The President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, and the first Lebanese woman, Mrs. Nadia Al-Shami Aoun, participated in the ceremonial Divine Liturgy mass, held by the Antonine Order, on the occasion of St. Anthony's Great Feast, in the Church of St. Anthony-Hadath. The event was chaired by the General President, Father Maroun Abou Jaoudeh, and assisted by Fathers, George Sadaka and Pierre Sfeir.
The Mass was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, MPs: Alain Aoun and Hekmat Dib, Former Minister, Al Bustani, Former MP, Naji Gharios, and his wife, Director General of the Lebanese Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, Director General of the Ministry of Education, Fadi Yaraq, Director of Intelligence, Brigadier, Tony Mansour, Director of Mount Lebanon Intelligence, Brigadier Clement Saad, Commander of the Gendarmerie, Brigadier Marwan Sleilati, Mayor of Hadath, George Aoun and his wife, and a number of Monks.
Father Sadaka's Speech:
"Your Excellency President General Michel Aoun and the First Lady, dear friends,
Like every year, the feast of St. Anthony brings us together in his monastery, so you are welcome, because you have become from the people of this house, but rather from the mass of monks who try to follow the path of Saint Anthony with faith, courage and impartiality. Some people may ask about the meeting this year, as the country passes through a dark tunnel, for this reason we insist on this meeting because our faith motivates us to challenge the event and darkness, for Christ is the master of hope where it is hopeless. We meet to pray with St. Anthony who, by praying, fought the evil one and triumphed to give us courage, patience and strive until Lebanon triumphed over evil, darkness and death.
Among the virtues of St. Anthony is the firm and brave stance when he heard the voice of the Lord the Gospel: "If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything and give it to the poor and come, follow me". The Saint answered the call with a firm voice without retreat, and many understood it wrong and considered that his resignation from the life on earth is an escape from the face of life, fear and cowardice, while this Saint went to the desert which symbolizes evil and emptiness, it is a brave and heroic act because he went to fight the villain in his own home. This courage and firmness made him win. O God, increase the courage and determination of our President to rise up in this country and return it to prosperity.
Your Excellency, let me highlight the crisis in schools, which is dangerous because when the country loses knowledge and culture, it has lost the essentials of life and progress. We are awaiting the formation of the Government because time is running out and hunger is on the doorstep, disease is ruthless and banks are in danger. It is not enough for the Government to be formed but to be active and composed from people of conscience, and to give a role to the youth.
I must pay tribute to the security forces, especially to the Lebanese army, headed by Commander General Joseph Aoun, for all the efforts it exerted under the guidance of your Excellency, in order to maintain security and spare the country all chaos, civil, and sectarian war which is looming in some areas.
You are thanked and supported to keep a free and independent Lebanon. Allow me, Your Excellency, to reiterate the importance of Christian reconciliation, which is the basis of national reconciliation. Also, allow me to thank, Minister Bassil, Honorable Representatives, and the mayor of Haddad, Mr. George Aoun, for all efforts, works and stances".
Afterwards, Father Abou Jaoudeh presented the icon of the Virgin Mary, which is made by the Antonine Institute in Dekwaneh, as a memorial gift to President Aoun.
After the Mass, the President, First Lebanese and Father Abou Jaoudeh, were offered congratulations on the occasion, and attended the lunch which was held by the Monastery. The lunch was also attended by Mount Lebanon Governor, Judge Mohammed Mekkawi.
Source: National News Agency