On Friday July 1, from 9 AM to 12:30, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is running a religious freedom event at Annunciation Parish, to spread knowledge of religious persecution going on in Lebanon and Syria, and to encourage us to fight anti-Christian stuff going on in the US. It is also designed to increase knowledge of Maronite Rite Catholicism among us Latin/Roman Rite Catholics, as well as being a nice example of cooperation between the Archdiocese and the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon (cathedral in LA).It’s all part of the Fortnight for Freedom.

The highlight of the “One Church of Mercy Conference” is a visit and speech from the Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church (under the Pope, of course!), His Beatitude Mar Bechara┬áPeter Cardinal Rai, from Antioch.

(“Mar” is his Maronite title. Mar = Lord in Aramaic and Hebrew. It’s what you’d call a rabbi, for instance. You also see it in “Maranatha,” which means literally, “Come, Lord.” Rai is his last name, “His Beatitude” is the Vatican title for a Patriarch, and “Cardinal” is his Vatican rank.)

The day will feature a joint Lauds/Morning Prayer, a little snacktime, a joint talk about religious freedom featuring the archbishop, the Maronite eparch, various diocesan and eparchan folks, and the one and only Syro-Malabar Rite priest in Cincinnati (who’s naturally governed by yet another eparch). Then the Patriarch makes a presentation. Then there’s a Q & A.

This sounds like a really good thing to attend, and a good way to learn more about our Catholic brothers and sisters in other Rites by seeing how they live out our common Faith.

It does cost $10.00, but that’s cheaper than going all the way to Syria or Rome to meet a Patriarch. You have to register at the Archdiocese’s website.

There’s also a free event at 6 PM on July 1st: a Pontifical Divine Liturgy (ie, Mass) at St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Church. You are asked to RSVP at St. Anthony’s website (it involves a brief survey, because they want to know if you want to be on their mailing list).

There will be a banquet afterwards at 8 PM, but you have to call the parish center for details. It’s $77.00 per person. (But probably worth every penny! Lebanese banquet! Man, I wish I could go!) Probably this will be a limited seating event intended more for Maronite folks… but hey, if you’ve got the time and bucks, you might as well inquire.