LEBANON – Feast of the Annunciation
The Amicale Association of Former Students of the College of Saint Joseph University and the College Notre-Dame of Jamhour is one of the most prestigious and active Society of Jesus alumni associations in the world. Its members include several Country Presidents, Council of Ministers Presidents, Ministers, Deputies, Patriarchs, Prelates, Directors General, Ambassadors, Presidents of Associations, Presidents of Boards of Directors, Artists, Finance, science, literature and thought that had been marking the history of Lebanon.
To live in a mixed country where Christians and Muslims coexist, the Association had been working for a honest and sincere dialogue between the various components of our nation, as well as for a reconciliation of hearts and minds. His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, understood very well the importance of our country in this Muslim-majority Orient, calling it a “Message Country”, dedicating an apostolic exhortation to it, published on May 10, 1997.
In this context, since 2007, the Spiritual Commission of the Association has organized, every March 25, Annunciation Day Celebration, Islamic-Christian spiritual meetings in the Church of Our Lady of Jamhour, Jesuit fathers, around the Blessed Virgin, knowing that Mary also holds a relevant place of choice in Islam.
The two main initiators of these meetings are:
– Mr. Nagy el-Khoury, Secretary General of the Amicale des Anciens Pupils de Jamhour and President of the Lebanese Federation of Former Students of the Catholic Schools and Vice president of OMAEC, who has always worked for Islamic-Christian dialogue and dreamed that one day Muslims and Christians of the different communities can pray together. He is the organizer of the central ceremony in Jamhour and the coordinator of the peripheral events.
– Sheikh Mohamed Nokkari, judge of the Beirut Tribunal Charei and former director general of Dar el-Fatwa for Sunni Muslims, who has always believed that Mary could play a common denominator role between Muslims and Christians.
Each year, testimonies, prayers and songs make this meeting a national event with live broadcast by several televisions programs and followed by hundreds of thousands of viewers in Lebanon and around the world.
Due to the great success of these meetings, which have grown in importance, the organizers have been encouraged to ask the government to dedicate the 25th of March, Annunciation Day, National Day. The courageous decision was taken on 18 February 2010 by the Council of Ministers, chaired by SEM. Saad el-Hariri, who made it a not labor day to have more impact on all citizens.
As could be noted, Lebanon will have paved the way for living together in search of what unites, not what divides. And the Blessed Virgin, honored by both Christians and Muslims, is a figure that unites her children in love and respect.