ASIA/SYRIA - Father Jacques Mourad ordained Archbishop of Homs: "He has put his life in the hands of the Lord"

Friday, 3 March 2023 middle east   oriental churches   bishops   jihadists   islam   area crisis  

foto p.Rizk

by Gianni Valente
Homs (Agenzia Fides) - Father Jacques Mourad "put his life in the hands of the Lord". And the Lord has chosen him to be "the spiritual father who sanctifies souls with the sacraments of salvation and guides all in prayer and fasting, the patient and loving brother, the wise and knowledgeable teacher". This is how Bishop Flavien Rami Al-Kabalan, Procurator of the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch to the Holy See, described the journey and the task of Father Jacques Mourad, monk of the community of Deir Mar Mousa, ordained today, Friday, March 3, new Syriac -Catholic Archbishop of Homs.
The episcopal ordination of Father Jacques, the monk kidnapped by militia members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in 2015 and held hostage for months, is a great and promising sign for the present and the future of all Christian communities in Syria. The liturgy, presided over by the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, was also attended by Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Damascus, Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch Yoseph Absi, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Mar Ignatios Aphrem II, and dozens of bishops. The Syrian cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, could not believe the multitude of relatives and friends, some from far away - Lebanon, Iraq, France, Germany, Italy and all parts of Syria - to show affection and gratitude that unites them to dear Father Jacques. Apart from the still open wounds of the war, the people of Syria are suffering from the new pains of the recent earthquake, which also devastated Aleppo, the hometown of the new Archbishop. In these trials - said Bishop Flavien Rami - the baptized recognize that they are in exile, "because our homeland is heaven. And our hope remains in the living Lord who heals our wounds, wipes our tears and comforts our hearts. We remain the people of hope, because he assured us in the Gospel: 'Do not be afraid, I am with you to the end of the world'".
In their speeches, the celebrants emphasized the "special humility and selflessness" that characterize the life and personal character of the new Archbishop. He is a spiritual son of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, the Roman Jesuit and founder of the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa, who was kidnapped in late July 2013 in Raqqa, at that time a stronghold of Daesh in Syria.
In the story of Father Jacques Mourad and his brothers and sisters of the Community of Deir Mar Musa, the love for Jesus, which was poured out on his Muslim brothers and sisters through an abundance of grace, also experienced the martyrdom of Islamist persecution. In Christ, Archbishop Jacques Mourad will continue to love and serve those who share the religion of his own tormentors and say their prayers. "I too," he writes in the book in which he describes the months he was forced to live with the jihadists "have to repeat my absolute surrender into the hands of the Lord at every moment, I have to accept that I have nothing in my hands I have to beg him to save me: 'Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner! This request for mercy is the only unchanging reality in our life. One day everything will come to an end, even our most beautiful works, even our most beautiful life, everything will come to an end for mankind except the need for divine mercy: we will always have to be saved by God". (Agenzia Fides, 3/3/2023)

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