Antonine International School

  • Following the progress observed in Lebanon at the end of the nineteenth century, which reflected on the Maronite Church, Patriarch Youhanna el-Hajj asked the Maronite Orders: Aleppine (Mariamite), Municipal (Lebanese) and Antonine to proceed to the creation of three monastries in Kesrouan to spread charity and enhance spiritual, cultural and social life. His request was answered, and Saint-John monastry – Ajaltoun was the result of this Patriarchal project, fulfilling in the same time the dream of the Superior of the Order, Father Semaan Kassab from Ballouneh, and materializing the impulse of the Antonine Renewal which started then at the school of Mar Chaya in 1889.

    Youhanna Tannous el-Khazin Kassab and his wife Mounna Kahla Kassab donated to the Antonine Order two pieces of land in Ajaltoun, in the locality called Ras el-Sheikh and Rmeileh; and the Superior of the Order Father Semaan Kassab accepted the donation with the approval of the Maronite Patriarchate. The donors wished to build a monastry dedicated to Saint-John the Baptist, in perpetuation of their memory and out of their attachment to devotion, love and faith.

    The construction of the monastry as in its present form was achieved in 1897, and the church was completed in 1898. Father Semaan Kassab celebrated the first Mass on Saint John the Baptist’s day.

    Friars lived in this nice monastry a life of prayer, meditation, solitude and labor, rehabilitating and planting its land, earning their living and offering their assistance to many families. From there, they started their action in the service of parishioners, schools and christian education in the heart of the Kesrouan Mountains. The monastry had strong ties with the monastry of Saint George – Aoukar, with whom it shared its administration and its community of life. Friars used to spend winter months in the monastry of Saint George – Aoukar, and go up to the monastry of Saint John – Ajaltoun for summer. In 1999, the two monastries were formally separated.
  • The Antonine Order, who had a pedagogical and spiritual concern and who had transformed its establishments in the beginning of the twentieth century into schools, so each monastry had its school, had a plan as early as the fifties for a new spiritual, parochial and cultural project in this new monastry. As soon as the construction of the monastry was finished, the Order inaugurated a school in 1898. But the horrors and violence of the First World War ruined the Order and caused it to close the school.

    In 1923, the monastry became the “Antonine Clerical School” for Philosophy and Theology students, which was later on transferred to the monastry of Mar Roukoz – Dekwaneh.

    At the request of the Bishop of Jounieh, the Order developed the parish school of Faraya, providing it with material and moral support. The operation was very successful, but due to the narrow and inappropriate premises, to the small number of students and to the serious economical crisis, the Order had to reconsider the project. It decided to move from the Faraya school and to study the idea of creating a new school in Ajaltoun, a school of the third millenium meeting with the pedagogical, spiritual and scientific requirements of the period, and with the ambitions of the inhabitants and the of the Order.

    The idea was met with encouragement and enthusiasm. The Order asked for the approval of the concerned religious authorities, and obtained the benediction and encouragement of the Patriarchal Vicar Mgr. Guy Boulos Njeim. All necessary architectural and pedagogical requirements were fulfilled, and the project was launched and achieved during the month of September 2000.

    The new school began preparing and enrolling students. Courses began in October 2000 in the “Antonine International School”, in the monastry of Saint John – Ajaltoun from nursery classes to the third year of basic education according to two programs:
    • Arabic – English
    • Arabic – French.
    And due to the developed pedagogical management, the specialized teaching team and the modern technical and pedagogical equipment, the school prospered and the number of students reached three hundred during the school year 2001/2002 and progressed to the eighth year of basic education (grade 8), with the aim of progressing to the final high school years.