While Pilgrims of Ibillin supports multiple organizations, activities, and initiatives to help bring peace and reconciliation to the Holy Land, one of our signature efforts has been continuing support of the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin, Israel.
Mar Elias has become a shining beacon of hope for all people of the Holy Land – and around the world. MEEI was the inspiration of Abuna Elias Chacour, now the Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee.
Forty-some years ago, when he became the parish priest of St. George Melkite Catholic Church in Ibillin, Father Chacour realized that the future of the villagers in Ibillin, of the citizens of the state of Israel, and indeed the future of all of God’s children in the Holy Land, would depend on educating the young in the ways of peace, reconciliation, respect, and justice.
Father Chacour thus began his life work to build schools to educate children of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, based upon these principles. That vision is now alive in the schools of Ibillin for more than 3,000 students and faculty of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Druze heritage, who study and teach together as one community of learning and service. The amazing growth of MEEI from a few students to more than 3,000 in just a few years reminds us of Jesus’ miracle of transforming a few loaves of bread and fish into enough for 5,000 to be fed.