26 Oct

The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi in Beirut, Lebanon

Three days of festivities at the friars’ parish in Beirut, Lebanon, at the beginning of October marked the solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Friars Minor Conventual. The Church of Saint Anthony of Padua in the district of Sin-el-Fil, was transformed with floral decorations for the five festive masses celebrated on Sunday, October 2. Being a parish church, Sunday’s masses were well attended by locals, and the community’s friars invited the Bishop of Beirut, Mons. Paul Dahdah, to preside at the 11.00 A.M. solemn mass. After lunch with Mons. Dahdah and a brief moment of rest, the friars were back at work preparing for the 6.30 P.M. mass, this time celebrated by the secretary for Beirut’s Apostolic Nunciature, Mons. Ivan Santus.

The following day, October 3, after the evening mass, the friars and lay faithful celebrated the Transitus of Saint Francis. During this time of itinerant prayer, the participants moved between various “stations” within the church where they meditated on different moments from the last hours of Francis’ life in 1226. The evening came to an end in front of the statue of Francis outside of the church, with the friars singing Salve Sancte Pater.

The festivities concluded the following day, October 4, with the two masses of the solemnity in the morning and the evening, presided over by the parish pastor and the community guardian respectively. Despite the fact that Tuesday was a work day in Lebanon, a sizable number of the lay faithful made the effort to be present, to celebrate together with the friars the Gospel life of our poor brother of Assisi.

 fra Andrew Hochstedler OFMConv

13 Oct

Episcopal consecration of Father César Essayan as Bishop of Beirut

Saturday, October 8, 2016, in Beirut’s Saint Louis Cathedral, Father César Essayan was ordained Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Beirut.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect for the Congregation of Oriental Churches, presided at the ordination of the Latin Apostolic Vicar, Mons. César Essayan, in the cathedral in central Beirut. Other Bishops who participated in the consecration were Mons. Gabrielle Caccia, Papal Nuncio in Lebanon, and Mons. Paul Dahdah, former bishop of the Beirut Vicariate. Also present were representatives of the Lebanese government, the French, Colombian and Argentinian ambassadors, and many other representatives of Lebanese, European and Middle Eastern Christian communities. In particular, Eastern rite bishops, Latin rite bishops from Jordan, Turkey and Italy, as well as members of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual were in attendance.

Mons. Essayan was nominated to the Beirut vicariate by Pope Francis on August 2, 2016, after Mons. Paul Dahdah presented his resignation. “Having observed your doctrine, your charitable activities and your pastoral zeal, we have found you suitable to assume responsibility for this flock, in order to ensure it spiritual food,” Mons. Caccia said as he read the Papal Bull.

In his homily, Cardinal Sandri invited the new Bishop to collaborate with the Catholic Patriarchal Churches and the other Churches and Christian communities in Lebanon.

During his speech at the end of the consecration, Mons. Essayan thanked the Lord, who in His great mercy had turned His gaze upon the new Bishop, calling him to be a servant in His image. Addressing political and security officials, Mons. Essayan declared himself ready to work together with them to bring hope to those who had lost hope, to rejuvenate the faith of those who are part of the struggle to create a better Lebanon, and to bring love to the children of this united country.

Born July 15, 1962 in Beirut, Mons. Essayan entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual in 1986. He studied philosophy and theology at the International College Seraphicum in Rome, where he also completed a specialization in Christology, while also obtaining a diploma in Islamic Studies from PISAI. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1993 after which he also spent several years leading the communities of Sin-el-Fil (Beirut) and Zahle. From 2010 to 2016 he served as the Custos for the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land of the Friars Minor Conventual.

Photos: Natalie Khairallah

Consacrazione Episcopale Di Padre Cesar Essayan

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13 Oct

Solemn profession in St Antony Convent at Sin-el-Fil (Beirut)

Sunday, September 18, at the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua, in Sin-el-Fil (Beirut, Lebanon), Friar Elias Paolo Marswanian professed to live for his entire life in obedience, chastity, and with nothing of his own, in the family of the Friars Minor Conventual. Friar Elias took his vows in the hands of Friar Martin Kmetec, Custodial Vicar, in the presence of the lay faithful, his family, and friars who had arrived from Turkey and from the International College, Seraphicum, in Rome.

 The solemn profession is the act of a religious person who, after a time of growth and discernment, seeks to follow Jesus Christ for his entire life, through vows of obedience, to have nothing of one’s own and chastity. This act can be carried out after at least three years of religious life.

 Following the Eucharistic celebration, Friar Elias received the greetings of those present in the hall under the church, surrounded by his Franciscan brothers, family and friends.

Professione Solenne (Beirut, Libano – 18.09.2016)

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