The Deipara Initiative...
... was set up to support the work of the Little Sisters of Nazareth among the Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian refugees in Dbayeh Camp, Lebanon. Its three core functions are to raise funds, raise awareness, and promote peace through dialogue.
The work of the Little Sisters, providing a loving and caring presence in the midst of tragedy and deprivation, aims to empower the population they serve. Emphasizing the value and dignity of each person, taking seriously their intrinsic capabilities and aspirations, the sisters' mission is a true expression of person-to-person solidarity.
The Deipara Initiative was created as a response to the chronic financial need in all aspects of the sisters' work – their medical clinic, their support for children's education, and their social support network. Initially, therefore, the initiative was conceived of as a fund raising mechanism.
It was soon clear, however, that a major problem is a lack of awareness among potential donors; of the ongoing plight of the Palestinian refugee communities in general, and of the situation for Christian Palestinian refugees in particular. As the region's last remaining Christian Palestinian refugee camp – a camp in which there are no armed groups and no headline-news events to attract attention – Dbayeh Camp is all but forgotten by the outside world. Raising awareness was therefore adopted as a second core function.
In Lebanon, the Palestinian refugee camps exist in a complex web of communal and sectarian relations. Using our network of friends and supporters to navigate that environment, in a way that serves the work of the sisters and the needs of the refugees, is our third core function. Promoting dialogue across and within faith-traditions is the best way to break down harmful stereotypes, positively impact group identities, and promote peace on a grassroots level.
The Deipara Intiative is a part of The Spero Collaborative, a global network of groups and individuals "collaborating for hope in hard places." Dedicated to solidarity and service among the poor and forgotten on the margins of the world, the Spero Collaborative is a perfect partner. It provides our fiscal sponsorship and also receives, handles, and disburses all donations. This streamlines organization and effort, keeps our overhead costs to a minimum, and makes it possible for us to pledge that 100% of your donations will go directly to the work of the Little Sisters in Dbayeh.
Pr. Brian Bajari, CEO, The Spero Collaborative, Monterey, CA
Mr. Daniel McCarthy, COO, The Spero Collaborative, Monterey, CA
Rt. Rev. Winfield Mott, Bishop of the Diocese of the West, Reformed Episcopal Church
Sr. Magda Smet, Little Sisters of Nazareth, Dbayeh, Lebanon
Fr. Lennie Tighe, Boston, MA
Fr. Gregory Wassen, Cambridge, UK
Fr. Anders Strindberg is a priest of the Mission Province of Sweden and oblate at the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Lucia, CA. He holds an M.A. in Philosophy and International Relations and Ph.D in International Relations, both from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. In addition to academic appointments at Princeton University, Damascus University, and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, he worked as a journalist prior to entering St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY, in 2007. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2009 and has served in parishes in Stockholm, New York, and California.
Deipara is Latin for "God-bearer" – theotokos in Greek – one of the names of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The initiative to support the Little Sisters' work among the people of Dbayeh Camp is taken in Mary's name and under her patronage.
"... Mary, who 'stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord,' a woman of strength, who experienced poverty and suffering, flight and exile (cf. Mt. 2:13-23). These are situations that cannot escape the attention of those who wish to support, with the Gospel spirit, the liberating energies of man and of society. And Mary will appear not as a Mother exclusively concerned with her own divine Son, but rather as a woman whose action helped to strengthen the apostolic community's faith in Christ (cf. Jn. 2:1-12), and whose maternal role was extended and became universal on Calvary. These are but examples, but examples which show clearly that the figure of the Blessed Virgin does not disillusion any of the profound expectations of the men and women of our time but offers them the perfect model of the disciple of the Lord: the disciple who builds up the earthly and temporal city while being a diligent pilgrim towards the heavenly and eternal city; the disciple who works for that justice which sets free the oppressed and for that charity which assists the needy; but above all, the disciple who is the active witness of that love which builds up Christ in people's hearts." (Marialis Cultus, 1974: 37)
Spes mica cunctis per acuta vitæ
Our motto means “a shimmer of hope in the middle of life’s dread.” It is a line from a mediaeval hymn, Solis, O Virgo, and describes the sort of presence that The Deipara Initiative hopes to be.