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The Maronite Church and Education: On General and Technical Education




1. Emanating from the fact that the mission of the Church, mother and teacher, does not cease with the apportioning of hopes and aspirations amongst the human race, but goes beyond it, to the fulfilling of her role in shedding light on man’s path and enlightening him as to his noble goal. Thus, the concern of this Synod in educational matters stems from its mission being basically a pastoral one and has to be provided to the sons and daughters of the Maronite Church, whether they are enrolled in Maronite schools or elsewhere, as well as, to those concerned with the educational affair[1]. The school has a fundamental role in the conveyance of this message toward its objective. Additionally, it is today the efficacious instrument for linking the Church with her sons and daughters, and providing scientific, literary, spiritual, and religious education to them and to those who have elected to receive education in her schools, or in schools indirectly linked to hers. Hence, our Synod deemed appropriate to address those concerned in the educational field, whether they are parents, administrators of educational institutions or educators, for each to assume his own share of responsibility in this area. The contents of this declaration are divided along the following axes:


·         The Maronite Church and her educational project from the time of Saint Maron until the middle of the twentieth century;


·         The challenges of the present state of affairs at the level of educational choices, the growth of institutions, the dilemma of public education and securing education for all; and,


·         Choices and aspirations of the Church.



Chapter One:


The Maronite Church and Her Educational Project from the Time of Saint Maron until the Middle of the Twentieth Century.


2. Interest of the Maronite Church in the subject of education in a general way has its deep roots in ancient and modern history. Reviewing these various historical epochs presents us with the following stages which need to be singled out:


Firstly: From the time of Saint Maron until the tenth century;

Secondly: From the tenth century until the founding of the Maronite college in Rome;


Thirdly: The Lebanese Synod (1736) and its effect in consolidating and developing education and civics and their organization;


Fourthly: The role of missionaries, and the initiatives of the Maronite religious orders in establishing schools; and,


Fifthly: Erecting the Secretariat-General of Catholic Schools (1948).


Firstly: From the Time of Saint Maron until the Tenth Century


3. Maronite educational progress finds its roots in the ambience of the Antiochene cultural heritage prevalent since the late third century and in the more comprehensive profound Maronite spiritual heritage where education revolved around the personal relationship of pupil and master. This can be perceived from the relationship existing between Saint Maron and his disciples, where this “hermit saint, over a short period of time, became the spiritual master, not only to a limited number of disciples”[2], but to the whole Christian community in the Antiochene Domain. This personalized dimension remains the primary characteristic of the concept of education. The contemporary master embodies in himself all that he desires to convey to his disciples, becoming like Christ, the prime teacher, a living model after whom the disciple aspires to build himself.


Alongside this distinctive hermetical context, we find a general Antiochene movement known as the Antiochene School. It had produced in addition to works of translation and transcription, a multitude of exegeses on the Holy Bible, theology and in manifesting Christ’s humanity, in what invigorated the cultural atmosphere and scientific activities throughout the East. In addition to the Antiochene school, and based on Ibn al-‘Ibari, the Lebanese Synod reminds that “the Syriacs focused firstly on studying the philosophy of (Aristotle) and his writings and have translated them from Greek into Syriac. After the eighth century A.D., the Arabs adapted from them using Syriac translations, as is apparent from the history of the Syriacs and the Arabs”[3]. Concerning what pertains to education and enculturation, the formation of priests and the faithful used to be accomplished at the hands of Saint Maron’s disciples who spread the faith through their monasteries and through their roaming among villages and cities. Erected monasteries and churches served also as schools for believers and bastions for their religious, social, educational and vocational activities. They were being tutored at the hands of the priests and monks who would teach them the fundamentals of Syriac, the language of the spiritual and religious heritage, in addition to some scientific and philosophical subjects, and mathematics.



Secondly: From the 10th Century until the Establishment of the Maronite College in Rome


4. Beginning with the tenth century, the West began to exhibit special interest in the East. After the schism of 1054, the points of conflict and the drifting apart with the Church of Constantinople became cemented and the ingrained entity of each Church[4] surfaced. For the purpose of uniting the Church, the Papacy sought to activate the major religious orders, especially the Dominicans and Franciscans, coordinating them toward that goal. “This interest was translated practically along two lines: The first consisted in sending young men to the West who spoke the languages of the mission countries for the purpose of equipping them with theological formation. The second consisted in calling on those western priests who were interested in dedicating themselves to the missions to learn Eastern languages.”[5] It is well known that “the Franciscan monks always played a major mediating role between the Apostolic See and the rest of the Eastern Christian Rites. Through indebtedness to the Franciscans, the first Maronites came to study in Rome in the fifteenth century”[6].


The first successful example for this endeavor was Gabriel Ibn al-Qila’i, who came back to Lebanon in 1493 and was among the first Maronites to have read Latin books. Aiming, through their many publications, to consolidate Roman theological teachings in the Maronite Church, convinced Patriarch Sem’an al-Hadathy to send a new delegation of Maronite youth to Rome.


5. Papal activity in this context increased after 1516, when the Ottomans tightened their dominance over the Near and Middle East, and the Balkans. Missionaries took it upon themselves to give full attention to Catholic Christians, “beginning with the Maronites who, in the whole Ottoman Empire, were the only community who remained united with the Roman Church, despite being subjects of the Sultan”[7]. Just after the emergence of the “Reformation Movement” in Germany, and in order to protect Catholicism, the Council of Trent was convoked in 1545, and the “first of its concerns was to establish seminaries which devoted themselves to the safeguarding of the Catholic faith with awareness and vigor”[8].   


Patriarch Doueihy recalls that “from the stories of the fifteenth century we deduce that during the rule of al-Mukaddameen and their just precepts, residents of Mount Lebanon rested easy and churches and schools prospered”[9]. Along with continued contact with the West, and the revival of relations between the Roman Apostolic See and the Maronites, through the Franciscan monks, linguistic difficulties in communication surfaced. The Maronite Patriarchs felt the need for instructors in Lebanon who have command of European languages, and for priests who would study in the West, and then return to their own country to serve believers. These were the major factors which induced the Patriarchs to secure education for their sons. They were lacking a school. Patriarch Moussa Sa’adeh Al-‘Akkari sought to establish a school in Mount Lebanon, but agreement with the Apostolic See could not be reached. “However, the idea of erecting a school remained alive, and Patriarch Mikhael ar-Razzi submitted a new application to Pope Pius V in 1568 (requesting) permission to find a location where Maronite young men may achieve formation, and in turn, teach the people”[10]. It was Pope Gregory XIII who later issued a decree establishing the Maronite School in Rome in 1584, asking the Jesuit monks to undertake its administration so as to prepare a new generation of clergy with a vast background in theological, philosophical, and pastoral knowledge to serve the Maronite Church.

Geniuses from this school excelled, many of whom returned to their homeland to serve their people and educate them. Students of this school mastered Arabic, Syriac and a number of European and ancient languages; undertook numerous translations, and excelled in the sciences, philosophy, theology, poetry, literature, mathematics, history, art, and law. This experience led to a cultural exchange between East and West, the secular and spiritual fruits of which are still being savored to this day. During that same period, and after the establishment of the Kozhayya Monastery printing press in 1585, Patriarch Youhanna Bin Makhlouf established the first Maronite seminary in the Mar Howka Monastery in 1624.


Thirdly: The Lebanese Synod (1736), and its Effective Role in Improving and Organizing Learning and Education


6. In addition to the first characteristic pertaining to the direction the Church is taking in education, which was centered on the teacher, a second characteristic reveals itself, namely, the love of knowledge and openness to all cultural heritages, and the diligent seeking to elevate children to the level of excellence. The Lebanese Synod convoked in 1736 gave new impetus to this pursuit of learning and knowledge, and added a third characteristic in this respect by stressing on the need to spread schools and education and urged “everyone presiding over eparchies, cities, villages, farms, and monasteries, groups and individuals, to join forces and collaborate to publicize this work of great benefit with increased fervor and vitality. This included bishops, chorbishops, priests, and abbots, giving attention to install a teacher where there is none, taking note of the very young who were fit to absorb knowledge, and compelling their parents to take them to school even if under compulsion. If they be poor or orphans, let the monastery or the church secure the necessary edibles. If the church or the monastery is unable, Sunday collections from believers are to be made to sustain them. As for the teacher’s salary, part of it is the responsibility of the church or the monastery (provided the teacher is not one of its monks), and the other part should be borne by the parents of the children”[11]. Thus, the Lebanese Synod was the bearer of the initiative of compulsory and free education even before the French Revolution and before any modern initiative in this respect.


That Synod laid down the fundamentals and the guidelines teachers must follow by stating: “We order these teachers…to observe the general rules, to teach the youth in the schools reading and writing in Syriac and in Arabic, then the Psalms, the book of Divine Liturgy, the daily office, and the New Testament. If they discern gifted students, they are to teach them Syriac and Arabic grammar and conjugation, then ritual music and the liturgical calendar, then upgrade them to undertake higher education in fluency, poetry, philosophy, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and the likes in mathematics. Next, they are to teach them the basics of canon law, exegesis, dogma and ethical theology, and especially whatever they deem suitable in accepting and serving the sacraments and to comprehend procedures for rituals and religious celebrations”[12].


7. In addition to the enculturation and refinement of boys, the Lebanese Synod called for exerting efforts “in the refinement of girls in the convents, as Church canons decree that the education of well behaved girls in the convents must be accompanied by a spirit of piety and the attainment of objectives through diligence and staying up late… Then, let teachers, holy nuns, be assigned to embrace them with the best of care”[13].


Fourthly: The School of Ain Waraka: The Cornerstone


With this orientation toward learning and knowledge, people of villages took the initiative to establish what became known as ‘school under the oak tree,’ in addition to schools scattered all over the Lebanese mountain. One of the most notable in this domain was Patriarch Youssef Estephan who, in 1789, transformed the Ain Waraka monastery into a major seminary with tremendous influence in the religious, national, and educational realms, and played a pioneering role in reviving the Arab renaissance all over the East. A significant number of Church personalities, authors, politicians, and educators, the likes of Beshara al-Khoury, Rasheed ad-Dahdah, Fares ash-Chidiac, Boutros al-Boustani, and Naoum Moukarzel, among others, were some of its graduates. It is noteworthy in this regard to indicate what pioneering role a good number of Patriarchs had in establishing schools and spreading education, satisfying the inclinations of the Lebanese Synod.


In 1812, Patriarch Youhanna al-Helou turned the Mar Youhanna-Maron Monastery in Kfarhay into a seminary, then, in 1817 the Roumieh Monastery into another seminary. His successor, Patriarch Youssef Hobeish, did likewise, transforming three monasteries into institutes: the first in Sarba in 1827, the second, the Mar Abda – Harharayya Monastery in 1830, and the third, the Mar Youssef Monastery - Reyfoun in 1832. What bolstered the movement of establishing schools was the effect left by the “Propagation of the Faith” school, together with the college of Rome. In addition to this was the intensification of Maronite contacts with Europe in general, and with Italy and France in particular, and what influence the Industrial Revolution had then.


