Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Elias Chacour

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Palestine
  • Gender: Male
  • Born in: 1939
  • Age: 76
  • Curriculum vitae :


Elias Chacour (born November 29, 1939) is the Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and All Galilee of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Noted for his efforts to promote reconciliation between Arabs and Israelis, he is the author of two books about the experience of Palestinian people living in present-day Israel.

Elias Michael Chacour was born November 29, 1939 in the village of Kafr Bir'im in Upper Galilee in the British Mandate of Palestine to a Palestinian Christian family, members of the Melkite Catholic Church. At the age of eight he was evicted along with his whole village of Biram by Yishuv forces and became a deportee and a refugee but remained in the region. Because he remained in his homeland, he was granted Israeli citizenship when the state was created in 1948.

Completing his schooling in Nazareth, he studied theology at St. Sulpice Seminary in Paris, returning home in 1965. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop George Selim Hakim of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee, who became Patriarch Maximos V two years later after the death of Patriarch Maximos IV Sayegh who was called "The Lion of the Council" (Vatican II). He later studied the Torah and Talmud at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well as Aramaic and Syriac, becoming the first Arab to gain a higher degree there. He was also a friend of the charismatic and controversial second Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee, Joseph-Marie Raya. Chacour is vice president of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.

Chacour came to the village of Ibillin in the Galilee as a young priest in 1965. This village was the birthplace of the most recent saint of the Melkite Church, Blessed Miriam Bawardy, a Discalced Carmelite mystic of the nineteenth century responsible for the Carmel of Saint David's Tower in Bethlehem who was beatified by Pope John-Paul II on November 13, 1983. The young Father Elias, seeing the lack of educational opportunities for Arab youth beyond the 8th grade, set about creating a school open to all local children, regardless of religious affiliation.

In the early 1980s, on an empty hillside now known as the Mount of Light (Jebel an-Nour), a classroom building was begun. The newly formed high school moved from temporary quarters in the community center to the new building as soon as it was ready. The original high school has expanded considerably and now includes a primary school and a community college. The co-educational Mar Elias Educational Institutions enroll 4,500 students, including Moslem, Christian, and Druze.

An advocate of non-violence, Chacour travels often between the Middle East and other countries around the world. In addition, many visitors, fact-finding missions, and pilgrims have come to Ibillin. In recognition of his humanitarian efforts he has received honors including the World Methodist Peace Award, the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, and the Niwano Peace Prize (Japan) as well as honorary doctorates from five universities including Duke and Emory. In 2001 Chacour was named "Man of the Year" in Israel. 

Chacour currently serves as Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee. The main city of his diocese is Haifa, the great city of northern Israel. He was consecrated a bishop in the church of Saint Elias in Ibillin and his enthronement in the Haifa Cathedral was broadcast by the Melkite Ecumenical television station "Noursat" which originates in Beirut, Lebanon. Since his installation as bishop then he has already visited the United States twice in 2006. 


Achievements and Awards

Chacour is the author of two best selling books, Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land. Blood Brothers covers his childhood growing up in the town of Biram, his development into a young man, and his early years as a priest in Ibillin. This book has been translated into more than twenty languages.

His second book, We Belong to the Land, recounts his work in the development of Mar Elias Educational Institutions, from humble beginnings to major schools for educating Palestinian young people and for helping to bring about reconciliation in a land of strife. This book has been translated into 11 languages.

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