Tag Archives: Jordan

Abuna Sleman in Beit Jala and in Fuheis

22 Nov

This week my friend, and friend of HOPE (Holy Land Outreach for Peace Education), is with me (and us) in Milford.

In the days ahead there will be photos of his visit. As he stirs upstairs in my rectory, after his first ever sleep in America, a very long sleep indeed, I post a few photos from when we met. 

Back in June 2012 then-deacon Sleman (Solomon) helped our group of teachers and pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrate Mass in the olive grove of Cremisan valley on the edge of Beit Jala. That is when we first met him. 

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You see in the photo above that I am using a ceramic chalice. This chalice was signed on the bottom by all the teachers and pilgrims who attended that Mass.

That same evening I presented that chalice to Deacon Sleman.

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To this day that chalice is used every Friday afternoon, when the parish priests of Beit Jala celebrate Mass at that place in the Cremisan valley.

In June 2013 I went to the Holy Land, this time by myself with no pilgrims or teachers in my care, thanks be to God. The purpose of this trip was to attend the ordination of Sleman in his home parish of Fuheis, Jordan. During the  ordination ceremony, after the bishop, in his case the patriarch, lays hands on the deacon being ordained a priest, all the priests who are present process to the man and lay hands on him as well. 20130624-091123.jpg

A little later in the ceremony all the priests return to the newly ordained priest to offer him a sign of Christ’s peace. As I watched the Latin patriarchate priests approach him, I saw that they were kissing his newly ordained hands. I found it to be a lovely custom, and did the same after I said, “Peace, Abouna (Father)”

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After the ceremony the newly ordained does not walk to the dinner-reception. He is carried, as seen in this video. Notice the fire works going off.

The next day he returned to his home parish, in which he was ordained the day before, to preside at his First Mass of Thanksgiving. What a  surprise for me to see him riding into the courtyard of the parish grounds on a white horse! He told me just yesterday that it was a surprise for him, too, and that he had never been a horse before that ride.

This is probably my favorite photo of the day of his first Mass.

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 Welcome to Milford, Abouna Sleman (Father Solomon).

my three teachers

21 Jul

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Abby, Christy and Sharon, you honored me by accompanying me to Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Having known you as teachers in our parish school, it delighted me for these fourteen days to travel, eat and pray with you in the Holy Land. It was like I was taking you home to meet my people, especially in my beloved Beit Jala, and to see the land in which I grew up, in Christ, that is. I wanted you to have an experience as life-giving as I have had. I wanted you to come to love the land and love the people as I much as I do. I knew that each of you would meet a partner teacher and be her house guest for two nights. I was confident that you would be in loving hands in her home and in her care. But a tiny part of my soul was a bit nervous about how things would be for you. I knew you had seen a photo of your partner-teachers, and had corresponded by email with them. But the father-worrier in me wanted to know for sure that you would feel comfortable, loved and safe.

0 Three teachers DSC_0648Myrna, Niveen and Sally, however much I would thank you would not be enough. As the teachers from St. Andrew came off the bus in your church yard, you embraced Abby, Christy and Sharon, as if they were your long-lost sisters who had finally come back home. After just a few moments, you whisked the teachers away. They were in your arms, in your hands, in your cars – and they were gone. Then I left for two days, wondering how things were going, and hoping that each of you would bond with the teacher that you took home and to school with you. When I returned to pick up Abby, Christy and Sharon to move on to Jerusalem. I got my answer. The smiles on the faces of all six of you were proof and evidence of the friendship and solidarity that was built up in less than 48 hours.

Myrna, Niveen and Sally, I cannot ever thank you enough for what you have given to Abby, Christy and Sharon. They are better teachers, better women and better Christians because of you! You are also “my three teachers” now, too. I owe a debt to you that I cannot repay. But God can repay you. I will remind God often of my debt to you, and will ask God to pay you back for what you have given to the teachers from my school – and to me. May God continue to bless you, your families, your students and your homeland. Keep hope. Stay holy. Remain happy. Be brave.

 

hats off to the Spirit

26 May

6 Boayhs_CAAAMa7c“Let us ask the Spirit to prepare our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters, so that we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion. Let us ask him to anoint our whole being with the oil of his mercy, which heals the injuries caused by mistakes, misunderstandings and disputes. And let us ask him to send us forth, in humility and meekness, along the demanding but enriching path of seeking peace.”

Pope Francis, Mass in Amman, Jordan, May 24, 2014

“expectant Father” Solomon

2 Apr

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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

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laying on of hands by the bishop

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vested in the liturgical robes of the deacon

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under the eyes of an admiring little girl

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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!