The parish priest of St Maron AL-Bushriya Church in Lebanon, Fr Marwan Mouawad, recounts the moment a massive blast hit Beirut.
Fr Marwan was assisting at the Holy Mass celebrated by Fr Rabih Thoumi. The Mass was live-streamed, because of the Covid lockdown restrictions in Lebanon.
He still remembers the moment when the shock and panic hit. “The Mass started at 6 pm. When Fr Rabih Thoumi turned to bless the people, the church began to shake, we saw glass panes moving heavily and we felt something like an earthquake. The explosion forced us all to the side of the church and we felt the pressure and saw glasses shattering, we did not know where to run. There was fear and panic, wondering what more was coming.”
The subsequent shockwave destroyed parts of the church and sent two priests to take cover.
The moment was caught on CCTV camera where Fr Thoumi ran for cover dodging debris that fell from the ceiling. The camera fell after the blast and shattered glass was seen spread across the floor.
The priests and the few parishioners who were in church escaped alive.
A Facebook message from the parish stated, “Mar Maroon Al-Bushriya was severely damaged by the explosion in Beirut, and people who participated in the Mass were treated for their injuries. We thank God who protected those who were in the church from a confirmed disaster. We pray for the wounded that God gives them speedy recovery. And pray for all the fallen martyrs, may God have mercy on them and give patience to their family. We pray for the wounded Lebanon that has been exhausted by the scourge.”
Fr Marwan has vowed to rebuild the church all over again. “All the painted artworks of Jesus and the saints were damaged. Even the back walls of the church have been damaged. But with the help of God, we will overcome”.
For more pictures: https://bit.ly/2DJfZ2U