Archpriest Ghattas Hajal: 40 years in Service
Archpriest Ghattas Hajal Celebrates 40 years in Priesthood & 25 in Ottawa
On Pentecost 2017, The Archpriest Ghattas Hajal celebrated his 40th Anniversary in Holy Priesthood and his 25th anniversary as Pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa, Canada. The celebration was presided by His Grace Bishop THOMAS (Joseph) who represented His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH Archbishop of New York and All North America.
Following the Festal Great Vespers on Saturday, June 3rd, a Gala Dinner took place at St. Elias Banquet Centre to honor Fr. Ghattas. In addition to His Grace Bishop THOMAS and clergy from various Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Churches, Several dignitaries attended the Gala: His Excellency Sami Haddad, chargé d’affaires of the Lebanese Embassy in Canada; His Worship Mayor Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa; Honorable Member of the Parliament David McGuinty; Honorable Member of the Provincial Parliament John Fraser; City of Ottawa Councillors; and Mr. Roger David, Archdiocesan Chair of the Order of St. Ignatius. Fr. Ghattas was surrounded by his family, hundreds of friends and parishioners and was surprised with the presence of his brother and nephew who made a surprise trip from Lebanon to attend this event.
During the dinner, many words about Fr. Ghattas’ accomplishments and work in Ottawa were said. The Mayor of Ottawa highlighted his granting to Fr. Ghattas the City Builder Award, which he received a week earlier. The Parish also presented to Fr. Ghattas a stained glass window of St. John the Baptist for his health, which will be installed at the Cathedral. A Replica of the Icon was presented to Fr. Ghattas by Fr. Nektarios Najjar, Assistant Pastor, and Mr. George Hanna, Chairman of the Parish Council, on behalf of the Parish.
The highlight of the night came from His Excellency General Michel Aoun, president of the Lebanese Republic, who delegated Mr. Sami Haddad, chargé d’affaires of the Lebanese Embassy in Canada, to bestow upon Fr. Ghattas “The National order of the Cedar – Knight Grade”, a prestigious Lebanese medal given by the president to dignified Lebanese citizens.
Moreover, Two books were published in the occasion: The First entitled “The Philosophical Theology of Archpriest Ghattas Hajal”, written by Dr. Nawal Sayegh, PhD. While the second was a book that reflected on Fr. Ghattas’ 40 years in priesthood, entitled “Reflection and Appreciation of Archpriest Ghattas Hajal’s 40 years in Priesthood”.
The Celebration continued on Sunday morning with a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, followed by the kneeling prayers, for the feast of Pentecost. Following the Liturgy, a Luncheon took place in which parishioners expressed their love to Fr. Ghattas and many officers of the Church organizations said words about their relationship with Fr. Ghattas and what they have learnt from him over the years.
Many speeches and videos presented by both father’s small and bigger family reflected his ministry and love for Christ and His flock. As the Church School Choir angelically chanted, we also do chant and say, “God Grant you many years”.