Remarks by Walid Maalouf
Former US Public Delegate to the United Nations
Former Director Public Diplomacy at USAID

Decoration of Sister Mary Michel Boulus by the Republic of Lebanon
Sisters of Mercy South Central Community
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Belmont, North Carolina

Many of you may be wondering why this is happening today, so let me tell you why. Lebanese and Lebanese Americans have a long history with the Sisters of Mercy and the former Sacred Heart College.

It all began in 1975 when Sister Michel became President of Sacred Heat College. Since then, there have been many memorable days at Sacred Heart for all of us former students, for Lebanon and for the Sisters of Mercy.

The Sisters of Mercy's relationship with Lebanese Americans had actually started in 1961 when Sister Michel brought the late Dany Thomas to Sacred Heart to help raise money to build the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse. All Lebanese were very proud to know that one of the halls was named after the famous Lebanese Saint Charbel.

While Sister Michel was assuming her role as President of Sacred Heart College, the regional wars were raging in Lebanon. As the bad news reached Sister Michel and her family, she decided to reach out to help the youth of Lebanon by starting the Lebanese Scholarship program. In 1977 Lebanese students start coming from Lebanon to benefit from her generosity and her connections.

To reciprocate, as much as we can, we celebrated Sister Michel's care and generosity on September 21, 1985 when the Lebanese Ambassador, the Archbishop of the Maronite Catholic in the US and many local and state dignitaries attend to honor her and plant a cedar from Lebanon in recognition and thanksgiving.

In September 1986 and under her patronage Lebanese Americans from throughout the Carolinas gathered at the Sacred Heard Campus and we announced the launching of the Metrolina Phoenician Club.

In May 1987 Danny Thomas came back as the commencement speaker and we had a wonderful three day visit with him. Little did we know that Sacred Heart College would close a few months later.

And today we are back with the Ambassador of Lebanon who is representing President Michel Sleiman to tell Sister Michel that your deeds are unforgettable and what you have planted continue growing to make Lebanon and the United States a better place for human dignity.