LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- "God hears the cry of the poor,” echoed the priest's voice from his modest sanctuary to a group celebrating "Coffee with God" on Saturday morning.
Father Andre Mahanna's primary mission in his poor Lakewood parish is to aid refugees of war, after escaping war-torn Lebanon himself as a child.
“The next morning somebody's going to come and slaughter you because of your religion and your faith,” he told us he heard while hiding out in caves.
Now his struggling Maronite Catholic Church is getting badly needed repairs after it was plagued by leaking roofs and failing structures.
More than 40 volunteers from roofing, construction and community groups all pitched in Saturday to help the parish in its struggle against oppression from ISIS terror in Iraq and Syria.
Spread out around the church’s two buildings on ladders inside and out, tearing off several old layers of roof, patching damaged windows and skylights.
Sawing, hammering and raking up debris to pour into huge rolling dumpsters.
"The most beautiful thing we can do is create community,” said Jude Del Hierro, who with his son volunteered from Confluence Ministries, “Realize that a church like this is really reaching out very intentionally to love and to help those who are immigrants and trying to settle in this country.”
Interstate Roofing asked for nominees and Mahanna's parish was voted most in need.
"Father Andre is really appreciative and the parishioners are really appreciative and so it just feels really great like to know that we're doing a good thing here,” said Daniele Riopelle, who is co-owner of the company.
"It's a gift of mercy definitely God's work they’re doing here,” Mahanna said. "The most concrete laborers of the United States they have them in their hearts and they act with goodness.”
Not only were they replacing two huge roofs and repairing the buildings.
They donated literally hundreds of man hours along with tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and supplies.
With their help the parish hopes to expand its mission of aiding the poor and oppressed in the Middle East and elsewhere.
"I made a pledge to myself if God allows me to live and to survive I to come to this country and make them realize how needed they are in the world,” said Mahanna, who entered a Catholic monastery at age 11 after losing much of his family.