Palestinian Archbishop of Galilee for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church who urges nonviolent change in Israeli society. Chacour founded a school for students in the Israeli village of Ibillin—a school that accepts students regardless of religious affiliation. Chacour has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize a number of times.
Elias Chacour, Archbishop of Galilee for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, is a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Chacour was born in the village of Biram, in the upper Galilee, and was exiled from that village in 1951. Abuna Chacour has chronicled his life and the development of his ministry in two books, Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land, which have been read by thousands of people worldwide. (Abuna is Arabic for Father, and is a respectful and affectionate term given to priests.)
Chacour started his ministry in the Israeli village of Ibillin, near Haifa, where he initially lived by sleeping in his car at night and building his small congregation. His care for his flock included working for civil rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel. As an apostle of nonviolent social change he has endeavored to be an activist for peace. "Peace needs no contemplators, it needs actors, people who are willing to get their hands dirty, to get up and do something," he says. "The same is true for justice."
The great project of his life has been to create a school in Ibillin. From a modest beginning, his Mar Elias Educational Institutions now provides schooling from kindergarten through university, enrolling yearly more than four thousand students, regardless of their religious affiliation. His persistence in getting building permits from Israel led him to Washington, D.C., where he engaged Secretary of State James Baker and his wife in his project and secured the permit with their help.
While tirelessly raising funds worldwide to support and expand his school, Abuna Chacour has used his speaking engagements to urge nonviolent change in Israeli society, working for a time when Israel will be a true democracy for all its citizens. For these efforts at reconciliation he has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize and has been granted the World Methodist Peace Award as well as Japan’s Niwano Peace Prize.