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"Father Antoine Daniel was a man of great courage and endurance, whose gentle kindness was conspicuous among his great virtues. […] Verily, he burned with a zeal for God more intense than any flame that consumed his body." — Fr. Paul Ragueneau
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"The local church should be conscious that church worship is not really the same as what we sing in a bar, or what we sing in a convention for youth."
— Francis Cardinal Arinze (2005)
A Taste Of Burj Hamoud
published 18 July 2010 by Corpus Christi Watershed

Burj Hamoud is a huge neighborhood in Beirut. It’s not very wealthy, but it’s full of life and excitement. It’s mostly Armenian, but it is also home to immigrants from all over the world. Here you can find Indians, Ethiopians and Mexicans. Well, there aren’t very many Mexicans. Just myself. Although I’m really American. At any rate, I love Burj Hamoud. Check out below some excerpts from an outdoor Maronite mass that I filmed while living in Burj Hamoud:

click here to enlarge video

The mass took place in front of a statue of St. Rita because it was on St. Rita’s day.

Why did I choose to live there? Because I wanted to get a taste of something interesting and real, and not live the life of a tourist. I stayed with the Tanios family: a family of Maronites who came to Burj Hamoud from the mountains to flee violence during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990.

The first night that I slept there, I heard booms and bangs. I thought that a war was starting. Turned out it was just fireworks because someone, somewhere in the neighborhood was celebrating something. I asked Angel, my host mom: “it’s so loud at night! How do you know when there’s a war?” “Oh, you’d know,” was her reply. See the fireworks at the end of the above video. This was in celebration of St. Rita’s day.

Every morning I woke up and walked through the neighborhood, enjoying the very public nature of social interaction. In the U.S., so much of what we do happens individually and behind closed doors. In Lebanon, and especially in a place like Burj Hamoud, people are out on the streets. Buying, selling, having coffee in impromptu social get-togethers. Playing cards, backgammon, running daily errands. A guy with a vegetable cart, shouting slogans to entice buyers. A woman who lowers a basket from a high balcony to collect the vegetables. Kids playing soccer. All this in a public space.

CLICK HERE to learn about Watershed’s ongoing video projects in Lebanon. CLICK HERE to read more of Eric’s blogs.