25 April 2017
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  • » 04/20/2017, 11.02


    Aleppo Church in aid of young couples: married in war, future hope of the country

    Ibrahim Alsabagh*

    The family is a sign of hope in a context of war and violence. The Latin parish launches a "spiritual and material" support program. Fr. Ibrahim: An initiative that embraces all Christian rites and confessions and does not forget "our Muslim brothers and sisters". Pope Francis (and the Curia) donate 100,000 euros. Information on how you too can donate to the campaign.


    Aleppo (AsiaNews) - A family represents the future of a society, even and above all in a context of war and violence like the one that has enveloped Syria since March 2011. "We want to support families" spiritually and materially" encouraging and accompanying them "in their mission for the country and the Church itself", says Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh, a 44-year-old Franciscan, guardian and parish priest of the Aleppo Latin Parish.

    The pastor speaks of an initiative dedicated to young couples in Syria’s second largest city, and once its economic and commercial hub. In these weeks, "about 740 couples of all rituals who received the sacrament of marriage after 2012" received food aid, medicines, and electricity supplies, as well as "Muslim families who are in trouble. "

    "More than just mere material accompaniment," the priest writes, " there is also an attempt within this project to promote 'permanent formation' meetings for these families, in the context of monthly post-marital formation meetings." An initiative strongly supported by Pope Francis himself, who together with the Roman Curia during the last spiritual exercises of Lent donated 100,000 euros. "Aleppo, like all of Syria, is like a ship," says Fr. Ibrahim – tossed about on a stormy sea. And in this storm, we are trying to protect young couples, who are our future".

    At the end, at the end of the testimony, you will find the contact information for the Aleppo Latin Parish and how you too can make a donation.

    "The Church is the family and the family is a small church ..." - Pope Francis

    Last Friday, January 20, our parish had a very important day: an Eucharistic celebration marked the inauguration of a new ecumenical project for this year. It aims to support young Christian couples of all rites, who married during the war. The ceremony was attended by the bishops and priests of all the Christian communities in Aleppo.

    It was very impressive to see the church full of faithful, and especially the young. Their faces expressed the suffering and sadness of the war, the anxiety. How do you start a family without economic resources, in a context of massive unemployment. And when prices are so high? Although both spouses work, their salaries are not enough to live on. However, in their eyes also emerges a light of hope and joy, because they know that they are not alone, that the Church has not forgotten them, that it is by their side.

    A young family represents the future of society. The family founded on Christian values ​​is the future of the Church. We want to support it both spiritually and materially, within our country, even though it is going through moments of difficulty. We want to encourage and accompany the family in its mission for the country and to the Church itself.

    This project for young couples was born from the present reality of the family in Aleppo, and its needs. About 740 couples of all rituals who received the sacrament of marriage after 2012 are already included within this program, but the list is not yet fully completed. After about three months this project has been expanded to include couples who have tied the knot after 2010. During these three months, all the young families received: a food parcel; aid to help pay for electricity; support for medical needs, especially on maternity issues for pregnant women.

    This ecumenical project has been blessed by all those responsible for Christian, Catholic and Orthodox communities. The community of the Latin Church, served by the Friars Minor Friars, has taken this initiative of responsibility for the future of Christians in Aleppo and not only for those of the Latin rite, but never forget to also help the Muslim brothers and families who pour in difficulty.

    Until now, we have not been able to benefit from such an economic source as to cover this project in its entirety, but the Lord has always taught us to take the first step, then intervening through Providence.

    These young families living in war are a fragile component of society, with many threats of crisis. They need to be protected and accompanied at a spiritual and material level. Our initiative is a practical answer, an attempt to accompany the family, especially the young Aleppo families. And it is an accompanying mode that has been declining considerably in recent years due to the war. Much more than a mere "material accompaniment", within this project there is also the attempt to promote "permanent formation" meetings for these families, in the context of monthly post-marital formation meetings.

    This activity, or rather, this way of living communion, through spiritual and material help, is certainly not something new within the Church. It is a practical application of the model proposed by the first Christian community, as it is presented by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. A community that nourishes both the Word, the sacraments, the prayer, as well as the daily charity in its practical application.

    The greatest encouragement we have received so far for this project was that of Pope Francis and of the Roman Curia. During the spiritual retreat for Lent, the pontiff and the cardinals listened to the songs taken from my book "A Moment Before dawn". The Holy Father confessed to his preacher father that it was difficult for them to swallow food, after hearing and learning under what conditions the inhabitants of Aleppo lived. For this reason, he has sent a donation of 100,000 euros to our parish, which serves as a humanitarian service to the whole city of Aleppo, without distinction, on his behalf and on behalf of the participants in the spiritual retreat. After receiving this news, I immediately thought of this project dedicated to young couples.

    We are all very grateful to the Holy Father for this gesture of paternal tenderness and, together with him, we want to thank all members of the Curia who participated in this donation. Aleppo, like all of Syria, is like a ship tossed about on a stormy sea

    And in this storm, we are trying to protect young couples, which represent our future.

    Latin Parish of St. Francis in Aleppo, Syria:

    Latin Parish:  https://www.facebook.com/latinparish.aleppo/
    Children in prayer for peace: https://www.facebook.com/st.francis.parish.aleppo/
    Latin Parish Aleppo @LatinParish
    Banking account for donations (in Euros):
    Clause: Per i poveri/For the poor
    IBAN: IT74E05018 01600 000000242411

    * Franciscan Priest, guardian and parish priest of the Latin Parish of Aleppo

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