10 Dec

Faithful flock to Immaculate Conception Mass, procession at parish in Beirut

Faithful from different Christian rites gathered at the Conventual Franciscan parish of St. Anthony of Padua in Beirut, Lebanon, on the evening of December 8 to venerate the Virgin Mary and celebrate her Immaculate Conception. More than 100 worshippers, an unusually large number for a weekday evening, gathered on Thursday night to attend mass with the Franciscan community of the Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land.

The Friars put heart and soul into celebrating the solemnity with great dignity. Through musical animation and the homily they took the opportunity to remind the faithful that Mary’s Immaculate Conception, while unique, is a sign of the transformation that God desires to bring about in each person’s life. After mass, the assembly formed a procession that, following various Marian hymns and readings from the Franciscan sources, made its way out onto the plaza in front of the church where the evening concluded with a solemn blessing.

The diverse group of the evening’s participants represents the unusual make-up of the Latin-rite parish community, which often serves Maronite, Syriac and Greek Catholic Christians, to mention just a few of the groups that attend. The evening mass was the third of three solemn parish masses (one in the morning and one the previous evening) celebrated in honor of God’s work in bringing about the Immaculate Conception.

Throughout its history the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, known as “Franciscans”, has sought to deepen and defend the Church’s understanding of the Immaculate Conception, ultimately founding it in the grace of Christ’s death and resurrection.


fra Andrew Jeylan Hochstedler

Festa Dell’Immacolata A Beirut

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09 Dec

Franciscan Conventual Friars ordained deacons in Beirut, Lebanon

Middle East Custody’s first ordinations to the diaconate in 14 years

Sunday, December 4, 2016, was a day of intense celebration for Conventual Franciscan Friars in the Middle East. For the first time in 14 years, two young brothers from the Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land were ordained to the transitional diaconate in preparation for the priesthood (many members of the custody arrive from other parts of the world already ordained as priests or deacons).

Lebanese Friar Elias Paolo Marswanian and US Friar Andrew Jeylan Hochstedler were ordained during a packed 11 A.M. solemn mass at the Custody’s St. Anthony of Padua parish in Beirut, Lebanon. Parish faithful were joined by the Friars’ families and friends, including a bus-load of members from St. Francis church in Zahle, Lebanon, where Marswanian serves as friary vicar and vice-rector of postulants. Also present, these postulants worked together with Beirut Friars and the parish’s altar servers to provide liturgical service for the mass, while the parish choir brought life and beauty to the celebration through their music. Brothers from all of the Custody’s friaries in Turkey and Lebanon were present for the ordination, as were many of Lebanon’s Latin-rite female and male religious.

The presence of Beirut Bishop Msgr. Cesar Essayan, celebrating the mass and ordaining the two young men, was especially significant for the young Friars. Msgr. Essayan, himself a former Conventual Franciscan Friar, had been Custos of the Middle East Custody until his nomination as Bishop in August, and had been responsible for Marswanian and Hochstedler during their formation years, receiving Hochstedler’s solemn vows in 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. Essayan preached a passionate homily on diaconate service as a bridge between the Bishop and the faithful, pointing out where the young Friars have already begun this type of activity through evangelization efforts and exhorting them to grow in their responsibilities as deacons.

Also present at the celebration was Father Toufec Manuel, permanent deacon of the Beirut diocese. Following the ordination, it was Manuel who officially welcomed the two friars to the order of deacons with a heart-felt ritual embrace.

The mass concluded with a procession to the statue of St. Anthony of Padua in the plaza in front of the church. There the parish Boy and Girl Scouts distributed a souvenir of the ordination, while refreshments and a time of fellowship were enjoyed by all.

fr. Andrew Jeylan Hochstedler

Foto: Natalie Khairallah

Ordained Deacons In Beirut, Lebanon

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