Naour… a 60-year-old church

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Naour… a 60-year-old church

By Fr. Rif'at Bader/ CCSM director

Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Archbishop Maroun Lahham had issued new booklets on the establishment the Latin Patriarchate’s parishes and churches with particular reference to Beit Jala in Palestine, and Smakiyeh in southern Jordan. The latest issued booklet is about Naour. The issuance of this booklet coincides with the church’s celebrations marking its 60th anniversary.

These booklets written by the archbishop are characterized by their attractive style and simple way which mostly depends on the grand historian who recorded the history of the Latin Patriarchate, late Fr. Butros Midibyal. Beit Jala became known since the launching of the patriarchate in 1847 (next year it will mark its 170th anniversary), while Smakiyeh became known in 1909. As for Naour, its history can be traced back to 1924 when notables of the township headed to Jerusalem and met with Latin Patriarch Louis Parlasina who approved of their request. The first parish priest in Naour was Fr. Philip Talfakya. In his memoirs he says: "In April 14, 1924, I arrived at Naour after a three-hour of walking from Madaba. We were welcomed by three men of the parish. They led us to the residence of Elias Mubarak, who was an influential person in the township. Later, the notables of the township arrived to welcome us. This was a source of joy which was impressive and reassuring.

The second priest, Jean Marcador, arranged to have a small church and a monastery built in 1929. Then, an ambitious Palestinian priest, Fr. Jiryes Ni’meh, arranged to have the church built in 1956 through the donations of philanthropists from Aleppo, namely the children of late Mary Mi’marbashi. The architect who supervised the building was Tawfiq Marar, considered the first president of the Jordan Engineers Association in Jordan. Later, the Rosary Sisters handled the affairs of women and education.

The school was established in 1954. It is like other Latin Patriarchate private schools where it is open to all students. Last year, large numbers of Syrian students were enrolled under the supervision of Caritas Jordan, which is the association that oversaw the hosting of the forcibly displaced Christians from Iraq who were housed for six months at the Church of Naour.

Today, the parishioners continue their march which is testimonial of the Arab Christian presence in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan since the establishment of the emirate. There have been several religious and public members of the parish who did serve their country and society in a noble way.

Naour serves as a witness of the good relations between the religious components, namely Muslims and Christians, or other ethnic components who live in Naour such as the Circassians who have been contributing to the development of their society and homeland.

With the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto in Naour, the township became attractive to pilgrims from various Jordanian and cities and villages and from foreign countries. The township of Naour has become part of the itinerary of touristic groups.

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