8. This zeal in disseminating knowledge spread to the island of Cyprus where in 1734, Father Indraous Iskandar al-Kubrussi established a school “for educating the youth, the care of which was entrusted to the monks of Saint Anthony the Great”[14]. The opening of schools continued, and in 1875, Bishop Youssef ad-Debs built al-Hikma (wisdom) school in Beirut with the intent to “educate young laymen…for the good of the people of the territories of the East”[15]. Distinguished graduates from it were priests, scholars, speakers, poets, and authors the likes of: Ahmad Kurd Ali, Michel Zakkour, Beshara al-Khoury owner of Al-Byrak newspaper, Naoum Moukarzel, Dawood Barakat, and Moussa Beik Nammour and others. This school played a leading role in teaching the Arabic language and in promoting the patriotic spirit. Following the events of 1860, Bishop Youssef Geagea started building the Mar Youssef Lebanese School in Qornet Shehwan. It was completed by his successor, Bishop Youssef az-Zoghby who inaugurated it in October of 1884. This was simultaneous with the opening of many schools inside monasteries, apportioned by the religious orders to educate monks, candidates to the priesthood, in the Mar Kozhayya Monastery, Kfaifan, al-Qattara, the Mar Ash’ia Monastery, the Mar Eleesha’ Monastery, Meyfook, an-Na’meh, and the Nisbayh Monastery in Ghosta. Also, Bishop Youhanna Habib founded al-Kreim school in 1872, aiming to form missionaries from people of learning and of vocations. What Bishop Youssef ad-Debs says in this regard is: “The desire of parents to educate their children is common and all-encompassing to the observed extent of exceeding limits, and if commoners and their circles were to desire to give their children technical and professional training, this would have been more appropriate and more in line with their interest and that of the country”[16].


Fifthly: The Role of the Missions and the Initiatives of the Maronite Orders in Erecting Schools


9. In the context of the educational movement affirmed by the Lebanese Synod which accompanied it, the Latin missions rejuvenated their activities toward Lebanon during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the Franciscans were the first to consolidate their presence, then came the Capuchins, the Jesuits, the Carmelites, and the Lazarists. After the Jesuit Father Boutros Moubarak established the Aintoura School in 1728, which was handed over to the Lazarists in 1834, a similar school was founded in Zgharta in 1735.


The founding of all these schools in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was decisive evidence of the intellectual renaissance of the Maronites, especially since the majority of the students in the schools managed by the Jesuit and Lazarist Fathers and the other sister Christian schools were Maronite youth. During the nineteenth century, many religious missionaries flocked into Lebanon, all concentrating on erecting schools in the various regions of the homeland. Some of these were the schools of: the Nuns of Saint Joseph who came from Marseilles in 1846, then the Nuns of Nazareth who came from Lyon, the Nuns of the Holy Family, and the Nuns of the Good Shepherd. In 1853, Father Youssef Gemayel founded in Bekfaya a local order of nuns called the Congregation of Marians, which later became known as the order of the Nuns of the Two Sacred Hearts, and they founded some thirty schools in different parts of Lebanon. Consequently, education gave the Maronites considerable clout, and the best description of their role came from the tongue of the Italian Orientalist, Gabrielli, who said, including all Lebanese: “They are the translators of humanity. They digested the Greco-Roman culture, on the one hand, and the Syriac-Arabian one, on the other. Thus they became ambassadors of the European countries to the East, and the masters of Eastern languages in the West. They were the essential link between East and West”[17].


10. Since the mid nineteenth century, the different Maronite religious orders sought to erect dozens of additional schools in different parts of Lebanon and Syria, and in the countries of the expansion. Among them are the Lebanese Maronite Order, the Antonine Maronite Order, the Congregation of Maronite Nuns of the Holy Family, the Antonine Nuns, the Maronite Order, of the Blessed Mother the Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries, the Congregation of the Missionary Nuns of the Eucharist, and the Nuns of Saint John the Baptist – Hrash.


One of the most important achievements of the Church in this regard, was her commitment to establishing schools, not only in Christian regions, but also in Muslim and Druze regions as well, in her belief that education should be indiscriminately disseminated to all the children of the nation. In fact, the Maronite Antonine monks were the first to educate the children of the Druze Abi-l-Lama’ Emirs. This would not have taken place had it not been at the direct request of the Emirs who provided security and political coverage for this mission.


As for the Countries of Expansion, there are a number of Maronite schools in Egypt, Senegal, USA, Argentina, Canada, and Australia. Through these schools, whose number is always on the rise in Lebanon and the Arab world, the Maronite Church was able to nourish the children with human and Christian values. She encouraged scientific and cultural openness and strengthened the creative powers of her students, preparing them for their ecclesiastical and social commitment in the ambience of goodness, truth, freedom and love.



Sixthly: Establishing the Secretariat-General of Catholic Schools


11. The years of the middle of the twentieth century witnessed a major event in the life of the Church in Lebanon, whose importance would bear much influence on Catholic, and consequently, Maronite schools. The Catholic Church authorities, with encouragement from the Apostolic See, called for the creation of an entity common to all Catholic Churches in Lebanon naming it the Catholic Council of Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon. The function of this Council is to study various issues that are of concern to Catholic Churches as a whole, and one such issue is the present state of affairs of the Catholic School and its fate.


Maronite Church authorities played a major role in the erection of the Catholic Council of Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon in 1968. Soon after, the Council delved into the study of subjects and issues which were under discussion, such as unifying ecclesiastical courts, personal status, the media, Catholic movements, and also the issue of Catholic schools among others. Actually, the prime concern “for the Catholic ecclesiastical authorities was the unification of ecclesiastical institutions, such as Catholic schools and the Catechism”[18]. In 1948, “the General Assembly of the Synod decided to create an expanded episcopal committee to be preoccupied with the Catholic school which forms the youth in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel and the spirituality of the Church”[19], This committee was to endeavor to bring Catholic institutions closer to one another, substituting the spirit of competition with the spirit of cooperation, trying to find solutions to the subject of school tuition, which was practically preventing parents from choosing the school they consider appropriate for their children. The Secretariat-General of the Episcopal Committee for Catholic Schools contributed in the creation of the International Catholic Office for Education in 1952.


In 1949, along with the creation of the Episcopal Committee for Catholic Schools, the Catholic Bishops in Lebanon issued a pastoral letter entitled At-Tarbia al-Haqiqiya (Authentic Education) stressing on the freedom of opinion, of education and of the erection of private schools. It called upon the government to approve the educational projects undertaken by the Church and the family, or to support them where they lack resources. The government must remain watchful that there may be an abundance of schools for all its subjects, and to be preoccupied with educating them on civic and national principles.


With the creation of the Secretariat-General of Catholic Schools and of The Catholic Council of Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, Maronite schools have become a fundamental part of a vast educational system. Also, the educational guidelines that the Church formulated since then are the same ones she had addressed to the Maronite schools and the other Catholic schools.

Chapter Two:


Challenges of the Present State of Affairs



12. With the guidelines and decisions formulated by the Lebanese Synod, and with her pioneering role in the founding of the Secretariat-General for Catholic schools, the Maronite Church, across her history, has realized many essential achievements in the fields of education and scholastic instruction. Some of them are: focusing on the role of the teacher and openness to all categories of human heritage, enkindling the love of knowledge and striving to elevate all to the level of the springhead, popularize schools and education and spread schools throughout all territories. However, the contemporary state of affairs and what it defined and is defining in modern educational concepts and essential stipulations for the rectitude of the educational process, and what a comprehensive socio-educational role it imposes on the school, obligates the Maronite school today to face many new challenges. The most important of these are tied to its capacity to formulate comprehensive education, and accomplish quality learning, providing education for all, and a comprehensive excellence in the educational endeavor. This matter applies in most of its aspects to both public and private schools.


1. The Issue of Keeping the School as a Fundamental Means of Learning and Education


13. Even if the person seeking education is one, instructors and educators are many. The family, though it teaches and educates, does not necessarily follow an estimable scale of values, for, “it has become remiss to the memory of many of the parents, Christian and non-Christian, those values that used to adorn Christian families, such as contentment when it comes to food and drink, clothing and shelter, keeping watch over utterances when conversing, and respect in dealing with individuals and with people in general”[20].


The government also teaches values through its programs that are often of a national character and it also tries to popularize specific political concepts through various means. Similarly, the media, in what it promotes of openness and the viewing of the world of today, without the cognizance of the child and the wishes of the parents, teaches a scale of values embodying many dangers, probably the most important of which is “the danger of pornography propagated by the media”[21]. From his immediate environment and from society at large, the child becomes acquainted with ideas and practices that promote rapid and illicit gain, and the use of force to settle issues and other social plagues. Doubtless, the school today faces a fundamental educational issue: it is called upon to face the social “values” of today’s world, namely, laxity instead of obligation and commitment, pleasure instead of giving of self, individualism instead of brotherhood, violence and nervousness instead of dialogue, etc.


In the midst of all these gravitations, the school proposes itself as another educator among other educators and teachers, having to snatch its role forcibly. With one hand, it is fighting all destructive educational projects the child is exposed to, and with the other, building fortifications in more than one direction, hoping that the process of building is complete the day the child graduates from his school, having prepared him for the wider world of academia, vocations and of life. The challenge facing the school and the educator is to educate based on rationality and on respect for self and for the other, that the creative, spiritual and human values may be a point of reference for the student and the pupil.


2. Providing Balanced Growth of the Student on the Spiritual, Academic, Citizenship and Social Levels


14. Comprehensive education aims at “developing the personality”[22] in its spiritual and human dimensions. On the one hand, the school is called upon to give the spiritual matter, with all its beliefs, values, and practices, curricula and teachers, the utmost importance commensurate with the mission goal of the Church. On the other hand, it is called upon to give the human matter, with its educational and moral contents, the utmost importance commensurate with the requirements of the times, present and future. Through these two complementary endeavors, it is to up bring students to “promote efficaciously the good of the earthly city and also prepare them for service in the propagation of the Kingdom of God[23].


On the spiritual level, the Church considers that the school is called upon to consolidate the faith of students in God and to bear witness to universal religious values, to highlight the role of this faith in what the student acquires at the moral and educational levels, to be answerable to the readiness of its Christian graduates to spread the message of salvation and the extent to which they have developed that new creation they became through baptism, to what extent they have abided by the values of forgiveness, love and mercy, and the quality of the Apostolic spirit they are filled with, and consequently, to bear witness to Jesus Christ.


On the Academic level, the Church considers that the school is called upon to be answerable as to the quality of the services which have a strictly academic character, and its ability to “provide them with deep and comprehensive knowledge”[24].


15. At the citizenship level, the school is called upon to be answerable to how well it is providing civic education to its students, “so that all citizens can play their part in the life of the political community”[25], thus contributing “to the creation of an atmosphere of freedom and cooperation, equality before the law, adoption of the scale of sufficiency, respect for human rights, and establishing a political system of partnership in national decision making and in the building up of the state”[26].


The Synod accords tremendous importance to the introduction of students to the national heritage through various educational activities, and through history and geography textbooks that are in line with the national reality, and which help consolidate the national perception of the youth. The Synod also places emphasis on the importance of civic education, and civic formation, satisfying what is required of it that no theory may remain far from linking the youth with the social reality.


On the social level, the school is called upon to establish sound social education, “For a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of the good of the community he is a member of, expending effort for its sake, now that he has become an adult”[27].


