By Peter Bugdon (catholicleader.com.au) - A little over a year after arriving in Brisbane as a refugee, Murhaf Obeid has become a sub-deacon of the Melkite Catholic Church.

Eparch of the Melkite Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand Bishop Robert Rabbat ordained Mr Obeid at St Clement’s Church, South Brisbane, on November 24, a few days before the man from Syria turned 37.

Mr Obeid’s wife Rim and their two sons – Michel, 4, and Marc, 18 months – were among those celebrating with him along with St Clement’s parish priest Fr Elie Francis, parishioners and friends.

Bishop Rabbat, at the end of Vespers for the feast of St Clement and after the ordination, said it was “a great pleasure” to ordain Mr Obeid.

“We hope and pray that soon, by God’s grace, he will be going to higher and higher ordination, according to God’s will,” he said.

That would mean possible ordination to the diaconate and then priesthood.

Originally from Homs, in Syria, Murhaf entered the St Paul Convent, a monastery of the Missionaries of Saint Paul in Harissa, Lebanon, intending to become a monk.

He studied philosophy and theology there from 2001 to 2009, and that provided a foundation for his latest commitment as a sub-deacon.

Mr Obeid had returned to Syria from Lebanon after leaving the monastery, and he and Rim were married there in 2011.

They were among thousands of people forced to flee their homeland in the wake of ISIS’ brutal takeover, and Australia later accepted them, from Lebanon, as refugees.

The good news keeps coming with Mr Obeid’s ordination.

“I feel like I am part of the body of the Church more than before, and the Church became like a home more and more,” he said following the ceremony.

An accomplished artist and iconographer, Mr Obeid said he would continue to serve in the Melkite chorus at St Clement’s and write Church icons.

He said, as a sub-deacon, he may sometimes give talks to children, youth or elders in the parish.

“I think the main idea about my life now is that I will be like a servant in God’s house, the Church,” Mr Obeid said.

He will continue to work as an administrator with jobactive, a government agency “connecting job seekers with employers” through a network of jobactive providers.

His job is part of a traineeship which finishes in February but his manager has told Mr Obeid he would have a full-time position after that as a consultant to job seekers who speak Arabic.

To improve his prospects, Mr Obeid hopes to complete a Diploma in Community Service.


Teachings of Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives, above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out to be unacceptable and rejected, and 'it will be turned back empty' to our bosom.

Martyrius of Edessa