John S. Habib, Ph.D. (1930 – 2020) has a great story to share, one that is international but also uniquely American.
The youngest of 11 children, John was born in Detroit, Michigan, on July 7, 1930, the last of five boys and six girls, to Sasin Habib El Khoury Hannah and Mary Backus Saad lshaq. Sasin and Mary immigrated to the United States from remote Lebanese mountain villages in 1900 and 1896, respectively. They were married in St. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral in Detroit, in January of 1904, and both became naturalized US citizens later that year.
“By the time I came along, America was in a full depression and my parents, like many Americans, lost everything they had worked for except their faith in God and in America. Like most Americans they picked themselves up and started over,” John shared. “They taught their children love of country and for each other, and respect for others, and by their example the blessings and rewards of the work ethic. I can still hear my mother’s exhortation, ‘thank God you were born in this country,’ when as kids we got to complaining.”
John benefited from the cumulative sacrifices and love of his parents and ten older siblings. He enjoyed a distinguished career as a US diplomat, national security officer, and professor. Mr. Habib’s deep commitment to education and his desire to honor his family led him to establish a special room marked with a plaque in memory of his parents at St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital. He also recognized his siblings with scholarship endowments at the University of Michigan, and with James Madison College at Michigan State University.
In 2022, Mr. Habib’s Trust opened an endowment fund with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to support the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Rosa Parks Children and Youth Programming events.
“I learned of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Rosa Parks Youth Program through the Anthony Malcoun Family, of Detroit. Anthony was one of many of John’s nephews for whom John had deep admiration. Education was of primary importance in the life of John. The Youth Program’s focus on helping kids in need, in John’s home town of Detroit, is something he would want to support,” shared Mark Habib.
Through this endowment, John’s memory will honor his sisters, who from oldest to youngest he described as “Eva, humorous and compassionate; Agnes, devoted daughter and mother; Bergita, classy and astute; Jemelia, devout and fun-loving; Margaret, innovative and caring; and Lillian, intuitive and responsible.”
The Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program is a ministry of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen focused on breaking the cycle of poverty through educational opportunities. The program provides art therapy and tutoring in a safe environment that encourages creativity.
“The Capuchin Soup Kitchen is grateful to the family of John S. Habib for their commitment to combating cyclical poverty through educational opportunities provided at the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program. This vital work promises to plant seeds of hope for the most vulnerable children of poverty-stricken Detroit,” shared Brother Nicholas Blattner, Director of the Solanus Mission Association.
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