Ordination of Fr. Rami Razzouk | Our Lady of the Rosary Church | Ghadir, Lebanon
On 20 October 2018, Fr. Rami Razzouk was ordained to the sacred priesthood by His Excellency, Bishop A. Elias Zaidan at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Ghadir, Lebanon. In attendance were numerous priests, deacons, and family and friends.
When reflecting on the priesthood, Fr. Rami notes, “A priest is a liberator because he was liberated first. He met Jesus (in his ordinary, unordinary and extraordinary life) and he decided to be self-bestowed as he is.”
“God’s purpose is to free his people. Because of that, He sent His Son to be with us, to protect us and to reassure his beloved daughters and sons. When we truly believe that God is with us, He will set us free from all our burdens and we will become liberatorsin our turn.”
Ordination of Robert Y. Farah to the Priesthood
by Asma and Joseph Zaccack
On Saturday, October 20, 2018, Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Washington, DC witnessed the ordination of Deacon Robert Y. Farah to the Priesthood for service in the Eparchy of Saint Maron. The ordination was conferred by Bishop Gregory John Mansour with two chorbishops and thirty-three priests, deacons, subdeacons, and seminarians in the sanctuary. Four hundred faithful from all over the world filled the church to participate in the ordination. The ordination was followed by a banquet in the church hall. The celebration was filled with many tears and prayers, much incense and chanting, but mostly love.
The parish of Our Lady of Lebanon stood proudly as one of their very own became a priest, but it was a bittersweet moment. Father Robert Farah and his wife Dr. Jocelyne Farah, the khourieh, have been prominent figures in the Washington area for over thirty years, known for their involvement in the Lebanese community. Father Robert and Jocelyne leave behind their past lives in D.C. to pursue a life of service and dedication to God and the Church. Their new home will be in Raleigh, North Carolina serving Saint Sharbel Maronite Mission.
Priestly Ordination at Most Holy Trinity Monastery
On a wet and cloudy Feast of All Saints, Brother Deacon Maron Henricks was ordained a priest at Most Holy Trinity Monastery in Petersham, MA. It is not often that our monastery has the privilege and honor of seeing one of its members ordained to major orders, but this year we were blessed with two back-to-back ordinations; one to the diaconate and another to the priesthood. (On October 31, Br. Bernardo Vargas-Castro was ordained a deacon and the following morning, Br. Deacon Maron was ordained a priest.)
Bishop Gregory J. Mansour spoke to both of them of the need to empty themselves of all that is not of God so as to more truly serve God and their fellow men. The bishop began by calling to mind the teaching of the kenosis, (Greek for “emptying of oneself”) taken from the words of St. Paul to the Philippians: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8). He showed how our devotion of the Cross, especially during the season of the Holy Cross, is really devotion to the Way of the Cross, which is the way of self-emptying love. This is not the self-emptying taught by certain world religions, but, rather, a process of detaching ourselves from all the things we tend to worship – money, success, sex, food, good reputation – for the sake of worshiping the One True God. The goal of this kenosisis not to be empty, but full; in full communion with God and neighbor. Bishop Gregory concluded with an exhortation to the priest-candidate to be generous in seeking the forgiveness of sins for himself and others. He explained that, unlike the vocation of a deacon, a priest is called not only to serve, but especially to forgive sins.
Nearly a hundred people attended the ordination. The most moving part of the ceremony was when the newly ordained, Father Maron, was vested in priestly garb and given the Blessed Sacrament to carry in a chalice wrapped in an anaphora veil on top of his head while led by Father Abbot William Driscoll, his sponsor. Many were visibly moved at this tangible sign of the priest as another Christ. The twin sister of the new priest, Jennifer, who came up from Connecticut, later commented that she had never seen her brother so happy. Indeed, it was a joyous day for all, but none so much as the new priest who had been looking forward to this day for a long time.
