Catholic Monk once Kidnapped by ISIS is Ordained as New Archbishop of Homs, Syria - Congratulations Archbishop Jacques Mourad!

 The new Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Homs, P. Jacques Mourad (age 54), was ordained bishop on Friday, March 3rd, in the cathedral of the central Syrian city of Homs (SEE Video). Mourad also became internationally known in 2015 when ISIS (Islamic State) terrorists kidnapped him from his Mar Elian monastery in Syria and held him hostage for several months. Pope Francis also campaigned for his release at the time. Mourad recorded his experiences in the book "A Monk in Hostage". In it he describes, among other things, how a commander of the Islamists visited him to discuss his faith with him. - At the beginning of January, Pope Francis had confirmed the bishop's election of the monk by the synod of the Patriarchal Church of Antioch.

At the consecration service, which the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III. Younan, the papal nuncio in Damascus, Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch Yoseph Absi, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar Ignatios Aphrem II and dozens of bishops also attended, Vatican press service Fides reported. The presence of numerous believers from Lebanon, Iraq, France, Germany, Italy and all parts of Syria, including many relatives and friends, testified to the great charity of the new archbishop.

In the speeches at the consecration, Archbishop Mourad's "special humility and selflessness" was emphasized. At the service, Bishop Flavien Rami Al-Kabalan, Procurator of the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch at the Holy See, addressed the current situation in the region . "Our hope is in the Lord, who is alive and heals our wounds, wipes our tears and comforts our hearts," he said.

Originally from Aleppo, Mourad belongs to the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa el-Habashi (Monastery of Saint Moses of the Abyssinians) based in Syria. 

He trained for the clergy in Lebanon. After completing a licentiate, he entered the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa, where he was ordained priest in 1993.

The monastery is located on the eastern foothills of the Qalamoun Mountains about 80 kilometers north of Damascus. It was built by Paolo Dall'Oglio in the 1980s and has belonged to the Syriac Catholic Church since the 1990s. The Italian cleric Dall'Oglio disappeared in eastern Syria in the summer of 2013 while trying to help free hostages held by the terrorist militia IS. Since then there has been no trace of him.

The community of Mar Musa has also reactivated the monastery of Mar Elian (Saint Elijah) in Karjatain near Homs, where Fr. Mourad in particular achieved great merit. After the monastery was destroyed by IS, he rebuilt  - also together with Muslims. The official opening ceremony took place last autumn.

Sources: Vatican News - Fides and Asia News