Saint Rafqa (Rebecca), 1832-1914
Born in Lebanon as Boutrossieh Ar-Rayes, Saint Rafqa was the daughter and only child of Mourad Saber Shabaq al-Rayes and Rafqa Gemayel. Her mother died when she was six and she and her stepmother never got along. At age fourteen that she felt a call to religious life. Seven years later, she became a nun in the Marian Order of the Immaculate Conception. She took the religious name Anissa (Agnes) and made her final vows in 1856.
Following dreams in which Saint Anthony the Great appeared to her, Anissa joined the Lebanese Order of Saint Anthony of the Maronites (Baladiya Order) in 1871. She took the new religious name of Rafqa (Rebecca).
Late in life, her close friend and supporter, Mother Superior Ursula Doumit, ordered her to dictate her autobiography. Near the time of her death, Rafqa asked that her sight be restored for a single hour so she could again see the face of Mother Ursula. The hour of sight was granted. Miracles of healing were later recorded at her grave. She was beatified in 1985 by Saint Pope John Paul II and canonized sixteen years later.
Discuss: If you could only see for one hour, what would you want to see? Explain.
Use the following activity to help the young people understand what it might be like to be blind. Find a good location with some obstacles, but nothing dangerous. Form pairs. Ask one partner to be the navigator (guide), and the other to be blindfolded. When the blindfolded partner is ready, slowly spin the person around a few times so that they do not know which direction they are headed. From this point on, the guide should not touch the partner at all, but rely solely on verbal cues (e.g. “About five steps ahead, there is a branch. Step over it slowly.”)
The guide is solely responsible for his or her partner’s safety. He or she should be navigated to avoid obstacles. In this way, participants learn valuable lessons related to teamwork: the guide learns about the challenge and responsibility of caring for another individual’s well being, while the blindfolded partner learns to trust and rely on another person. Ask participants to reflect and share upon their experiences.
To help participants reflect and learn upon their experiences, the following are some good sample questions to ask following the Trust Walk team building activity: