biography of bishop michel kassarji, head of the chaldean community in lebanon
- Born in Zahlé in 1956 – his father was Jean Kassarji and his mother was Mary Ghachach, Bishop Michel Kassarji is the second son of a family of four: Rizkallah, Michel, Loutfi and Joseph.
- He finished elementary school at the Antonine Sisters’ School and other schools at Zahlé.
- He entered the Lebanese Maronite Order on September 25th, 1970, at Saint George’s Monastery in the Nehmeh region and he continued his high school education between the monasteries of the order.
- He took his simple vows at the Monastery of Our Lady of Help – Byblos in July 1973.
- He holds both the Lebanese and the French brevet.
- He holds a baccalaureate diploma and a philosophy diploma.
- He continued his studies in Philosophy and Theology at the Holy Spirit University – Kaslik. He then continued his studies at the university of Propaganda Fide in Rome where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theology.
- He was ordained an Evangelical Deacon and then a priest at the church of Our Perpetual Lady of Help – Sed El Baouchrieh by His Beatitude Mar Raphael I Bidawid (when the latter was the Bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of Beirut) on May 5, 1985.
- He took multiple classes in Iraq to learn the Chaldean language and Liturgy.
- Upon his priesthood and upon the decision of His Beatitude Patriarch Bidawid to pursue his studies, he enrolled in the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, an Institution belonging to the Jesuits. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Oriental Canon Law.
- He holds a diploma in the Cause of Beatification of Saints from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (Vatican).
- He holds a degree in decided and incomplete claims from Rome (Vatican).
- He finished his PhD of Philosophy in Oriental Canon Law with a thesis entitled “Elie Al-Jawhari or the Damascene” which interprets manuscripts that go back to the 9th
- He was appointed priest for Our Perpetual Lady of Help – Sed El Baouchrieh. He was then appointed priest for the Angel Raphael Cathedral, Brasilia – Baabda in 1989.
- He was appointed Vicar for the Eparchy in 1996 and was ordained Monsignor in 1997.
- Upon the death of His Beatitude Bishop the Thrice-Blessed Youssef Thomas, His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid appointed him Patriarchal Administrator for the vacant Eparchy.
- He occupied the position of attorney of justice, head of court and judge in many catholic religious courts in Lebanon.
- He was elected during the sessions of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon:
- Member in the executive committee for the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.
- Member of the committee supervising the catholic courts in Lebanon.
- Vice president of the ecumenical dialogue.
- He was responsible of the canonization and sanctification file in the Chaldean church, which was then handled by the Bishop “Francis Kabalat”
- He was appointed by His Beatitude Mar Raphael I Bidawid as a representative of the Chaldean Church at the Middle East Council of Churches in the committee of unity and faith.
- He is fluent in Arabic, French and Italian and conversant in English and Chaldean.
- He was elected Bishop for the Chaldean Eparchy of Beirut on January 17, 2001, on the day of Saint Anthony the great, father of monks.
- He was named Patriarchal Vicar for the Chaldean Church in the Holy Land since 2009.
- His Beatitude Mar Raphael I Bidawid consecrated Monsignor Michel Kassarji as bishop on April 10, 2001 at Archangel Raphael Cathedral for the Chaldeans at Baabda.
- He was recently elected Head of the Chaldean Patriarchal Court of Appeals.
- He was elected member of the permanent council of the Chaldean church.
- He established many projects, such as:
- Continued building and equipping the Chaldean Eparchy in Beirut.
- Finishing the cemetery project of the Chaldean community – Fanar – Roumieh.
- Building a community health center in Sed El Baouchrieh – to help thousands of sick and poor people, under the name Saint Michel Medical Center in 2011.
- Building Our Lady of the Divine Mercy Center in 2015, a social center that takes care of the matters of the displaced Iraqis and Syrians in Lebanon in Sed El Baouchrieh region.
- Building the Saint Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Cultural and Educational Center in 2017, a cultural and educational center in Sed El Baouchrieh that educates displaced Iraqi and Syrian students in Lebanon, in addition to organizing habilitation, training and cultural courses of different topics.
- Helping many Iraqi families, who had to flee Iraq due to the painful circumstances, on the spiritual, social, health and educational levels.
Episcopal Coat of Arms
Blazon and significance
Surmounting the Episcopal shield, is the Chaldean Ecclesiastical Biretta, that the clergy wears outside the Holy Mass and is part of the official uniform, with 12 tassels, six on each side in three rows on either side of the shield, all in green (color of the Office of Bishop).
Behind the Episcopal shield, the Chaldean Liturgical Cross, from which are branching out the Crozier (Pastoral Staff) and the Episcopal Miter.
The Episcopal shield is made up of four sections:
– Upper quadrant, Red, the emblem of the Chaldean Community in Lebanon,
– Dexter quadrant, Or, the icon of the Archangel Michael, Patron Saint of his Excellency.
– Sinister quadrant, Or, the scales of justice, indicating the specialization of his Excellency in Ecclesiastical Law.
– Lower quadrant, White, the vine, symbol of the city of Zahle-Lebanon, the birthplace of his Excellency, and the rivers symbol of Mesopotamia, the home of the Chaldean Church of the East.
Many colors make up the Episcopal Coat of Arms: Green, symbol of renewal, Red, color of martyrdom and bloodshed, Yellow and White, colors of the Vatican state flag and symbol of purity and light.
The scroll with the Episcopal Motto beneath the Episcopal Coat of Arms, written in Chaldean, is a scriptural verse that His Excellency wanted to be a light and a road map:
“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation” (Psalm 27: 1)