Nazareth honors its two sons: Antoine Shaheen and Atef Fahoum
NAZARETH – On April 23, Nazareth lived an unforgettable evening of unity and cohesion. The Annunciation Family Club (AFC) of the Latin parish of Nazareth awarded two of the best sons of the city of Nazareth: Mr. Antoine Shaheen, of the Latin parish, and Mr. Atef Fahoum, of the Muslim community; they are popularly known as Abu Hanna and Abu Khaled.
The AFC is a very rich initiative in the spiritual, pastoral, cultural, artistic, educative and recreative fields. This year a social and civil initiative got under way, in some respects delicate but praiseworthy: to give tribute to the residents of Nazareth who distinguished themselves in their life, private and the social, religious, professional and family, obtaining the gratitude and admiration of the general population.
Naturally, they are numerous associations that award honors in specific fields, for example in the field of art, dialogue and literature. The members of AFC thought that there was a gap to fill, in the sense that it is beautiful and to be a award not only for people of exceptional talent in a specific field, but also those who, for their exemplary behavior, have worked tirelessly, have done much good, constantly attesting a virtuous life, recognized by all the inhabitants. What in practice could be defined as “recognition of life”.
In this first experience, two people who are well known and esteemed by all in Nazareth were chosen: Antoine Shaheen and Atef Fahoum. The choice was unanimous among the population. The two were found to have some details in common: almost the same age (83 and 82 years old), are of the same class and the same school (Terra Santa School). In their childhood and youth, both experienced the tragedy of the expulsion and migration in the years between 1936 and 1948.
They then returned to their country, remaining linked by a deep friendship that also involved their families. They have shown a great attachment to their city and their communities for which they made available their best capabilities. Both have two very good wives, Nayfeh and Noha, admirable for their family dedication, discretion and social commitment.
At the same time, Abu Hanna and Abu Khaled are also very different, as can be seen by comparing their brief biographies. However, their differences never gave rise to hostility or problems. On the contrary, in complementarity, they were able to help each other in friendship and collaboration.
The journalist, Fihmi Farah, brightened up the evening, organized by the members of the group of families of the Annunciation, with their President Ussama Karram and coordinator Nabil Totri. It was a great feast, which united the whole city. Some high profile personalities of the city were present, as the mayor, Mr. Ramez Jarayseh, the bishops, Archbishop Sabbah, Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo and Bishop Azariah Abul-Assal, Jewish and Arabic politicians and senior officials, as Hanin Zooby, lawyers, judges, principals of schools, banks and various institutions, the parish priest and the imam of the city, many priests and religious. Many family members, relatives and friends also participated. In the end, more than 400 people gathered in the great hall of the St. Anthony Pastoral Center.
The program included the official speeches, such as those of the Mayor, the parish priest, Father Amjad Sabbara, the lawyer, Jarjoura, and Patriarch Sabbah, who has spoke on behalf of Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo. Friends and relatives were invited to give their testimony, often funny and rich in curious details; and a power point presentation was shown with photos and videos on their life; oriental melodies dating back to their youth interspersed different parts of the program. But the most interesting and moving part was the story, almost improvised, told by Abu Khaled and Abu Hanna, rich with many past memories, rich with penetrating historical analysis and especially with optimism and hope for the future.
After having received the diploma of honor, the two read an official speech that those present listened in rapt silence. Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, a mutual friend, did not hesitate to define them as “little masterpieces of oriental wisdom and a healthy religious faith, of love for people and a passion for Nazareth, of openness and transparency, a precious heritage of experience and positive values, despite personal limits and problems due to the historical circumstances”.
The press and other media have given ample space in their programs to this evening, about which many commented saying: “We really need these moments, the examples and experience of Abu Khaled and Abu Hanna to go forward, to encourage one another, and to tackle with dignity the challenges that continuously arise “. Some even asked to propose these two names to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem or the Holy See because, according to them, they deserve a medal of more official recognition.
By our correspondent in Nazareth