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Clergy of the Diocese of California Receive Master’s Degree in Theology and Philosophy

Two clergy of the Diocese of California have recently completed their graduate theological studies and have been awarded Master’s degrees from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, at Berkeley, California. These clergy are the following: Rev. Fr. Ephraim Alkhas Fr. Ephraim Alkhas completed a Masters of Arts in Philosophy as well as a Master of Arts in Theology from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, CA. He is a priest in the Diocese of California serving as the sole dedicated servant in the Commission on Inter-Church Relations and Educational Development (CIRED). Fr Ephraim’s thesis, which was applied towards both degrees, is titled: Philosophical Terms and Anthropology in the Christology of Mar Babai the Great and Saint Maximus the Confessor. This thesis studied how philosophical language was used in Greek (by Maximus the Confessor) and in Syriac (by Mar Babai the Great) to describe the person of Jesus Christ as both fully God and fully man. Today, Fr Ephraim continues serving CIRED and in the Diocese of California. He is also in his second year of graduate studies at the University of California Berkeley’s Department of History. Primarily concerned with how canon law functioned in the creation of …

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Assyrian Delegation Attends Conference on Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C.

At the invitation of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, and with the express blessing of His Holiness Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, a delegation of the Assyrian Church attended the Conference: “Threats to Religious and Ethnic Minorities under the Islamic State,” on July 28, 2016. The conference was co-sponsored by the US Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom and the Georgetown University in Washington. The following day, a closed-session meeting took place at the State Department, with many diplomats and parliament representatives present from numerous countries. The Assyrian delegation, consisting of His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod, along with the Very Rev. Archdeacon William Toma of the Diocese of Eastern USA, took part in the public session of the conference held under the auspices of the Berkley Center’s ‘Religious Freedom Project.’ The conference was attended by representatives of the various religious and ethnic minority entities in Iraq and Syria. The US Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, addressed all those in attendance. Also addressing the body was Knox Thames, the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and …

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SECRETARY OF THE HOLY SYNOD MEETS WITH SYNOD SECRETARY OF THE COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH

On Saturday, May 28, 2016, His Grace Bishop Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East paid a fraternal visit to His Grace Anba Raphael, the Bishop of Central Cairo and the General Secretary of the Coptic Orthodox Church, at the St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church in Hayward, California at 12:30 pm. Bishop Mar Awa was attended by the Very Rev. Nenos Michael, Archdeacon of the Diocese of California, and the Rev. Fr. Genard Lazar, parish priest of St. Mar Zaia Cathedral and secretary to the Bishop. The Assyrian clergy were received at the end of Bishop Raphael’s Holy Liturgy and spiritual lecture to the worshipping congregation at the Coptic parish by the Rev. Fr. Bishoy Ibrahim, parish priest of the Coptic Church in Hayward.   His Grace Mar Awa apprised His Grace Anba Raphael of the many attempts of the late His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV to communicate with His Holiness Patriarch Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria, and a dossier of documents was given to the Coptic Synod Secretary. A very warm and fraternal exchange concerning the faith and beliefs of the Assyrian Church of the East …

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His grace bishop Mar Awa Royel receives the Assyrian national council of Stanislaus.

On the evening of Sunday, April 3, 2016, His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and the Secretary of the Holy Synod, received at the episcopal residence the president and members of the Assyrian National Council of Stanislaus, Stanislaus County, California. Assisting His Grace at the meeting was the Reverend Cor-bishop Auchana Kanoun. ​The president of the ANCS, Mr. Youbert Valadio, expressed his thanks to the bishop for the reception and outlined in detail the upcoming program of the Council to aid the Assyrians living in the greater Stanislaus County area. The Council was formed in the early 2000’s in order to assist Assyrians living in the area with various needs, which include help with completing the citizenship process, filing governmental agencies’ applications, translations, etc. The new committee, elected for a four-year term, further noted their plans for the future to better serve the Assyrian community, addressing basic needs of the elderly and immigrants. As the ANCS is formed from among various Assyrian denominations and organization, the president and his committee sought the Assyrian Church of the East’s support and help in fulfilling their mission to the community. His Grace indicated the Church’s willingness and readiness to assist and …

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MEETING OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH LEADERS AND MINISTERS, OF THE THREE US DIOCESES

