Age : 42 years old
Job : Driver for a consulate
City : Beit Safafa
Rite: Syriac Catholic
"It is not the alb that makes the priest, but the priest that makes the alb".
Would you say that you are involved in the Church?
Less than before. I was in the minor seminary and then the seminary before I left to finance the care of my parents, who had serious health problems. My faith did not stop when I left the seminary. I am also a deacon in the Syriac Catholic Church. This involvement is important to me, because we live in a very complicated, busy world and I can feel when I am in church and saying mass that faith is being lost.
Do you feel that you are part of the Church of the Holy Land?
Yes, we were born in the Church and we are still growing in it. It needs us as much as we need it. But people need to wake up, so that the churches don't end up empty like in Europe. Priests have their role to play: they must be closer to the people. Today, they do not visit us anymore. Nobody came to give communion to my parents in the hospital when they were sick. Priests are being pushed into positions for which they are not trained. They take everyone's place and forget what their original mission was. They have closed the circle on themselves, excluding the lay people.
What bother you inside the Church?
Diversity. What divides the Church is the priests, the religious leaders who have established this separation between Orthodox and Catholics for example. Why, when I accompany my mother to Orthodox mass, am I refused communion because I am Catholic? People understand love, charity, but all these rules don't make sense today. We are Christians together. Why do you divide? God is indivisible.
Do you regret not being able to finish the seminary and not being a priest?
I thank God that I was able to leave. It is not the alb that makes the priest, but the priest that makes the alb. I like to help others. You don't have to be a priest to do that. Just to be human. I bring my joy, my words, my gestures, my faith. The priests of today are not the same as those of yesterday. Before, they devoted their lives to helping the Church, the parishes. Today, it's no longer a vocation, it's a job. They do their mass on Sundays and that's it. People need to talk to priests, to have their advice, their visits, their presence.
Do you have a dream for this Church?
I dream that the door is open to everyone, because the Church has the power to help everyone. I know that the Church is not a bank. But because he embodies an institution, the priest has the power to help people whose voices are not heard. Only he doesn't use that power. Today, the Christians of the Holy Land are not really represented. Bishop Pizzaballa? What is he doing for us? He does for the Church, but down there, there are the people. Every month I leave half of my salary in my rent, and the rest goes to water, electricity, gas, petrol... What is left at the end? Nothing... Like many people, I am not married. Why not? Because I can't afford a house. I asked the Franciscans for help, the Latin Patriarchate... No one ever answered. Don't promise people that you can help them if you don't. You get attached to promises and hopes and you don't move forward. The Syriac Catholics own the Abraham House in Jerusalem, which is rented by Caritas and the catechumenate. Make housing for the parish instead! Do something for us! Help us to stay.