3. The Paradox of Reconciling Tradition with Modernity


16. The concept of quality education emanates from specifying the needs and expectations of students and their parents and comparing them with what the school is undertaking, trying to bridge the chasm between the two. Filling up the chasm between the needs and expectations and what the school is undertaking is a continuous process. If the expectations of students and their parents affiliate more with modernity rather than with tradition, dread lies in that what the school is undertaking would become closer to tradition than it is to modernity.


In this context, it is worth pointing to the “crisis” being lived by the youth and especially some of the alumni from Maronite, Catholic and other schools. They are in a state of gravitation and imbalance, vacillating between what modernity offers in terms of individualistic personal freedom, in vast knowledge capabilities and openness to literary, scientific, human, sociological, and even moral cultures without any religious referential, and in a consumer society the activities of which are determined by man’s needs and desires, and between what tradition fosters, in abiding by religion and faith and their precepts, in confirming social and family customs, in the need to respect the fundamental positions crystallized by a culture peculiar to human communities. This vacillation may be verified in the following equation:


The drawing closer of tradition to modernity is threatened by the fear of the first melting into the second, or of the prevailing of the second over the first. This is where the challenge of tradition adapting to modernity assumes double importance.


17. In the course of the Church’s response to the capacity to acclimatize modernity to tradition, she perceives that it is imperative for education today to:


·         Balance between the vision and awaiting the “new earth,” and, the daily commitment toward the affairs of man and society[28];

·         Recognize that “the autonomy of earthly affairs, with their own laws and values, are independent of religion, and that each science has its own channels of research and development into matters”[29], but education must also preserve the distinctive features of the Maronite Eastern traditions;

·         Cautiously assert the necessity for the arts and sciences to refrain from exceeding the limits of their own sphere to arbitrate in matters of faith and religion;

·         Distinguish, in this society of modernity, the society of technology, production, the information revolution and control over creation, between what is to serve man and what is to enslave him;

·         Distinguish in secularism between what is materialism and atheism, and, what is a legal guarantee for the freedom of conscience for all citizens in the face of all kinds of pressure and coercion;

·         Assert man’s responsible freedom, foster in him the thirst for knowledge, affirm God’s call to man for a covenant of free dialogue with him, and that there is no freedom without responsibility and without an awareness of the obligation of contributing to the other’s realization of his identity;

·         Cling to authenticity without slipping into fundamentalism, and to strive for new horizons on the basis of expanding toward them, not on the basis of deserting its bases; and,

·         Benefit from the powerful influence of communication means of media technology while preserving autonomy and freedom of opinion.


In brief, the Church calls on the school to help its students scrutinize tradition through scientific criticism, because tradition may fail to perfect man. It is to also help them to closely examine contemporary values in the light of faith, since these values may fail to make man complete in Christ.


4. The Economic Crisis and the Issue of Dispensing Distributive Justice in the Economy of Education


18. The Maronite Church has always considered that providing educational opportunities for all children in a quality environment represents a first priority for her, and that justice and equality give freedoms their human and social significance. In the light of national criteria and their availability in educational institutions, and in the light of the cost of quality education, only the government, which is entrusted with the public good, has the prerogative. It “must see to it, in its concern for distributive justice, that public subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their conscience the schools they want for their children[30]. Now if the government calls on the citizen to pay due taxes under the burden of responsibility, then it is expected to comply, morally and legally, with the principle of distributive justice. Its failure to do so is considered an infringement on the basic rights of the citizen, among which are freedom and equality.


Members of the Synod expect the government to avoid any choice which would give priority for development to one section of society over another, or to one educational stage to the exclusion of another.


Within this context, basic schooling, that is, elementary and middle, should be compulsory and be government financed; on condition that a qualitative scholastic guidance is implemented. This guidance must enable the student, according to his/her psychological, cognitive and scientific abilities, to enter into the secondary stage leading to higher education, or enter into the vocational educational sector with its numerous branches and specializations aimed at preparing specialized professionals demanded by local and regional job markets.


5. The Ability of the Maronite School to Remain Accessible to All Members of Society Especially the Needy


19. If it is indisputable that schools should open their doors in our present time to boys and girls, to village and city children, providing general and vocational education, the thorny issue that continually remains unresolved, and increases in complexity in these crucial economic times, is the possibility of having to admit those of limited income to Maronite schools; This being at a time when their numbers increase quickly and in abundance, and when the school is increasingly concerned with securing the salaries of its teachers and employees, and procuring the necessary funds to keep scholastic installations in a state commensurate with the achievement of the aims for which they were established.


It is worth noting that the original position of the Maronite Church with respect to educating those who are unable to afford school tuition has never changed. The Lebanese Synod supported, in its texts, preference for educating those over others, specifying straightforwardly: “wants to favor selecting the children of the poor” while it does not relegate the wealthy “on condition they satisfy their requirements at their expense.”[31] In the Apostolic Exhortation, A New Hope for Lebanon, the call was clear, “that no youth is to interrupt his education for strictly material or financial reasons”[32]. However, the Church realized many a time that a formidable challenge was lying in wait on the road to achieving education for all, and that is the economic situation. During its thirty-sixth session dedicated to education, the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon warned of the enormous challenges that face the Catholic school hampering the implementation of its goals and objectives, and mentioned at the top of the list of challenges what it called “the economic crisis and the inability of serving the poor”[33]. This challenge has special significance in a country like Lebanon which has suffered from the woes of war and the crises of the post war phase, where some families have had to forsake the private school for the public school because of the aggravated economic and social conditions, and the absence of a government sponsored financial aid program to parents, allowing them to select the school they prefer for their children. Perhaps this challenge gradually decreases in the other countries where Maronites are scattered in which there are Maronite schools and governments in those countries bear the responsibility of participating in providing education for the children.


20. The exceptional financial burdens on the Maronite school require it to be creative in facing this challenge in such a way that it can continue its humanitarian mission of educating a person, all persons, especially the poor, from one perspective. From another, it must be convinced that the piling up of financial burdens does not lead to a compromise, on the part of the school administration, in the quality of education and on educational and guidance services accompanying it. Facing this challenge requires exceptional determination, the doubling of effort, a creative mind par excellence, and a strategic work plan which involves the pooling of efforts of the administration with the teachers, alumni, parents and the slice of society in the environ, so as to continuously keep open the opportunity of educating the poor. The openness of the Maronite school to the erection of support funds run in a professional manner represents an essential pillar in improving chances for educating the poor. Organized programs for collecting donations ranging from simple activities that consolidate the monetary aid fund, to employing endowments, passing through activities and endeavors, the purpose of all of which is to provide a better opportunity for a greater number of students to pursue education in the Maronite schools.


Perhaps the schools that have so far failed to reconcile between the quality of their services to their students and the opportunities to educate the poor, have associated their condition with the worsening economic situation. Whereas, economic conditions may not actually be the only factor responsible for the deterioration in the quality of services provided by the school and the cessation of its growth. Rather, the main reason lies in inadequate preparedness for extraordinary circumstances, and resorting to ideas and classical solutions to face circumstances that are developing and evolving daily.


6. Will the Maronite School Remain Attractive to Non Christians?


21. We rarely find a Maronite order or eparchy which did not establish more than one school in a region inhabited mostly by non-Christians, and that for the purpose of educating the Lebanese children of these regions. In those days, the striving of non-Christian denominations to open schools was shy. However, with the end of the war in Lebanon toward the end of 1991, non-Christian denominations began to show more interest in education, erecting their own schools, which prompted some non-Christian students to enroll in them.


For the Maronite school to remain attractive to non-Christians, it has to clearly perceive the fundamental reasons which prompted them to send their children there. Muslims have chosen the Maronite school for their children, for the opportunity of getting together, the “Moslem youth…with siblings of theirs in citizenship, namely the Christians”[34], and also because of reasonable tuition, the quality education it provides, its academic teaching standard, and its openness to world cultures.


22. It is worth noting that the preceding represents a direct strategy effective in the short, mid as well as in the long term. However, there is another strategy that may be employed which would bear fruit in the mid and long term, manifested through action that is collaborative, purposeful, continuous, professional, and organized, undertaken by the Maronite school and Maronite teachers. This action is aimed at creating greater awareness in its environment for the values of accepting the other who is different, valuing cultural diversity, consecrating the freedom of belief and of expression. To accentuate this inclination, encouragement should be given to the erection of Maronite schools in geographical areas with mixed population, and to consolidate its educational role. Unquestionably, these values must become, of first order, a way of life for the folks of the Maronite Church and the Maronite school in all circumstances and at all times.


7. The Maronite School, its Presence and the Renewal of its Mission in the World of the Expansion


23. The experiment of the Maronite school in countries of the expansion is shy compared to the very large number of Christian and Muslim immigrants. It is a challenge that takes on manifold importance considering the hundreds of thousands of Christians who emigrated in the last three decades, settling mostly in North America and Australia. Despite the fact that it is not difficult to locate the places where these communities congregate, the Maronite Church, with her eparchies scattered in these countries or her local religious orders who have sent missionaries to these countries, has never had a strategy or an integrated plan to open schools to serve the immigrant children of the Church primarily, the Lebanese in general secondarily, and thirdly the people of these societies. The Maronite Church finds herself in a race against time to live up to that challenge; the more time elapses without facing the challenge, the more difficult becomes the task and the less would be its effect.


8. The Public School and the Necessity of Answering the Needs of the Children of the Church


24. The Church perceives that public education contributes to her attaining her goal, manifest in making education available to all, and making education mandatory and free at the same time, something the private school can never achieve on its own. Accordingly, the Church sees that focusing solely on the private school is defective and impermissible, especially since a great number of her youth are presently pursuing their education in the public school. Pained as it is for the faltering she sees in this school and the squandering of human and material resources, she calls on the government and on society to support public education. She considers it necessary that it be provided with the quality that would allow it to compete fairly with the private school, a competition breeding excellence, and only this will guarantee to parents the freedom of choice of a school for their children. However, the Synod, while emphasizing the role of the public school to be at the service of all, particularly the children of the Maronite Church, deems it necessary to point out the weak points of public education, specified by specialists to be the following elements[35]:


a.       At the student level, where the standard of learning and education does not attain the required;


b.      At the level of public installations such as buildings and equipment, where the disparity in its geographical distribution does not suit the needs, nor does it make the educational teaching endeavor possible or balanced; and,


c.       As for the level of the new curricula, the public school was not able to implement them, because of the inadequate renewal of methods, the renovation of technological and research apparatus, and in assuring the continuous configuring of the teaching body.


Here, we must also indicate the actual state of affairs of the teaching body, which is the key to educational evolvement. It must have priority through the proper implementation of employment standards and in development, and also in consolidating its financial position. The issue of the administration of public schools is still present with respect to the authority, training and appointment of the principal, because the personality of the principal is essential in assuring improvement in quality and efficiency in addition to the necessity of selecting a proficient administrative cadre, especially heads of sections.


