all of middle school- or high school-age: Samuel Kuffuor-Afriye (student of John Cantrell), Mahesh Tiwari (student of Katherine Meloan) and Reilly Xu (student of Craig Williams). All competitors will “win” in the sense of receiving money with prize sizes varying according to their ability.  The three volunteer judges who are chapter members are Jonathan Hall, Christopher Houlihan and Craig Whitney. Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights is hosting the competition.

While not open to the public, this competition is one of many community outreach programs sponsored or co-sponsored by the Brooklyn Chapter, along with the wider AGO, to introduce young students to the “King of Instruments.” Others have included “Pedals, Pipes and Pizza” and the Pipe Organ Encounter, a week-long series of lessons, workshops, recitals and fellowships held at churches around the metropolitan area.

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