Notre Dame University



LERC Director Guita Hourani Visits Australia, to Promote NDU and LERC

July 3rd to July 20th, 2008.

During the recent summer, the Director of the Lebanese Emigration Research Center, Ms. Guita Hourani, visited Australia, to attend the Maronite Youth Forum 08, to present Mr. Victor A. Sahade with an award and to meet with members of the Lebanese communities. Ms. Hourani’s trip coincided with the World Youth Day held this year in Sydney and graced by the presence of His Holiness the Pope.

Along with meeting writers and researchers involved in researching Lebanese Migration and key Lebanese migrant personalities, Ms. Hourani gave lectures on three different topics on Lebanese migration and Lebanon and interacted with the Sydney and the Adelaide Lebanese communities. Keeping in mind the ongoing plans for a Lebanese Migration University Museum at NDU, Ms Hourani visited the immigration museum in Adelaide during the course of her trip.

Activities started in earnest on Friday 5th July, when Ms Hourani presented Mr. Victor A. Sahade with the LERC/NDU Acknowledgment Award for his devotion and services to the Lebanese community in Australia, at a family gathering in Sydney. Ms. Hourani took the opportunity to talk to the gathering about the NDU Summer Arabic Program at NDU and various LERC research and cultural projects.

Ms. Hourani presents Mr. Sahade with his award, Sydney (July 2008).

Ms. Hourani presents Mr. Sahade with his award, Sydney (July 2008).

Mr. Sahade and family with Ms. Hourani and award, Sydney (July 2008).

Mr. Sahade was also awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for Queen’s Birthday Honors List of 2008 for “service to the Lebanese community, particularly through the Maronite Church”. Mr. Sahade was founding member of the Australian Lebanese Association in 1946 and served as its Secretary and Treasurer from 1946 until 1960. He was also the Chancellor/Treasurer of the Maronite Catholic church in Sydney from mid- 1950s until 1973. He also served as the President of Trustees of the Maronite Church Trust Properties from 1960 to the present and was the Financial Administrator and Adviser for the establishment of three colleges, St. Maron’s Redfern (now relocated at Dulwich Hill), St. Charbel’s College, Punchbowl and Our Lady of Lebanon College in Harris Park, and the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family Child Care and Kindergarten in Belmore.

Following the OAM medal award in Sydney, Mr. Sahade is being congratulated by Lady Marie Roslyn Shehadie known as Marie Bashir (of Lebanese descent), current Governor of New South Wales, Chancellor of the University of Sydney, and the first female governor of New South Wales (July 2008).

Saturday saw the initiation of contacts between Ms Hourani and H. E. ‘Ad Abi Karam, the Maronite Bishop of Australia, the Australian Catholic University, and members and journalists of the Lebanese community in Sydney.

With the upcoming Maronite Youth Forum 08 fast approaching, meetings were held with the organizers of the Forum 08 and with prominent Maronite bishops and priests who were accompanying the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, and who were to attend the Forum 08 themselves.

Ms. Hourani then met with Professor Brother Jude Butcher, Director, and Mr. Anthony Steel of the Institute for Advancing Community Engagement (IACE) of the Australian Catholic University, and Fr. Paul Rouhana, Dean of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of the Holy Spirit University, to discuss the Maronite Youth Forum 08 and the joint research project with ACU on Maronite Identity.

A further meeting was held the next day with Fr. Paul Rouhana, this time with Dr. Nasser El-Khazen, Professor of Sociology at the Lebanese University and representative of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, for further discussions about the Maronite Youth Forum 08 and the joint research project on Maronite identity among the Maronite youth of Australia.

The day preceding the Forum Ms. Hourani paid a visit to St. Mary’s Cathedral and attended a lunch in honor of the religious and academic delegates from Lebanon.

Ms. Hourani and Maronite bishops, priests and community leaders before St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney (July 2008).

Thursday 10th was spent in full attendance at the Forum, where Ms. Hourani facilitated group discussions. Dinner was in honor of the Patriarch. Friday 11th was the second full day spent at the Forum with Ms. Hourani again facilitating group discussions. Ms. Hourani also attended the Liturgy presided by the Patriarch and participated as one of the main celebrants in the Para-liturgical thanksgiving or Thauditho dinner at St. Charbel’s Church.

Ms. Hourani participating in the Para-Liturgical Dinner with H.E. Maronite Bishop of Tripoli, Abbot Khalil Alwan and Fr. Paul Rouhana, Sydney (July 2008).

Full attendance at the Forum took up all day Saturday 12th with Ms. Hourani again facilitating group discussions. With a view to observing community relations, Ms. Hourani attended Mass, a spiritual concert performed by a Lebanese Gospel and Hymn Singer Mr. Nizar Fares of Lebanon and a barbeque at Our Lady of Lebanon Church.

Maronite delegates at the Maronite Forum 08, Sydney (Professor Jude Butcher left upper side of the photo) (July 2008).

Ms. Hourani and Bernadette Bousamra Maronite Youth 08, Sydney (July 2008).

Australian and South African Maronite delegates to Maronite Forum 08, Sydney (July 2008).

Ms. Hourani with H.B. Maronite Patriarch and H.E. Maronite Bishop of Australia, Maronite Forum 08, Sydney (July 2008).

