Rev. Ephrem Handal
December 7, 1950 ~ March 14, 2023
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.