Fr Naji Yaacoub promoted to “Bardiout” of the Maronite Church in Haifa
ISFYA – on 1 November 2014, at the Maronite Church of Isfya (on Mount Carmel) Bishop Moussa Al-Hage bestowed on Fr Naji Yaacoub, on behalf of H.B. Patriarch Bishara Rai, the title of Bardiout of the Maronite Church.
The church was fully packed – faithful, religious, priests from all Catholic churches. took part in the celebration were Mgr Boutros Mouallem and Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo. The rite, which is celebrated during Mass, right before Holy Communion, includes the investiture with special mantle and the handing over of a cross and a pastoral. Beside the new Bardiout stood the godfather, Fr. Louis Wahbeh, Trappist, his spiritual companion eversince 1975.
This rite is a rarity in the history of the Maronite Church in the Holy Land, its only the second happening of its kind. It is a grade which is conferred to married priests, like the one of Ekonomos at the Byzantine church, at least for the non liturgical dress, as “Monseigneur” in the Latin church.
The term itself drives from Greek, peri-odos (‘round – roads’) which, with deformed eastern pronunciation and Syriac ending, gave out Bardiout. Originally it is a pastoral “visitor”, entrusted by the Diocesan bishop to “turn around ” in the parishes, from one zone, especially a rural one, to be sure that everything goes fine. At present it is more of a honorary title to express gratitude towards certain worthy priests.
Fr Naji, whose family originates from the village of Kafr Ber’em, was born in 1956 and made studies at the Franciscan Seminary of St Saviour of Jerusalem. After several years of marriage, he was ordained priest in 1986, then became parish priest of Isfya in 1988, located on a hilltop of Carmel, which he ran for 26 years ; for many years he was tutor of religion at the Carmel School. He was able to carry out his duties, thanks to the valued support of his own family : the “khouryeh” (wife of the priest for Easterns), Dalia Khreish, tutor herself, very active both within parish and school, and her four children.
This year, following serious ailments affecting his feet, Fr Naji withdrew from parish, but out of Haifa where he lives, he secures many pastoral services. Fr Afif Makhoul has just been appointed parish priest of Isfya.
Everybody rejoiced at the award granted to Fr Naji ; the common Arabic spontaneous expression was often heard : biesta’hal (he deserves it). He is a priest popular for his simplicity, his spirit of cooperation and welcome, his pastoral zeal and his good heartedness, and more so for his attachment to Parish Church which he was able to renew, and for his devotion to Catechism.
Last May, Patriarch Maronite Bishara Rai during his visit to Haifa, had conferred on Fr Selim Soussan, general vicar of the diocese of Haifa, the title of chore-bishop
Text : our correspondent in Haifa
Photos : S.Y.