Amman (Agenzia Fides) - Catholic schools in Jordan celebrate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of their adventure in the lands now governed by the Hashemite Kingdom and reaffirm their cultural and spiritual mission at the service of the local population, largely Muslim, carried out also thanks to the contribution of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. At the ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the first Catholic schools in the lands beyond the Jordan River, which took place on Saturday 5 October at the Our Lady of Peace Center and saw the participation of Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Moasher, Bishop William Shomali (Patriarchal Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Jordan), and the Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal.
Father Wissam Mansour, director general of the schools of the Latin Patriarchate in Jordan, reported that currently the 25 schools and the 18 kindergartens that are in Jordan that belong to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem serve a school population of 11 thousand students, Christians and Muslims.
The first Catholic school in the territories of present-day Jordan, was founded in the city of Salt by Don Alessandro Macagno, the legendary Abuna Skandar, who preached the Gospel to the tribes of Christian Bedouins lost beyond the Jordan living like them in a tent, and taking with him a mobile altar to celebrate the Eucharist. At that time the Ottoman governor did not want to grant permission: it was the locals, Christians and Muslims together, who overcame resistance. Even the Muslim Bedouins understood that they could only expect good things from that man who taught them to read and write.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, those founded beyond the Jordan by the priests of the new Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem were the first schools opened in a closed and marginal world, all defined by the social practices of tribalism. Teaching the ignorant is a work of spiritual mercy. And the teaching offered to all - Christians and Muslims, poor and rich, tribes from the north and tribes from the south - was the passepartout that allowed the apostolic witness to take root in rural or desert areas, which for centuries had not seen any Catholic pastoral initiative.
Thanks to their educational work, Jordan's Catholic schools have long since acquired a full citizenship right in the Country. When the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was created, the school network of the Latin Patriarchate - soon joined by large colleges inaugurated in Amman by Catholic religious congregations - still represented the only "native" educational system in existence. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 8/10/2019)