Fra Georges Abu Khazen named Apostolic Vicar for the Latins (Roman Catholics)

On November 4th Pope Francis named Fra Georges Abu Khazen OFM Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, Syria for the Latins (Roman Catholics). At the same time the news was announced, the Custos of the Holy Land sent all the friars of the Custody an official communique, rejoicing in the Holy See’s recognition of the future bishop’s merits.

“We are certain that the Lord will enlighten him and grant him prudence to guide the flock that has been entrusted to him during such a difficult period in the land where he is called to serve,” read the communique.

Fra Georges is well known by both the friars and the Latin faithful of the Holy Land, having twice been parish priest of Jerusalem (in 1975 and from 1998 to 2004) and Bethlehem (1983-1998).

Born in 1947 in Ain Zebdeh, Lebanon, and of the Maronite rite, Fra Georges entered the Order of the Friars Minor for the Custody of the Holy Land in 1968. He made his perpetual vows in 1972 and was ordained priest in 1973 after studying at the University of Kaslik in Lebanon. He has served the Custody in Egypt, the Holy Land and Lebanon, and has been serving in Syria since 2004 as the priest of the Saint Francis of Aleppo parish, guardian of the city’s Franciscan monastery, and Vicar-Delegate for the North. He has been the apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” since Mgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro OFM, also a friar of the Custody and a former Custos, retired due to advanced age.

Since the beginning of the war in Syria, Fra Georges has also been the coordinator of aide collected by the Custody’s NGO, ATS Pro Terra Sancta, and its “Urgent: Syria” appeal. During the chapter last summer he and the other friars who came from Syria for the triennial chapter testified to the ways in which the fourteen friars of the Custody throughout Syria reinvented ways to serve the surrounding population, in spite of the many difficulties they encountered every day.

We invite you to join in the sentiments that the Custos expressed at the end of his communique, “Wishing him all the Lord’s blessings, I entrust him to your prayers so that you can accompany him during this important moment in his life,” and to continue to pray for Syria and all of its inhabitants so that the players in the conflict can find the way to national reconciliation in justice and peace.

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