You may know some of its members or even some of its projects, but what is the UA Pastoral really all about?
Father Youssef Fakhry, Chaplain of UniversitÃ© Antonine on Baabda campus, wished to clarify the main misconception most of us have: â€œStudents tend to believe that our activities are strictly related to religion while in fact, we work on various events related to travel, sports, arts, etcâ€. It goes without saying that the main purpose of this community is to spread the Christian faith within university walls and invite students to practice its values among their classmates. However, when it comes to the means used, different ways are considered in order to reach a larger crowd.
The UA pastoral saw the light in 1996 and currently counts about 25 student members on Baabdaâ€™s campus and around 15 members in Zahlehâ€™s.
Each year, a theme is chosen based on the main one set for all the pastorals in Lebanon which guides the preparation of all their activities and events. For example, this year the UA pastoral chose â€œJoyâ€.
Weekly reunions are held at the university, where members discuss social issues, news and personal experiences while activities are prepared in parallel. This year, they have been very active and focusing on various fundraising events. For instance, the UA Pastoral organized a kaak sale last month and donated the gains to a family in need. There was also a hair donation day in collaboration with Crosswalk foundation, where students gave their locks of hair away to cancer patients. That is of course aside from the yearly events organized for Christmas, Easter and other official religious celebrations. On the other hand, pastorals from all Lebanese universities share common events, such as the Independence Day on the 22nd of November, date of anniversary of the pastoral in Lebanon. And at the end of the academic year, a two-week summer camp in August is organized and consisting of a spiritual and missionary status.
Something to look forward to this summer: for the first time ever, all pastorals will gather on Baabdaâ€™s campus on June 24th for a day full of activities and fun. And last year, the members of the pastoral traveled to Sri Lanka for a two-week trip to one of the most exotic place on earth!
Father Fakhry takes pride in the Pastoral and in its members: â€œWith all the stress they endure, they still find the time to do beautiful things for free and to me, this is the true joy in life. We have to give back, especially to those in needâ€.
By Carmen Yazbeck