JERUSALEM – On October 16th, 2022, in the co-cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Fadi Kandah, Malek Al-Qalanzeh and Jiries Abu Khalil, students of the Patriarchal seminary of Beit Jala, were admitted to the Holy Orders during a celebration presided over by Mgr William Shomali, General Vicar of the Patriarchate.
During the Mass, which was concelebrated by Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, bishop emeritus, and Fr. Nikodemus Schnabel, OSB, Patriarchal Vicar for Migrants and Asylum Seekers, the three young men put on for the first time the clerical vestment, symbol of their future mission as priests and pastors to the people. During his homily, Mgr Shomali highlighted the spiritual meaning of this garb, quoting Saint Paul (Galatians 3:27): For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
“Today is a day of joy for the Church and for the Latin Patriarchate, because three of our youth have answered publicly God’s call,” he said. “They showed they were ready to live their life following the virtues of Christ, and in service to others.” Addressing the young men directly, he added, “As you put on this garment, put on Christ… Let Him be an example for you, walk in his path full of virtues, of humility, purity, love, and service to others, and follow a life like He did, as He prayed with perseverance and lived always in communion with His father,” he also told them, before concluding by congratulating the seminarians and their families, some of whom were able to attend the celebration.
Among these three newly admitted to the Holy Orders, all of whom in their first year of theology, there is Malek, 29 years old, born in Kerak (Jordan). After finishing his studies in archeology and tourism in Mutah University, he joined the seminary of Beit Jala in 2019. The celebration that took place yesterday was for him “the first steps of his journey towards priesthood. By wearing Christ’s garb, I hope for it to become a part of me, a beacon in my life, to allow me to become more like Him every day.” Echoing the verse he and his two brothers chose for the celebration, So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest (Ephesians 6:14), he asked God “for the grace to be a faithful witness and a good servant.”
Just like Malek, Fadi, 28, was also born in Jordan. This year is his fifth in the seminary of Beit Jala, where he learnt both English and French, alongside his studies of philosophy and theology. During the celebration, "I felt pretty normal at first," he described, "and I kept telling myself this would be like any other I ever attended. But when it started, everything changed drastically, and I became very nervous, because I realized that I was the one who was going to say "yes". For me, this yes means more responsibility and more commitment, but, also, that I’m closer to fulfilling God’s will."
As for Jiries, a 21-year-old seminarian from Jifna who came to Beit Jala in 2014, the celebration was "a gift from God, which I felt very blessed to receive. It was when I studied philosophy at the seminary that I felt certain God was calling me to priesthood, and today, after this celebration, I want to ask all to pray for me so that I may become a good priest."
A great joy to all, the celebration had great significance not only for the three young seminarians, but also for their fellow brothers, teachers and families. As Pope John Paul II once said: "The world looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord!"