Christ is Risen!
Father Jean El Murr
January 6, 1958 – May 19, 2020
We are sad to announce the death of Father Jean El Murr, a priest of Saint George Orthodox Church of Montreal. Father Jean has faithfully and generously served the parish of Saint George Orthodox Church for the past 17 years, six and a half years as a deacon (March 29, 2003) and eleven years as a priest (December 13, 2009). Father Jean also served as the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada, and Upstate New York Youth Director from 2000-2005. We thank him and his wife Kh. Souhaila Maatouk for their ministry and all the good things they have done for the parish and diocese.
When word began to spread, no one was hard pressed to express the impact of Fr. Jean El-Murr’s falling asleep in the Lord: he was a man of divine and Godly love without compare, and all who had the opportunity to meet him are bereft at his passing.
A ministry of love was Abouna Jean’s earthly assignment, whether as layman, deacon, Youth Director or priest. Evidenced by a character who was forgiving, conciliatory, covered the shortcomings of all, his personhood loomed large despite a small physical stature as it was a living example of what we are called to be in the image of our Lord. This was born from being a keen and insightful student of Orthodox theology, its authors of different traditions, and most especially prayer and service texts. By these he became many things to many people like St. Paul: an Arab to the Arab; a North American to the North American; a youth to the teens and young adults not only in the St. George Orthodox Church (Montreal) community, but to all in our Region/Diocese and Archdiocese.
Complementing his knowledge was a drive to translate texts of Arabic, English, and French origins into these languages so that it could benefit everyone at St. George Church (a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic community) and for those on both sides of the Atlantic. He was ardent in breaking down any barriers to worship God, His Son, the True Faith and Its Church. Abouna’s love to worship at His altar was matched by his devotion to the Theotokos, whom he credited throughout his life as saving him from despair during the darkest days of the illnesses which plagued him, again like St. Paul and his thorn in his side. How lucky we were to be assigned by God a living example of Job-like forbearance and acceptance of God’s will! Abouna never complained whenever he was ill, only blessed and praised his medical caregivers, the people praying for him, and most especially his deeply loved wife, Khouriyee Souhaila.
As a couple, Abouna Jean and Kh. Sue stand as THE epitome of marital complicity, loyalty, humility, acceptance, and agape. Their marriage showed (in fact, proved) to us all the unity and oneness we all hope for in a spouse. They weren’t just a team; they were a single breathing unit. Their devotion to each other was directed outward to all they met and ministered, be it at Bible Studies, as Church School teachers, but most especially in serving and mentoring teens and young adults. One of their spiritual children put it this way: “We went to him for wisdom and guidance, and he always answered us with prayer, patience, and love. He radiated peace and light, and everything we have today, all that we are is because of his guiding us even from his hospital bed. All of his aspirations for us have come true.”
There are numerous testimonials being written regarding Abouna Jean and the impact he had on people. This one encapsulates the myrrh of his character perfectly: “There are places where we expect there to be only light, so when the darkness is present, it can feel even more intense. We must focus on the light to give us hope when it feels like only darkness. Fr. Jean was an example of light in the Church. The only thing that surpassed his humility was his kindness.”
Christ is risen, Abouna! Well done, Thy good and faithful servant, and our dear “papa”. Go into the rest of our Father’s arms and pray for us.
By Bruna Salhany
Saint George Orthodox Church of Montreal