These factors, among others, representing the main causes for the public school and public education crises in Lebanon, pose the necessity for radical reform that is still awaited by many. However, this reform would not avail to much, except through new and modern legislation touching on the role of the Ministry of Education in conducting the affairs of public education. This may be achieved through the erection of a national council for teaching and education encompassing the various public and private organizations whose duty would be to set into motion the affairs of learning and education in the public sector, as well as the private sector which is not immune, in some of its segments, from crises resembling those in the public school. Some of the proposed legislation, aimed at giving the administration of the public school certain powers allowing it freedom of action to operate, and giving the local community the opportunity to help support the school and its development.


The Synod insistently calls on the government to radically improve the public school system by securing the necessary equipment, preparing suitable buildings, properly distributing teachers and helping them improve, and by distancing favoritism and politics from educational decisions.


9. Safeguarding the Freedom of Education


25. Article ten of the Lebanese Constitution asserts the freedom of education in Lebanon, as long as it does not cause a breach of public order or is contrary to morals, or transgresses on the dignity of any religion or denomination. It further asserts that there can be no detraction from the rights of denominations to erect their own schools, provided they proceed in accordance with the general rules promulgated by the government concerning general education.


Freedom of education is also guaranteed by the constitutions of most of the countries where the sons and daughters of the Church are to be found or have emigrated to and have formed, with other brothers and sisters from the different denominations and sects, Lebanese and Easterner communities. However, this freedom will not become complete unless there is equilibrium and equality between the private and the public school, so that parents are given the option to make the proper selection.


The Church is constantly striving so that conditions stipulated in the Lebanese Constitution for the government to extend its authority would not become an opportunity to annul the freedom of communities. She also perceives that the responsibility of the government to provide free education, legislate mandatory education, draft public education curricula and the legislation noted in the Lebanese Constitution concerning education, does not contradict with the Church’s desire to establish schools with multiplicity of languages taught in them. Nor does it contradict with the continuing openness on various cultures, and enriching public curricula with educational material designed to develop the aesthetic, artful and ethical facets of the student. Freedom of education contributes in developing a critical mind, the blooming of creativity, training in assuming responsibility, and the production of knowledge instead of its consumption.


10. Education on the Right of Others to Differ and Strengthening and Valuing Diversity


26. The Church considers that the school has the duty to educate its children on the importance of consecrating the right of the other to be different in color, religion, ethnicity, and belief. She also considers that to be different is a source of wealth and concord, as in a symphony or a painting, and not a source of discord, to deaden and eliminate the other. The Church encourages her school educators to form children such that they realize that the encounter between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, in the Patriarchal Domain, and the encounter between the sons and daughters of Maronite communities and those of the parents of the natives in the Countries of the Expansion, is in fact a spark of creativity and not a spark of strife, if they are to elevate themselves to the level of the challenge, believing in the many common values. Based on this logic, priority goes to an open and attentive dialogue that seeks cognizance of the other, recognizing him, and eliminating all preconceived notions about him.


Since Lebanon is made up of many religious families, the Church forms her students in her schools to consider that this is a treasure and a source of wealth, and that preserving the unity of the nation within the context of religious diversity is, at the same time, a national and a human responsibility. Moreover, there is no way to reach this objective outside of dialogue, the dialogue of searching for the truth through the point of view of the other, whether that dialogue is a dialogue of life, work, or intellect.


The Synod calls on all those of good will, wherever they may be, in the other schools, or in any environment, to congregate with their children in this glorious effort of building a culture of intimacy and love.


11. The Paradox of Vocational and Technical Education


27. Vocational and technical education has been the principle factor contributing to the rebounding of a number of countries and societies, especially after having faced major crises. For countries, it is the backbone of the economy, since it prepares the necessary human sufficiency at the various levels to aid in elevating societies. However, this type of education in Lebanon, despite the funds expended, is still falling short of realizing the educational and economic goals desired.


One of the challenges facing education in Lebanon is the level of vocational and technical education, which could not catch up with the modern curricula which satisfy market needs, and with the technological advances in all its various types, especially the electronic and informational industries.


Vocational and technical education witnessed great expansion over the past few years, to the extent that the number of students in private and public schools increased by 200%. However, all experts concur that the skills acquired by graduates of vocational and technical education is not appropriate to the requirements of the Lebanese industry, and that this training requires renewal and a deep comprehensive reassessment. They also complained about the inadequate length of time allocated in the curricula for vocational training, and the theoretical fundamentals taught which still remain abstract and too general. Moreover, the latest curricula in this domain are dealt with textually, which kept this field under the oppression of theoretical teaching and the failure of theoretical knowledge to keep pace with changes in the patterns of industry and its technology. Other complaints are the restricted number of specializations, the lack of student experience in developing adaptation capabilities, and weakness in foreign languages, especially English, as well as keeping employers excluded from active involvement in the preparation of curricula.


Chapter Three:


Choices and Constants, Expectations and Orientations



28. The Maronite Church has defined her educational options in the past, especially in the Lebanese Synod (1736) and what ensued from it, and also in the contemporary and present epochs through the letters of Maronite Patriarchs, or through the declarations of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon. Any expectation or inclination or recommendation issued by the Synod today, must recall these constants and choices, especially those related to the present state of affairs of education. The Church is well aware that her own history cannot be separated from that of the Maronite educational institutions where the school constitutes the active factor in the rebuilding of the nation and society, contributing in forming the consciences of generations, and awakening their spirits, and enlightening their minds to the principles of human rights and duties, and the prominent position of their country among nations, East and West. Many of the notables of the nation have received their education in the Maronite school, and refreshed themselves from its science and culture, occupying prominent positions in politics, literature, philosophy, the media, education and law. The Arabic language was their preferred means of expression, and they were among the pioneers in preserving it, and saving it from neglect, revitalizing Arab culture with their achievements. The credit for all that is due basically to the education they had received from their schools. While the Church realizes the importance of this educational choice of hers, she affirms its maintenance as a strategic outlook in her commitment to the Lebanese and Arab society, and to the societies of the countries of the expansion.



Firstly: Choices and Constants in the Present Epoch


1. The Maronite School is an Ecclesiastical Institution

29. Referring back to some of the principal references concerning the establishment of Maronite schools, such as the text of the Lebanese Synod (1736), Part VI – On Schools and Studies[36], the history of the school of Ain Waraka (1789-1952)[37], and excerpts from the writings of Bishop Youssef Dibs, founder of Sagesse school in Beirut (1875)[38], among other Maronite sources, lead us to formulate a general definition of the distinctiveness of the Maronite school: It is an educational institution established by order of the Maronite ecclesiastical authorities, be it Patriarchal, eparchial, or religious order. Its mission is to disseminate arts and sciences equally, the same as with other schools. It is preoccupied in providing instruction and education in an orderly manner with the presumptions of compulsory and free education to those who cannot afford it. It also considers itself entrusted with the spirituality of the Maronite Church, its teachings, culture and values throughout history, including faith in the Creator, honor and glory be to Him, a cleaving to the person of Christ, tenacious for unity and cooperation, for the land, the family, the Lebanese homeland, and openness to the Arab world and to the linguistic and cultural heritages of the world. The Maronite school is specifically concerned with teaching the basics of the Arabic language, mathematics, social sciences and modern philosophy, provided that alumni from this school would look out, not just for themselves, but also for the affairs of their Church[39]. Therefore, those in authority are to erect schools in all eparchial sees and monasteries, provided that the temporal is not to overshadow the spiritual[40], since it is operating in the capacity of an educational institution within the framework of Catholic catechesis.


2. The Necessity of Cooperative Work that Education may Succeed


30. The Maronite Church has emphasized the necessity of cooperative, collective work in accomplishing the educational process, asserting that education “is shouldered by three groups: the family, the state, and the Church”[41]. She also considers that the primary right and duty to form children lies with the parents, and it is a natural right that must not be detracted from, “Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators[42]. It is the right of parents “to entrust their children to educators they trust in, and to schools they select, and the State should not detract from this right”[43].


31. The Church also considered that “education is the fruit of a set of efforts poured forth on the child from many sides: from the side of parents, educators, administrators and society, and from students themselves; any neglect from one side or the other is detrimental to the efficiency of the whole effort”[44]. The student is the center of the educational endeavor and its goal, and the educational system must make available to him the best service, so that he may become a complete person, an active and effective citizen, a committed believer. The student is in the first place a son of God, and therefore, a Christian, son of the Church and son of the nation, and he dwells within a specific familial and social sphere. He should have a well-rounded intellectual, spiritual, moral, educational and social formation[45].


The education of the child also requires training him to exercise responsible freedom, initiating on his own to educate himself, discovering his talents, practicing acquaintanceship, developing his inclinations and directing them toward truth, justice, and beauty. This requires special efforts on the part of authorities and educators to understand his private world and how he interacts with the realities of life, and to foster him that he may “advance in wisdom, age, and favor”[46], seeking the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and taking the Living Christ as his high ideal[47].



3. The School is an Educational Family


32. To attain the goal of this educational service, the Church discerned that the school has to “transform into an educational family, with the bonds of trust, justice, and love prevailing among its members”[48]. Members of the educational family, from administrators and instructors, are responsible for the implementation of the educational project, not only through their knowledge, skills, and qualifications, but also throughout their whole scholastic life in the company of students[49]. The Church realized also that those in charge of the school have to complete their strive, and persevere in it with a gratuitous spirit, with love, patience, humility, and solidarity, in their concern to be faithful to the mission of the Church, and being in conformity with the will of their Master.


4. The Instructor is the Prime Core


33. Of the choices available, the Maronite Church perceived in the teacher a prime core in the success of the educational endeavor. The teacher’s image has always been drawn within the sphere of high ideals. He is not just a conveyer of knowledge, nor a skills instructor; rather, he is first an educator embodying in his person all that he desires his students to acquire. In this sublimity he exemplifies the Prime Teacher, Jesus Christ, and seeks inspiration from Saint Maron who was, in his person, the first spiritual teacher of our Maronite heritage.


The Church also perceived the necessity of “forming the teacher that he may be at the level of the specifications of our epoch (…) and to give him due attention, considering the sizeable influence he has on the educational endeavor, and to develop his personality in an integrated form, within a serious strategy to counter the challenges posed”[50]. Drawing on the practical experience of the Maronite school in the field, here are some of the characteristics of the teacher:


  1. The teacher is to have a serious education at the academic, educational, ethical, and spiritual levels, and to consider himself in a continuous process of education so as to acquire new knowledge and methods, and reinforce his educational and scientific capabilities[51];


  1. The teacher is to develop skills and methods that would enable the student to make responsible decisions which would lead him to discover his talents and capabilities and enhance them. Accordingly, the educator is to accompany the student in his quest of forming his own personality[52];


  1. The teacher, in addition to his educational and scientific qualities, is to be endowed with the traits of honesty, readiness, service, justice, good citizenship, and openness to any suitable renewal. He must also be distinguished by a missionary spirit, and love for his students, especially the weak among them. In his daily commitments, he is to live his relationships to the pattern inspired by the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, not remiss to the fact that, at school, he is the “ambassador” of Jesus Christ before his students and the rest of the members of the educational family[53].


