The mortal remains of Mgr George Kwaiter were displayed at the chapel of the Providence Home (of which Archbishop George had been director and co-founder with H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III) in Salhieh on Friday 29 July 2011 from 10a.m. onwards for the faithful to pay their last respects and offer their prayers: many people from the region and abroad came to pray beside the coffin.
At 2p.m. Patriarch Gregorios III arrived at the social centre to pray and to receive condolences.
At 2:30p.m. the body was brought to Saida, to the central Place de l’Etoile, whence it was carried on people’s shoulders to St. Nicholas’ Cathedral. Christians and Muslims were together as mourners.
At 3:45p.m. Patriarch Gregorios III arrived at the cathedral, where he was welcomed by bishops and made his entry.
The funeral began at 4p.m. with some sixteen bishops present, including nine members of the Holy Synod, together with others from Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches. Several shaykhs were present from different Muslim communities. Also present were representatives of the President of the Lebanese Republic, Michel Sleiman, parliamentary deputies and ministerial representatives, together with members of religious orders, relatives of the deceased and other people from the local eparchy and from further abroad.
A message from the Holy Father was read by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia. In his sermon, the Patriarch outlined the life and work of the late Archbishop George, mentioning especially the latter’s co-founding of the Providence Home and social centre in 1966, his presence during the Lebanese civil war, the way in which he reconstituted his eparchy afterwards, by rebuilding some twenty churches and restoring many others damaged in the war, his love for the Mother of God and his building of the still to be finished church near the grotto at Maghdusheh, Lebanon, the place which is traditionally associated with the stay of Mary, Mother of God while her Son was preaching in Tyre and Sidon. His Beatitude, Maronite Patriarch Beshara sent a message of condolence which was read to the mourners and the current eparchial bishop, Archbishop Elie Beshara Haddad spoke, as did the Superior General of the Basilian Salvatorian Order, Jean Faraj. The body was then taken in procession outside to be laid in the archbishops’ crypt under the altar of the cathedral.
On Sunday, 31 July, the departed was commemorated during the Divine Liturgy celebrated at St. Cyril’s Church, Damascus, by Patriarch Gregorios III. This church, served by the Salvatorian Fathers, is the parish church of the late Archbishop and his family. Archbishop George’s brother and sisters, with other relatives and friends attended the service.
Obituary for Mgr George Kwaiter
Mgr George Kwaiter was born in Damascus on 28 April 1928. While still very young he entered the monastery of Holy Saviour of the Basilian Salvatorian Order, at Joun, where he made his solemn vows in 1951 and was ordained priest on 13 June 1954, after having finished his studies in philosophy and theology.
He served in different parishes in Lebanon, Jordan and the Holy Land, as well as at the seminary of the Holy Saviour monastery. He took over the direction of the monastery’s press and founded the collection “Popular Saints,” in which were published notably three works written by his own hand.
As soon as the Providence Home and social centre was founded at Salhieh (in the archeparchy of Saida) with Father Lutfi Laham in 1966, he became its director, remaining there for 21 years, until his episcopal election.
In recent years, he also became deputy head and vicar-general of his order.
After the tragic events of the region of East Saida in 1985, he remained in post among his people, restoring hope and life to everyone, despite the massive exodus after the end of the civil war.
Elected by the Holy Synod on 23 July 1987, Mgr George Kwaiter was consecrated Archbishop of Saida and Deir el Qamar on the following 23 October, in the cathedral at Damascus, by Patriarch Maximos V, assisted by Archbishops Francis Abu Mokh and Lutfi Laham.
Retired since 9 October 2006, he remained resident in the archeparchy undertaking various pastoral services, and especially the completion of work on the basilica of Our Lady of Mantara at Maghdusheh. Archbishop George died on 26 July, 2011.
Other news from the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
On 22 July at the Cathedral of Saint Elias, Beirut, Archbishop Joseph Kallas installed his successor, Archbishop Cyril Boustros, as Bishop of Beirut.
On 5 August, the Eve of the Transfiguration, the Basilian Order of the Most Holy Saviour will be celebrating the tercentenary of its foundation under the patronage of the President of the Lebanese Republic, Michel Sleiman and in the presence of His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III, and the Superior General of the Order, Jean Faraj. His Beatitude will also celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration in the monastery by presiding at the Divine Liturgy on 6 August.
On 13 August, the new Bishop of Zahleh, Issam Darwish, will arrive to be installed by his predecessor in post, Andre Haddad, during the Divine Liturgy on 14 August, in readiness for the celebration of the Feast of the Dormition, on 15 August, the Patronal Feast of the Cathedral, when the new bishop will preside.
Notes by Patriarch Gregorios III
Translation V. C.