Repose in the Lord of the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Xavier Eid
Long-serving parish priest of St. Mary of Peace, Garden City, Cairo, the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Xavier Eid fell asleep in the Lord at the age of ninety on December 29, 2009. One of the founding members of the Religious Brotherhood dedicated to Christian-Muslim dialogue and encounter, Father Xavier was well-known for having followed, with Father Christiaan van Nispen S.J. and Father Samir Khalil Samir S.J., in the steps of renowned scholar and Melkite priest Louis Massignon, Mary Kahil and Father Georges Anawati O.P., who dedicated their lives to study and to prayer to God for and with the Muslim people.
His funeral service in Cairo on December 31, 2009 was presided over by His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III, together with Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and Archbishop Georges Bakar, Patriarchal Vicar in Egypt. Among those attending the obsequies in the packed church were the relatives of the deceased who had come from Belgium, the Ambassador of Belgium in Egypt, the Consul of Lebanon, Bishops from the Maronite and Latin Churches, priests and male and female members of religious orders, together with many of the late pastor’s parishioners and Muslim friends.
The Church of Saint Mary of Peace, Garden City, Cairo commemorated the late Archimandrite Xavier Eid on Saturday 20 February 2010.
His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III presiding The Right Reverend Michael Fitzgerald, Apostolic Nuncio The Right Reverend Georges Bakar, Patriarchal Vicar Priests of different churches and members of male and female religious communities His Excellency the Belgian Ambassador, His Excellency the former Canadian Ambassador Relatives of the late Archimandrite Xavier Eid Muslim and Christian friends Parishioners.
After the Divine Liturgy, a commemorative gathering was held in the church hall, attended by some one hundred and fifty people.
The principal speaker was His Beatitude, who recalled Father Xavier and the pioneers of the Religious Brotherhood (Al Ikha ad-Dini): Melkite priest Louis Massignon, Mary Kahil, Father Georges Anawati O.P., Louis Gardet, Cardinal Tisserant, Franciscan convert from Islam Jean-Mohamed Abd el Jalil, Maronite priest Youakim Moubarak, Marie-Dominique Chenu O.P., Archbishop Pierre Kamel Medawar S.M.S.P., Archbishop Neophytos Edelby, Patriarch Maximos IV and others.
There was a whole team involved in Islamic-Christian dialogue which found its expression in this circle of the Religious Brotherhood, and a welcome in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. That team, with others too, was active in the Second Vatican Council. Without them the Conciliar Document Nostra Aetate would not have seen the light of day in its definitive form with the well-known section on Islam, which now forms the basis for Catholic dialogue with Islam.
Other speakers followed: Coptic Orthodox Father Matthias, a life-long companion and friend of Father Xavier, described the latter’s particular love for the poor. Then came the sacristan of the Church of Saint Mary of Peace, with a simple, heartfelt testimony and further the moving testimony of Father Xavier’s disciple and physician, Dr. Rida Rizkallah.
Noteworthy too was the contribution of Jean-Jacques Pérennès O.P. He recalled exactly the face of Father Xavier Eid in Al Ikha ad-Dini, in the Second Vatican Council and throughout the movement of Islamic-Christian dialogue around Vatican II and which continues actively with Pope Benedict XVI.
Notes by His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III
Translation from the French: V. Chamberlai