Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Friday, 27 August 2021

In memoriam of late Fr. Firas Hijazin

By Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader :

Firas Al-Nashmi, a Jordanian with a Palestinian affiliation, with humanitarian feelings, and with dedicated prayers remains youth with the youth. What words can address a wonderful character that really revealed and truly lived the old and new Christian saying: “The sad Christian is not a Christian.”


It is the characteristic of joy and simplicity that distinguished the heart of Francis of Assisi, as if they flow like blood from one generation to the other, until it reaches the modern Franciscan generation, and touches Firas' heart. We have innumerable wonderful stories and interesting situations which merge with joy so that singing and folkloric dancing is expressed in Muwabian and Karaki experience that is associated in advance with profound and sincere prayers! He became the first Jordanian priest to join the Franciscan Order in the footsteps of the “poor Assisi” Saint Francis, and the first priest from the Hijazin clan which abounds with priestly vocations in the Franciscan Order.


In 1994 my mother, may her soul rest in peace, came to attend my diaconal ordination in Beit Jala, and Fr. Firas ululated and danced at the time. At that time my mother's love for him took root for "his ululation after my ordination". So, lasting friendship was the feeling for the past years. This feeling of course was strengthened to a very extreme point during my service in southern Jordan with Firas and his noble family. I came to know that wherever Firas is found, the atmosphere completely different.


In Dublin in 2012, we met as a Jordanian and Palestinian delegation, representing the Legio Maria and together we lived two weeks of prayer and Eucharistic devotion during the Eucharistic Conference. At the time Firas had his own impressions that resounded throughout the Irish capital.

In the midst of joy, dancing, ulutaltion, and prayers there were bouts of pain ravaging this noble body, as he had a complicated health record, due to suffering from diabetes which people try to “accept living with” at a time when it betrays and exhausts the body.


And when we were told that Fr. Firas was infected with Corona in our beloved Syria, I, along with other people, carried out the procedures for his entry to Jordan for treatment. His days in Jordan fluctuated between hope at times, pain, and the preparation for the most difficult situation. He called me from the hospital inquiring about the possibility of moving to Jordan, and I told him that we were trying to do so. He sighed, "It seems I'm not going out of here." Among the hundreds of telephones I used to make or receive, one of them noted: Firas has passed away. The news was like a thunderstorm which made us weep. I suggested to the Franciscan Order that the funeral be held on Mount Nebo, where the ancient Franciscan monastery is located. Praise be to God, we were able to put the priestly stole, the rosary, and the holy water, along with his pure body, so that he could knock on the door of the Kingdom with it, with priestly dignity and Marian love.


The Jordanian official authorities agreed to this exception to the burial, because the "Corona martyrs" have areas designated for them. And the priests proposed to let his head directed towards Jerusalem--like Prophet Moses who was talking to God while looking at Jerusalem--as he had earlier served in the Monastery of the Savior for years during which he was distinguished as the diligent parish priest who cared dearly for his parishioners with love, respect, and care, while the Lord of heaven and earth, plans to take him to the heavenly Jerusalem, where there is no weeping or pain, and where He wipes away every tear from our eyes.


In the end, I thank Merciful God for the blessing of the life of this person who passed away, as well as who was distinguished by joy and simplicity, and who loved people of all shades without discrimination. He contributed to lighting the torch of St. Francis’s march in Jordan for several years; he wore the red keffiyeh and the cloak at the top of Mount Mujib, and taught many generations of  the young people the “Virgin’s procession,” which expresses the people’s innate love for the Virgin Mary.


During lockdown due to Corona pandemic, he turned houses into monasteries, and turned houses into churches. He also walked with his people among the olive trees in Ader, celebrating Palm Sunday and the Holy Week, up to the Feast of the Resurrection, which he marked fewer than four months later in front of the sacrificed lamb in the kingdom of God.