Diocesan Schools Donate Crucial Supplies on Their Way to Lebanon

A huge shipment made up of an estimated 3.5 tons of nonperishable food, toiletries, and “arts and crafts” supplies is on its way to Lebanon and due to arrive there on May 16. The essential items were collected by diocesan schools during Lent, as a coordinated effort to benefit the Lebanese Franciscan Sisters of the Cross.

“We are extremely grateful. I know the sisters are extremely grateful for all the support,” said Father Stephan Isaac, assistant pastor of the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown and chaplain of Allentown Central Catholic High School.

Father Isaac, proud of his Lebanese heritage, spearheaded the almsgiving drive during Lent after seeing the need firsthand when he joined a brief mission trip to Lebanon in October 2023, with the founders of the Catholic Medical Foundation (CMF), Dr. Christopher and Judith Chapman.

“Absolutely saintly [and] amazing couple who have really given their lives to help those in need around the globe,” he said.

The Bethlehem-based nonprofit that “provides medical and humanitarian aid and services to vulnerable populations in areas of the world where there is a desperate need due to war, civil unrest, economic collapse, and natural disaster,” has been working with the Lebanese Franciscan Sisters of the Cross since Covid.

“These sisters are living, breathing saints. They truly are. They're just wonderful examples of the Gospel,” said Father Isaac.

Over the years, the sisters have established orphanages, hospitals, psychiatric care facilities, and schools.

“There’s a huge need,” said Father Isaac. Lebanon has been in the midst of an economic collapse. “There's been political instability. They've had the pandemic. An economic crisis that followed that, as well as the port explosion in Beirut.” CMF and the sisters provide crucial support to the most vulnerable in the area.

“I got to see a wide range of the [great], lifesaving, charitable work of the Lebanese Franciscan Sisters of the Cross and the Catholic Medical Foundation,” said Father Isaac. “It’s been a blessing to serve with them and to be a part of their life-saving charitable work, which is really the corporal works of mercy. They’re living our faith so beautifully."

Upon his mission trip return, Father Isaac was inspired to contribute to their humanitarian efforts. With the support of the Chapmans and Bishop Alfred Schlert, he launched the diocesan-wide Lenten almsgiving drive.

“We placed it in God’s hands and the Holy Spirit really inspired so many of our schools to participate,” said Father Isaac.

Even though the drive was rolled out in the schools, some parishes also pitched in and collected $2,500 in monetary donations.

“This just goes to show you how good and generous and awesome our people are in the Diocese of Allentown.”

If you missed the drive, you can make a donation anytime at CMF’s website www.cathmedfoundation.org. Father Isaac said the nonprofit has a system in place to ensure all donations go directly to the sisters.

“I was blessed to see one of the shipments being delivered to the sisters,” he said. “A huge cargo container and the sisters themselves going in and unpacking with volunteers, unpacking all of the supplies that had come from the United States.”