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Marist presence in Jbail – Byblos



The School of « Notre Dame de Lourdes »

02/04/2012: Lebanon

The first Brothers to Lebanon came in 1868 at the request of the Jesuits: 5 to Ghazir and 3 to Beirut for seven years. Brother Louis-Marie, the Superior General who sent them, recalled them in 1875. 
A second group came twenty years later, in 1895, sent by Brother Théophane, the 4th Superior General, concerned to open places of refuge for the Brothers the anticlerical government in France was driving out of the schools. That year, five Brothers arrived in Antoura for the Lazarists, and 5 others in 1896, for the Jesuits at Beirut; and so each year up to 1903, when there were about forty. This doubled suddenly in 1903, with the Brothers distributed through the seminaries of the Armenians of Bzommar, the Maronites of Kfarhay, the Capuchins of Tartous, the Carmelites of Alexandrette, the Jesuits of Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt, the Franciscans at Alep in Syria, and the Carmelites at Baghdad in Iraq.

At the same time, the Brothers opened their own schools in Lebanon: Jounieh in 1899;  Achkout and Amchit in 1900; Saïda, Batroun, Deir el Qamar and Zahlé in 1904. With the numbers and success, the Near East « sector » became a « Province » in 1908 and founded the future Province of Madagascar in 1911. In 1914, the Marist Province of Lebanon numbered 123 Brothers educating Frères 2,400 pupils.


The « Notre Dame de Lourdes » School at Jbail - Byblos

The Province founded the school of Jbail in 1908, right in the centre of the Christian sector. This school, damaged and ruined by the Turks during the first world war, resumed life and activity in 1919 and has continued uninterrupted up to today, when it counts 1,916 pupils from infants to school leavers, preparing for the two baccalaureats, French and Lebanese, and   151 teachers, all Catholic Maronites. Among the students, there are 92 Moslems (4.8%) and   113 Orthodox.

The school has a very good reputation and it is not easy to accept more pupils despite the many requests. 90% of our pupils, among Moslems as well as Christians, have parents who   studied in our schools.

The Marist community numbers 6 Brothers (2 French, 2 Lebanese, 1 Syrian, and one Colombian). Three work in the college as catechists, teachers of Spanish, of karate, and in pastoral care. The elderly collaborate by their presence, their prayer and their example.

Teaching is given in French, Arabic and English and prepares for Baccalaureats in Science, Mathematics, Economics and Sociology.


Interest and challenges for the future of our presence in Lebanon

As the bishops of the Near Eastern Synod and Brother Superior General, during the Provincial Chapter of the Province of « Méditerránea », have remarked, the presence of Christian institutions in this region of the world is of very great importance. The Catholic school, in particular, is a place of inter-religious encounter and of dialogue of cultures for peace.

The political and religious climate of the Near East is very complex and requires on the part of all appropriate attention and action, a necessary education in living in harmony and mutual respect, concentrating on the values that unite us and not on those which divide or differentiate.

The Christian presence is absolutely necessary for the future of religious peace in the Near East, and our Marist establishments are of great efficacy for the maintenance or return of Christians to their ancestral lands.

And we need Brothers to respond to this great challenge of political and religious history.

F. Carlos Mario McEwen Ochoa, Collège « Notre Dame de Lourdes » à Jbail – Byblos
Présence Mariste N° 268 - http://www.presence-mariste.fr

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