An Assembly with Archbishop Jeanbart
‘I pray that the Lord gives us a country where citizens are respected, where citizens are equal, where citizens are free. Where the people of Syria can live in dignity and without fear.’
We were extremely proud and pleased to welcome Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo in Syria to the Vaughan on Friday 16 October when he spoke in a special Assembly to the Lower School. Aleppo has seen some of the worst fighting in the conflict that erupted in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring, with forces loyal to Syrian President Assad and rebel groups battling it out for supremacy and large sections of the city reduced to rubble. Archbishop Jeanbart has had the personal misfortune of having his home bombed ten times, and his Cathedral bombed six times. Committed to raising awareness of the plight of his people, the Archbishop delivered a pressing and deeply moving address to our pupils.
‘I have to do whatever I can. I have to fight. I have to fight so that the Church may remain in the land in which she was born, and that we may live in the land in which we were born. Please pray for us. Pray for us to succeed. Pray for us that the Lord may help us to achieve justice and freedom.’
Extremism is one of the most critical issues of our time and this Assembly followed the Archbishop’s recent impassioned plea for more meaningful intervention by the West.
‘What are the great nations waiting for before they put a halt to these monstrosities? May all of those who believe in... God and all those with compassion for the innocent raise their voice with us and call on civilized countries to take action to bring about peace.’
Archbishop Jeanbart was particularly keen for the boys to appreciate just how privileged they are to live in a city so welcoming of diversity.
‘When I came to London I noticed that you are all of different colours, different origins and different religions. Yet every single one of you has all of the rights. And that nobody may contest your rights. And that is wonderful.’
The Assembly finished with a prayer, composed by the Archbishop:
‘Lord, stay with us’
Lord Jesus, who asked us to believe in you, we pray you, strengthen our faith with your almighty power.
You asked us not to be afraid, and promised to always remain with us. Affirm our trust in your mercy. Protect the Church in Syria from evil and evildoers bent on uprooting and destroying her. That Church was born in the blessed land on the day of Pentecost, that grace-filled day from which point on the first faithful, baptized by St. Peter and the Apostles, established in their land the first of the communities of those who belong to you.
You gave our Church the great privilege of baptizing at Damascus your chosen one, Paul, Apostle of the nations. This Church has remained faithful to you in Syria, land sanctifies by countless processions of martyrs who, sacrificed by the millions in 2000 years of history, have waterd the soil with their blood, pure and clear. They preferred to die rather than deny or betray you.
Lord, the Christians of Syria love you and you know that; they have remained faithful to you despite all the sufferings and trials they have undergone for the sake of your love. Come to their aid; don’t let them lose their faith in you and their courage. Help them continue their Mission in this Holy Land where you were born and where your Church began to establish your reign in this world which awaits, day after the day, the coming of your justice.
Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary whom you gave us as Mother, remain with us, confirm us in your love and, by her maternal intercession, make us witnesses of your