Israeli priest, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rev. Elias Chacour to speak at WFU Jan. 22

By Jacob McConnico
January 7, 2005

The Rev. Elias Chacour, a Palestinian-born Israeli citizen and priest in the Melkite Catholic Church, will discuss "Building Peace on the Desktops of Students" at 1 p.m. Jan. 22 in Wake Forest University's Wait Chapel. A book signing will follow the free, public lecture.

Rev. Elias Chacour

Rev. Elias Chacour

Chacour, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times (1986, 1989 and 1994), has been an international ambassador for Middle East peace through non-violence for more than 30 years. He is president and founder of Mar Elias Educational Institutions, a school for young people from a variety of faith traditions in Ibillin, a small Arab village in the Galilee region of Israel.

Born in Arab Palestine in 1939, Chacour became a deportee and refugee at the age of 8 when his entire village was evicted by Israeli authorities. He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1948. He, along with his Palestinian Christian family, was a member of the Melkite Catholic Church, an Eastern Byzantine Church in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1965, Chacour was appointed priest of the village church, the Church of St. Joseph, in Ibillan. At the time, there were few educational opportunities for Palestinian youth beyond the eighth grade. Chacour responded to this need by creating Mar Elias Educational Institutions in the early 1980s.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in theology and Bible studies at Saint Sulpice and the Sorbonne University in Paris. In 1968, Chacour became the first Arab to study Bible and Talmud at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He earned a doctorate in Ecumenical Theology at the University of Geneva in 1971 and has received a number of honorary degrees from several prestigious universities.

Chacour has received many international peace awards for his work, including the prestigious World Methodist Peace Award in 1994; the Niwano Peace Award from Japan in 2001; the Italian Dante Alighieri Human Rights Award in 2002; and the First Mediterranean Peace Award from the Fondazione Laboratorio Mediterraneo in Naples in 2003.

He is the author of two books, "Blood Brothers" and "We Belong to the Land." "Blood Brothers" has been translated into more than 20 different languages.

Chacour's talk is sponsored by the Wake Forest University religion department, Divinity School, and Centenary United Methodist Church. For more information about the event, call 336-758-5120.

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