At School and in The Fields

From Estephan's Young Days.

At the village school, under the trees and not far from the Church of Saint Estephan, Youssef learned how to read and write, as well as the basics of catechism and arithmetics. He used to participate to the Holy Mass with piety and read fluently the readings. Every evening he proceeded to the Church of Saint Estephan for the evening prayer in Syriac language, as Maronites of that time spoke Syriac and they would take part in the prayer with the priests.

Church of Saint Estephan, Lehfed

When he grew up his parents sent him to the school of Our Lady of Graces in Saki Reshmayya which was founded by Father Emmanuel El Jaji in 1899. At school, he met several monks from the Lebanese Maronite Order. Whether he was at school, at home or at church, he was very polite and had a soft temper, he was obedient to his parents and superiors, respectful to his brothers, friends and to the elderly people. He never let a bad word come out of his mouth.

He was used to take his family's cattle to the field of Mar Saba, where he would leave the cattle graze under a tree and went to the old sanctuary of Mar Saba to pray. He was a zealous boy at work, liked to be alone for prayer, always carrying in his pocket a book of prayer even when in the fields.

One of his friends from childhood witnessed and said:" As we used to go after the cattle, he always fascinated me with his conversations, often told me stories about martyrs especially monks, I used to feel that I was in the presence of a monk myself, he always repeated: God can see me!  God can see me! We used to pray at the sanctuary of Mar saba, ornament it with flowers especially on his blessed feastday. There at the old sanctuary he used to fly in the atmosphere of meditation that made him later on leave the world behind and join the Lebanese Maronite Order, the fertile ground of Saints".

His father passed away as he was fifteen years old. He kept on helping his brothers in the fields and he had a strong skeleton. After work he used to stay at home avoiding going out to gatherings, never went to sleep before finishing his long prayer.

One day he found in the field a small animal called "Ghoreir" which sneaked in under a rock, he followed it and caught it and found out a water stream, so he let the water out, and this is what is called today the "Ghoreir source", which he transformed with the surrounding area to a small paradise, and believers consider it a blessed water since that time.

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