The Venerable Khalil (Father Jacques) HADDAD was born on 1 Feb 1875 in Ghazir, Lebanon. He was ordained on 1 Nov 1901 in Beirut, Lebanon. He died on 26 Jun 1954 in Lebanon. Father Jacques attended school in Ghazir, and then at the “College de la Sageese” in Beirut, studying Arabic, French, and Syriac.
In 1892 he went to Alexandria, Egypt to be a teacher of Arabic in the Christian Brothers’ College. Itinerant preacher form 1903 to 1914, he walks all over Lebanon proclaiming God’s word. They call him “the Apostle of Lebanon”, but he will be seen also preaching in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Turkey.
In 1919, he buys land on the hill of Jall-Eddib, 7 miles north of Beirut. He builds a chapel there which he dedicates to Our Lady of the Sea. On a nearby rock, he raises a great Cross 30 feet high. In the 1920′s he forms the “Franciscan Sisters of the Cross of Lebanon” who help the sick and poor.
The modest work of Father Jacques aroused the people’s admiration. Soon the Lebanese Government becomes interested and begins to send to the Cross all sorts of ill and infirm; the deat, mute, blind, paralytics, the mad, incurables who are all accepted pell-mell.
From 1950 on, the Cross will be exclusively a psychiatric hosptial, one of the most modern of the Near East, where pioneer work is done in psychotherapy. The movement of charity begun at Jall Eddib spread throughout Lebanon. Father Jacques and his sister multiplied their works of social assistance.
- At Deir el-Kamar (1933) the House of the Sacred Heart is a girls’ orphanage, later transformed into an asylum for the chronically ill.
- At Antelias (1948) the Hospital of our Lady welcoms the aged and chronically ill, the paralyzed.
- At Dora (1949) St. Joseph’s Hospital has become one of the most important medical centers of the capital.
- In Beirut (1950) St. Anthony’s House for beggars and vagabonds whom the police found in the streets, and Providence House for girls who were without a family.
- At Tibnine (1969) a military hospital.
- At Kabr-Chemoun (1971) a government hospital in a region where medical service has been quite deficient.
- At Baabda (1974) a large government hospital.
- At Zghorta (1975) a hospital established during the war.
- At Beit Chebab (1977) a center for the war handicapped. Also a rest center in Bcheele, a social center at Jdabra, and a center for the mentally handicapped at Chartoun.
Parallel to their hospital mission, Father Jacques and his Sisters carried on an important work of education.
- at Jall-Eddib, the School of Saint Francis (1919)
- at Broummana (1950) the School of Saint Elie, with an orphanage of 200 girls
- at Hrajel (1950) the School of Our Lady.
Father Jacques’ body was worn out by vigils, fatigue, and travels. Suffering numberous ills, almost completely blind, stricken with leukemia, he did not stop blessing God and working…Right to the end he kept his head clear. His last hours were an uninterrupted series of prayers and invocations of the Cross and the Virgin Mary.
- The cause for his beatification was introduced in February, 1979.
- On February 24th, 1979, His Holiness Pope John Paul II signed the decreee of introduction of the cause for beatification. The first session of the apostolic process took place in Lebanon on November 28, 1979.
Source: “Father Jacques Hadddad”. 1980. Written by Father Selim Rizacallah. Arab Printing Press: Beirut, Lebanon.