Address of Alain Deneef in Beirut
Address held on Saturday 25 March 2017 for the Feast of the Annunciation in the church of the Collège Notre Dame of Jamhour in Beirut (Lebanon)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Alumni, Dear Friends
I am very pleased to meet you on this 25th of March on the occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation.
As you know, I am the President of an international association bringing together Alumni of institutions held by Jesuit fathers in 56 countries. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think that all these Alumni are Catholics.
As a matter of fact, the Society of Jesus is very active in countries where a majority of inhabitants is not Catholic, but Protestant (like in the US), Hindu (like in India) or Muslim (like in Egypt). No need to mention that in the secularised Europe, where I come from, Jesuit institutions count a lot of young people who are often religiously indifferent.
However, the affinity of alumni towards the education they received is equal everywhere. It is due to the fact that this education is based on strong pillars, like the idea of a common mankind shared with men of all creeds and of all philosophical opinions, the idea that God can be found in everything, hence in every man, and the idea that the best way of believing in God and serving God is to believe in Man, created by God in his own image, and to serve him.
For these reasons, in the history, many Jesuits were champions of alterity and inculturation, like Francis Xavier or Matteo Ricci. That’s the way Jesuits have always been educating their students.
The initiative taken by some Jesuit Alumni to unite Christians and Muslims for organizing a feast that makes sense for both religions is a tribute to this education.
Gathering Christians and Muslims round the lighting face of Mary-Mariam is a brilliant example of a process that can allow each one to understand what moves others, in full respect of his own belief.
That’s the meaning of our presence on this 25th of March 2017, as we have been doing in the previous years: honouring the Woman par excellence and sharing our common mankind.
We must pay tribute to the initiators and promoters of this feast.
World Union of Jesuit Alumni
At the end of the celebration, representatives of the 16 religious denominations sind the Libanese anthem together