The Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries

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The Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries is a clerical congregation, of Patriarchal right, whose sons have professed the vows of the three evangelical counsels of obedience, chastity and poverty, in accordance with the sacred laws. It undertakes its spiritual and apostolic activities in harmony with the local ecclesiastical hierarchy in order to spread the faith and maintain it in our Maronite Church and the Universal Church. (CMLM Constitutions No. 1).


The Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries was established at Al-Kreim Monastery – Ghosta in 1865, through the prompt efforts of Father Youhanna Al-Habib (Later on, Honorary Bishop of Nazareth) with the help of many zealous priests, foremost of whom is Father Estephan Qozzah, the first Superior General and the spiritual father of the fledgling Congregation. “The most specific of reasons that prompted me to found the Congregation of Missionaries is my view that our present epoch has need for priests zealous for the spiritual welfare of the neighbor, detached from all but the endeavors at hand, preparing themselves, devoting their attention to this strive of formidable stature” (from the writings of the founder).

Motivated by zeal for the glory of God and the serving of his people, the Congregation committed itself since its inception to the mission in its broader sphere, especially in the fields of the service of the Word and catechesis aimed at proclaiming the mystery of Christ, realizing the Gospel of salvation, and supplying the people with every spiritual endeavor beneficial for their salvation.
‘A soldier’ for the sake of God and His kingdom, the mission is not limited to a field excluding others, but, extends from preaching and propagating the Gospel through all ways and means, to spiritual accompaniment in all its varieties, to the fields of education and enculturation of the youth at all levels, without any social class or faith discrimination.

The Congregation is vigilant in providing the best means for an integrated human, priestly and apostolic formation, in all its dimensions and at all levels and stages. For the assurance of bringing this sacred yet laborious task to its hoped-for conclusion, the Congregation produced the book Daleel At-Tanshi’a (The Formation Guide), to be in the hands of the missionaries as the best of guides and an incentive: enlightening, reminding and encouraging the missionary in his daily efforts and strive, “so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17), “ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

As soon as His Beatitude the Patriarch ratified the decree authorizing the launching of the Congregation on March 25, 1866, the first fathers turned, without prelude or delay, to the spiritual services they enlisted themselves for, and started roaming through the villages and cities, near and far. They were preaching, listening to confessions, providing catechesis to children, solving people’s problems and disputes, conducting spiritual retreats in schools, parishes and monasteries for all the different groups of the faithful and the fraternities of monks and nuns, parish priests and bishops. Their favors were made manifest, and the kreim and the mission became two names for one calling.
Since the specific aim of the Congregation is to serve Maronites, and its mission extends in every direction where there are Maronites (Canon 9), in no time, the missionaries had followed the sons and daughters of their Church to Syria, Palestine and Egypt and to the rest of the countries of expansion, thus realizing the wish of their founder: “The wish most dear to my heart is to see you before my death, spread in the East and throughout the whole world, just like Jesus’ disciples, announcing the Good News with generosity and disposition, not minding any need or toil, or danger or resistance, all for the love of the One who loved us and sacrificed Himself for our sake” (from the writings of the founder).

The Institutions of the Congregation in Lebanon

Throughout history, the Superior General headquarters moved between Al-Kreim Monastery – Ghosta, and the St. John the Beloved Monastery – Jounieh, and the College des Apôtres, in the College itself, or in a private wing inside the College campus.
The headquarters will return this year to settle at the Saint John the Beloved Monastery – Jounieh, once renovation work is completed after the destruction inflicted on the Monastery and its surroundings caused by the bombing of the Saout Al-Mahabba (Voice of Charity) the Radio Station on the night of May 6-7, 2005.


