As we all know all too well, the situation in Syria is desperate. Internal and external refugees, whole families uprooted, so many the victims of the violence of ISIS and other bellicose forces, Christians martyred and insufficient resources for people to survive. Let me share with you a letter I received yesterday from the Papal Nuncio in Damascus, Syria. It has to do with all of you generous members of the Church here on Long Island.

Archbishop Zenari, the Nuncio, thanks the faithful of our diocese for the $100,000 you contributed to a special collection for the suffering in the Middle East. This is what he wrote:

“On behalf of the beneficiaries and of the bishops of Syria, I thank your faithful for the generous gesture of solidarity towards this exhausted population. The Diocese of Rockville Centre is one of the closest solidary dioceses towards Syria.

This generous donation is a precious “drop” in a sea of necessities. According to the latest statistics, about 60% of people in Syria are jobless and four of five families are living in poverty, which is particularly harsh in this winter season. Your donation helped some poor families to heat their houses and to buy medicines.

This generous gesture of solidarity honors also the memory of the USA citizens who lost their lives while performing their job and voluntary service in Syria.”

I add my thanks and prayers to those of the Archbishop. The reference he made to those who lost their lives would include the late Marie Colvin of Oyster Bay who was killed by rebel forces in Homs some three years ago. She was a reporter for the Times of London. Thanks to Archbishop Zenari, we were able eventually to get her body out of Syria back to her family here on Long Island where she lies at rest today. RIP.