After a long awaited period, by God’s grace the parish of St. Thomas in Seattle, Washington has received the first episcopal visitation of His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California.
His Grace arrived in Seattle in the late afternoon of Thursday 12 January, accompanied by the Very Reverend Archdeacon Nenos Michael, parish priest of Mar Narsai, San Francisco, and Deacon Emmanuel Benjamin.
After visiting many homes, the highlight of the visit was the service of the consecration of the altar of St. Thomas Church in English, which began at 8:30 am. The church was consecrated by His Grace with the assistance of all the clergy. The consecration was followed by the celebration of the Holy Qurbana in English and Aramaic. There were some 50 attendees, which included not only the regular parishioners of St. Thomas Church but faithful who had come from Modesto, Turlock, San Jose and British Columbia. After the liturgical services, all went down to the parish hall for fellowship.
There was a joyous and brotherly atmosphere all around, and the faithful of St. Thomas were indeed very joyful to receive their diocesan Chor-Bishop Michael J. Birnie, parish priest; the Reverend Father Richard Holberg, assistant pastor, the Rev. Deacons Michael Hertel and Ron Hanson, as well as the parish committee.
As a historical note, the community of St. Thomas in Seattle was received into the Assyrian Church of the East by the late His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, Catholicos-Patriarch, in 1967/1968, and the present church building, with the rectory attached, actually goes back to 1910. St. Thomas Church in Seattle has therefore been a parish of the Assyrian Church of the East since this time in the late 1960s. All of these properties are officially registered in the name of the Assyrian Church of the East and the church is the sixth parish in the Diocese of California.[nggallery id=350]