BEIT JALA - Friday evening, at the Patriarchal Seminary of Beit Jala, took place the golden jubilee of Mgr William Shomali, General Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, Father Jihad Shweihat, Judicial Vicar for Jordan and President of Diocesan Tribunal of First Instance in Amman, and Father Labib Deibes, parish priest of Jenin.
A moving Mass for a moving ceremony. On May 28th, 2022, inside the church of the Annunciation of Beit Jala, Mgr Shomali, Father Labib and Father Jihad celebrated their 50th anniversary of priesthood alongside their families, priests and seminarians of the Latin Patriarchate as well as local faithful, who came especially for the occasion. Were also present Mgr Rafic Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel; Father Piotr Zelasko, Patriarchal Vicar for the St James Vicariate; Mgr Boulos Marcuzzo, bishop emeritus; Father Yacoub Rafidi, Director of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Palestine; and Father Bernard Poggi, rector of the seminary.
After the celebration, which included a solo singing performance by a Rosary sister, all were invited for a dinner inside the courtyard of the Seminary. An anniversary cake was shared between the guests after speeches of thanks were delivered by the three main celebrants of the evening.
All three of them were ordained priests by Patriarch Beltritti on the same day, June 24th, 1972. Almost forty years later, Mgr William Shomali was ordained a bishop in March 2010 by Patriarch Fouad Twal. After working for the Latin Patriarchate as professor and rector of the Beit Jala seminary, CEO, chancellor and then Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan, he was appointed Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine in 2021 by His Beatitude Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Father Labib Daibes and Father Jihad Shweihat both worked as parish priests in different cities, mainly in Palestine and Jordan. In 2009, Fr. Jihad became the head of the Ecclesiastical Court in Jordan; today, he is the current Judicial Vicar for Jordan and President of Diocesan Tribunal of First Instance in Amman. As for Father Labib Daibes, he established from scratch the parish of Jubeiha (Jordan) in the 1980s, before being sent to Dubai to assist Msgr. Grimoli, Apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Gulf States. He came back to the Holy Land in 1988, and is today parish priest of the church of the Holy Redeemer in Jenin.
This golden jubilee took place only a couple of months after the one of Mgr Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio for the Holy Land, which was celebrated on March 22nd in Jerusalem.