It is the Mother House. It is the cradle of the Congregation. It was founded in it, and from it, it was launched, and to it, it was linked. Presently, it is the monastery for the novitiate. Its erection dates back prior to 1716, and was constructed over the remains of a fortress or an old temple. Sheikh Abi Nader Daher Al-Khazen endowed it to the Armenian Antonine Congregation. The Armenian monks and their first Patriarch and bishops, who were flooding in from Aleppo at the start of their return into the arms of the Catholic Church, resided in it. When they left it and moved to Bzommar and to the Mar Antonios Khishbaouh Monastery – Ghazir, the founder bought it and the surrounding real estate on February 18, 1865. He refurbished it and endowed it to the Congregation, which was born and raised there.
Congregation constantly strove at expanding it and still does. Its church contains a very valuable piece of art, an icon dating back prior to the thirteenth century and is called the ‘Suffering Trinity’. It depicts the eternal Father embracing the crucified Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the bodily form of a dove settling over the gibbet of the cross.
When Al-Kreim Monastery – Ghosta became too crammed for its residents, and to facilitate transportation, and in announcing the expansion of the apostolic endeavor, the Congregation decided in 1901, to erect the St. John the Beloved Monastery in Jounieh. Immediately, the missionaries set out to perform their spiritual, social and educational role. Aside from their ecclesiastical services, from Masses, hearing confessions, preaching and seasonal spiritual retreats, they established in it fraternities, opened free schools for the poor children of Jounieh, founded the Catholic Youth Club, equipping it with an invaluable library to fight illiteracy and combat novelties and factions. They were vigilant to attend to the social concern by establishing the Refuge of the Poor Association following the model of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. In 1924, the printing press was established in the vicinity of the Monastery, the first fruit of which was the publishing of the book containing the statutes of the Congregation.
After accommodating the Maronite Patriarchal Tribunal, the whole Monastery was transformed so as to house the Saout Al-Mahabba (Voix de Charite) Radio Station, while keeping the church open for the sake of the faithful.
After relinquishing the ’Ain Waraka Patriarchal School in Ghosta, in June of 1939, which had been handed over in September 1935, in accordance with an agreement with its president, the curate Youhanna Estephan, the Congregation decided to open its own college in Jounieh and it was given the name Ma’had Ar-Russul (Collège des Apôtres) designed by the Russian Architect Igor Betlanko. While the new building was being constructed, the Khalil Maroun Building in the New Harbor quarter was leased to be a temporary school. Despite the eruption of World War II, in early September, 1939, work continued and the distinctively designed first wing of the College was completed and opened to students in October of 1940.
From then on, the College continued to grow with the years and expand through the building of new wings equipped with the most modern up to date apparatus, to become one of the biggest of colleges.
After obtaining permission and the blessing of His Beatitude the Patriarch, the Congregation bought, in 1964, a spacious piece of land in the village of Jouaar An-Nakhl – close to the city of Tyre – paid for from the funds and endowment of the ‘Maronite Orphanage established by the Late Ibrahim Nasrallah Al-Khoury’ placed under the guardianship of the Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries. In fulfilling the wishes of the endower, the uncle of Bishops Shukrallah and Abdallah Al-Khoury, the Congregation proceeded to establish a benevolent educational project it designated as the Cadmos School. This school opened its doors to both day and boarding elementary students in October, 1966. It rapidly grew and developed and expanded through the building of wing after wing to become a high school, one of the leading schools in the South of Lebanon; a springhead of good citizenry and a symbol of brotherly coexistence and cooperation between religions, in an environment whose residents are mostly from the sons and daughters of the respectable Shiite Moslem confession.
With the approval and the blessing of His Beatitude the Patriarch, and in accordance with a 99-year agreement, the Congregation was handed over control by His Excellency Bishop John Chedid, Bishop of the Maronites of Los Angeles, the United States, in his capacity as legal custodian of the endowment of Mar Mama – Edde, Al-Batroun, of some real estate deeds of that endowment. It was for the purpose of erecting a religious, apostolic and social center. After completing the necessary formalities and technical studies, the Congregation proceeded to reclaim some of the land areas for agriculture and to build a residential complex consisting of three wings: the first was completed in the autumn of 2001, and was occupied by the missionaries who devoted themselves to the apostolic endeavor in the region, and to helping parish priests, and the monasteries and the schools operated by nuns. In the autumn of 2003, the second wing was completed and was leased to one of the educational institutions. The third wing, still under construction, is reserved for apostolic activities.
Because of lack of space in the Superior General Headquarters in Jounieh and for the purpose of providing better means for the formation of our brothers, the candidates to the priesthood, it was decided in the summer of 1993, to move the Major Seminary to Harissa, close to the Shrine of our Lady of Lebanon in a special structure to be erected for that purpose.
After completing construction, the new monastery was inaugurated and blessed on September 27, 1996, by His Beatitude Mar Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. Our seminarians and those in charge of their formation moved in at the beginning of the academic year 1996-1997. In the summer of 2003, the General Library of the Congregation with all its branches and contents was annexed to the Major Seminary. They were transported from the Superior General Headquarters Monastery at the Collège des Apôtres in Jounieh, all except for the manuscripts and the archives.
It is a threesome integrated institution specialized in the printing, publications and sale of literary and educational books and magazines, especially the religious and liturgical.
  • Al-Kreim Printing Press, founded in 1928. It developed with time, and is now being re-equipped with modern machinery and technology commensurate with the needs of the epoch and the raising of production standards.

  • Publications des Apôtres, founded in 1958, to undertake the publishing of scholastic books and the various types of educational publications.

  • Librairie Al-Kreim, started at first in Beirut, then part of the press complex was cleared to house it. It provides for its customers the various kinds of religious books and ecclesiastical vessels and such.


