Coinciding with the celebration of All Saints’ Day, Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) held the Opening Mass of the Academic Year 2023–2024 on Tuesday, October 31, at the Issam Fares Conference Hall. The Divine Liturgy was presided over by Superior General of the Maronite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (OMM), Abbot Edmond Rizk, concelebrated by Vicar General and First Assistant General of the OMM, Abbot Pierre Najem, as well as the Second, Third, and Fourth Assistant Generals, Fr. Jihad Younes, Fr. Jean Maroun El Hachem, and Fr. Samir Ghsoub, respectively. Also concelebrating the Mass was NDU President, Fr. Bechara Khoury, Assistant to the President for Finance, Fr. Pierre Ghsoub, Director of the NDU Shouf Campus, Fr. Walid Moussa, and University Chaplain, Fr. George Debli. The spiritual hymns of the Liturgy were performed by the NDU Choir and led by the Conductor, Fr. Khalil Rahme. The Mass’ congregation constituted students, faculty, and staff.
After the procession of the ceremony and the scriptural readings, the Superior General’s homily addressed the principal purpose of this gathering, namely the Holy Eucharist, saying: “The Eucharist brings us together today, in a meeting of thanks and glorification of God and His care.” As such, Abbot Rizk spoke of God and His Sacraments as the source of all success as we “begin a new academic year at NDU, blessed by His essential presence in our lives. How important it is to be so well-equipped before setting off on a new journey!”
On the role of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, wisdom and education proceed from Him, and “it is for us to be inspired by God in every pursuit of knowledge,” said the Superior General. He continued: “It is essential to base our goals on what is good, true, and beautiful, not only for us, but for our Lebanese society and humanity as a whole.”
Abbot Rizk concluded his word with a prayerful address to the congregation, that “you remain steadfast in your faith in God and His providence, in this country, and in your souls.” He reiterated his exhortation on the inextricable unity of faith and knowledge. “May your union with and trust in the Lord lead to the integration of your talents and roles, and may the Lord bless this beginning of your Academic Year.”
The consecration of the Eucharist followed, prayerful intentions were read, and all lined up to receive the Holy Communion.
Fr. Khoury then gave a brief speech, inviting the congregation to consider and contemplate the beekeeper: each beehive has seven keepers assigned to protect, grow, and nurture the bees that they may produce their honey. “All who contribute to this honey correspond to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirt, and the honey of the University—our beloved community—is guarded under the Holy Protection of the Mother of God.” Similarly, at NDU, our duties are always set on God, “who calls us to do His will, and His will is embodied in us. Each of us is essential, each of us is a child of God, and each of us has a role to fulfill.”
Father President then gifted Abbot Rizk, for his role as Superior General, the face of the Holy Mother, intertwined with the words of the NDU Anthem, penned by the renowned Lebanese composers, Said Akl and Elias Rahbani. Attendees shared a final moment of thanksgiving and prayer before receiving the final blessing and proceeding with carrying the torch of NDU’s Mission, illumined by the ever-present guidance of the Holy Spirit and with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our patron saint.