      July 5th 2015 marked the conclusion of the 28th annual Assyrian Church of the East Youth Association conference. During the conference, students spent most of the day in workshops led by different members of clergy, and were encouraged to fellowship with other students from different parishes. During this time, elected presidents from those parishes meet with His Grace Mar Awa Royel and parish priests to discuss ways to connect with students in a more effective way in spreading the good news of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. At the conclusion of our final meeting, His Grace Mar Awa suggested that the presidents from all participating parishes would meet in September to discuss those specific topics in more detail. September 4th marked the first day of our meeting, where His Grace along with Rev. Father Genard and Rev. Father Lawrence spent two days working diligently with the elected youth presidents in reformatting the Assyrian Church of the Easts’ final Constitution draft, conference agendas/activities, and Bible Studies that take place every week at all parishes. It was with incredible satisfaction that at the conclusion of our meeting, certain motions were put to pass that God willing will propel …

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Californian Youth Retreat a Spiritual Success

This past weekend, from Friday January 9th to Sunday January 11th, youth from across the Diocese of California convened upon Mount Hermon near Santa Cruz, California, for the Diocese’s 2015 Winter Youth Retreat. With the blessing and guidance of His Grace Mar Awa Royel, this year’s retreat, was themed “Built by Him and for Him,” and was dedicated to meditating upon the life and teachings of Mar Aphrahat the Persian Sage (born c. 270 AD) who was a member of the bney qyama (or Sons of the Covenant) and also an important teacher and defender of the true faith in the early Eastern Church. The focus of the retreat was centered around three Bible Study sessions, based upon the Demonstrations of Mar Aphrahat himself; on faith, deeds, and communion with God. The sessions were taught by various deacons of the Diocese and invited the youth to imagine themselves as each being a dwelling for God, with their foundation in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and their walls built sturdily from righteous internal (such as prayer and fasting) and external (such as charity toward the needy) deeds. With a strong foundation and edifice, according to Mar Aphrahat, and through continual effort and …

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U.S. Bishops Hold First Episcopal Conference

The bishops of the dioceses of the Assyrian Church of the East in the United States held their first episcopal conference from October 30th to the 31st, in San Diego, California. The conference, blessed by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch, was attended by: His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis, Bishop of the Western United States, the chair of the episcopal conference, His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod & President of CIRED, and His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern USA and President of ACERO USA. The bishops were also in San Diego to take part in the rite of the consecration of the altar of the Rabban Hermizd Parish, which took place after morning prayers on the First Sunday of the Hallowing of the Church, November 2, 2014. His Grace Mar Yosip Sargis, bishop emeritus, was also present for the consecration rite. ​The meeting of the bishops’ conference was held at the offices of St. Rabban Hermizd Parish in San Diego, and was hosted by His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis. The items on the agenda for discussion and implantation in the United States dioceses included, among others: …

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H.G. Mar Awa Royel Addresses Washington D.C. ‘In Defence of Christians’ Summit

On 11 September 2014, His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod addressed the ‘In Defence of Christians’ summit held in Washington D.C. between 9-11 September 2014. According to ‘In Defence of Christians’, “The primary purpose of the Summit is to bring all members of the Diaspora together in a newfound sense of unity. Whether Orthodox or Catholic; Evangelical, Coptic or Maronite; Syriac, Lebanese, Chaldean or Assyrian – all Middle Eastern Christians will be called on to join together in solidarity. “This solidarity will strengthen advocacy efforts with policy makers and elected officials and make more palatable grassroots outreach to the American public. Thus united, Middle Eastern Christians will invite all people of good will to join the cause to defend the defenseless, to be a voice for those who are voiceless. “The survival of these historic Christian communities is not merely a moral imperative; it is in the interests of all nations and peoples of the West and the Middle East.” This is the text of His Grace’s speech: Your Holinesses, Your Beatitudes, Your Excellencies and Graces, Reverend Fathers, Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is a great honor and privilege to be …

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U.S. Bishops Visit Office of the National Council of Churches USA

While attending the In Defense of Christians (IDC) Summit in Washington D.C., His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California, Secretary of the Holy Synod and President of CIRED, along with His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of Chicago and the Eastern USA, visited the headquarters of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) on Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 11:00 am. ​The two bishops were received by Mr. Jim Winkler, the President and General Secretary of the NCC USA. The purpose of the visit was a courtesy call, and an exchange of information regarding the plight of the Christians in Iraq and the Middle East at large. For their part, the NCC president apprised the bishops of the work of the Council among the various Churches in the US. The NCC just moved into their headquarters on Maryland Avenue in Washington D.C. ​The NCC USA was first founded in 1908 as the ‘Federal Council of Churches’, and then reorganized into the ‘National Council of Churches’ in the 1950’s. Some 40 different Churches and denominations are members of the NCC in the United States. The membership of the Assyrian Church of the East in the …

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Catholicos-Patriarch Calls 3-Day Rogation for Christians of Iraq

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, has sent an epistle imploring all members of the church and the Assyrian nation to hold a 3 day fast (Rogation) beginning Monday the 1st of September. The purpose of this rogation is to beseech the mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ upon our Assyrian nation and all who are being persecuted in the Middle East, in particular Northern Iraq. May God accept our rogation just as He accepted the rogation of our forefathers the Ninevites.