As a contribution to the mission of the pen, the Congregation embarked, ever since 1930, on issuing Al-Manara (The Lampstand), an educational, religious, all-encompassing magazine. It ceased operations from 1950 until 1981, when it resumed issuing and still does, three times a year, one edition of which is a special issue tackling one specific subject and edited by a select group of specialized persons, religious and lay.
The Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries started a radio station, the Voice of Charity, on the Feast of Pentecost in 1984. It is run by the priests of the Congregation in coordination with the Episcopal Committee for the Media. It operates under the supervision of the Conference of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon. The station entered into a twinning relationship with Radio Maria – Italy. It is also in cooperation with the Communauté Francophone de Radios Chrétiennes (COFRAC), and broadcasts a daily program via Vatican Radio.

Its programs are instructional, spiritual, contemplative, recreational and educational. It broadcasts in eight languages aimed at all ages, all sectors of society and all people of good will. Program producers are bishops, priests, nuns, and lay people from all the various churches in Lebanon. It broadcasts its programs continuously, 24 hours a day, through the two FM frequencies of 105.8 and 106.2, covering all parts of Lebanon and the neighboring countries of the East. It is on the internet at the web address: Some years ago, it opened a special branch in Australia.

It was the target of an explosion on May 6, 2005, which led to its complete destruction and the loss of all its equipment and contents. Despite that, transmission did not cease, except for a few hours, and broadcasting resumed via a mobile unit, until the completion of its present headquarters, next to the St. John the Beloved Monastery.

As part of its apostolic aims, the Congregation undertook in 1992, a project to equip the upper floors of the St. John Center building, which is next to the Collège des Apôtres, in downtown Jounieh, as a residential center for students in two segregated sections, thus facilitating the study endeavor and continuing the human and Christian formation march in a healthy familial environment, with affinity and brotherly cooperation prevailing.

Overseeing the administration of the Foyer and providing all required necessities, especially spiritual direction, is one of the specialized missionary Fathers.

This center was formed in 1992, to fill a need and also in response to requests by many of the faithful who are eager to delve deeper into their Christian Faith, quenching their spiritual thirst. Its goal is to provide the appropriate religious and educational formation to adults of all ages and educational backgrounds, in addition to preparing catechists and activists specialized in the various fields of evangelization, youth associations and lay apostolic work movements.

Its courses are free. They are given in the lecture halls of the Collège des Apôtres – Jounieh every Friday evening at the hands of specialized missionaries in accordance with the directives of the Superior General, in conformity with the program set by the Episcopal Committee for Catechesis.

Its diplomas are ecclesiastical, official and sealed with the signature of the local ecclesiastical superior.

Congregation Centers outside Lebanon

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, missionaries have followed their Maronite brethren, the sons and daughters of their homeland Lebanon all the way to the countries of expansions, and established missions in city after city, in the service of the Gospel, the Church and society. Soon enough, mission houses became tantamount to a second home for every Lebanese and an embassy before there was one. In these centers, all would congregate, without division and discrimination, to become acquainted with each other and to collaborate, and to further clutch on to their religious beliefs, their social traditions and their national heritage.


When the number of missionary fathers did not exceed ten, the Superior General Father Youssef Moubarak heeded the request of His Beatitude the Patriarch and the Pontifical See. On May 8, 1901, the feast day of St. John the Beloved, the patron saint of the Congregation, it declared the appointment of Fathers Hanna Ghosn and Mikhael Hajjar to proceed to Argentina and establish a mission carrying the name of St. Maron, to serve the Maronites and the Lebanese immigrants. The two Fathers left on the Monday of Pentecost, May 27, to reach Buenos Aires on July 5, 1901, and launched the mission the very next day, Sunday July 6, with a very well attended Mass.

Despite all the hardships they encountered, the mission took off and grew, thanks to the support of many of the benevolent, Lebanese from all groups, and Argentineans. Afterwards, the number of missionaries began to increase. After nine decades, thirty missionaries were counted, priests and brothers, and they trickled in, in succession, to work laboriously and worthily in all religious, educational, cultural and national fields. They traveled throughout the vast Argentinean landscape, and in every city with a Maronite community, they established religious fraternities and social clubs. In the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, aside from the monastery, they built a small church which grew and is now a cathedral. It was consecrated and inaugurated by the Patriarch Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Peter Sfeir in 2001, on the occasion of the one hundredth Jubilee of the mission.

In 1904 an elementary school was formed. It became a secondary school in 1920. It is still teaching today, in addition to the official curriculum, Arabic and French for those desiring to learn them, and also the commercial sciences and accounting.

In 1913, the printing press and the newspaper Al-Murssal (The Missionary) were established. On April 28, 1959, an Apostolic Decree was issued mandating the erection of a diocese specific to the Eastern Churches headed personally by the head Bishop of the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires and the mission head was appointed Vicar General of the Maronites. On December 2, 1990, the head of the mission, Father Sharbel Merhi, was ordained in Bkerke as Bishop of the St. Sharbel Maronite Eparchy in Argentina.

