News & Media

March 14 & 15, 2013
The Lebanese Presence Worldwide II

On March 14 and 15, 2013, the Institute of History at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) organized its second international colloquium on “The Lebanese Presence Worldwide” under the High Patronage of His Eminence the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al Rai, represented by Bishop Boulos Sayyah, and in the presence of Bishop Georges Yaghjian representing the Patriarch of the Catholic Armenians, His Eminence Patriarch Narsis Bedros IX, Bishop Michel Aoun, the Vicar General, Rev. Fr. Emile Akiki, representing the Superior General of the Lebanese Maronite Order, Rev. Fr. Abbot Tannous Nehme, the President of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz, the Director of the Institute of History, Rev. Fr. Jean Maroun Maghames, along with many religious, military, diplomatic, educational and social figures, and members of the University Council.

Following the Lebanese National Anthem, Dr. Marianne Noujeim, from USEK, welcomed the crowd and stated that “Lebanese immigrants, whether they are from the second or the third generation, have enrooted innovative and dynamic aspirations for their home country and their host countries.”

Then, the Director of the Institute of History, Rev. Fr. Jean Maroun Maghames, took to the floor and explained that “this colloquium aims to examine the Lebanese presence from a political point of view, covering multidimensional aspects…” He added that “We are in a crucial period in the history of the Middle East, the region that has become the hub of violence, democracy, shifting towards freedom, immigration and shattered dreams. Religion and politics, the factors that are supposed to be the pillars of our world, are absent.” He concluded by wishing that the Lebanese presence will be one of the cornerstones of our spiritual and cultural wealth.

The President of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz, pointed out that the immigration of the Lebanese people goes way back in time and the migrants have marked their impact wherever they went.” He added that “…the University gives a great importance to the Lebanese people and therefore it organized its second international colloquium on the subject.”

The representative of the His Eminence the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al Rai, Bishop Boulos Sayyah concluded the opening session by saying: “When we talk about the Lebanese presence in the world, we think about the material relationship of the Lebanese expatriates with their home country, …since their remittances constitute around a quarter of the national GDP. However, they do not give a great importance to the materialist aspect by relegating it to the bottom of their priorities. And the question is: Why do the Lebanese excel abroad more than they do in their home country?”

He continued: “If we go to the Canadian Capital, we will see that the head of the municipality council is a very successful Lebanese young man; one of the men with the highest ranks in the NASA in California is Lebanese… so why is the brain drain so high in our country and no one cares about it? Why does it seem that our country is holding its citizens back?”, “Is it the confessional system? Is it fundamentalism? Or the narrow partisan spirit that impedes any wise and critical thinking?” Finally, he thanked the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik for organizing this colloquium and wished that the Lebanese presence in the world will always be the strength of Lebanon so it remains not only a country, but also a message to the whole world, showing that the Lebanese model is the good example for peaceful coexistence between religions and civilizations.

Following the inauguration session and the art exhibition on the Amazon by Jacques Menassa and Iryna Novytska-Zein, the first session was held under the title “The Lebanese Presence in the Countries of the Amazon”. The colloquium continued on Friday March 15, 2013, with the wide participation from professors from many Lebanese and foreign universities.

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