Tag Archives: deacon

How can this be?

8 Apr

Beit Jala jen holy land 964 (237)

Our sister parish of the Annunciation, located in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), West Bank, Palestine, celebrates her feast day today: the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Here in Milford at St. Andrew we will pray in our evening Mass that, through the intercession and care of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and woman of Palestine, God will make good on His every promise to His people in Beit Jala and full their every hope in Him.

On Easter Sunday morning one of our teenagers asked me, “Father, which is the more important day for Christians: Christmas or Easter?” How would you have answered her? She picked Christmas.

On this day, I ask myself, “Which is the more important feast: Christmas or the Annunciation?” I pick the Annunciation. Here is my reasoning. When did God become one of us and one with us? Not when He was born. When He was conceived! The English translation of the Nicene Creed used to be: he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. Now we say: he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. The word incarnate replaces born. To be born describes the moment of birth. To be incarnate describes the moment of conception. The Word became incarnate – became flesh – in Mary’s womb. All of us – you and I and Jesus – were born. But God took on human flesh; God became human; God was incarnate. And the “incarnation” took place at the moment of conception in the womb of Mary, at the moment when Mary accepted God’s will and desire to become human. On Christmas we celebrate His birth among us. On Annunciation we celebrate His incarnation.

For me, the Annunciation feels like Christmas. It takes me back to Beit jala, and seeing that painting over the altar in their Catholic parish church, dedicated to the Annunciation. It takes me back to meeting Deacon Sleiman (Solomon) Hassan in that very church. It will be his ordination to the priesthood in June that will take me back to my next visit to Beit Jala.

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“expectant Father” Solomon

2 Apr

Deacon Suleiman ordination 07

Yes, that is genuine. He is that prayerful and sincere.

We met “Deacon” Sleiman Hassan when we came to Beit Jala to prepare to celebrate Mass in Cremisan Valley. He had packed up everything we needed for Mass, led us to the spot where he set everything up for us, explained the significance of praying in this spot where we were, assisted me at the altar for the entire Mass, packed everything up and took us back to the parish church. He won our hearts, our admiration and our affection. He is a good-looking fellow, a prayerful man, a worthy representative of our Catholic Church and an engaging spokesperson for Annunciation parish and the Palestinian people of Beit Jala.

On March 19, 2013, the feast of St. Joseph (and his birthday), he was ordained a deacon during a Mass at Annunciation Church in Beit Jala.

lying prostrate during the Litany of Saints

Deacon Suleiman ordination 01

laying on of hands by the bishop

Deacon Suleiman ordination 04

vested in the liturgical robes of the deacon

Deacon Suleiman ordination 08

under the eyes of an admiring little girl

Deacon Suleiman ordination 06

Deacon Sleiman (Solomon) will be ordained a priest on June 20, 2013 (my birthday) at his parish church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in his home village of Fuheis, Jordan.

And I will be there. I am flying to the Middle East to be among the priests who will lay hands on his head during the ordination ceremony. What a treat and an honor it will be for me!