In 1911, Milwaukees Greek-Melkite community was estimated at 250 souls, just large enough to sustain a mission. With the blessing of the local Latin (Roman) Catholic ordinary, Archbishop Sebastian Gebhard Messmer, the Greek-Melkite community leased a former Pabst Beer saloon. For six years the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in a building where dance-hall decorations remained intact. This ceased when the community, with the personal financial support of the Archbishop, built a church.
Father Aneed explained his parishs endurance, calling the church a testimonial of our faith, hopes and fears, and our charities
a monument to tireless fidelity to our purpose. It is therefore the real expression of our innermost hearts.
In a solemn ceremony in 1976, the patronal icon of St. George was transferred to the parish church, where today the modest image is a principal focal point for the community. Alongside the supplicants who have recently emigrated from Palestine and Syria, another grandchild of Dahir, 80-year-old Baraket Herro, tells his grandchildren of the intercessory power of St. George.
One hundred years after the first voyage, the icon of St. George will once again travel to a new world the electronic world of the Internet. The story of the lovely little image with its baby-faced saint, his church in the Bekaa Valley and the people who brought him here, has been placed on its own World Wide Web page.
It is estimated that worldwide, as many as 30 million people have access to this icon of St. George today. The Milwaukee parish established the first Eastern Catholic presence on the Internet and now it wants St. George to travel before them into the information age. And so, from the little church on State Street, across the millions of wires that constitute the information superhighway, the Troparion of St. George may be uttered:
O great among the saints, Glorious Martyr George,
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Since you are a deliverer of captives and a defender of the poor,
A doctor for the sick and a noble attendant to kings,
Intercede with Christ, our God, that he may save our souls.
Paul Douglas Stamm writes from Milwaukee. Shatzi Duffy also contributed to this article.
Tags: Eastern Christianity Melkite Greek Catholic Church Icons Media