By Kozhaya Akiki

Translator and retired public school teacher.


  1. Blessed Rafqa Retreat Center in Shelburne, Vermont is honored to have received the blessing and the permission of His Excellency, Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi, to distribute the book Blessed Nimattullah Al-Hardini: His Life, Words and Spirituality.
  1. Through the generosity of the author Father Paul Sfeir, Holy Spirit University, Kaslik, Lebanon and the translator, Kozhaya S. Akiki, Blessed Rafqa Center is the full owner and distributor of the book Blessed Nimattullah Al-Hardini: His Life, Words and Spirituality which has just been published. All the funds generated from the sale of these books will go toward the Center's programs. Neither Father Sfeir nor Mr. Akiki will share in the proceeds. They both donated their work to help sustain and expand Blessed Rafqa Center.


  1. The book is concerned with the life, words and spirituality of the newly beatified Lebanese monk. In his book, Father Paul Sfeir unveils the purity of spirit and humility of Blessed Al-Hardini. He shows how Nimattullah repeatedly refused to accept appointment as the Superior General of the Order, how he lived in strict poverty and simplicity and how his singularity of purpose remained unwaveringly rooted in his desire for spiritual integration and union with Christ. His visionary perspective, his unconditional obedience to his vows, his "ladder of priorities" with prayer as the first and foremost, along with his unfailing missionary zeal, is crowned by the miraculous acts witnessed by so many people. Together, all affirm the sanctity of Blessed Al-Hardini.
  1. Father Sfeir presents his readers with an examination of conscience after an expose of each episode in the life of Al-Hardini. This allows the reader to think of ways in which he/she can enhance family life within our secularized society. It also reminds us of the fact that all of us, as Christians, are called to holiness, whether we are priests, religious, or lay faithful.


  1. By undertaking this project, Blessed Rafqa Center hopes to accomplish three goals. First and foremost, to offer, through the reading of these books, an opportunity to the English reader to meditate on the spirituality of a Maronite Saint whose daily monastic life is deeply influenced by Syriac tradition.
  1. The second goal is to generate funds to support and expand the Center. Although, the Maronite community in Shelburne is very small, we were able through the generosity of a benefactor, Mary Carse, who donated the land and the house to the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, to found this Center. This book and activities like it is undertaken to maintain the Maronite presence in Vermont.


  1. Our third goal is to build the first church in the Western Hemisphere honoring the newly canonized Rafqa. His Holiness Pope John Paul II canonized Rafqa on June 10th 2001. Her feast day is March 23.
  1. We ask you to pray with us so that we will all be graced during this third millennium of Christianity, by as powerful spirituality as that of Blessed Al-Hardini, Saint Sharbel and Saint Rafqa.


  1. To order the book of Paul Sfeir, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini: His Life, Words and Spirituality, translated by Kozhaya S. Akiki, Kaslik, Lebanon: Holy Spirit University Publication, 2001, ($15.00 including shipping and handling) please make your check payable to Blessed Rafqa Center and indicate the number of copies needed. Send your order to:

Blessed Rafqa Retreat Center

C/O Kozhaya S. Akiki

103 Main Street

Tupper Lake, NY 12986-1123


  1. For information about the Center please write to:


Blessed Rafqa Retreat Center

6420 Route 116
Shelburne, VT. 05491
Phone: (802) 660-2528
Fax: (802) 863-8456