On June 24, the local community at the Congregational House carried out a project in connection with our corporate stand on "refugees". In fact, at dinner they welcomed Antoinette and Elias Alhanout, a Syrian family who had arrived in the diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil last February. Regrettably, their two sons were unable to be there due to their work as dishwashers in a restaurant.
The cafeteria featured an ambiance fitting for the Feast of Saint-Jean Baptiste: blue and white decorations, Quebec flags, a CD featuring songs by Gilles Vigneault, an appealing buffet, a superb cake, wine, and joyful smiles.
What a privilege it was to spend this time with these people who were willing to share some of their life experience with us. How can we not admire the courage of these parents who have left everything to offer their children: security, freedom and the chance of a better future? How can we not appreciate their efforts to learn French (6 hours a day, 5 days a week)? How emotional it was to hear them express their immense gratitude to Quebec and to us! Elias and Antoinette feel that they are becoming part of a second family. And we are opening our doors to them!
The organizers of the celebration introduced the SNJM community to our guests, who enjoyed a tour of the "historic sites".
During a happy send-off, the couple expressed their wish to receive us into their home.
N.B. Mr. Alhanout is a Melkite Greek Catholic priest of great faith who would like to become involved in the Saint-Jean-Longueuil Diocese.