Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, was born on May 15, 1920 in Rayfoun, Kesrowan, Lebanon to Maroun Sfeir and Hannee Fahed. from Ghosta. He has five sisters: Matilla, Jaouhara, Odette, Laure and Melanie.
He completed his elementary and complementary studies at Saint Abda School, Harharya-Aramoun, Kesrouan (1933-1937); he completed secondary studies at the Maronite Patriarchal Seminary in Ghazir, Kesrouan (1937-1939) and at the Oriental Seminary Institute of Saint Joseph University (1940-1943), where he later pursued his philosophical and theological studies (1944-1950).
From Priesthood to Episcopal ordination (1950-1986):
May 7, 1950: He was ordained a priest and appointed Pastor of the Reyfoun Parish and secretary of the Diocese of Damascus (presently Sarba).
1951-1961: He taught Arabic Literature, the History of Philosophy and Translation at the Marianist College in Jounieh, Lebanon.
1953-1961: He was appointed General Secretary of the Maronite Patriarchate.
July 16, 1961: He was ordained Bishop and appointed Patriarchal Vicar.
From his Episcopal ordination to his enthronement as Patriarch:
1974-1975: Patriarchal Administrator with Bishop Antoine Khoureich, who was then Archbishop of the Diocese of Sidon.
1975-1986: President of the Executive Committee of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.
1977-1986: Representative of the President of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon at Caritas-Lebanon.
1980-1990: Adviser to the Special Committee to revise the Oriental Canon Law.
1980-1986: Spiritual Director to the autonomous organization “Knights of Malta”.
From his Patriarchal enthronement to his appointment as Cardinal:
April 19, 1986: Elected Patriarch by the Synod of Bishops.
April 27, 1986: Was enthroned to the See of Antioch and All the East. He is the 76th Maronite Patriarch.
1986- Present: President of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.
1986-1994: He participated in three general councils of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.
1991-Present: He is a founding member of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs in the East.
From his appointment as Cardinal to the present:
November 26, 1994, he was made a Cardinal.
1994-Present: As a member to the Pontifical Council for legislative interpretation.
1994-Present: As a member to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Health Services.
Writings and Translations
His writings in Arabic:
- 1975: From the Sources of the Gospel.
- 1983: Disappeared Faces, Volume I.
- 1984: Disappeared Faces, Volume II.
- 1986-2000: The Sunday Homily, 12 Volumes.
- 1986-2000: Fourteen Lenten Pastoral Letters, on various topics.
Translations into Arabic
- 1966: Jesus: The life of the Soul (from French).
- 1967: Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina (The Doctrine of Indulgences).
- 1971: Pastoral Exhortation on the Media (from French).
- 1978: General Instructions concerning the Reciprocal Relations between the Bishops and the Monks in the Church (from French).
Documents of Pope John Paul II
- 1979: Encyclical Redemptor Hominis (from Latin).
- 1980: Encyclical Divis in Misericirdia”, The Divine Mercy (from Latin).
- 1981: Pastoral Exhortation: “Function of the Christian Family in Today’s World” (from Latin).
- 1984: Pastoral Exhortation: “Reconciliation and Penance in the Mission of Today’s Church” from Latin).
- 1984: Encyclical Salvici Doloris, The Saving Suffering (from Latin).
- 1984: Three Letters Concerning the Tragedy of Lebanon, (from French).
- 1985: Letter to all the Youth in the World (from French at the Occasion of the World Youth Day).
As soon as His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Sfeir assumed the responsibility of the Maronite Patriarchate, he implemented projects in multiple domains. The following are some of his achievements:
In the ecclesiastical and administrative realm
1986-Present: Appointment of Patriarchal Vicars to reside in the regions of Byblos, Batroun, El-Jebbeh, Deir-el-Ahmar, Sarba and Jounieh. of the Patriarchate.
- The ordaining of thirty new bishops.
- The founding of new eparchies.
- The modification of the status of some already established eparchies.
1989: Transforming the Patriarchal Vicariate of Damascus to an independent eparchy.
1990: Joining of the Patriarchal Vicariate of Deir-el-Ahmar to the Eparchy of Baalbeck which became the Eparchy of Baalbeck and Deir-el-Ahmar.
1990: Joining of the Eparchy of Sarba to the Patriarchal Eparchy and declaring the Patriarchal Vicariate of Byblos an independent eparchy.
1999: Joining of the Eparchy of Jounieh to the Patriarchal Eparchy and declaring the Patriarchal Vicariate of Batroun an independent Eparchy.
1986: The republishing of the Patriarchal Magazine.
1992: The promulgation of the new Maronite Liturgy.
1992: The promulgation of the Lectionary.
1995: The holding of the Synod for Lebanon.
1996: The promulgation of the Rites of Ordination of a Priest and a Bishop.
1997: The Holy Father’s visit to Lebanon.
2000: The promulgation of the Book of Ginnazat (Rites of Christian Funerals).
In the Social, agricultural and patrimonial domains:
1987: The creation of the opportunity to terminate the partnership situation on the land of Diman and giving homes to the partners.
1987: The establishment of the Maronite Maronite Fund.
1995-1999: The developing of the land in Diman (The summer Patriarchal See).
1996: The establishing of the common fund for retired bishops.
1999: The declaring of the Holy Valley of Kannoubine and the region of the Cedars as an International Patrimonial Reservation.
In addition to renovating the Patriarchal See in Diman and the Patriarchal Seminary in Ghazir, Patriarch Sfeir is also responsible for the following:
1992: The construction of a private cemetery for patriarchs and bishops
1995: The construction of a center to house the Maronite Tribunal and the Maronite Social Fund.
1996: The building of a new wing, south of the Patriarchal See, with a large documentation hall, a library, a hall dedicated to Pope John Paul II and bedrooms for the bishops.
1999: The building of a new Wing, north of the Patriarchal See, containing a residence for nuns, employees and assistant to the bishops and a large hall for meetings of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.
1999: The housing of the Patriarchal Commission for Liturgical Affairs and the General Secretariat of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops and of the Synod of the Catholic Patriarchs in the East.
1999: The building of Patriarch Sfeir’s Medical Center in Reyfoun, Kesrouan.
2000: The building of a twenty thousand seat courtyard facing the Patriarchal Residence for official religious ceremonies.
Patriarch Sfeir also paid attention to Maronite institutions outside of Lebanon and achieved the following:
1994: The renovation of Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Paris.
1997: The renovation of the Franco-Lebanese Dorm in Paris.
1997: The renovation of Our Lady of Lebanon Church and the Franco-Lebanese Dorm in Marseille, France.
1998: The remodeling of the Patriarchal Residence in Jerusalem.
2000: The reopening of the Maronite College in Rome.
Pastoral and Official Visits
Patriarch Sfeir has gone on Pastoral and Official visits to:
- The Vatican: Every Year.
- France: 1986, 1994, 1997 and 1999
- Soviet Union: 1987
- Algeria: 1987
- United States of America: 1988
- Kuwait: 1989
- Cyprus: 1989 and 1998.
- Germany: 1989
- South Africa: 1992
- Egypt:. 1992 and 2000
- Jordan. 1993 and 1998
- Australia. 1993
- Brazil. 1997
- and in 2000 he visited Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, and Senegal.
The above is a list of some of His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir’s most notable achievements, from the beginning of his patriarchate to this date, 2000. He accomplished them with all that was given to him as virtues of a good shepherd: piety, personal courage, education and faithfulness to the national and spiritual values that were practiced by all Maronite Patriarchs.