Our History

Photo courtesy of the Archives of the Missionaries of Africa [White Fathers] at the Basilica of St Anne in Jerusalem.

1856

The Treaty of Paris signals the end of the Crimean War. France was recognised as a protectorate of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire.

1856

1856

L’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient was founded as an education charity by secular professors from Sorbonne University: the mathematician, Augustin Cauchy; the Hellenist, Charles Lenormant; the French politician and author, Alfred de Falloux; the historian, Charles de Montalembert; and the historian, later to be a Jesuit priest, Gustave François Xavier Delacroix de Ravignan. The charity was intended to support French-language schools in Lebanon.

1856

1857

Father Charles Martial Lavigerie was appointed the first director of l’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient. Later, he became Bishop of Nancy, then Archbishop of Algiers, and finally Cardinal and founder of The Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers).

1857

1858

L’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient was recognised as an ecclesiastical organisation by Pope Pius IX.

1858

1860

The massacre in Lebanon of 20,000 Christians by the Druzes caused a public outcry in France. Father Lavigerie went to Lebanon immediately to set up hospitals and dispensaries and to show solidarity with the Eastern Christians. Through this act of service, he discovered his vocation as a missionary.

1860

1883

Monsignor Félix Charmetant, a White Father, and a fervent defender of the Armenian cause, was director of l’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient from 1883 until his death in 1921.

1883

1931

L’Œuvre des Écoles d’Orient changed its name to l’Œuvre d’Orient (to be kept), and broadened its mission to include not only education but also the relief of poverty, healthcare and pastoral support, working in close collaboration with the Congregation for Eastern Churches.

1931

2010

Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch was appointed the eleventh director of l’Œuvre d’Orient on the recommendation of the Archbishop of Paris.

2010

2014

Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch was appointed vicar-general of the Ordinariate for Eastern (Rite) Catholics in France by Cardinal Vingt-Trois.

2014

2016

The 160th anniversary of l’Œuvre d’Orient.

2016

2017

L’Œuvre d’Orient created sister branches in Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Monaco.

2017

2017

Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East (FACE) was set up as a sister branch of l’Œuvre d’Orient in the United Kingdom, with the encouragement and support of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

2017

2018

Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East (trading name: FACE) was registered with the Charity Commission of England and Wales as an incorporated charitable organisation, and John Fox was elected its first chairman.

2018

2018

The Most Reverend Timothy Radcliffe, OP, former Master of the Dominican Order, was elected a trustee of FACE and appointed its Pastoral Advisor.

2018

2019

His Eminence Cardinal Michael Louis Fitzgerald, M.Afr., former President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was appointed Patron of FACE and its principal advisor on interreligious relations.

2019