February 24 was a day of festival in the Vicariate of Jordan. Around the Patriarch, faithful, religious, heads of Churches and civil authorities, were present at the Eucharist in welcoming Bishop Lahham, a new bishop in Amman. He is the new Auxiliary for Jordan who succeeds Bishop Salim Sayegh.
“Around you, Bishop Lahham, bishops and members of the clergy, monks and religious, lay faithful, pastoral organizers, numerous friends, supporters and relatives, hail you as the new Patriarchal Vicar, here in Amman, Jordan”.
It is with these words that the Patriarch, in his homily, welcome the new Auxiliary Bishop for Jordan, during the solemn Mass in which the Apostolic Nuncio of Jordan, Bishop Lingua, assisted in the present of other religious authorities (bishops of the Holy Land, as also the Custos of the Holy Land). Also the civil authorities, Government representatives of the Kingdom of Jordan (among whom a Christian minister) and some counselors of the King, came to the celebration. About ten Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher participated alike at the Mass. The scouts led the procession, waving their banners in the aisle.
Bishop Lahham arrived in a country where 200,000 Christians live (of which 50,000 are Catholic), without counting the 30,000 Iraqis who abandoned their country or other migrants for an overall number of about 100,000 persons. The appointment of Bishop Maroun Lahham as Bishop of Amman was made by the Vatican public on January 19, 2012. Bishop Lahham, the former Archbishop of Tunisia, had to greet the Tunisian community last Sunday, February 19. “Having arrived in Tunis on October 22, 2005, Abouna Maroun had not lived with us but seven years, nevertheless his presence with us is very positively noted and above all he helped us to live peacefully and joyously with our Tunisian brothers in these days so important in our history. We remain in communion with him in the Lord Jesus, while he prepares to begin a new stage in his life”, writes Father Ramon Echeverria, his former Vicar General.
We are not alone
Bishop Lahham, in fact, experienced the first outbursts of the Arab Spring what began right in his former diocese of Tunis. The Patriarch for that matter emphasized in his homily that he appreciated the “overall good outlook (…) far from exaggerations and prejudice…” which Bishop Maroun Lahham adopted regarding these political events that are touching the Arab world. And he continued, addressing himself to the new Auxiliary: “Your mission in Tunis enriched you with wisdom, maturity and a universal dimension.” Addressing his homily to the new mission of Bishop Lahham, Patriarch Twal recalled: “You were assigned to all, Monsignore: Christians, Muslims, rich and poor, healthy and sick, young and old. Whether you are serving in Jordan and its people, as well as in Palestine and its people. The worries and aspirations of all are a responsibility for is before God and in the face of history”. The Patriarch however insisted on the fact that the new bishop will not be “alone”. He will naturally be taking part in the support of other bishops, priests and the Sisters of the Rosary, putting Christ at the center of such support: “Behold, I am with you all days even to the end of the world” (Mt 28,20).
Receive our gratitude
His Beatitude, Monsignor Fouad Twal did not forget to express his deep gratitude to Bishop Salim Sayegh, Auxiliary Bishop emeritus for Jordan, giving voice to a chorus of gratitude. “In the name of the Patriarchate, of the assembly of bishops, priests, monks, religious and lay faithful. In the name of Jordan, of its Government, its citizens, its administrations… In the name of this great edifice which you built with patience and determination, that is the center of “Notre Dame de la Paix”, and of all those who live there, who have special needs, as also those who take care of them”. And he concluded: “May God be with you and may our prayers always accompany you”.
At the end of the celebration, Bishop Maroun Lahham spoke in order to ask all the faithful, the youth, priests, families, to join him in his work. Citing St. Paul, he expressed his personal desire to serve the Vicariate in a dynamic manner: “One thing alone matters: I forget the past and I stretch out towards the future, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3, 13-14).
He desires that the “House of the Bishops” is a true “family house”, in which all are feel at home. A house open to all, in which each one can come to share, to express themselves, to learn and to eat together. Then he asked the representatives of the King to convey his prayers for Jordan, so that the country can be governed in peace.