5. School and the dissemination of the Word of God.


34. The Maronite Church committed herself to the school as being essentially a center of Christian formation, learning and education for her children[54]. Therefore, she considered that “education is to consider man, in the reality of his whole being, a rational person, free, open to education, endowed with an immortal soul, prepared for an eternal homeland, striving for it while on earth”[55]. The school spreads the word of God directly, not to give students a general religious education, but to anchor them in the Gospel, and to train them in the life of faith, for the love of Christ and service to neighbor[56]. Moreover, the Church brought to the attention of the educational authorities, the necessity for “the school to attend to teaching catechism during specific periods (…) and for all of education to be saturated with Christian piety, and for this sacred breeze to infiltrate into the minds of teachers and students, refreshing them”[57]. The duties of the school in this regard require it:


  1. To reveal to students the real mystery of Christ, to present Him as the sublime goal in life, and aid them in developing a personal relationship with Him in love, and to submit to His will[58];
  2. To form students in a style of life filled with daily prayers, ritual practices, spiritual retreats, pastoral activities, and to encourage them to join apostolic movements[59]. It is worth noting here that the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon issued a recommendation requesting “the allocation of two hours per week for catechism in Catholic schools”[60].


Through this formation, the Church beheld students such that each one of its children is a futuristic nucleus for active and effective Christian families or communities. He is living in a multi-cultural society, and the school has to prepare him to become an enlightened and active citizen, and at the same time, committed to the life of the local and the Universal Church. This preparation requires the training of the student to be, at the same time, steadfast in the truth he is witnessing to, convincingly, courageously and in love, and to be a person of open dialogue who respects the other who is different. The Christian student may also be considered a future apostle, ready to give up everything for the sake of Christ, should he hear the call in the depths of his being[61].

6. The School and the Fostering of the National Social Perception


35. The Church has committed herself to the formation of her children and those of the various spiritual families who flock to her schools, on the basis of a universal humanity. This means that a student is to be trained to recognize his rights and obligations based on the Human Rights Charter, and to be able to experience a citizenship of participation requiring a deep knowledge of his identity, and the necessity of becoming deeply rooted in his land, his history, his culture and in his environment[62].


The Church also strove to instill in the student a firmly established patriotic awareness, teaching him the history of his nation, and enhancing in him love of land and nature, and all that distinguishes his country from the rest of the nations, and what it represents for the future of all of humanity. Accompanying the education of the student according to these principles, was a moral and patriotic formation built on the all encompassing values of respect, service, friendship, justice, freedom, and love. This contributes to the building of a society united despite diversity, and a homeland which is at the same time a mission of communal living and a model for East and West, a country the student may be proud of, contributing through it to the building of the universal culture[63].


In her schools, the Church persevered in acquainting her students with the contributions of their country’s famous personalities to national, regional and international cultural fields, and enabling them to learn and acquire a good command of the Arabic language, side by side with other foreign languages and cultures[64].


7. The School and its Mission of Educating All


36. The Church gave the utmost of importance to the issue of providing education to all members of society without any discrimination, whether from the perspective of their living conditions or their capabilities or their religious or social affiliations. She was a pioneer for mandatory education in the cities and villages, and so, contributed in eliminating illiteracy. She engulfed the poor, orphans, and the handicapped with special care, thus cultivating the culture of love and solidarity in the service of life and the safeguarding of human rights[65].


8. The Mission of the Church in Educating Girls


37. The education of girls occupied a great portion of the educational concerns of the Church. They are the wives and mothers of the future, representing a fundamental support, in any sound and balanced society. This is what calls for their spiritual, scientific, and practical formation in what would qualify each one of them to be the educator of generations, playing the main teaching and educational role in schools and colleges, occupying prominent positions in society. This concern contributes to enlightening the Eastern woman and serves as acknowledgement for her positive contribution, alongside man, in the building of society[66].


9. The Status of Vocational and Technical Education


38. The Church has contributed to vocational and technical education considering that this education “constitutes the backbone of the economy in Lebanon because it enables essential human capabilities at all its different levels in many of the production sectors”[67].


10. Sacredness of the Freedom of Teaching and Education and the Necessity of Educational Planning


39. The Church considered that at the national level, education is upheld based on the principle of the freedom of teaching and whatever duties ensue. This is what is acknowledged by the Lebanese Constitution and declared in the Human Rights Charter. The Church teaches these principles as she realizes that “the public power, which has the obligation to protect and defend the rights of citizens, must see to it, in its concern for distributive justice, that public subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their conscience the schools they want for their children”[68]. The Church had already asked for the promulgation of “clear legislation acknowledging the right of all citizens to benefit from aid through public funds to enable them to provide the kind of education they desire for their children”[69].


In this realm, the Church demanded the necessity of undertaking educational planning action which would “define the general educational goals and the special methodological descriptions…review the matter of amalgamating schools of all kinds…guide education in the direction of job outlets…develop programs…organize vocational education…enable post curricular education…prepare teachers for their mission”[70]. The Church discerned that “the reappraisal of the educational system would not be constructive if it does not emanate from the principles embraced by all the Lebanese groups, in which all concur on holding them sacred.”[71] Furthermore, the Church never hesitated in calling upon the government to consolidate the public school which ought to be a very viable choice for parents, on a par with the private school”[72].


Secondly: Expectations and Orientations


40. Proceeding from the choices of the Maronite Church, traversing history and based on the constants specified by her in the modern era, in partnership with the other Catholic Churches, and in the light of the current state of affairs and its challenges, this Church emphasizes the necessity of adopting numerous suggestions of a strategic nature which eparchies, monastic orders and scholastic educational institutions, all together are to participate in developing and implementing.


1. Harmony between the Educational Mission and the Mission of the Maronite Church


41. The Maronite school must have “its work in positive harmony with the Church”[73]; because the Church “has installed herself a herald and a teacher of literature, science and the arts in as much as she deems it necessary and beneficial for Christian education”[74]. The prelates of the Catholic Churches in Lebanon have adopted this concept[75].


Therefore, the school has to constantly comprehend the inclination of the Church, and to respectfully follow evolutions in the approach of the Church to developments in local and international events, assuming for itself a flexible position open to growth through the reading of the signs of the times by the Church. This reflects as evolvement of educational curricula, development of extra-curricular activities, creation of direction and guidance services, training of human resources and the adoption of humane values and concepts.


Every time the school lives a state of proximity to the ecclesiastical principles and concepts in the area of the suitability of the educational curricula with Christian education, it strives to provide “education for many children throughout the country, without differentiation or discrimination”[76], it adopts measures “which make the educational institutions within reach of all those open to formation, especially the poorest”[77], and it succeeds in making the school a place “in which this pluralism is lived on the level of the various educational methods and on the level of getting together with others despite their disparity…”[78], then, the school would have drawn for itself a path leading to the goal of the all encompassing education. It is important to give attention to those children and young men and women who have special needs, as the educational system in the Maronite Church does not only aim at the formation of successful leaders, rather, it is a service and a mission especially directed toward those who own but few educational resources, albeit possessing tremendous love and a distinctive presence.


The Synod advises Maronite schools and educational organizations to acquaint themselves with Church teachings in the areas mentioned earlier. They are to incorporate into their catechetical, social, ethical and humane programs, what encyclicals and declarations are promulgated by the Universal Church, the patriarchs, bishops and the Council of Catholic Patriarchs in the Near East, and the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, through which the Church undertakes to read the current state of affairs in its various facets, and present the appropriate directives in this respect.


2. Approaching Academic Curricula Before, During and After Developing Them


42. Regardless of whether the Maronite school is in the majority or the minority among the clusters of schools in this country or that, or whether the educational curricula, where the Maronite school is situated, undergoes evaluation and review, recurring at close or wide time intervals, or whether the Maronite school operates in a country whose educational laws provide a medium of creativity and excellence in developing the curricula, or is operating in a country where the government has the upper hand in preparing curricula; the Maronite Church finds it necessary for her not to assume the posture of a bystander no matter what the amount of maneuvering space allowed is, because to be absent is sin.


In this context, the Synod calls upon all to keep educational development, which started in Lebanon with the educational resurgence plan of 1994, an ongoing concern. This includes the constant development of curricula, the development of educational services and the development of the scholastic environment, including equipment and learning resources and the use of technology and computers, especially in what consolidates the status of the private and public schools. In addition, active participation in preparing curricula and in evolving and amending it is a duty for all those who work in the Maronite schools.


3. The Priming of Human Resources


43. In the countries which have a lot of natural, financial and technological resources, the human being, that is the human resource, remains the more important among these elements and ever ahead of them. How true this is in a country like Lebanon where natural, financial and technological resources are rare.


The teacher is the fundamental element in every modernization and renewal, and he must never cut himself off from fountains and sources of knowledge and the intricacies of the educational sciences and their variations. He is to be ever prepared to undertake new duties and assume new responsibilities ensuing from a radical transformation in the mission of the teacher.


The relationship of the teacher to the pupil is a human relationship above all, and its mainstay is discovering the other, that is, the student, to listen to him and to strengthen the relationship with him, and to find a solution to every problem of his and an answer to every question of his. Thus, it is the duty of the teacher to persevere in being self-taught that he may be able to also persevere in educating his students. The term self-taught in the world of education is called continuing formation.


44. The strategy of preparing human resources also involves appreciating the efforts of the teacher through fair financial remuneration, helping him to live a dignified life, and eradicating from his mind any unwarranted anxiety he may have concerning making a living. It also involves developing the personality of the teacher and what it entails in qualities and attributes such as understanding, patience, love and respect for children, flexibility, the love of order, infusing the spirit of cooperation, self-confidence and the sense of responsibility in his pupils. Additionally, it involves mastering the subject he teaches and educational preparation to include theoretical instruction in education, psychology, teaching methods, and applied training through observation and participation.


Here, emerges the importance of appointing a new principal who possesses a vast and assured experience in the field of education and teaching, or who holds a “certificate of competence in school administration or its equivalence”[79]. Likewise, for the principal and the teacher to possess leadership, communication, organizational and management skills, is a foregone conclusion, and this, in addition to their ability to develop and acquire new capabilities and skills and to enhance existing skills.


The Synod recommends that a study of the status of teachers be conducted to assess educational needs and to consolidate the training centers of educational organizations and the Secretariat General of Catholic Schools, and also to develop the law regulating the teaching profession and promulgate detailed organizational rules in this area.


4. The Institutionalization of the Work inside Maronite Educational Congregations


45. The process of institutionalization inside the Maronite educational congregations passes through:


·         The development and strengthening of the structures of cooperation inside each of the groups of Maronite schools, as it is not permissible for the policy of the school to be subject to the personality of its president/ principal, changing whenever he is changed; and it is not permissible for a school to become independent in its policy from its sister schools;


·         The development of the concept of participative administration in each school, so that teachers and administrators, priests, monks/nuns and laity alike, feel that they are partners in decision-making, in charting policies and in developing administrative structures;


·         The consolidation of educational and administrative concepts inside every educational group and every school. It is not enough for the Maronite educational congregation to have an educational philosophy or general educational goals; rather, each school must be capable of consolidating its own educational goals and institutional policy.[80] It is through the consolidation of the educational and administrative concepts that institutions can avoid unnecessary tensions and the feeling of anxiety that may befall some of its members, when a school head is changed;


  • The organization of the constituents of the educational family, be it parents, teachers or alumni, so as to capitalize on the capabilities they possess.


