By Beth David, Editor
Our Lady of Purgatory Maronite Catholic Church in New Bedford continued the celebration of its 100th anniversary with a variety of events this weekend. The little church on the corner of Pleasant and Franklin streets in New Bedford was filled was religious star power, including: Bishop Gregory Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn; Bishop Michel Aoun, Bishop of the Eparchy of Jbeil, Lebanon; Chor Bishop Michael G. Thomas, Vicar General of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn and a parishioner of OLOP; Chor Bishop Joseph Lahoud of Jamaica Plain; Chor Bishop Joseph Kaddo of Fall River; Fr. Fadi Rouhana, Pastoral Administrator of OLOP, Fr. Jack Morrison, former pastor at OLOP; Fr. Herbert Nicols, aka Fr. Nick; Fr. Brian J. Harrington.
The parish of about 200 families was founded by a small group of Lebanese immigrants (still called “Syrian” at the time) in 1917. They fought very hard to get their own parish and build their church. Most of the current parishioners are descendants of those families, and many newer parishioners are from the same villages in Lebanon as the founding families.
Over the years the parish suffered from tragedy: The parish priest was killed in the hurricane of 1938, the church burned down, and the parish had no home of its own for 16 years.
Throughout the weekend, with a variety of events, parishioners and clergy reflected with nostalgia on the small parish’s past 100 years, recognized the church’s current accomplishments and challenges, and showed hope for the future.
On Friday, parishioners were invited to a free event at the Whaling Museum for a multi-media presentation that included many old photographs, a history of the parish, and a little bit of Lebanese music and folk-dancing. And food, of course. Lebanese people always have food.
Parishioners of all ages mixed and mingled with the clergy at a Grand Hafli at the Venus de Milo in Swansea on Saturday that featured world renowned Lebanese singer Tony Issa.
On Saturday, parishioners also attended the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and an informal get-together with the children of the parish and Bishop Gregory Mansour.
On Sunday, the two bishops, three chor bishops, and three priests concelebrated the Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving at OLOP, and then gathered for a breakfast buffet at the Century House in Acushnet.
In his remarks, Bishop Gregory told parishioners that he enjoyed his time at the parish, especially his time with the children on Saturday. He said no time spent with children is ever wasted time.
A commemorative DVD of the weekend’s events, including the presentation, “100 Years of Sights and Sounds,” will be available for purchase at OLOP’s annual Christmas bazaar on November 11 & 12 at All Saints Catholic School on Illinois Street, across from St. Mary’s Church in New Bedford.
For more information on OLOP, visit http://www.ourladyofpurgatory.org/ or find them on Facebook. For more information on the Maronite Rite and the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, visit http://www.stmaron.org/
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