In our daily lives, we face many obstacles, but with our faith as the cornerstone of our being, we persevere. Today, our Franciscan missionaries in the city of Benghazi, Libya, are asking to lift the spirit of hope for the minority Catholic community living through Libya’s civil war. The Franciscan church, friary and pastoral center were bombarded and destroyed. The area remains unsafe for Christians, and the friars are now reside at a nearby children’s hospital in the Christian quarters. The tiny chapel that is available is too small to accommodate the faithful who want to attend Mass, especially on holy days. Furthermore, the faithful must travel through dangerous parts of the city, where Christians are not safe to practice their faith because they believe.
Led Only By Their Faith
Things often happen to us that we are unable to understand. At that point, we rely upon our faith and trust in the promise and love of our Lord. And so it was for Mary and Joseph. They were led only by their faith in God through the messages they received. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and the angel came to Joseph in a dream to explain the coming of their son, our Savior, it was their faith and hope that carried them. They did not question why they had been chosen, or how the events of the child’s birth were to transpire. It was their trust in God and the hope born of their faith that guided them.
So it is with you and me and our brave friars and the Catholics they serve, who want to celebrate their faith in Benghazi. Father Sandro Overend Rigillo, OFM, administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Benghazi, Libya, has requested funds to help build a new church, with an attached friary and a new pastoral center. Fr. Sandro has found a property in a more peaceful, secure part of Benghazi where Muslims and Christians live together in peace. He also has some initial architectural drawings to build a medium-sized church, friary and pastoral center to honor Our Lady with the name dar Marjam (House of Mary).
Help Build A Church Dedicated to Mary
Fr. Sandro and our other Franciscan friars in Benghazi must to lift the spirit of hope in people who are living without much hope. Having a church home, where people of faith can come together, hear the Word of God and receive the sacraments, keeps the spirit of hope alive. You and I have lived through many joys and sorrows. Yet our faith endures all things because of the gift of hope. As Christmas draws near, you might be wondering what gift to offer to the poor. You can help Fr. Sandro offer them the precious gift of hope in the promise, the kindness and the love of our God. You can help them persevere as a community of faith.
Please send a generous Christmas gift today to help build a new Catholic church in Benghazi. I ask you to give as generously as your heart prompts you. Your generosity and caring enable our missionary friars to realize their calling to serve God by dedicating their lives to serve the poor in the missions.
May God bless and reward your every act of kindness and may the rich hope of the Christmas season fill your heart and the hearts of your loved ones.
Yours gratefully in Christ,
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM