St. Clement’s Province and Liguori Province sign Memorandum of Agreement on the Redemptorist Mission in Lebanon
On 19 September, 2015, the provincials of the St. Clement’s Province, Fr. Johannes Römelt, and Liguori Province, Fr. Joy Poonoly, signed in Wittem (seat of the St. Clements’s Province) a Memorandum of Agreement on the Redemptorist Mission in Lebanon. This document is the formalization of a process to transfer this mission to the Liguori province. In the coming years, at least two confreres of the Liguori province will work in the mission under the responsibility of their home province, which will also be the leading province in the mission. The St. Clement’s province supplies the necessary material support and the Rome province supports in the field of formation.
The mission in Lebanon was founded in 1953 by Flemish Redemptorists as a presence in the region of the Oriental Churches. In the memorandum it reads: “The presence of the Christian Churches in the Middle East is both ancient and important. The Popes have consistently insisted upon the importance of this presence, and especially in the last 50 years religious congregations have been invited to establish a presence which will support, develop and nourish the Christian Churches. The Redemptorists have accepted this challenging invitation. As a missionary Congregation, we strive to be a prayerful and vibrant apostolic witness to the “Copiosa Redemptio” among the people of Lebanon in order to guarantee a continuation of the Redemptorist presence in Lebanon.”
As the St.-Clement’s Province doesn’t have the personnel to staff the mission, the General Government supported a process of transition and the Liguori Province was contacted for cooperation. Hopefully, this will result in a complete transfer of the mission to the Liguori province in a few years.
Already since last year, two Redemptorists from the Liguori Province – Fr. Binoy Varghese Mandapathil and Fr. Binoy Antony Uppumackal – are working in Lebanon. According to the memorandum, their assignment in the first two years is: “to learn the language and the culture, to make contact with the people in the neighborhood, to minister in selected areas (at the beginning in English, then in Arabic), to draft a pastoral plan of the Mission for the future.”
There is still one Flemish confrere living in Lebanon: Fr. Timon De Cock, 87 years. He continues to support the mission with his pastoral and social work, within his possibilities.