The Synod also calls on educational institutions and on the Maronite school to promulgate various internal organizational laws within the framework of cooperation between them to establish solid foundations for the smooth running of educational and administrative affairs. It also stresses on the need to draft policies and programs that give birth to excellence, suitability and quality, such as team work, exchange of information, erecting academic organizations among teachers, and lay down the bases for the appraisal and reform of the educational endeavor, whether at the level of students or that of the establishment.


5. Approaching Fundamentalism Strife


46. The world today is witnessing a steady rise in fundamentalism. It seems like the religious aspect in this fundamentalism is gaining ground over the racist, ethnic, geographic, or political aspects.


Members of the Synod consider that fundamentalism and its spread, benefiting from media sympathy toward it, is a direct threat to the quality of education which the Maronite Church is seeking to attain. What sets this fundamentalism apart is that it refuses to accept the other who is different, as he is, and so, is unable to benefit from the intellectuals of that other and his collective, cumulative experience. It teaches its children principles which are in contradiction with the values of quality learning, foremost of which is the value of educating on peace. Thus, it is upbringing on the “glorification of violence” through placing it within different religious and nationalistic contexts, imposing restrictions on the freedom of thought and indirectly demanding of the human mind to abstain from questioning and investigating, and to accept a fundamentality of the multiplicity of sources of truth.


47. The strategy for approaching fundamentalist strife rests on three principles:


a.       Stressing that “violence is not a way of solving the problems of society and conflict among nations. Our Lord Jesus Christ said to Peter, when the latter wanted to resort to violence to defend Him: All who take the sword will perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52)”[81]. The Maronite school, with its administrators and faculty, does not compromise in this respect, currying favor with some or endearing itself to others;


  1. Propagating education on the history of peace and on the history of relations between cultures, because it is that “children have a right to a specific training for peace at school and in other educational settings. These institutions have a duty to lead children gradually to understand the nature and demands of peace within their world and culture. Children need to learn the history of peace and not simply the history of victory and defeat in war”[82];

c.       Helping students acquire a true and objective understanding of fundamentalism, and consequently training them on how to deal with it. It is not permissible, while we are raising our children on the culture of peace, to fall into the forbidden realm of raising them up in a world where they would be aliens, unprepared to deal with its challenges.


Of the programs that schools are to undertake, is training on the resolution of conflicts through peaceful means, encouraging get-togethers and making acquaintances and dialogue between students of various factions, sects and ethnic groups. Also to be undertaken is training through fostering programs of religious education which present introductions to various religions and their specifics, and train them to accept diversity and religious and civil pluralism via various curricular and extra-curricular activities, which should promote a critical spirit contrary to any ideological orientation.


6. Optimum Investment of Resources in a World where Needs Outgrow resources


48. The Maronite Church urges its eparchies and monastic orders, especially those concerned with the educational ministry to undertake an inventory of their resources, so they can discern what resources are available now, and to compare them with what is required of them, that they may perform a good educational task, for the purpose of identifying what needs to be developed to satisfy the requirement.


49. Each educational group is supposed to ingrain in its members and in those exercising authority, the following convictions:


·         The formation of ecclesiastical persons, who are assuming administrative educational tasks in the school, especially at the level of the principal and the heads of sections, and lay people with administrative educational responsibilities, especially at the levels of section administration, subject coordination and other duties, that they may perform these tasks;


·         Choosing from among the Maronite educational congregations, persons who possess the potential and the capability to assume leadership responsibilities, not withholding time, effort and funds for their training consequently, encouraging them to join educational administration programs, and the like, in the universities; all that, for the purpose of meeting future demands;


·         The needed opening up of Maronite ecclesiastical educational congregations to the idea of allocating educational administrative responsibilities to lay people attested to being endowed with good conduct and an ecclesial spiritual commitment;

·         Expend sufficient effort with alumni and guardians of children for the purpose of “bringing to fruition capabilities they possess, so becoming a better guarantee for the future of our schools and their utilization”[83];

  • The conviction of Maronite educational congregations as to the benefit of “dividing Baccalaureate specializations amongst adjoining schools”[84];

·         The conviction of Maronite schools that it is essential for the quality of services provided by educators of catechetical programs to surpass those provided by teachers of the temporal subjects they teach and the rest of the services that the school provides;

·         The drafting of a plan to invest financial resources in people, stone and equipment in a fashion assuring a good return on investment;

  • Formulating projects for the erection of mutual funds, with their own by-laws, and with administrative boards to manage them, based on the spirit of the Gospel and on the experience of the Church in charitable work. This would contribute in providing scholarships for needy students and help schools keep their tuition fees within the reach of the largest number of families, and consequently help them modernize their equipment and update their human and other resources. This idea does not hinder the institution of a mutual fund at the level of the Secretariat General of Catholic Schools to contribute to the nourishment of the guardians of students and the alumni of the same schools, apportioning to it some of the revenues from Church property.


7. The Geographical Dispersion of the Maronite School


50. Geographically, Maronite schools are divided among three regions:


  • Areas with a dominant Maronite or Christian population;
  • Areas with a dominant Muslim population;
  • The countries of expansion, where the Maronites reside.


Maronite educational congregations, whether they are eparchies or monastic orders, are called upon, as soon as possible, to form a representative body to discuss various working papers concerned with devising a plan for:


·         Designing an electronic map for the purpose of specifying locations suitable for the erection of schools, and responsibilities that are to be divided among ecclesiastical organizations so as to eliminate unprofitable competition between them;

·         The erection of schools in the short and mid range in all the geographical regions mentioned above;

  • The sharing of responsibilities between eparchies and monastic orders in the erection and running of these schools;
  • Specifying the subjective goals and requirements that these new schools are to satisfy;
  • The Maronite educational institution is to ensure that it has realized goals and met needs;
  • Specifying the criteria needed to ascertain whether these schools have realized their goals.


51. Based on the preceding, the educational congregations, whether they are eparchies or monastic orders, are to coordinate amongst themselves the subject of opening new schools, for coordination within the one congregation and between congregations will cause a reduction in financial burdens, and an increase in the efficacy of education.


It is necessary that this representative body coordinate its activities with those Christian educational institutions which are not Maronite, and to also take into consideration the distribution of public schools.


8. Taking Care of Public Schools


52. The Synod proceeds from the call voiced at the closure of the Synod for Lebanon: “We feel we are totally concerned with the issues of public education. The children of public schools are our children as are the children of private schools”[85]. Though the Maronite Church strives to bring the word of God to public schools, its work is not limited to that, but includes “encouraging members of the administrative and teaching bodies to perform their ecclesiastical, social and national duties through their work in education[86].


53. The Church encourages her schools and parents’ associations, especially those in the villages, to develop programs to support public schools, either through providing various logistical equipment, or through opening laboratories and other centers of learning for students from adjacent public schools in which the facilities necessary to realize the goals of the educational endeavor, are not available.


This is where the need arises in public schools for having spiritual directors and Christian education teachers whose expense, for the services they offer, are not borne usually by the Ministry of Education and Higher Learning. The Church also considers that she is directly concerned in providing these services to the students of public schools through the various eparchies and monastic orders, aided by experience drawn from her schools and the benevolent among her sons and daughters.


Consequently, the Synod calls on the government to carry out its duties to the full in support of public education and its reform, thus effecting a halt to squandering, modernizing educational premises and equipment, rehabilitation of the teaching body where necessary, and fostering the teaching of Arabic and foreign languages, assuring excellence and suitability. The Synod also encourages the creation of national associations to include a selection of clergy and laity whose mission is to support public schools wherever necessary.


9. Approaching Vocational and Technical Education


54. Desiring that this type of education be given special attention, the Church insistently hopes that vocational counseling be compatible with job market needs, and that the prevailing negative mentality concerning technical professions and specializations be eradicated. The Church also believes that it is the duty of the state to raise the standard of this education, culturally and technically, to curb squandering, to assure its spread in its two sectors, the private and the public, in all Lebanese regions. Additionally, it is to promulgate the necessary legislation to ensure integration between general education, vocational education and higher learning, such as the addition of the Secondary Humanities Diploma-Vocational and Technical Education Section, to other diplomas already in use. This will transcend the way of viewing this education as being inferior[87], a view prevalent in most countries of the Patriarchal Domain.


The Synod recommends that Maronite schools accord vocational and technical education the attention it deserves, giving a good impression and directing the youth towards it. The Synod consequently encourages the erection of vocational and technical units of high quality to prepare professionals and technicians that they may partner in uplifting their country, their nation. On a different level, it also calls on the competent authorities to effect reform of the vocational education structure, in the organizational aspect regarding diplomas, specializations and standards, and in the administrative and educational aspect especially concerning educational curricula.


10. Approaching the Concern for Members of the Maronite Church Pursuing Their Education in Non-Maronite Private Schools


55. The Synod takes into consideration that the majority of the sons and daughters of the Maronite Church in Lebanon and in the Patriarchal Domain, and especially in the Countries of Expansion receive their education in non-Maronite Catholic schools, or in Christian schools or schools with a Christian character, or in secular schools that they have no distinctive tint. It also looks positively on the role many Maronite educators are assuming in these institutions; among them sometimes, many priests, monks and nuns.


In view of this reality, and since the Maronite Church has not yet addressed its children and their guardians, and also teachers and educators who have chosen private non-Maronite schools as their educational path, the Synod points out the following:


Firstly: Many challenges, constants and choices are suitable for its sons and daughters, the Maronite pupils, wherever they are, such as: the balanced growth of the learner, pairing culture with faith in God, adapting to modernity without deleting or neglecting commendable tradition, dialogue among the religions and getting to know them, learning national history with all the values and principles it embodies, and getting trained on the right of the other to be different, and consolidating diversity;


Secondly: The guardians of Maronite students are to make a good choice of the school they desire for their children’s education. However, their obligation multiplies when the school does not provide the proper Christian education. Then, it is a must for them to insure that their children come to know their Church and her religious and spiritual traditions, and consequently affirm their identity and commitment to it, and raise their children on the belief in God and on carrying out their religious and social obligations that this faith demands; and,


Thirdly: Educators in these schools are to employ their capabilities to help in positively introducing Maronite Tradition and the concerns of the Church and its issues, taking into consideration what the Synod has outlined in its various documents, especially those related to education, the school, culture, and the role of the laity and the youth, etc…


11. Developing a Partnership Project Between Partners in Education


56. Education is “the art of the formation of individuals”[88]. This formation is the result of numerous continuous and prompt contributions on the part of the learner, the family, the educational family, the state, the national and civil society and the Church.


Partners shoulder immense responsibility, for “We can justly consider that the future of humanity lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping”[89]. And if “educational work is in essence participation”[90], how then could those partners contribute to excellence in education and teaching?


  1. The Student


57. If the student is the goal of the educational endeavor, he is also a contributing partner in its consummation. For the student is “the prime factor in his self-education, aided to accept love, assistance, to gradually deduce order, to fulfill his task as a student, and to forge sincere relationships with his teachers, in an atmosphere of mutual love and respect”[91].


