Friday, 25 April 2014

Waratah - Father El-Fadle.

In 1905 Father Emmanuel El-Fadle was sent to South Africa from Kfarhata-Elzawye, North Lebanon by Patriarch Elias El-Houayek of the Maronite Catholic Mission. He was the first Maronite priest to set foot in South Africa. Father El-Fadle arrived in Johannesburg at Christmas and immediately rented a double story building, setting up a Church downstairs and living upstairs. This established the Maronite Church in South Africa  - 48 Blougom Crescent, Liefde-en-Vrede, Mulbarton, Johannesburg.

Father El-Fadle fluent in Arabic, French, Italian and Latin studied in Rome and Paris. He served the Johannesburg community on both spiritual and social levels. The Lebanese peoples of South Africa at this time were classified as 'non-white'. Father El-Fadle petitioned the Transvaal Government to reclassify Lebanese people as 'white', presenting a lengthy argument in French explaining the role played by the Phoenicians in the development of Western civilization. It fell on 'deaf ears' or perhaps his choice of language medium failed to impress. After 4 years' service in South Africa, the disillusioned Maronite priest decided to return to Lebanon via London, on the ill-fated Waratah. Father El-Fadle perished along with 210 other souls 27 July, 1909.

The Maronites are an ethnoreligious group in the Levant.  The name is derived from the Syriac saint Maron, whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria.

Father El-Fadle

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