Blessed Estephan Joking!

Father Maroun Karam Al Tannoury testified about Blessed Estephan saying:” When the Vatican interfered in the Maronite Order in 1938 and appointed father Bassil ghanem as superior general, there was a complete chaos inside the order, and the news became the talk of the day between the monks, as some were happy and surprised, others were sad but obedient. The reason for such chaos goes back to the fact that the position of superior general of the maronite order was for the last 25 years exclusively held by people from the village of tannourine. In fact from 1913 until 1929, the superior general was the man of God: abbot Aghnatios Dagher from Tannourine and from 1929 until 1938, the superior general was abbot Martinos Tarabay, also from Tannourine.” 

“During that period, printouts against the new superior general filled the corridors of the monastery in jbeil which was the quarters of the superior general. At that time the stories of the internal segregations within maronites and the sentiments of belonging to a particular area or village was also very common, just as our present days. In fact, the title of “Tannoury” was affected to religious from the village of Tannourine, and the title of “Lehfedi” was affected to religious from the village of Lehfed. And these segregations throughout the history of the maronites have created among people permanent and strong feelings of belonging to a particular area or village.” 

Monastery of Our Lady of Succor (Al Maonat) at the time of
Blessed Estephan

“Brother Estephan was a very ordinary monk, undistinguished at all from his brothers, having the virtues of sainthood. But his brothers never referred to him as a saint, as he was rather a very joyful and funny person. I was one of the best friends of Brother Estephan and we used to go to sleep in Kfarsyadah whenever there was a shortage of places at the monastery of Our Lady of Succor (Al Maonat), as it was home for a large number of people like monks from the general Directorate, monks of the monastery itself and the brothers who were still students.” 

“After the changes at the level of the superior general due to the intervention from the Vatican, I was a little bit upset since that the superior general who was stepping down was originating from my native town: Tannourine. Brother Estephan composed a few verses of Lebanese traditional prose (zejel) as a satirical grief and joke about the loss of the village of Tannourine of the most prestigious position at the maronite order, after having held it for a quarter of a century. As the atmosphere was already tense, I thought that brother Estephan was serious in what he was saying, and I asked him sadly: brother Estephan how could you say something like that to me! You are a monk! He answered with his usual smile and said: Forgive me I was joking.”

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