Originally from Ohio, Father Maron spent most of his adult life in the New York City area. He majored in English at Kenyon College. After briefly working as a professional and volunteer EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for three years in the Dominican Republic. He then obtained a doctorate in law (JD) from Boston College Law School, and worked as a legal/business consultant in Africa, in private practice, and finally in the business development department of a major New York law firm. In his spare time, he volunteered as a mediator and arbitrator. Raised Episcopalian, and after living a mainly secular life, he returned to the Episcopal Church and planned to follow his uncle’s footsteps into the priesthood. God’s Providence, however, had other plans for him, instilling a great love for the Blessed Sacrament in his heart and opening him to the immutable truths of the Catholic Church. He was received in the Church on December 17, 2000 at the St. Elizabeth Seaton Shrine in Manhattan. After discerning, with the guidance of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a vocation to the contemplative life, he joined our monastery in the spring of 2009, and took solemn, monastic vows in 2013.
At Most Holy Trinity monastery, a priest differs from a brother monk only in the use of priestly powers, such as celebrating the Divine Liturgy and hearing confessions; otherwise, the two live the same contemplative life. Yet, as our rule states, “there is a natural harmony existing between religious and priestly consecration. Priesthood is primarily a configuration to and union with Jesus Christ, the one Priest and Mediator, who offered Himself in obedience to the Father as a Victim for the life of the world.” (Article 188b) Please keep Fr. Maron in your prayers as he offers himself anew to Christ as a priest and victim for souls and for the greater glory of God.
Diaconate Ordination at Most Holy Trinity Monastery
On the eve of All Saints Day 2018, Bishop Gregory J. Mansour ordained Brother Bernardo Vargas Castro, a monk of Most Holy Trinity Monastery in Petersham, MA, to the diaconate.
Br. Bernardo is a native of Mexico and has been with the Maronite Monks of Adoration since 2011. He was raised in a devout Catholic family and is even blessed with having a great uncle as a canonized saint. His father’s uncle was St. Rafael Guizar y Vanlencia, a Mexican Catholic bishop who cared for the wounded, sick, and dying during the Mexican Revolution and who was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Of Br. Bernardo’s ten siblings, three others have also chosen to pursue a religious vocation.
Although Br. Bernardo had some thoughts of pursuing a priestly vocation in his youth, he decided instead to pursue a career in medicine. He went to medical school and after graduation practiced medicine for seventeen years. His father then became ill so he took time off to care for him. After his father passed away, Br. Bernardo took some time to consider his path in life. He had an uncle who was a Jesuit priest who would quote to him the saying of St. Bernard to his monks, “For what purpose did you come? (“Ad quid venisti?”) This saying had always remained with him and echoed in his mind as he pondered what path to take.
He was eventually inspired to leave his career in medicine in order to pursue a religious vocation with the Benedictines in Mexico. He made his first vows with the Benedictines in July 2005 and his solemn vows on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)2008. While spending some time at the Benedictine monastery of St. Mary’s in Petersham, Br. Bernardo became acquainted with Holy Trinity Monastery and felt an attraction to a more contemplative way of life, to the beauty of the Maronite liturgy and to a life dedicated to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. God willing, Brother Bernardo will be ordained to the priesthood of the monastery next year.
Ordination of Deacon Nadim Daou | Lawrence, MA
by Elie and Nadine Daou
Our thoughts about dad ….. Years before we were born, our father, Nadim, was a vessel for the Lord’s work throughout his life. As an adult, our dad married Marie-Christine, our mother, and they started a family. Many years passed, but dad never stopped thinking about serving the Lord. Finally, he answered the calling to serve God and the church. Praise be! On November 3, 2018, after six years of hard work, dedication, and studies in the deaconate program in Boston, MA, Nadim Daou was ordained as a Deacon by His Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour, accompanied by his sponsor, Father Elie Mikhael, our parish priest. Deacon Nadim was surrounded by his newly ordained deaconate classmates and several clergy members from Melkite, Latin, and Maronite Churches. Many people came to participate in his special day including loving parishioners of St. Anthony’s parish who worked so diligently to prepare this blessed event. Congratulations, Deacon Nadim!
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