The Orthodox Community Of Anjar

The Mousadaghians were mostly Orthodox who had many pastors in their community.

As they reached to Anjar, and as a manifestation of their deep understanding of the importance of faith and the church ceremonies, the first church was established in a big black tent and was named as "The Tent Church". A "Tent School" was also erected during the first months of arrival to Anjar in 1939.

In 1940, the chief editor of the Armenian "Haratch" newspaper in Paris, Mr. Shavarsh Missakian, organized a contribution campaign among the Armenians of France and due to his unequal efforts, the "Haratch" National Elementary School came into existence. The school was considered as a gift from the Armenians living in France to the poor and Armenian refugees in Anjar. Later, Mr. Missakian's bust was built in the schoolyard as a token of deep appreciation. The official opening of the school took place in 1941 with 755 students attending. In 1942, the church ceremonies were conducted in the school auditorium.

In 1945, by the efforts of the Rev. Father Vahan Kendirjian, the "Shoushanian Sunday School" was established, where the children gathered to acquire Christian education.

The massive immigration of Anjarians to Armenia between the years 1945-47 was a turning point for the school and the village as a whole. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of students, reaching to 135 students in the school year 1954-55.

In 1958, the idea of building the "Sourp Boghos" (St. Paul) church was born, owing to the efforts of the Vestry Council and the eminent Mr. Movses Der Kalousdian, a former member of the Syrian parliament. The plan was encouraged by Catholicos Khoren I who was the primate of Armenians in Lebanon at the time.

A contribution campaign was conducted in Anjar in which Mr. Paul Minassian's role was significant. The platform of the church was designed by Mr. Kevork Emmiian , who remained faithful in his work - the unique Armenian architectural style and structural heritage. Hence, the St. Paul church of Anjar became a genuine Armenian architectural monument in a small village far away from Armenia.

The inauguration ceremony of the St.Paul church was held in October1, 1960 by Catholicos Zareh Payaslian.

As time passed by, the church was decorated by enormous icons and paintings depicted from biblical stories; all works of well known Armenian artists like Megerditch Aslanian and John Kazandjian. The beautiful painting in the alter picturing Jesus Christ and the Holy Mary is the work of the famous Lebanese-Armenian painter the late Mr. Paul Giragossian. The church was totally renovated in 1999.

During the past 60 years, the church has had 10 successive Vestry Councils. It also has had its church choir (Tbrats Tas) where members of different generations have offered their service.

In 1970, Rev. Father Ashod Karakashian was inaugurated and he still remains the faithful pastor of the community.

In 1971, with father Karakashian's efforts the "Women's Union of St.Paul Church" came into existence, through which devoted women of Anjar served their church and their community.

Today, the community consists of 500 families. It also has two national representatives who represent the village in the National Provincial Assembly of the Armenians in Lebanon. 

It's worth mentioning that the community has also had many priests, reverends and bishops who have served in different parts of the Armenian diaspora.

In 1959, a secondary school was started within the walls of the elementary school. The first batch graduated in 1965. In the school year 1964-65, because of an increase in the number of students in "Haratch" school, the kindergarten was split from the elementary.

In the following years, the graduates of the secondary school founded an alumni association which contributed to the educational and cultural life of the village.

In 1969, the secondary school building was founded, designed by Mr. Kevork Emmiian. During the following 30 years, the school became a remarkable foothold for the national education of the Anjarian youth. The secondary school was named Kaloust Gulbenkian Secondary School after the great "Kaloust Geulbenkian Foundation", which was the main sponsor of the project.

The construction of the secondary school was completed by the efforts of a group of graduates and school was endowed with a playground and was fenced by trees and beautiful flower gardens.

In 1971, a library was built and named "Puzant Tutundjian Library" after its sponsor Mr.Puzant Tutundjian, who also provided the expenses of the secondary school auditorium.

In 1978, by the financial contribution of Mr. and Mrs. Zohrab Tazian the school was endowed with an experimental laboratory.

Under the supervision of their teachers, the students of the secondary school conducted various extracurricular activities: they published the "Moussa Ler" yearbook, organized theatrical performances, sports events, art exhibitions, commemoration events, etc. Hence, the school contributed a lot to the cultural life of Anjar.

Until now, the school has had 400 graduates. Today, it has 288 students and 25 teachers. The school also has had its Chamber of Trustees whose devoted members have saved no effort to sustain the school and work for its development.

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