On the 1st January 2012
The difficulties at the beginning
In France, the law of 1901 serves as basis to a policy of anticlerical and becomes a law of exclusion especially for the teaching staff of religious congregations.
Thus, the congregation of the sisters of Charity is obliged to seek some places outside the French boundaries, to welcome the sisters who have been sent away from their service. They will find new domains for their apostolate far away from France.
The Middle East opens up in front of the them !
On the 24th December 1903 : two sisters of Charity, Sr.Marie Laurentie Biétry and Sr. Raphael Pierrot, leave Besançon go aboard to Marseille on the « Congo » to arrive in Lebanon, via Naples, Alexandria and Jaffa. They leave in view of opening a boarding school-orphanage in Damour as requested by a Lebanese priest, Father Tobias. Being of Latin rite, the two sisters depend on the Apostolic Delegate for the Propagation of the faith whose head office is in Rome; but Lebanon is organised within a Maronite Patriarchy. Therefore even the foundation of an institution in a missionary territory has to obey to a rigid and complex procedure. Besides, the religious Institutes in Lebanon are already numerous and properly installed especially in the region of the capital city Beirut.
This first foundation is prohibited.
After four months of processing, waiting and searching, a providential encounter is finally held in Beirut with a certain Mr. Vié, native of Hte Saône (France) who promises to help the French-Comté sisters !… He intercedes for them before the Apostolic Delegate, Mgr Duval, who grants them his authorisation…
On the 5th April 1904, a Lazarist Father leads 2 sisters in the village of Beskinta and they settle down there.
This mountainous region of Metn, belongs to Mount Lebanon chain. It’s a green region, surrounded by pine trees and millenary cedars. The plantation of fruit trees and the breeding of blackberry trees for the produce of silk constitute the country’s chief activities
The population are very welcoming with the sisters. The parish offers them a house where they lodge until the month of July 1905, while they wait for their newly built house on a site given to them by Father Abou Nader. In the meantime the situation remains precarious. The life conditions are difficult : the means of transport are rare in this region and the winter of 1904-1905 is particularly rigid.
On 30th May 1904, the establishment of Beskinta begins its activities with five Sisters : boarding school, external schools – both free and payable ones, a pharmacy and a dispensary.
The official authorisation will arrive from Rome on the 21st June 1904.
Across the years, the mission becomes diversified and extends in order to meet the needs according to the events.
In 1925, when Damascus opens its doors to the daughters of St. Jeanne-Antide and furthermore to the French Sisters, the natives of Lebanon, of Syria and Egypt, there are already 40 sisters.
The school of Kfour, in 1977, emerges to meet the needs of the refugees welcomed by the sisters during the war.
Nabaa and Roum : City Centre of Beirut and South Lebanon, will emerge towards 1980 when war in Lebanon is at its worst, to welcome refugees and help the region’s citizens.
1) Beskinta: Social Institution « St Vincent de Paul » opened in 1904, consisting of an academic branch leading to a diploma and a technical branch leading to a:
- Professional diploma : secretarial, cooking
- Baccalaureate in technology : computer studies and accounts
Boarding school for orphan girls and social cases.
2) Beyrouth: school «Ste Anne» opened in 1914. It welcomes girls where the majority are muslims, a kindergarten school up to higher classes and a child-care-centre.
3) Baabdath: a mixed school «Infant Jesus» opened in 1906, from kindergarten to secondary classes.
4) Kfour: school «St. Jeanne Antide» opened in 1977 to help the refugees and then became a mixed and complementary school.
Health services and a day centre for the elderly:
- Kefraya (plain of the Bekaa)
- Roum (South Lebanon)
Socio-pastoral Service: Nabaa (popular district of Beirut)
- 1 provincial house: Baabda - Beirut
- 1 novitiate: Kfour
- 1 house for the elderly sisters: Kfour