At Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), the annual Opening Mass officially marked the beginning of the Academic Year 2022-2023 across all three campuses. In Zouk Mosbeh, the Main Campus welcomed the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, as he presided over the Holy Altar with his concelebrants, the Patriarchal Vicar, Bishop Hanna Alwan, Auxiliary Bishop Boulos Rouhana of the Eparchy of Sarba, Superior General of the Maronite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Abbot Pierre Najem, the Secretary of the Patriarch, Fr. Hadi Daou, the Abbot of Notre Dame Louaize Monastery, Fr. Walid Moussa, and the NDU President, Fr. Bechara Khoury.
Gathering in Issam Fares Conference Hall, faculty, staff, and students stood for the entry of His Eminence the Patriarch, who gave a blessing as he descended each step of the auditorium. Fr. Khoury took to the podium for the opening word, addressing the country’s various struggles that have pervaded several aspects of daily life, education being no exception. He underlined, however, that none must come to despair no matter the circumstances, stating: “We are the heart of this nation, as it is ours. As Christians, we belong to the body of Lebanon and are united with it, deriving a great power from the Church’s Holy Fathers and structure . . . For education is the foundation and core of the Church's mission.”
he Mass proceeded then with the opening hymns, prayers, and readings. Patriarch Al-Rahi followed the Gospel with his homily, noting the lessons we are called to learn in contemplating the Cross, namely that all suffering is promised by our Lord to turn into joy (cf. Jn 16:20). His Beatitude outlined the collective hardships of the country, from economic to political instability, and asserted that the crown jewel of our civic duty is conscientious leadership, one that upholds the human being and the generations to come. “NDU’s history is a testament to its achievements, rising up the ranks of international universities in no time at all. We need NDU to continue raising these young men and women into conscientious leaders, as they are the future.”
The homily concluded with a blessing of the Academic Year—the focal intention of the ceremony—that our NDU community may thrive, succeed, and vest ourselves with this leadership as we pave the way forward, under the Holy Protection of Our Lady.
Prayer intentions were read by professors, staff, and students of the SKILD program, following which the reception of the Holy Eucharist began, the priests of the University proceeding to greet the congregates as they formed the communion line.
The final blessing was given, and His Beatitude was gifted a trophy showcasing NDU’s emblem, the face of the Blessed Virgin, who embodies our faith and mission to foster virtue, scholarship, and hope.
At the Shouf Campus (SC), Fr. Khoury was the principal celebrant of the Divine Liturgy, with SC Director, Fr. Naji Khalil, University Chaplain, Fr. Walid Nassif, and Fr. Tony Rhayem assisting at the altar.
Faculty members, staff, and students comprised the congregation as Fr. Khoury gave his homily: he promoted a message of enduring hope, encouraging the students not to lose heart and to take all the recent success stories and achievements by NDU alumni from all over the world as leading examples of ambitious and qualified graduates. He additionally touched on the essential need for community and interdependence, the keys to overcome the several challenges posed by Lebanon’s present circumstances.
The Father President similarly joined the North Lebanon Campus (NLC) Director, Reverend Fr. Francois Akl, and NLC University Chaplain, Fr. Dominique Al Alam at the NLC Amphitheater for the Opening Mass. The President’s sermon commended the maturity and the responsibility of the NDU community, and emphasized the duty we must assume to create a sustainable future: “If there is no youth such as yourselves, there is no Lebanon at all. But you are present, and this means that Lebanon will enjoy success, life, joy, hope, and happiness.”
The Liturgy ended with a speech from Fr. Akl, who proclaimed that the University is first and foremost under the Divine Lord’s regard, gracing us with both faith and knowledge, the rock upon which NDU’s motto, Gaudium de Veritate, stands.
From NDU’s heart to yours, may the Academic Year 2022-2023 bear great fruit, full of blessings, success, and community.