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Assyrian Church of the East Delegation Participates in Pro Oriente’s 4th Colloquium Syriacum

The ‘Fourth Colloquium Syriacum’ of the Pro Oriente Foundation was held in Vienna, Austria, from September 19-22, 2013, at the guest-house of the Pallotine Fathers (‘Pallottihaus’). The various Syriac-speaking Churches of the Middle East and India were represented at the Colloquium, along with many expert scholars and invited guests who also attended. The Assyrian Church of the East was represented by His Grace Dr Mar Awa Royel, the Bishop of California, Secretary of the Holy Synod and President of CIRED (Commission on Inter-Church Relations and Educational Development) and the Very Reverend Father Dr William Toma, Parish Priest of Mar Sargis Parish (Chicago) and Archdeacon of the Holy Synod. In addition to the Assyrian Church of the East, other Churches represented were the: Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church), Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Maronite Catholic Church of Antioch, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syrian Catholic Church of Antioch and the Ancient Church of the East. The experts included scholars from Jerusalem, Oxford, Washington D.C., Salzburg and representatives from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Vatican City). This year’s biennial gathering was centered on the theme: ‘Towards a Culture of Co-Existence …

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Eastern USA Diocese Hosts Christian Texts of Turfan Lecture

The Diocese of Eastern USA has hosted a public lecture entitled ‘The Christian Texts of Turfan’ in Illinois, USA on 15 November 2013. The lecture, held at and co-sponsored by the Assyrian National Council of Illinois in Skokie, was given by Dr Erica C.D. Hunter of the Department for the Study of Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. The Christian Library from Turfan Project aims to catalogue some 1092 manuscript fragments in the Syriac, Christian Soghdian and Uigher (Christian Old Turkic) scripts, as well as Pahlavi Persian, that were found in the opening decade of the twentieth century at a monastery site near Bulayiq, Turfan. The texts, dating from the early medieval period (9th – 12th centuries), encompass liturgical texts, lectionaries, hymns and psalters, as well as ascetical texts. The manuscripts are currently held at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Staatsbibliothek, Potsdamer Strasse, Berlin and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst at Dahlem, Berlin. The project addresses various issues, including the transmission of texts between different languages (Syriac, Soghdian and Old Turkic), the usage of liturgical and vernacular languages at Turfan and the links that were maintained with the Mesopotamian homeland of the Church …

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Bishop of California Calls on US Congresswoman Anna Eshoo

On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 6, 2013 His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Diocese of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod visited Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (CA – 18th Congressional District) at her Palo Alto, California office. His Grace was accompanied by Rev’d Fr Genard Lazar, his secretary and Mar Zaia Cathedral parish priest in Modesto. In a most cordial and warm colloquium, His Grace and the Congresswoman discussed matters pertaining to the plight of Assyrian Christians in the Middle East, in particular Iraq and Syria. The bishop briefed the Congresswoman in detail concerning the many hardships faced by the Assyrians in Iraq and Syria, amidst volatile and unstable conditions in those countries. Among the most pressing concerns of the Assyrians in these countries, the bishop informed the Congresswoman, is the matter of forced migration outside of the historical homeland and immigration to the west. Many who have left these countries for fear of their lives on account of persecution are stranded in host countries for an untold period of time until they are given visas to come to the West. In particular, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered thousands …

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Bishop of California Attends Academic Year Opening in Rome

In response to an official invitation from the Rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome for the opening of the 2013/2014 academic year, His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Diocese of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod was commissioned by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch to officially represent the Church at the academic function. Arriving in Rome on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, His Grace accompanied by his secretary and Mar Zaia Cathedral parish priest Rev’d Fr Genard Lazar, were received at the Pontifical Russian College in Rome, where accommodations were prepared by the rector of the same college, with the aid of Fr Claudio Ciubotariu SJ. Distinct arrangements for His Grace to participate at the General Papal Audience on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, with designated seating in the ‘Sagrato’ section prepared by the offices of Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. His Grace was personally greeted by His Holiness Pope Francis, and met the President of the Senate of the Dominican Republic along with his consort at the completion of the program. At this moment His Grace conveyed a brief message of fraternal greetings …

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