Latin Patriarchate schools… a century-and- a-half in Jordan

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Latin Patriarchate schools… a century-and- a-half in Jordan

By Fr. Dr Rif’at Bader

In 1847, the Holy See/ the Vatican re-launched the Latin Patriarchate after a residing patriarch in Jerusalem no longer held this position since the outbreak of the Frankish Wars. Then, the construction of churches began in various parts of Jordan and Palestine with Jerusalem restoring its status quo as the spiritual center of the patriarchate.

Next to the churches, schools were constructed. The first school in Jordan was built in Salt in 1869. Since then, churches and schools were built one after the other which constituted a bright presence in the various cities and villages, prior to the establishment of the Emirate, which contributed to the eradication of illiteracy among men and women. These schools welcomed Muslim and Christian students, thus being termed as the schools of common living and secure future.

A few days ago, on the Teachers' Day, these schools celebrated the 150th anniversary of this pioneering academic presence under the patronage of the deputy prime minister. Today, after these long years, we find that these schools, although being referred to as private schools, they are summed up in the following points:
-These schools are private, rather than sectarian, since they have all time contributed to instilling education in remote regions thus becoming beacons of knowledge, wisdom, and piety.

-These are schools that breathe life into the national spirit and the feeling of adherence to the Arab land. They came into existence at a time when the Turkification policy was prevalent. So, these schools paid due attention to the Arabic language and to the resuscitation of national affiliation. Dr. Fadwa Nassir, presented in late 19th century a doctoral thesis titled, “The Role of Christian Arabs in the Rise of Arab Nationalism”, in which she highlighted the intellectual, educational and enlightening role of these private schools.

-These schools paid special attention to religious education whereby Christian and Muslim religion classes are provided to Christian and Muslim students respectively. It is the only class where students are divided into two. This, of course, does not indicate division, but rather mutual respect for rites, feelings, and acceptance of the other despite ideological differences. In other classes, students live in complete and non-pareil harmony enhanced by the presence of teachers and administrators of both religions.

Aren't these schools and the like the best way to combat all forms extremism?

Since the founding of the Emirate of Jordan, which is shortly due to mark the Hashemite centennial, the Latin Patriarchate schools merged with the Ministry of Education. They are an integral part of the process of education in our beloved country as they care for the poor students and the wealthy families. These schools suffer from huge financial deficit every year. Thanks to the friends of the Patriarchate all over the world who cover the deficit, foremost of which is the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher.

It is a century-and-a-half procession of a church and a homeland... this partnership will continues for years to come, God willing.

+abouna.org@gmail.com

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