In a first stage (1916-1952), at the request of the people and the permission of the ecclesiastical authorities, three missionaries worked in the United States: Father Francis Sham’oun (1874-1920), pastor of the St. Louis Parish in Missouri, 1916, where he died and was buried there in 1920; Father Boulos Al-Khoury (1900-1951), who served the Akron Parish in Ohio, where he died on February 28, 1951, and was buried there; and, Father Youssef Kmeid (1876-1952), who traveled for seven years (1920-1927) serving Lebanese communities throughout the States, settling to serve St. Maron Parish in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, until his death on June 29, 1952.

After a long break, and condescending at the insistence of the Shepherd of the new Maronite Eparchy, the missionaries returned in September of 1988, to study and to perform the apostolic service in numerous fields. They served existing parishes, developing them, and they established new ones and erected a permanent center for the Congregation in Houston, Texas. His Beatitude Patriarch Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Peter Sfeir visited the center on May 19-20, 2008.

The history of establishing the Johannesburg Mission goes back to 1927, with the appointment of Father Youssef Juan as a Patriarchal Visitor, and thereafter, the appointment of Father Boutros Al-’Alam as the proper pastor of the Maronite community through a Patriarchal Decree on September 21, 1928. He served very well until his death on June 13, 1962. He was succeeded by Father Mikhael Chebli and carried out the mission with zeal and purity in conduct throughout thirty years, until the Congregation was able to send a number of young priests who worked strenuously and diligently on developing the mission and erecting a new center on the east side, and another in the southern sector of the city. On February 10, 1992, Patriarch Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Peter Sfeir consecrated the Church of Our Lady of the Cedars. It was the first visit by a Maronite patriarch to this distant land. His Beatitude again graced with a second visit on May 7, 2008, to dedicate the Church and Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in the southern part of the city.
In the middle of June, 1931, Fathers Elias Maria Al-Ghorayeb (1881-1960), and Gibrayel Zaidan (1882-1963), came in from Argentina to Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil at that time, for the purpose of establishing a mission there. On February 16, 1932, they were joined by Father Youssef Al-Hani (1894-1975), who would become Father Al-Ghorayeb’s traveling companion throughout more than thirty years. For, Father Gibrayel Zaidan was to leave them in the middle of August, 1937, having been appointed roaming missionary among the communities in all the republics of South America, with the Argentine mission in Buenos Aires as his base.
The missionaries worked laboriously and competently to launch the mission in Rio de Janeiro. Aside from the religious and social services, they built a school which closed after eleven years. They erected a monumental church and a mission house under the name of Our Lady of Lebanon. They were not able to establish Maronite parishes outside Rio de Janeiro due to a shortage in priests, but, they compensated for that with their seasonal pastoral visits to all regions, even the very remote ones, endeavoring to rally together the communities, establishing fraternities and clubs.
Father Al-Ghorayeb assumed quite a very illustrious stature in all circles and was appointed by Cardinal Camra, Head Bishop of Rio, as his Vicar General to deal with all the affairs of the Eastern Catholics, from Maronites to Syriacs to Chaldeans to Armenians. To perpetuate the memory of his glorious deeds and contributions, the municipality named a street after him. The mission is still prospering and those in authority are seeking to erect new centers as needs demand and capabilities allow.
At the request of the Shepherd of the Maronite Eparchy in Australia, Archbishop Youssef Hitti, the Congregation dispatched to Sydney in 1993, one of its sons, Father Sarkis Charbel (1957-2000), to aid in the pastoral service and to undertake mission endeavors. With increased needs, it became necessary to dispatch more missionaries, and they served many of the parishes and administered youth organizations and apostolic movements. They also established a branch of the Voice of Charity, broadcasting programs in Arabic and English. They strove to build a permanent center for the mission, which was inaugurated in 2004, under the name of St. John the Beloved, the patron saint of the Congregation.
Responding to pressing needs, and at the request of the Shepherd of the Eparchy, Archbishop Boulos Sayah, the Congregation agreed in 2005, to dispatch priests to serve the Lebanese in general and the Maronites in particular, especially those who left their southern border villages. They resided in the city of Nazareth at first, and from there, they began to roam through all the regions where the displaced are grouped. They are now based in Akko, carrying on with their apostolic endeavors.
Emanating from its gifts and in realization of its goals, the Congregation is presently striving to establish many new missions in response to zealous calls and in accordance with the capabilities at hand:
  1. In the City of Santo Domingo – The Dominican Republic;

  2. In the City of Bogotá – Columbia;

  3. In the City of Malmo – Sweden;

  4. In the City of Vienna – Austria;

  5. In the City of Guadalajara – Mexico; and,

  6. In the City of Mendoza – Argentina.

It is also in the process of establishing other new centers in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and the United States of America.