“Jesus is my Rock” Ceremony – ACN broke ground on Tuesday, 1st May, in Homs, Syria, where nearly 100 destroyed homes will be repaired.

The reconstruction effort was set to begin on the 1st May, the feast of St. Joseph the worker, this time around 100 houses are to be renovated in a venture that will cost about $350.000 , funded by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a pastoral aid organization of the Catholic Church.

With “Jesus is my rock” ceremony on Tuesday noon, 1st May, the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need begins the reconstruction of another 97 houses belonging to internally displaced Christian families from Homs in Syria. During the celebration in Um Al-Zehnar Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, the owners of the houses were each given a small piece of the rock reminding that Jesus is the rock, a stable fundament they can rely on and construct their future. Fr. Halemba from the Aid to the Church in Need highlighted the importance to build with faith and hope in God, because “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build” (Psalm 127:1). He encouraged people to be grateful to God for He cares for them and asked to remember about the benefactors in their prayers. Greek Melkite Archbishop of Homs, Mgr Abdo Arbach, proclaimed the Good News and together with Syrian-Orthodox Patriarch, Mgr Selvanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, blessed the faithful and their efforts. So begins the reconstruction of the houses of nearly 100 Christian families in Homs. Work on site in Homs will already get underway soon. Completion of these homes is expected to be completed by summer’s end.

ACN has already supported the renovation of nearly 110 houses in Homs, which boosted further reconstruction efforts. However, this is the first fully ecumenical project, as the 97 applicants are from different rites: both Catholic (1 Maronite family, 26 Greek Melkite families) and Orthodox (11 Greek-Orthodox and 59 Syrian-Orthodox families). The reconstruction committee mirrors this reality representing Christians of Syria in the diversity of their rites.

Aziz Al Houri with his wife told ACN after the ceremony: “We thank you for what you do. We are happy for our children. We will return our home!” Another young mother expressed her enthusiasm, as she hopes to give birth to her baby in her home, which is to be renovated. “We hope to return and God willing, we will return soon.”

The houses to be reconstructed were partially damaged and engineers at the spot professionally assessed the concrete needs case by case. A young architect-volunteer working on the project, Hala Mashhour, made no secret of the difficulties of this undertaking, but stressed its importance for the local community. She told ACN, how much she was happy to contribute for benefit of her country and in particular of her city. “I was excited with this project, because I would like to see Homs with a new face, shining with its beauty again”. Her own family rents a small apartment for six persons, which costs around $50 (25 000 SYP) per month.

The reconstruction effort was set to begin on the 1st May, the feast of St. Joseph the worker, this time around 100 houses are to be renovated in a venture that will cost about $350.000, funded by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a pastoral aid organization of the Catholic Church. One hundred is not a large number compared to the many more that are needed to eventually work on, but it is a significant number, as it is a concrete sign that Christian community in Homs is on its way to being rebuilt. Christians want to return home. Many of them would love to come back and some of them actually plan to benefit of the end of the school year to do it. Helping them in reconstruction of their destroyed homes will be key.


by Irmina Nockiewicz