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EAO Salesian Brother Congress journey 

with Brother Simon Srugi (1877-1943)

By Fr. Ivo Coelho, SDB
General Councilor for Formation

RMG, 8 August 2018 -- Since our Salesian Brother, Venerable Simaan Srugi lived very long time ago(1877-1943) and his life story, mission and spirituality is not very much known especially in the EAO region, Fr. Ivo Coelho (former Rector of the Ratisbonne, Jerusalem community 2010-2014) was requested to introduce this very attractive figure to the 7th EAO Congress participants.

The talk of Fr. Ivo is available online (full version, handouts) on the Boscolink and also those who are not participating in the EAO Salesian Brother Congress may get in touch with this wonderful figure of holy Salesian Brother, who is also today a model for young Salesians in our Region. Below three point from his talk:

Br. Simaan Srugi - Educator and Pastor

Especially during his early years in Beit Gemal, Sima’an was assistant to the boarders. He had little by way of formal studies, but was blessed with good sense and an uncommon understanding of the Preventive System. He educated the boys with his life and with his gentle presence in study hall, playground, church and infirmary. He was certainly the one most remembered by the past pupils. As one of them said: “I knew many fathers and brothers in the Beit Gemal convent but, though all of them were good, none of them had the gifts of Srugi, who distinguished himself from all the others for his goodness.”

Br Simaan Srugi - Prophet of Fraternity

We should not think that working with Muslims came natural to Srugi. Arab Christians have a complex relationship with their Muslim neighbours, given the long centuries of Muslim domination, and in general it is not easy for clergy and religious to work with and for Muslims. But Sima’an had clearly won the heart of his poor Muslim villagers. To this man, short of stature and retiring by disposition, they gave the name Muallem, master. To people who were unable to call God ‘Father,’ Sima’an became the compassionate and merciful face of the Father. To a people that persists in remembering the brutalities of the Crusaders in the Middle Ages, Sima’an Srugi in Beit Gemal, Christian de Chergé in Algeria, Frans van der Lugt in Syria and Jerome Hamel in France are writing new chapters in the relationship between Christianity and Islam.

Br. Simaan Srugi - Consecrated to God for the young people

With barely any formal education, Sima’an reveals a profound consciousness of the Blessed Trinity and of his Salesian consecrated vocation. In a little diary that still survives we find him writing: “The acts of the religious, even if very small and simple, are precious and accepted by God when done to please and give glory to the Lord […]. How happy and blessed I am for being consecrated body and soul to my God. How much I must do to be pure and chaste like an angel in his sight. How much I must be careful to not stain in the least my soul and body, temple of the most holy Trinity. Therefore I will always be in the presence of God and put into practice the means suggested by the Holy Rule.” The beautiful thing is that Srugi’s ascetical effort did not make him rigid or unpleasant. He radiated Salesian affability, and both confreres and boys willingly sought his company."

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