|ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE SISTERS OF THE CROSS OF LEBANON
Date: Sunday November 7th, 2004
Source: Custody of the Holy Land
At 4:00 in the afternoon was celebrated a Solemn Mass presided by the Father Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, at the girls boarding school of the Custody of the Holy Land, looked after since 1993 by the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the death of their founder, the Venerable Yacoub El-Haddad, which also coincided with the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the institute of the Sisters by a Capuchin Franciscan Friar. At the Eucharistic celebration concelebrants included, among others, Priests from Lebanon: Fr. Maroun Younan, pastor of Nazareth, and Fr. Halim Noujaim, director of a school in Nazareth and promoter for the coming of the sisters to the girls boarding school. The homily was given in Arabic. The friar seminarians of the Franciscan International Seminary of Jerusalem served at the Solemn Mass. The students of the boarding school did the singing. Many religious brothers and sisters were present, as well as representatives, especially of the female institutes of the Holy Land. At the end of the celebration the Father Custos thanked the Sisters for the service that they do for the Custody of the Holy Land.
The Venerable Father Yaqoub El-Haddad, a Lebanese Capuchin, the "St. Vincent" of Lebanon, was known as and popularly called "Aboona Yacoub" (Father Yacoub).
Father Yaqoub was born in Ghazir on February 1st, 1875, the third of five brothers, receiving the baptismal name of Khalil. In August of 1893 he was accepted in the Order of the Franciscan Capuchin Friars. He was ordained a Priest in November of 1901, and died in 1954.
Following in the footprints of Saint Francis of Assisi, Father Yaqoub lived his holiness heroically, practicing all the dimensions of charity in the face of all the physical and moral miseries, giving all his time, energy, talent, and pastoral dynamism, even at the expense of his health, in order to care for, heal, feed, and "to put bodies and souls back on their feet again." In order to continue his work, he founded the Congregation of the Franciscans of the Cross of Lebanon. (Father Mansour Labaky).
The Franciscan Sisters of the Cross of Lebanon
The Franciscan Sisters of the Cross of Lebanon were founded in 1930. In 1932 Sister Maria Zougheib became the first Mother General. They became Sisters of Pontifical Right in 1976 and their Constitutions were definitively confirmed in 1983. Their apostolic works include hospital assistance for Priests who are impeded from continuing their ministry for reasons of health or age. They also care for the disabled, blind, crippled, mentally handicapped, the old, and people abandoned by their families. The care for and the education of the orphans occurs in places where there are no other educational facilities.
A brief history of their foundations includes:
In 1957: a school in Hrajel, 200 meters high, with an objective of consolidating the presence of families in their villages.
In 1976: in Rome they opened a Convent and a welcoming house.
In 1977: they founded an institution for disabled girls from Ijdabra.
In 1977: they settled in Bscele, in a house that was given to them by the parents of a Religious Sister, where today they have an apostolate.
In 1989: foundation for old people at Shlifa, in the Muslim and Christian region of Baalbeck
In 1992: foundation for the disabled and a mission to sustain their families at Halba.
In 1995: a house for the mission at Bteddine El-Lekch. In 1995: a house for old people, constructed and offered by a Jordanian Priest, Fr. Youssef Naamat, from Eheiss in Jordan.
In 1999: a house for missions, offered by Bishop Philippe Noujeim from Kfertay in Lebanon.
In 2003: Saint Francis High School in Ghazir, close to the birth house of Father Giacomo, that the Congregation has recently renovated.
Also the Sisters do secretarial and management services in other places:
-The Apostolic Nunciature in Lebanon, since 1943.
-The Apostolic Nunciature in Syria, since 1974.
-The Hospital of Our Lady of Zghorta, since 1975.
-The House for Old Priests in Maadi, in Egypt, since 1988.
-The girls boarding school of the Franciscans in Jerusalem, since 1993.
-The Convent Saint Lucy, in Alexandria in Egypt, since 1996
Religious Sisters: 244.
Workers who assist the Sisters: 2,010.
Sick and old Priests under their care: 80.
Sick and handicapped under their care: 1,530.
Old people: 700.
Social houses: 170.
Branch that deals with general health: 300.
Congrégation des Franciscaines de la Croix du Liban.
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