For the past three years, Lebanon has been going through an unparalleled economic collapse that has not only plunged a large part of the population into poverty but has also presented an enormous challenge for priestly formation. Above all, the soaring energy and food prices are making it difficult for the seminaries to cover the cost of maintaining their seminarians.
As a result, it has been decided to merge the formation of the young seminarians of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul with the seminarians of the patriarchal seminary of the Melkite Catholic Church, one of the Eastern-rite Catholic churches in the region. Currently 11 young men are following their formation in Harissa.
Not only must these seminarians be able to grow on human, spiritual and intellectual levels in preparation for their priestly vocation, but they must also be able to accumulate practical pastoral experience. Consequently, they usually travel to some of the poorer Lebanese villages, helping to organise three to four-day vocational seminars—mainly for young people. And during the summer holidays, they also organise week-long youth events in Lebanon, and in Syria as well. For example, this past summer, they organised a number of youth meetings in the villages of the Hauran Region, in Southwest Syria, in which a total of 700 young people participated.
We want to support the seminary for the coming academic year, so that these young men can continue their training successfully. We are therefore proposing a contribution of $35,550 to help make ends meet. Part of this help will also be invested in the installation of a solar generation system that should help to significantly reduce their energy costs and simultaneously safeguard the electricity supply.
Due to the national energy grid only being able to provide a maximum of two hours of electricity a day, come nightfall, the seminarians would either have to resort to an expensive generator or study by candlelight.