03/19/2020, 15.54
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Maronite Church offers two structures to hospitalize Coronavirus sick

by Fady Noun

Gestures of solidarity towards the victims of Covid-19 multiply. Catholics also join by offering a residence in Jbeil and a hotel in Harissa for quarantined people. The patients will be able to attend mass on television and receive communion. One of the structures is connected to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lebanon.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Spontaneous signs of solidarity towards people who could potentially develop the coronavirus epidemic are multiplying in response to an appeal by Lebanese Ministry for Health. A special commission to manage the national response to the pandemic was formed on March 17.

The Maronite Church led by example, making two of its buildings available to the Ministry of Health: a residence in Jbeil and a hotel in Harissa (Kesrouan), to welcome people placed in quarantine after being contracting the virus who would be unable to guarantee isolation in their home.

The Maronite diocese of through its bishop Msgr. Michel Aoun, has offered the use of the summer residence of the bishopric in Lehfed for Covid-19 patients under quarantine. A doctor, Dr. Assaad Ghanem, is in charge of the project. However, the building is still under construction and will not be ready for a few weeks, and there are no beds as of yet.

Fr. Fadi Tabet of the Congregation of Lebanese Missionaries (Oml, the Kreimists), recently appointed rector of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lebanon, in Harissa, announced on March 17 in agreement with the municipality and regional leaders that the Bethania Hostel will be made available. The residence which is usually reserved for pilgrims will be reconverted to accommodate those affected by Covid-19 placed under quarantine.

Momentum and organization

However, this momentum of generosity alone is not enough. Buildings must be equipped and well-trained teams must work inside them. Fr Khalil Alwan, former rector of the shrine of Harissa and secretary general of the Assembly of Catholic patriarchs and bishops of Lebanon, states that "the project has raised enthusiasm in Kesrouan circles and that following a call, 29 volunteers have already offered their services for this project".

Organizers have set up a hotline for volunteer candidates (09/261331). Fr Alwan adds that "two companies have already offered their assistance, one for the disinfection of places, the other for ensuring cleaning services". "A farmer in the region - he adds - also offered crates of apples". The overall cost of the project will be subject to an estimate by the Ministry of Health, but the funding remains uncertain.

"The OML - underlines Fr. Alwan - will staff the residence and, hopefully, there will also be qualified professionals and officials from the Ministry of Health ". The chosen volunteers will be trained by the Ministry of Health, which has entrusted this task to Nathalie Richa, president of the National Nurses Union. When needed, the help will be requested of the Lebanese Red Cross (CRL) "which is very present on the ground" and that of the union of social workers.

Fr. Alwan says the Ministry of Health will give the final go-ahead to the project, after the approval of the prophylaxis measures taken and the assurance that this 50-room hotel will not constitute a new source of contagion.


At the moment a regulation is being drawn up to regulate the relations between the host house and its future guests, which will also have to clarify the rights and duties of each party involved. Persons forced to isolation will be able to benefit from a daily mass broadcast on television and will be able to receive communion individually. They will eat inside their rooms, but they will not be able to receive relatives. The latter, for their part, will take care of the cleaning of the linen of the quarantined relatives, who will be offered clothes suitable for their condition.

One of the most valuable aspects of the Bethania hostel is that it is connected to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lebanon and that from the row of windows to the west it is possible to see the giant statue of the Virgin.

Founded at the beginning of the 20th century in honor of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the sanctuary – which arises on the property of Bkerké and the apostolic nunciature - was entrusted from the beginning to the care of the Lebanese Missionaries.

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