After the Forum, on Monday 14th Ms. Hourani met again with Professor Brother Jude Butcher, Mr. Anthony Steel, Fr. Paul Rouhana, Dr. Nasser El-Khazen and Rev. Abbot Khalil Alwan, Former Superior General of the Lebanese Missionaries, to discuss the preliminary outcome of the Maronite Youth Forum 08 and the joint research project on Maronite identity.

Ms. Hourani also held discussions with Fr. Antoine Tarabay, Superior of St. Charbel Monastery in Sydney. She also attended lunch honouring the Patriarch and paid a visit to the Maronite Heritage Center.

During her stay in Australia Ms. Hourani made every effort to reach out to other religious groups. Ms. Hourani met with representatives of the Orthodox Lebanese community in Sydney and spent Sunday July 13th at the Lebanese Orthodox Church, where she met and spoke to its community members about NDU, LERC and the Summer Arabic Program. She then made a visit to the original sites in Redfern, an early settlement of the Lebanese migrants in Sydney.

Ms. Hourani presenting NDU and LERC at the Lebanese Orthodox Church, Sydney (July 2008).

Ms. Hourani posing with members of St. George’s Cathedral and book committee, Sydney (July 2008).

Pursuing her objectives for meeting researchers involved in researching Lebanese migration, Ms. Hourani was scheduled to meet with several prominent personalities. Discussions were held with academics Dr. Rosemary Suleiman, Professor of Education and Languages in the School of Languages & Linguistics at the University of Western Sydney, and Nalia Hyndman-Rizk from the Australian National University, who is currently finishing her PhD dissertation about the Lebanese migrants coming from the village of Hadchit, Northern Lebanon.

In order to inform herself and to facilitate contacts with the Lebanese Shiite and Sunnite communities in Sydney Ms. Hourani held talks with Dr. Ibrahim Constantin in the house of her good friends and community personalities Dr. and Mrs. Albert and Suzanne Mansour.

Ms. Hourani’s full schedule of meetings included one with Professor Emeritus Gary Bouma, head of the UNESCO Chair in Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Relations – Asia Pacific and Chair of the Standing Committee on Ethics in Research Involving Humans at the Monash University of Melbourne, Australia, also the author of the Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century.

Ms. Hourani with Professor Bouma, Sydney (July 2008)

Ms. Hourani met with other authors and guests, visiting Mr. Emile Dan, President of the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church Council, Sydney, Australia, author of the book on St George’s Orthodox Cathedral and Community in Sydney; and meeting with Dr. Loubna Haikal McDonald, author of Seducing Mr. McLean, Dr. Hadia Haikal-Mukhtar, a community activist and Ms. Cecile Yazbek Scholtz, author of Olive Tree around My Table: Growing Lebanese in Old South Africa.

Ms. Hourani holding a copy of Mr. Dan’s book at his house in Sydney (July 2008).

With media attention as expected, Ms Hourani held talks with Mr. Anwar Harb, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of An-Nahar Newspaper in Sydney. She also held interviews with Boutros Indary, journalist with The Telegraph and journalist Ms. Marie Nisie on Radio SBS Australia. On her final day, Thursday 19th, just before leaving to return to Lebanon, Ms Guita Hourani was interviewed by Ms. Chadia Gedeon Hajjar for the An-Nahar newspaper. Apart from the Telegraph, Radio SBS Australia and An-Nahar, Ms. Hourani had throughout her stay met or been interviewed by several other leading journalists, reporting back to their audiences.

Ms. Hourani’s main visit outside Sydney came between Wednesday July 16th and Thursday 17th when she traveled to Adelaide, further down from Sydney, on Australia’s southern coast. Here, Ms. Hourani, fulfilled another mission objective, and lectured on Lebanese Expatriate and Homeland Investment, to the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (AACCI) at the invitation of its President Dr. Minerva Nasser-Eddine. The luncheon lecture was attended by Mr. Ray Najjar, National Chairman of the AACCI, and around thirty-five businessmen and women of Lebanese, Australian and French nationality.

Following her lecture Ms. Hourani poses next to the banner of the AACCI in Adelaide (July 2008)

Ms. Hourani then delivered further lectures on Lebanese Diaspora and Homeland Relations at the Druze Community Center, where around forty-five persons of diverse ages and religious groups attended.

With the Lebanese Migration University Museum at NDU in mind, a visit was paid to the Adelaide Migration Museum, where future cooperation was discussed with its Director Ms. Viv Szekeres and Dr. Minerva Nasser-Eddin, an active member of the Lebanese community in Adelaide.

Ms. Hourani’s final lecture took place on Friday 18th, on the theme of Migration from Lebanon at the Transforming Cultures Research Centre, University of Technology, in Sydney, where she also presented LERC as an international research center and NDU’s Arabic Program. In attendance were around twenty people from UTS, including the Director of the Centre, and members of the Lebanese and Jordanian community.

Placard with directions to Ms. Hourani’s lecture at the Transforming Cultures Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney (July 2008)

Following the lecture, Ms. Hourani with Director of the Transforming Cultures Research Centre, Sydney University of Technology, Sydney (July 2008)

Throughout her stay in Sydney Ms. Hourani had been comfortably housed by Mr. and Mrs. Maurice and Bernadette Salamé, to whom she extends her warmest gratitude.

Ms. Hourani with Mr. Maurice and Mrs. Bernadette Salamé, hosts of Ms. Hourani with Fr. Paul Rouhana and Fr. Hani Mattar, Sydney (July 2008)