Hosted by In the atmosphere of prayer, fraternity and excellent hospitality from Maronite Catholic Bishop Robert Shaheen, bishops of the Eastern Catholic churches in the United States held their annual meeting as the Eastern Catholic Associates (ECA) at the pastoral center of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eastern Catholic Associates (ECA) is an organization of archbishops and bishops of the Eastern Catholic archdioceses and dioceses in the
Led by its president Byzantine Catholic Bishop John Kudrick (Eparchy of Parma, Ohio), the bishops of the ECA addressed a varied agenda over the course of nearly two days. An issue that emerged in several contexts during the April 10-11 meeting was the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Bishop Yousif Habash (Syriac Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance) and Bishop Mikaël Mouradian (Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg) told heartbreaking stories of recent atrocities suffered by members of their own churches, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
The bishops received reports from Dr. Barbara Lutz, Father Gregory Noga, and Bishop Samra describing the great success enjoyed by the Encounters of the Eastern Catholic Churches in 2012. This was a series of conferences held in Cleveland OH Hillsborough, N.J.; and El Segundo, Calif.
The title of the Encounters was "Together In Christ." The theme was "Spirituality of Discipleship: A Call to Holiness," reflecting the discussions and presentations on the role of the laity in the Eastern Catholic churches. Bishop Samra announced that, at the initiative of the Eastern Catholic laity of the southern part of the United States, a fourth session of the Encounter will be planned for Orlando, Fla., in connection with the Byzantine Liturgical Feast of the Encounter (Presentation of the Lord) Jan. 31-Feb2, 2014.
Dr. Lutz and Father Noga
reported on the recent successes enjoyed by the ECED
(Eastern Catholic Eparchial
Directors of Religious Education) and especially its publication arm, God With Us Publications. Dr. Lutz indicated that one of her goals was to make its website (www.godwithusbooks.org
) not only a place for the purchasing and downloading of publications, including a number of free titles, but also a clearinghouse for information concerning Eastern Catholic churches in America. Eventually, this website is intended to become a "one stop shop" with links to everything Eastern Catholic. The success of both the Encounters and educational organizations present positive signs regarding the strong interest and enthusiasm of the laity of the churches in this Year of Faith.
Presentations by Michael Brough of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management (NLRCM) and Mary Mencarini Campbell of the USCCB committee on the Home Missions educated the bishops about, and encouraged them to make full use of, the resources of these organizations for their ministries.
In further discussion, the bishops agreed to support Bishop Mikael Mouradian in his approach to the USCCB on the matter of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by the Catholic Church in the USA on April 24, 2015.
Reflection on their experience of their joint visit to the Holy See in May 2012 developed to a view to offering these reflections to the U.S. hierarchy in the form of a document on the experience of communio in the Catholic Church.
Next meeting was set for April 29-May 1, 2014 tentatively in St. Louis.
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