Birzeit’s Parish Priests
Father Anton Buzo
Father Anton was born on September 11, 1912 in Italy, to a middle class, faithful Catholic family. He completed his studies in philosophy, and left in 1934 to Haifa and began his studies in theology at the Catholic Clerical Institute in Jerusalem. He was then transferred to Beit Jala Seminary, and after four years he was ordained a priest on July 10, 1938, and became Associate Priest at various parishes.
In 1943, he was appointed parish priest of Birzeit. Through the fifty years of his leadership in Birzeit, the late Father Anton extended his activities from clerical and parochial service to building and developing a school, to constructing a large, modern church, and to helping those in need.
Father Emil Salayta
After the death of Fr. Buzo in 1994, Fr. Emil Salayta became the new pastor in Birzeit. In the continuing spirit of giving and devotion. Fr. Emil developed the Living Stone Housing Complex, restructured the Catholic school system in the area, and developed a secondary school as well. He added computer labs in these schools. He began a St. Vincent DePaul society and a Women’s Society in the parish.
In 2000, Father Emil was appointed manager of the Patriarchate College in the South of Jordan, and he left Birzeit under his sacred vow of obedience. His heart very much remained with Birzeit.
Father Iyad Al-Twal
Originally from Madaba, Jordan, Fr. Iyad Al-Twal was appointed pastor at Immaculate Conception in Birzeit in 2000. He put a strong emphasis on working with the youth to increase their participation with the parish activities. In 2003, Fr. Iyad left Birzeit when he was asked to become an instructor in the seminary in Beit Jala.
Fr. Aziz Halaweh
Fr. Aziz took up the pastorship of the flock in Birzeit in 2004 and was the priest during the time when the Fr. Anton Buzo Senior Citizen Center was established. He continued to develop the youth programs, and Birzeit became a center for youth ministry in all the Latin Patriarchate schools. Fr. Aziz also worked to build up the choir in the parish. In 2009, he was asked to become pastor of the parish in Beit Sahour.
Fr. Rafiq Khoury
The current pastor in Birzeit is Fr. Rafiq Khoury. He was born in Taybeh and was ordained to the priesthood in 1967 just after the Six-Day War. He has served as a priest in parishes in Ramallah and Jifna and as both a professor and rector at the Seminary of Beit Jala. He was Chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate for five years and Head of the Synod of Catholic Churches of the Holy Land for one term. He joyfully came in 2009 as pastor of Immaculate Conception in Birzeit!