  1. The Family


58. If the “Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion”[92], then the family, being “a privileged community”[93], is called to “the joint deliberation of spouses, as well as the painstaking cooperation of parents in the education of their children”[94]. The Maronite family is also a full partner in the project of the Maronite Church. If the Lebanese Synod is adamant on the issue of the role of parents in the upbringing of boys, ordering them “to take them to school even if under compulsion”[95], and encouraging “the education of their sisters who would then become nuns”[96], the Maronite Church has charged parents with the prime responsibility of upbringing, affirming clearly that “parents have a solemn duty binding them to give care in as much as that is possible, for the education of their children, religiously, morally, financially and in civics, including their temporal interests”[97]. The Maronite Church realizes that the right of parents and their responsibility thereof in education is not through compulsion, but “is subject to the final aim of man and of the Divine and natural laws”[98].


  1. The Educational Family


59. The Educational family, from administration, to faculty, to staff, assumes a pivotal role in the formation of the pupil. From among the members of the educational family in the Maronite School, teachers stand for a distinctive role. They are not only called upon to execute educational curricula but to contribute through their experience, performance and way of life, to have the child acquire a sound method of evaluating choices and decisions. They are to develop his critical sense and his ability to question, his maturity in comprehending self and others and how to deal with them and with himself, and urge him to probe into new horizons, technologies and acquaintanceships, and to acquire research skills to perform all that. Parents have an important role to contribute to the formation undertaken by the school, especially through parent councils that must be activated so as to carry out duties entrusted to them.


  1. The State


60. The Maronite Church sees that all citizens are entitled to equal opportunities in acquiring a comprehensive high quality education, and the state is a partner in furnishing this right. To the state goes the responsibility of safeguarding basic freedoms and to foster them, the exclusive right to legislate laws and regulations pertaining to educational institutions, and the drafting of educational curricula for private and public education, in which the state is exercising that right where there are also Maronites. The state has the exclusive right in assessing the quality and quantity of knowledge the pupil has amassed over fourteen years of study, through government exams, in countries employing the system of government exams and in which there are Maronites, in addition to its full educational and financial responsibility in all fields. However, the state also has duties, the least of which is “to protect the right of children to an adequate school education, check on the ability of teachers and the excellence of their training, look after the health of the pupils and in general, promote the whole school project …so that there is no kind of school monopoly”[99]. The state is obliged to contribute toward the teaching of children in private schools, and not to restrict its contribution to providing public schooling for them. In countries where this tradition is practiced and where there are Maronites, we have the best example of the possibility of applying this policy which is capable of providing more good choices for families wanting to educate their children.


The role of the state as a partner is not limited to the material aspect but goes beyond to the realm of values, so that the values adopted by the state and instated in the curricula are not confined to civic education alone, but also go farther to encompass social, moral, cultural and spiritual values. As such, the state works in partnership with the school in the building of comprehensive value concepts in the teacher.


  1. The National Civil Society


61. Civil society, with all its various institutions such as municipalities, clubs, and national, economic and cultural associations, and syndicates throughout all their spectrums, are now assuming an active role in elevating the stature of education, especially the scholastic part, considering its repercussions on the economic, cultural and social life of society. This role necessitates the opening up of the Maronite school toward this essential partner in the educational mission, forging the best of relations with it, thus realizing its role in integrating the pupil in his society which becomes an element of evolution for him through the cultural education he has acquired at school.


  1. The Church


62. The Maronite Church discerns in the call of her Master: “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19) a clear call that needs a response from her. If she embraces this call, it would satisfy it through her educational arm represented by the school.


The educational mission in the Maronite Church finds its roots in the tradition of the Fathers of the Antiochene Church which has grown and expanded throughout the centuries. Schools were built alongside churches and monasteries, and flourished with the return to Lebanon of the first graduates of the Maronite School in Rome. With the founding of this school, “Pope Gregory XIII specified its aims and purpose saying that the primary and essential purpose in establishing the school is to strengthen faith among the Maronites, and educate them in the meritorious sciences. Also, raising them on sound education and whole Christian virtues, that they may be disciples spreading the aroma of piety and the teachings of the Holy Church throughout the Cedars of Lebanon, their denomination and their countries”[100].


The Maronite Church is in harmony with the initial principle that the school is an effective partner in her mission, with a tradition in the Catholic Church ascertaining that the Church is “called to be the educator of individuals and nations”[101].


This partnership has a vision derived from the Holy Bible, and its pivot is the pupil, and its legal and organizational framework is the state, and the channels through which it expresses its message is the educational family; the custodian of virtues, commendable traditions, agreeable customs and the artistic heritage is the family[102].

  1. The Media


63. The role of the media stands out as a means of communication, and if it is benefited from, it leads to unity and mutual understanding. In this context, the Maronite Church looks toward the media as a partner in the educational endeavor, through its moral and national commitment and its role in infusing the spirit of recognition of the other and respect for human rights. It is also a motivator for an unceasing dialogue among the various slices of the people to which the school children belong, aimed at relieving unwarranted tensions and effecting communication among factions distanced religiously and politically, within the one country and across borders, striving to create common concepts for co-existence.


The Synod also charges educational institutions with the duty of giving due attention to acquaint pupils with the various audio, visual and written media means, the methods and ways of preparing the different types of news, to train them in the proper selection of all kinds of programs and the effect veiling or revealing might have. The school could encourage pupils to undertake investigations regarding reality and the actual and its difficulties, or regarding the religious and historical national heritage. The Synod also urges the setting up of meetings between the school and parents to help pupils lay down precepts that aid in discerning good from bad in the realm of movies and their content, varied and differing as they are.




Toward Achieving Comprehensive Qualitative Formation



64. The Synod discerns that for the Church to achieve the goals of comprehensive education, quality learning, and schooling for all, and an all encompassing excellence, is but the thing to justify the presence of the Maronite educational institution and Maronite educators today. The Fathers of the Synod perceive that the challenges which these goals face can not be surmounted as long as the Maronite Church and Maronite schools do not devise practical strategies and projects capable of being implemented.


The Synod believes that the path toward achieving these four mentioned goals passes through creating collective awareness among the sons and daughters of the Church who are concerned with education. It urges them to embrace these goals and adopt them and comprehend the challenges barring their achievement, striving strategically to accomplish them.


However, the Church, on its path toward fulfilling these goals, realizes that the goals in themselves are not the ultimate end; rather, they are represented by the quality of the person whom the Maronite schools and Maronite educators are preparing and qualifying. Therefore, the Church does not accept at any time, nor under the influence of any circumstance whatsoever, to have the educational mission of the Maronite school restricted by educational quality and intellectual character, essential as they are. Rather, this mission aims at cultivating the pupil humanely and spiritually, a cultivation that is integral and integrated.


The Church considers that each school or group of schools belonging to one eparchial or monastic order is to formulate its own comprehensive educational project as a charter to guide it, and to strive to accomplish it in the various school activities. This project may carry within its folds the different facets of the Christian and Maronite heritage. When the Maronite school would formulate this project, based on the choices contained in this document, and as part of an active participation of all the partners in the educational endeavor, the school would then have entered into the Synodal educational spirituality.


The Synod is not remiss in stressing on the duty of the school to be aware of itself as an institution whose aim is to serve society as a whole. It is to strive to devise material and moral means to provide quality education for all even in the midst of social and economic crises. Consequently, it is to impose itself as a main pillar in a vast pluralistic educational realm composed of all the various schools in the private sector, and public schools. It is an indivisible part of the family of Catholic schools despite having to maintain its educational character. It is an essential educational partner carrying the national educational anxiety. It is in the service of the general national goals of education, even though it has its particularity and its ecclesiastical and cultural referential.


What the Synod hopes for, in conclusion, is to have a Maronite observatory to monitor those orientations and choices. Since, what concerns the Church is that children and the youth receive “a solid intellectual and spiritual formation which quenches their thirst for the truth”[103], and for the school to be a community of believers…[104]. “in an atmosphere of faith and perception of human and moral values in the educational family[105].












1. Educational Coordination and the Erection of Schools.

1. The Synod urges eparchies and religious orders that operate in the field of education to continue erecting schools, from their conviction that they assume an essential role in the mission of the Church, its propagation and development.

1.a: Drafting a strategy for erecting schools in regions that have Maronite schools in Lebanon and in the regions that do not have schools in Lebanon and in the expansion.


1.b: Habilitating administrative and educational personnel and executing an inventory of resources required for a good educational endeavor.

1.c: Coordination between a cluster of schools belonging to a single institution or several institutions so as to reduce material burdens and increase educational effectiveness.

2. The Educational Charter.

2. Considering the importance of the educational endeavor, specifying educational goals and cooperation between educational institutions, the Synod recommends the adoption of the educational charter ratified by the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.


3. Civic Education and Patriotic Formation.

3. The Synod urges educational institutions to devote attention to the essential importance of the civic education and patriotic formation of their students to become acquainted with their identity and strike root in their land, their history, culture and environment.

3.a: Giving due regards to allocate class periods for this formation.


3.b: Evolve appropriate curricular and extra curricular activities (exchanging visits to schools, construction sites, camps, trips…).

4. Education and those with Special Needs.

4. The Synod recommends that school administrations devote the required attention to those who have special needs.

4. Rehabilitating school buildings, providing special equipment and benefiting from current successful experience in this respect.

5. Institutionalizing Operations in the Maronite School.

5.a.: The Synod charges eparchies and religious orders with propagating the institutionalization of operations within each of the clusters of the Maronite schools and inside each school separately.


5.b: The Synod also recommends habilitating and refining human resources, studying the status of teachers and showing appreciation for their efforts, morally and materially.

5.a: Developing structures of cooperation in turning around each of the clusters of Maronite schools and strengthening them, and working to provide continuity in the educational and administrative endeavor.


5.b: Developing the concept of participative administration inside each school that the educational family may cooperate in decision making, the laying down of policies and developing administrative structures.


5.c: Relaying the educational endeavor to every educational institution, specifying the duties of those working in them, training human resources in the school for the attainment of this educational endeavor, and making the Christian spiritual commitment of the teacher one of the primary yardsticks for his selection.


5.d: Establishing academic organizations among teachers and setting up evaluation fundamentals for the educational endeavor.


5.e: Evolving advertising printed matter, establishing websites all their own and consolidating and guiding their media presence.

6. Vocational Education.

6. The Synod recommends that Maronite schools devote to vocational education the attention it deserves.

6.a: Directing quality scholastic guidance enabling the student, commensurate with his abilities, to choose the secondary phase and then higher education or vocational education.


6.b: Apportioning to vocational education the importance deserves it, fostering its spread in its two sectors, public and private.


6.c: Charging the Secretariat-General of Catholic schools with the duty of continuing to promulgate necessary legislation that would ensure integration between general education, vocational education and higher education.

7. Partners in the Educational Endeavor.

7. The Synod recommends that all partners in education actively participate in the educational endeavor.

7.a: In addition to the undertaking of the school to organize meetings and lectures, is the erection and activation of associations such as the alumni association so as to bring their capabilities to fruition for better execution of the educational endeavor.

7.b: Giving the required attention to introduce students to the various audio, visual and written media means in its capacity as one of the partners in the educational endeavor.




8. Financial Support.

8. The Synod recommends that Maronite schools give financial support to students “such that no youth is to interrupt his pursuit for purely material or financial reasons.”

8.a: Drawing up strategies and professional programs to collect contributions for the benefit of financial aid funds in each school.


8.b: Educating the fourth Maronite child in a family for free, in the one Maronite school.

