Who is he?
Fr. Daniel Maes, priest of the Flemish Abbey of Postel in Belgium, was for almost twenty years the responsible for welcoming people in his abbey. He taught moral theology first to Flemish Norbertine priest candidates there and later to seminarians of the great seminary of Bois-le-Duc in the Netherlands. He studied in Rome and was present there during the Vatican II Council in 1964. In 1975 he was appointed head of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Flanders and in this spirit he organized, with the help of others, sessions for families and large retreats for priests. He led for about twenty years a new Catholic community, “the Star of David,” that was established with the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary in the province of Antwerp.
How did he meet the Lord?
Born in a religious family, since a young age he wanted to consecrate himself to God and to become a priest. In the living faith of his mother he recognized the love of God. The community of the Norbertine Abbey of Postel awakened in him a strong desire to monastic life and to the apostolate. In the discovery of the global movement of the Charismatic Renewal he came to know the vital life in the Holy Spirit. Thus he wanted to devote himself to the renewal of the Church in these various aspects: religious life, priesthood, families, care for the poor and refugees. In these realities he recognized the face of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In 2004 he was deeply touched by the global ecumenical movement that wants to return to the original unity of the Church, a unity in diversity of the church of the Jews and the Church of the Gentiles. He rejoiced seeing the growing number of Messianic Jews. He founded this movement in Belgium (www.tjcii.be), as a movement of prayer, penance and reconciliation, which ignited in him the love for Jesus and his Church, whose traces are found in every man.
How did he get to know the Monastery?
In large global ecumenical meetings (Vienna, 2004, Jerusalem 2006), he met Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross, founder and abbot of the Order of the Unity of Antioch. She invited him to visit her monastery of Mar Yakub in Qara, Syria. He stayed for two months in 2010 and he was touched by the way in which the community wants to revive the old monastic life, adapted to our times. Mother Agnes Mariam asked him if he wanted to organize a qualifying year for the formation of priest candidates; he joyfully accepted the invitation. This fostered the formation of a male branch of the monastery. It was like God had prepared Father Daniel all his life for this mission in Syria: to live a reform of monastic life in an ecumenical and charismatic spirit, to train young people to be good priests, monks committed to the spiritual and material poverty around us.
How does he experience life in the Monastery during this war?
to Syria in 2010 was a shock for him. Instead of finding a terrifying dictatorship in an Islamic country, he has witnessed and experienced a harmonious social life and great hospitality
from Muslims as well as Christians. He enjoyed security and peace throughout this beautiful country and found that the Syrian people have a strong desire to live together as one
family. With great sadness and incomprehension he saw the growth of attacks, killings, destruction and cruelty of all kinds. Suddenly the international community appeared to be a large
body, unanimously deciding to destroy Syria, with the help of grotesque lies. He suffered with the victims. Because of the insecurity, the community has taken all necessary precautions
with unpleasant restrictions for daily life. The monastery is surrounded by dangers, isolated and vulnerable, which has helped the community to live more intensely
its religious mission: to continue to pray, work and witness to Christ's love, and seek unity with Syrian people. The community prays and hopes that eventually love will reign over
the madness, that the Syrian people may be a sign of peace and unity to the world.
(On the photo you can see Father Daniel in the blue overall)