Cincinnati, Ohio

On Friday, 14 September 2018, a special evening prayer service was held at St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Catholic Church to celebrate the feast day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. This joint prayer service was a continuation of efforts of the One Church of Mercy group and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. Members of that Order, along with Maronite, Syro-Malabar, and Roman Catholic parishes, and the Antiochian Orthodox Church came together to pray for religious freedom for all and to bring awareness of the persecution of Christians around the world. Fr. George Hajj, Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Church
was the Celebrant, with Fr. Todd Grogan of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church and Fr. Jiby Antony Thekkemuriyil of St. Chavara Syro-Malabar Catholic Mission concelebrated. A procession led by the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem started off the evening and included the beautiful wooden cross crafted two years ago by Mr. Elie Kanaan, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Church. The Blessing of the four corners with the glorious cross took place during the Liturgy, while many hymns and psalms were sung, intentions read, and the Knights’ Prayer recited. Afterwards, a reception and educational program was held at St. Anthony Church’s Hall. This program included a video presentation from Mr. Bill O’Keefe, Catholic Relief Services Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy, and a presentation and discussion led by Ms. Annie Scheid, Refugee Resettlement Director for Catholic Charities of South West Ohio. Many commented afterwards about how uplifting it was to have so many different parishes come together to pray and be as one.

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