Almost 8 years after the outbreak of a devastating civil war, Fadi, a young Syrian man, tell us about his vocation as a priest.
It was towards the end of his studies in tourism at the Institute of Saint Basil in Aleppo that Fadi for the first time heard the call of God in his heart. It was an important stage in his life.
On completing his studies, Fadi Joseph Mora applied to study for the priesthood. The son of a Catholic Maronite family, he had already received a solid Christian education at home, his character shaped in a family which is the first and fundamental place of human formation. His parents, who had emigrated to Venezuela for economic reasons, had returned to Syria in order to bring up their children in their own country.
The Bishop advised the young man to come back again after completing his military service since conscription was inevitable for everyone who wasn’t rich enough to buy their way out of it. Before the war, young Syrian men were expected to do military service for a period of 18 months to 2 years, after which they were still reservists. But everything changed with the war. The length of service became open-ended, and the Syrian authorities imposed penalties on those who sought to escape it. Anyone wanting to return to Syria had to pay at least 8,000 US dollars.
Fadi began his military service just four months before the war broke out. When he enrolled, he was hoping that it would end quickly. He was among the cohort that had been called up in 2010, and he wasn’t demobilised until last year, 2018, after spending eight years serving in the army. Today he recalls that moment with joy: “31 December 2018 was the date when my military service ended, the day I was born again after those eight long years! I will remember that date forever!”
Immediately after returning, he approached the Bishop again to renew his application. This time he was received by the new Bishop, Joseph Tobji, who welcomed him with open arms. Bishop Tobji explained that ever since his appointment as bishop he has prayed for vocations, along with the entire diocese, celebrating Holy Mass each day for this intention. “It is a great joy for me and for everyone to welcome a new vocation”, he says. “Our prayers have been heard!”
“The word of the Lord that was addressed to me never died, but has remained alive within me”, says Fadi. And Bishop Tobji confirms: “The seed that was sown by the Lord did not die, it merely awaited the opportune moment to germinate. Now we intend to create the best possible conditions so that it may grow within the bosom of the Catholic Church and bear fruit.” The Bishop, who himself is from Aleppo and who founded a humanitarian aid centre to help the victims of war and the ensuing poverty, emphasises, “Our country and our people are suffering. But it is a mistake to think that there is nothing but bad news. I have just founded a new parish, and on top of this, we are blessed with this new vocation. So there are also many positive things happening, and we need to talk about them in order to encourage people’s hopes.” (M.P.)