From Estephan’s Young Days.
In 1905, Youssef left his home quietly and secretly to the monastery of Kfifane to become a monk. His brothers were very surprised as they used to see in him the perfect youth, the monk at home, so they were saddened by his leave. They followed him to the monastery and tried to convince him to return back but he wouldn’t accept and told them:” I came here, I’ll die here”.
|The Monastery Of Kfifane|
Youssef began his novitiate with Priest Aghnatios Al Tannouri who was the novice’s teacher at that time, the righteous man who sowed in him the seed of Sainthood and Youssef was very content with his monastic call. According to his “Saint Teacher” he was memorizing all the rules with great motivation and love, giving the good example to his fellow brothers, evolving in the scale of monastic perfection, taking the name of Estephan after his father, and the first Christian martyr to whom the church of his village is consecrated.
Father Matthew Zan witnessed upon a formal visit of the Superior, father Youssef Raffoul saying: the situation of the novices is satisfactory on all levels, nothing impeaches their spiritual journey, their teacher father Aghnatios Al Tannouri is doing his best to promote them to perfection…All residents of this monastery are performing their spiritual duties in all aspects, praying by tongue and mind, going to confession most of the days, taking the Holy Communion, and the holy spiritual state available within the residents of this monastery is hard to find anywhere else, they seem not to be humans!
During his continuous prayers and meditations in his two years of novitiate, brother Estephan understood that God created us on his image and pattern, for us to be holy. He often heard his teacher Aghnatios Al Tannouri saying that Sainthood does not come by chance, it is a choice and a decision, and it is a grace and a will: the grace from God and the will from us. Based on all of this, brother Estephan made a firm resolution to take the path of Sainthood, and a definitive commitment to God by taking his monastic vows on the 23rd of August 1907. He pursued his holy journey through the voluntary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and by continuous prayer, according to the rules of the Maronite Order.