Rev. Ephrem Handal

rev. ephrem handal

Rev. Ephrem Handal, (aka Ihsan Handal) a parish priest at Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek Catholic Church in McLean, VA fell asleep in the Lord on March 14, 2023.

Born in Bethlehem, where Christ was born, Fr. Ephrem was the oldest son of the late Ibrahim and Stella (Nijmeh) Handal. He was the beloved brother to May, Elizabeth, Bashir, Tawfiq, and Grace; beloved husband to Judy, beloved father to Cyril (Holly) and Jose Antonio and beloved grandfather to Kayla, Justin, Naomi, and Aaron.

With the encouragement of the late Rev. Francis Martin, he came to the United States in 1979 to study at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, completing a Bachelor of Arts in 1983 and Master of Arts in 1987. He moved to the Washington D.C. area and from 1988-1996 was lecturer, later Assistant Professor of Theology and Spirituality at the Notre Dame Institute for Catechetics whose President and later Dean was Rev. William Saunders. On May 30, 2000 Fr. Ephrem completed his Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the Romano Byzantine Institute of Theology.

Around 1989-1990, he and his wife became members of Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek Catholic Church. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate with encouragement from the late pastor Rt. Rev. Joseph Francavilla, and the late Proto-Deacon Paul Weyrich. On June 13, 2003 Deacon Ephrem was elevated to the Holy Priesthood by request of the late Eparch of Newton and of all of the United States of America, John Elya. Father Ephrem served Holy Transfiguration for almost 30 years as Associate Pastor.

Fr. Ephrem was a man of prayer and devoted to the Mother of God, the Theotokos. He was orthodox, scriptural, and clear, always praying to be led by the Holy Spirit in his preaching and teaching. His favorite class to teach as a Professor was on the Gospel of John. His Doctoral Thesis was exploring the meaning of “kekaritomene” in Gabriel’s greeting to the Theotokos, “Full of Grace”. During COVID, he took great delight in bringing the Scriptures to others by conducting both Arabic and English Bible Studies online to serve the needs of the people.

Fr. Ephrem was one who was very direct yet very gentle. He had a great sense of humor, loved conversing with family, friends, parishioners, and complete strangers. His greatest joy was found in the Lord, the church, and in his family.

May he rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. May his memory be eternal!

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be given to Holy Transfiguartion Church in Father Ephrem’s memory. We will use half of any donations to benefit the church that Fr. Ephrem served and the other half will go to the Earthquake Relief Fund set up by the Diocese for the victims of the recent earthquake in Syria.

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  1. The Owners and Staff at the Money and King Funeral Home, wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call us anytime as we are always available to you.

    Bob Gallagher
    Funeral Director

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss, Judy and family. I remember Ihsan as a very kind, gentle and caring man who always made time for people.

    May the Lord bless you in your sorrow and give you peace, knowing he is with Jesus.

    Love and prayers,
    Melanie (Barnes) Goggin

  3. I was very sorry to hear of the death of Ephrem/Ishan. I remember him as a very good and joyful man who loved Jesus.

    May the Lord bless him and his wife and family.

    Fr. Tom Weinandy, OFM, Capuchin

  4. My remembrance of dear Ihsan, Father Ephrem, was his gentleness and love for the Lord and our Blessed Mother. I send my sincere sympathy to Judy and Cyril and all the family. May you be comforted by the love you shared in your family life, and the Blessed Hope we share.
    All my Love,
    Elaine Guidry

  5. Dear Judy, love and prayers to you and your family. Ihsan is with the Lord and our wonderful Lord and Savior suffers with you in your loss, consoles you in his heart.
    –Valerie and Doug Mainwaring

  6. Judy and sons, I am so sorry to hear of Ihsan’s passing. My prayers for his eternal repose and consolation for you and the rest of your family.

    Janet Baker

  7. Dear Judy,
    We are so sorry to hear of Ihsan’s passing. Be assured that you and your sons will be in our prayers.
    Sincerely in Christ,
    Mike and Shaunmarie Rega

  8. Thank you Father Ephrem for being a light and inspiration in the lives of all those who knew you. You always showed us strength, love and faith and you will remain in our hearts!!! Our prayers are united to yours for Khourieh Judy, our sweet Tonito, and Reader Cyril & Holly and family. We love you, may your memory be eternal. Sylvia and Sam

  9. For there is no death for your servant but a departure. Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!
    Thank you Abouna for everything you have done! I remember all the good memories we had together. I remember texting you in Arabic, Zoom bible studies and our phone calls during Covid. You are a true blessing.
    Khourieh Judy, Cyril, Antonio and everyone of the Handal family are in my prayers. Memory Eternal
    الله يرحمه

  10. Dear Judy, so clear was Ishan’s excitement and joy in sharing all he was learning of the Lord as I visited when you were newly married. He was a great Christian witness to all those around him. May he rest now in peace and even more joy.
    Much love,
    Ann (Ryba) Snyder

  11. Khourieh Judy, sending you my deepest condolences. Father Ephrem was so kind and inspiring, and I’m truly sorry to hear of his passing. I wish you and your family many prayers of comfort and healing. May his memory be eternal.

  12. Dear Judy and sons’s,, how can I express my thoughts
    to you , but to say I will missed his kind words , his prayers and a great man of God he was always thinking of others, he and my son room to gather at the Un. of Stuenville where he and my son spend their time at my home on the holidays of the year, and then being my Prof. at Norte Dame. My prayers to you as I will never for get Him. My last words to Him on the 12 of March were ” Trust on the lord father Ephrem for He cares for you.” His American mother, as He would call me. Stella Davis May you rest in His love

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