On 1st January 2012
First of all, ALEP
The sisters are requested in Alep by Mgr Macaire Saba, Greek-Catholic Archbishop, in order to run the girls’ school of this Christian district : Saint Catherine School.
The sisters soon gain the trust of the population and on the 15th September 1921, the sisters welcome around one hundred girls and the following year two hundred !
… Later Damascus
In Damascus, His Beatitude Mgr Dimitrios Cadi, Patriarch of the Middle East, calls the sisters of Charity to head St. Paul’s Institution, destined to the education of young women. It is situated in the christian area of Bab-Touma, not far from the house of Ananias.
The school is opened on the 14th October 1925 with five sisters and already 120 registrations.
To teach at a higher level
The western influence is important. All teaching is carried out in Arabic and French and at a certain moment in both languages. As a result, the students achieve Syrian and French diplomas which are acknowledged both in the Arabic and the European countries.
This kind of teaching attracts an always bigger number of students - more than 1400 In 1937.
Near the paying day school and the boarding school, there are gratuitous classes and an orphanage.
A school of Greek-Catholic rite
In this Islamic Middle East region, where the christians are a minority, the chief concern of each ethnic and religious group consists in maintaining one’s identity.
In St. Paul’s Institute, only the Greek-Catholic rite is officially allowed. The chaplain is chosen by the patriarch. For the celebrations in other rites, the sisters’ Superior must ask for the authorisation from the Patriarch. The French religious of Latin rite, obtain the authorization to celebrate in the their rite for their patron feasts but only privately.
Open to all…
In the classes, the students sit next to each other, Muslims and Christians… of the cosmopolitan and multi-confessional society of the big Middle-East city.
…. in spite of the difficulties.
Already in 1926, the Druze riot and the bombardments of the city caused the momentary closing down of the school.
In 1937, the nationalist movement promulgated a decree to close down the foreign schools and the French books were burnt on the public squares ! The French soldiers had to protect the sisters and the French government insist that they should remain in Damascus. The students, who are very attached to their school, organise a manifestation to protest against this punishment, since an ex-pupil of St. Paul’s school was a councillor in the Department of Public Instruction.
In order to keep the house which will not be nationalised, the Greek community establishes there a pre-seminary and a nursing home for the elderly belonging to this rite.
The school will take up its activity again thanks to a new opening decree …
The mission will branch out and extend to far off villages…
The Patriarchal mixed school, which at first was situated in the old city of Damascus, in « Bab Touma » has been handed over to the sisters of Charity since 1925. In 2006, it was transferred again to new and more spacious premises in Mleiha, Outskirts of Damascus. In 2012, it housed 2 169 students from the kindergarten to the higher classes.
The catechetical Service in St Joseph’s parish (Tabbalé – Damascus) and the animation of the parish day care centre.
The catechetical and pastoral Service in Khabab and in the villages of the diocese of Hauran