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Melkite Catholic patriarch, eparch to speak at conference

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METHUEN — As part of a weekend-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of St. Basil Seminary in Methuen there will be a conference, “A Light from the East: Rejoicing in the Light,” held at the Salvatorian Center on Sept. 17 at 2 p.m.

The conference will include two talks; one by Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham and the other by Archbishop Cyril Bustros, Eparch of Newton. Both talks will be followed by a question and answer session.

Archbishop Cyril — who has been chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to participate in the Synod of bishops and will participate in the synod on the Eucharist October 2005 —will open the conference with his talk, “The Eucharist and the Cosmic Christ.” Then, at 3:45 p.m. Patriarch Gregorios will speak on “The Challenge of the Melkite Church in America and Abroad.”

Bishop John Elya, Eparch Emeritus of Newton, himself the second rector at St. Basil Seminary, has extended an open invitation to the public, especially clergy of all faiths.

He was particularly hopeful that catechumens from the Archdiocese of Boston as well as the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. would attend.

“This is an historic event,” said Bishop Elya. “Possibly not for a long time will all of the men and women preparing to enter into the Catholic faith again have such an opportunity as this one. Our patriarch, His Beatitude Gregorios III, and Archbishop Cyril Bustros are not only great scholars, but they are also interesting and dynamic speakers as well. The participants will learn about and experience the universality of the Catholic Church through this event.”

Bishop Elya said he hopes for a strong showing from the Orthodox clergy and faithful. As a man with an ecumenical heart, he is looking for participation from the wider Christian community in the area as well, he added.

Father John Faraj, the regional superior of the Basilian Salvatorian Order, said that the talks will be a blessing to the area, given the large number of local universities, and the timely and relevant topics being presented.

“Both speakers come with outstanding qualifications,” he explained. “Participating in the conference will give the participants an opportunity to experience the depth and beauty of the Eastern theology, liturgy, and spirituality. It will be great to give the Catholic faithful the opportunity to better breathe from both lungs — the Eastern lung and the Western lung of the Church,” added Father Faraj.

 The weekend celebration also includes a “Festival of Thanksgiving” on the evening of Sept. 17 with food, song and fellowship. Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley is among those scheduled to participate.

There will be the offering of the Divine Liturgy by Patriarch Gregorios, on Sept. 18 following Orthros (Morning Prayer) in the seminary chapel. The public is invited to participate.

St. Basil Seminary is staffed by the Basilian Salvatorian Order, the order to which both Patriach Gregorios and Bishop Elya belonged before their episcopal consecrations. Its construction was made possible through a generous donation from Cardinal Richard Cushing.

[Editor’s note: The Salvatorian Center at St. Basil Seminary is located at 30 East Street, Methuen. Further information about the event is available by calling the seminary at 978-683-2471.]

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