9. The Public School.

9. The Synod recommends giving attention to the public school in which a large number of Maronite students are enrolled.

9. Maronite schools and parents’ associations societies in every geographical region shall each draft a program to support the public school in the region, in the academic and logistical realms, on the one hand, and in the realm of providing catechesis and spiritual guidance, on the other.

10. The State’s Responsibility in Education.

10. Since the state is entrusted with the common good, the Synod demands that it abides, morally and legally, by the principle of distributive justice, and so, support education in its private sector as in the public sector, and implement compulsory basic education.



[1]. Refer to Synodal Documents, Al-Majma’ al-Vaticani ath-Thani (The Second Vatican Council), [Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education)], Introduction, main ideas, p. 728, Dar Al-Kitab Al-Moufaddal, 1984.

[2]. Abbot Boulos Na’maan: Al-Marounia lahoot wa Hayat (The Maronite Rite, a Theology and a Life), Kaslik, 1992, p. 56.

[3]. The Lebanese Synod: Chapter Six, No. 3, Para. 2.

[4]. Fr. Nasser Gemayel, Al-Madrasa Al-Habriya Al-Marouniyya (The Pontifical Maronite School), Beirut, 1993, p. 11.

[5]. Ibid, p. 16.

[6]. Ibid, p. 30.

[7]. Ibid, p. 22.

[8]. Ibid, p. 29.

[9]. Patriarch Estefan ad-Doueihy: Tarikh Al-Azminah (History of the Epochs), Catholic press, Beirut, p. 214.

[10]. Ibid, p. 33.

[11]. Lebanese Synod Part VI, article 1.

[12]. Lebanese Synod, Part VI, No. 3, article 3.

[13]. Ibid, No. 6, article 1.

[14]. Ibid, No. 6, article 10.

[15]. Bishop Youssef ad-Debs: Min Tareekh Suryia Ad-Deeny Wad-Duniyawee (From the Religious and Secular History of Syria), 1893, Vol. 9, p. 579.

[16]. Ibid, p. 579.

[17]. Cited by Boutros Daou in Tarikh Al-Mawarina (History of the Maronites), Vol.4, p. 449. Originally taken from Father Pierre Roufael in: Le rôle du Collège Maronite Romain dans l’Orientalisme au XVIIe et XVIIIe, U.S.J., Beyrouth, 1950, p. 178.

[18]. Refer to Ignatius Maroun, p. 93, Msgr. Ignatius Maroun Institute, 2004.

[19]. Ibid, p. 107. As for the Catholic school (refer to Vatican II Council declaration, Gravissimum Educationis, Declaration on Christian Education, No. 8), it is the institution through which “the presence of the Church becomes manifest,” and it is a school, like any other, striving toward educational objectives and to form the youth a humane formation. It is its expertise to create for the scholastic congregation an atmosphere of revived through an evangelical spirit of freedom and love, and to help adolescents nurture this new creation that they have acquired through baptism. Lastly, perhaps it would direct the entire humane education toward the spread of salvation.

[20]. Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, Fil-Watan wal-Qiam (On Country and Values), the 19th Lenten letter, February 2004, p. 13.

[21]. Ibid, p. 7.

[22]. Vatican II Pastoral Constitution: Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World), No 31.

[23]. Vatican II Council Declaration: Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), “Importance of Education”, No 8.

[24]. Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon: Final Communiqué for the 36th session, Bkerke, 16/11/2003.

[25]. Vatican II Pastoral Constitution: Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World), No 75.

[26]. Fourth Annual Conference of Catholic Schools in Lebanon: In the Catholic school, all community barriers fall, and national unity is fortified, Civic education and Civic formation, September 1994.


[27]. Vatican II Council Declaration: Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), No 1.

[28]. For that passage, refer to Ash-Sharq al-Maseehi wal-Hadaatha (The Christian East and Modernity), acts of the first conference of the League of Catholic Theologians in Lebanon, Pauline Library publications, 1998.

[29]. Vatican II Pastoral Constitution: Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World), No 36.

[30]. Vatican II Council Declaration: Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), Nos. 1-6.

[31]. Lebanese Synod 1736, Part VI: ‘On Schools and Studies’.

[32]. Apostolic Exhortation: Raja’ Jadeed li-Lubnan (New Hope for Lebanon), “Educational Service”, No 106.

[33]. The Council of Catholic Patriarch and Bishops in Lebanon, Concluding statement of the 36th session, 16/11/2002

[34]. Father Andre Daher, Muslim Students in Christian Schools, Opportunities and Challenges (Arabic) Annahar Newspaper, 29/9/2003

[35]. The Lebanese Republic, Ministry of Education, Strategic Guidelines for Education and Teaching in Lebanon through 2015, Education Center for Research and Development, 2000 (Arabic).

[36]. Refer to Al-Kanisa wat-Tarbia (The Church and Education), Secretariat-General of Catholic Schools Publications, 2002, Lebanese Synod 1736, p. 2.

[37]. Edgard Jallad, Abjad Hawwaz, Ra’aidi Press, p. 44.

[38]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, p. 9.

[39]. Refer to Al-Kanisa wat-Tarbia (The Church and Education), Secretariat-General of Catholic Schools Publications, 2002, Lebanese Synod 1736, p. 11.

[40]. Ibid, p. 13

[41]. True Education, a Pastoral Encyclical of the Catholic Prelates in Lebanon, Beirut 14 January 1949, No 22.

[42]. Vatican II Declaration Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), No 3.

[43]. True Education, a Pastoral Encyclical of the Catholic Prelates in Lebanon, Beirut 14 January 1949, No 31.

[44]. At-Tarbia wath-Thaqafa wat-Ta’leem, (Education, Culture, and Teaching), No 3.

[45]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[46]. Luke 2:52.

[47]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[48]. Ash-shou-oun at-Tarbawiya wal-Madrasiya fi Lubnan, Educational and Scholastic Affairs in Lebanon, 1978.

[49]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[50]. Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, Concluding Declaration, 36th Regular session, 2002, article 7.

[51]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[52]. Ibid.

[53]. Ibid.

[54]. Lebanese Synod, Part VI, No 3, article 3.

[55]. True Education, a Pastoral Encyclical of the Catholic Prelates in Lebanon, Beirut 14 January 1949, No 6.

[56]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[57]. True Education, a Pastoral Encyclical of the Catholic Prelates in Lebanon, Beirut 14 January 1949, No 71.

[58]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[59]. Ibid.

[60]. Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, 1992 session, recommendations: 2

[61]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[62]. Ibid.

[63]. Ibid.

[64]. Lebanese Synod, Part VI, No 1.

[65]. Ibid.

[66]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat General of Catholic School Publications, 2002, First Part.

[67]. Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, 1992, regular session 36, article 7

[68]. Vatican II Council Declaration: Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), No 6.

[69]. Ash-Shou’oun at-Tarbawiya wal-Madrasiya fi Lubnan (Educational and Scholastic Affairs in Lebanon), 1978.

[70]. The Synod of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, the Episcopal Committee on Education and Culture: At-Tarbia wath-Thaqafa wat-Ta’leem, (Education, Culture, and Teaching), July 1972, No 4.

[71]. Ibid, No 1.

[72]. Council Of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, Concluding Declaration, 1991, No 2, and, Concluding Declaration, 1996.

[73]. Real Education, a pastoral encyclical of the prelates of the Catholic Churches in Lebanon, 1949.

[74]. Periodical of Canon Law, law 1275.

[75]. Real Education, a pastoral encyclical of the prelates of the Catholic Churches in Lebanon, 1949.

[76]. Special Synod for Lebanon, The Final Communiqué, Para. 33:t.k.93 (1996) p. 39.

[77]. Apostolic Exhortation: Raja’ Jadeed li-Lubnan (New Hope for Lebanon), “Educational Service,” No 106.

[78]. Annual Conference of Catholic Schools in Lebanon, The Catholic School and Education on Morals: in the service of man, Sept. 1999.

[79]. Msgr Camille Zaidan: Al-Majma’ al-Marouni wat-Tarbia (The Maronite Synod and Education). A lecture given at the Nuns of the Rosary high school – Qurnet Shehwan, 22 March 2004.

[80]. Such as admission policy, promotion, financial aid and public relations. It is imperative that job description be drafted for the principal, heads of divisions, subject coordinators, heads of departments and other employees, and the preparation of a concise guide book specifying the rights and responsibilities of the student, the rights and duties of parents, and the rights and duties of the teacher; there is no harm whatsoever in employing a guide specific to the school supervisor, bus drivers, staff and administrators.


[81]. Ma’ann Amama-l-Laah fi Sabil-il-Insaan wal-Mujtama’ (Together Before God, for the sake of Man and Society, The Synod of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East, 3rd Pastoral Encyclical, p. 480, 1994.

[82]. Pope John Paul II’s Message on the World Day for Peace, 1996: Let us give Children a Future of Peace, p. 12, No. 9. Also refer to the Encyclical of Pope John Paul II: Centesimus Annus (The year 100); on the concept of fundamentalism, in it are clear and comprehensive teachings.


[83]. Msgr Camille Zaidan: The 10th Annual Conference of Catholic Schools in Lebanon, September 2002.

[84]. Ibid.


[85]. Apostolic Exhortation Raja’ Jadeed li-Lubnan / Une esperance Nouvelle pour le Liban (New Hope for Lebanon), P. 14, French.

[86]. Mgr Camille Zaidan: The 10th Annual Conference of Catholic Schools in Lebanon, September 2002.

[87]. The Final communiqué of the 36th round of the Catholic Synod of Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon 16-11-2002


[88]. Apostolic Exhortation: Raja’ Jadeed li-Lubnan (A New Hope for Lebanon), “Educational Service”, No 107.

[89]. Vatican II Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World), No 26.

[90]. The Synod of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, the Episcopal Committee on Education and Culture: At-Tarbia wath-Thaqafa wat-Ta’leem, (Education, Culture, and Teaching), July 1972.

[91]. Refer to Ta’alaw Naktashif Ghina Jouthourana (Come Let us Discover the Treasures of our Roots), Secretariat-General of Catholic School Publications, September 2002.

[92]. Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, John Paul II, No 21, 22-11-1981.

[93]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 2206.

[94]. Vatican II Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World), No 52.

[95]. The Lebanese Synod, 1736, the Cedars Printing Press, 1900, p. 530.

[96]. Ibid, p. 532.

[97]. True Education, a Pastoral Encyclical of the Catholic Prelates in Lebanon, Beirut 14 January 1949, pp. 10-11.

[98]. Ibid. p. 12

[99]. Vatican II Declaration: Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), No 2, and 6.

[100]. Abbot Francois Eid: Dawr al-Adiaar fi Nahdat at-Ta’leem wath-Thaqafa fi Lubnan (The Role of Monasteries in the Renaissance of Learning and Education in Lebanon), Ba’abda, 26/2/2004.

[101]. Apostolic Exhortation: Raja’ Jadeed li-Lubnan (New Hope for Lebanon), “Educational Service,” No 106.

[102]. Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir: Fi Wajib Ihtiraam al-Qiyam al-Adabiya (The Duty of Upholding Literary Values). P.14

[103]. Apostolic Exhortation: Raja’ Jadeed li-Lubnan (A New Hope for Lebanon), No 51.

[104]. Ibid, No 73.

[105]. Ibid.