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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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Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The second Qnuma (person) of the most Holy Trinity, God the word, is called the Son of God. This same Son of God, God the Word, became man, and was called Jesus.  It is written in the Holy Bible that He was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary and He was called Jesus.  The Prophets of the Old Testament and the Evangelists of the New Testament, who had expected the coming of Him to save humankind called Him Christ. It is written: “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Again it is written: “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (St Luke 1:31) Saint Matthew in the book of the generation of Jesus says: “And Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah…” (Matthew 1:16) Pilate the Roman Governor calls Jesus the Messiah which means Christ the anointed one. It is written: “So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want …

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Martyrdom

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15)              Martyrdom-Introduction Martyrdom in the Old Testament: Cain and Abel: The history of sacrifice and martyrdom began in the Garden of Eden with Cain killing his brother Abel simply because God was pleased with Cain’s sacrifice and rejected his. Joseph, the son of Jacob: was sold into slavery by his brothers because his father showed more compassion and love to him than to the rest of his brothers plus he told them his dream that he was to be exalted above his brothers. Martyrdom of Shmoni and her seven sons: “Early in the morning the faithful Shmoni offered prayer to God saying: God do my Judgement. From the cruel Antiochus: For he is slaughtering my sons like lambs: and he is threatening me as a lion.” (Khudra volume III page 328 Commemoration of Shmoni and her seven sons) Daniel and his two friends were cast into Furness of fire were saved by the Lord. Martyrdom in Christianity and the New Testament: Martyrdom has been an important part of our Christian Church history from the moment of its birth.  It first started with the persecution of our …

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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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India Archdiocese Youth Conference 2016, and Visit of Assyrian Bishops to Thrissur, Kerala

India Archdiocese Youth Conference 2016, and Visit of Assyrian Bishops to Thrissur, Kerala The Youth Conference – 2016 organised under the auspices of the Arch-diocese of India was held from 21st to 24thJuly 2016 at Thrissur, Kerala. ‘Get Up! Don’t be afraid’ (Matthew 17:7), one of the most emboldening words of Jesus to his disciples was the theme chosen for the conference with a view to encourage and equip the youths to face the growing challenges and concerns of the contemporary society. The four-day conference commenced with a registration of more than 325 youth delegates from across the world including USA, Australia, Iran and Iraq. The Inaugural session was presided over by: H.B. Dr. Mar Aprem, Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of India & UAE. H.G. Mar Awa Royel Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod, H.G. Mar Yohannan Yoseph, H.G. Mar Awgin Kuriakose from India, H.G. Mar Narsai Benjamin Bishop of Iran and H.G. Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of Eastern USA, were the other prelates present. His Beatitude enlightened the gathering with a bird’s eye view on the history of the Church of the East and also encouraged to spread the faith and be responsible witnesses to the …

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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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Inauguration Dinner of the St Narsai Alumni Association, Sydney

On the evening of Tuesday 21st June, Sydney’s Saint Narsai Assyrian Christian College hosted an inaugural dinner celebrating the establishment of the St Narsai Alumni Association. The word alumni, in its Latin definition means pupil and is commonly used to refer to a graduate or former student of a specific school, college or university. Therefore, an association of alumni collects the graduates in an organisational manner. The College saw it fit to establish such an organization due to its growth over the years, reaching over 500 enrolments currently. The main purpose of this initiative was the reuniting of the graduates in maintaining their social and familial ties, as they once had during their schooling years. A number of the graduates from the classes of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 attended the evening; reuniting friends after so many years. The official program was graced by His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia AM, Metropolitan along with clergy, Assyrian Schools’ board of directors and staff members. The program consisted of speeches, musical performances and video presentations. In His Beatitude’s remarks, the concept of fellowship and keeping close ties was emphasised. As the Assyrian Schools were founded on solid foundations, the friendships should last …

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Diocesan Spring Youth Retreat of Illinois

There was complete silence as we walked through the 2 mile hike.  We saw wild turkey, eagles, and beautiful spring scenery in the forest of Kansasville, Wisconsin without a word.  When else would children get an opportunity to be completely cut off from the world and learn how to be silent, still, and listen to the voice of God through nature?  The 2016 Assyrian Church of the East Spring Youth Retreat was a perfect chance for our youth members (ages 14-21) to not only have fun and grow closer as a youth, but also to learn biblical skills through bible studies and activities.  We were blessed during the retreat from April 22nd-24th to have His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, and St. Andrew’s Parish Priest, Rev. Cor-Bishop Fr. George Toma join us during the weekend.  The retreat theme was discipleship and the bible verse from Matthew, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  You are never too young to disciple to others and as church leaders we want to ensure that our children know how to preach the Word to their peers and family members.  The weekend was split into three parts.  Friday’s lesson …

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The Lord God

The Lord God Who is the almighty God? What is he like? From reading the divine words of God written in the Sacred Scriptures we can find answers for all the questions we have regarding the almighty God. Of course our intention from asking all these questions about God should not be to understand and comprehend the divine nature God completely. We human beings in our limited mind can never be able to comprehend and grasp all the knowledge about the almighty God. No one has ever perfectly understood God except his only begotten son Jesus Christ. We Christians believe in the presence of God even though we do not have a complete knowledge and understanding of His divine Nature.  If a human being has difficulties understanding his own being, how much more he will have difficulties understanding the divine Nature of God? God through his divine revelation reveals to us the necessary knowledge we need to know about Him. The Holy Bible teaches us that God is a real person. God is not just a man made Idea. God has revealed himself as a person to Moses. He spoke with Moses as a real person who has a name …

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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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Observing the Sabbath – Saturday v. Sunday

Why do Christians worship on Sunday not on Saturday? “One Sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they were silent. Then he took him and healed him, and let him go. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” And they could not reply to this.” (Luke 14: 1-6) Introduction: The place: The house of the ruler of the Pharisees. Time: Saturday (Sabbath day) Purpose: Jesus was invited to dine at the Pharisee’s house. Characters: The ruler of the Pharisees. A man who had dropsy: The Pharisees brought this sick man and have him sit him before the Lord not to because they wanted Jesus to have pity on him and heal him but rather they wanted to trap Jesus. To see if He will break the Law of observing the Sabbath or …

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First Catechetical Course – Eastern USA Diocese of the Assyrian Church of the East

Religious education is a pivotal aspect in the life of the Church.  It strengthens the internal life as a community of believers and her external activity as a missionary Church.   In fact the Church is bidden to offer catechesis her best resource, in people and energy in order to organize it better and to train qualified personnel. In the context of the ongoing spiritual and theological awareness, evangelization and conversion process that is the goal of the Church for every Christian., the Eastern USA Diocese has successfully completed the First Catechetical Course (March-October 2014).  It has consisted of five fundamental theological topics: Life in Christ: Morality in the Life of Assyrian Church  Instructor: HG Mar Paulus Benyamin This course delved a loving relationship with God in Christ. It will present the dignity of the person,  the moral responsibility conferred on us by God’s gift of freedom, the process of conscience formation, the social  teaching of the church, and the personal and social responsibility to live in justice as members of the Assyrian Christian community and steward of God’s creation: 1. Sources of Knowing How to Live Justly: a) Natural Law; b) Dignity and Freedom of the Human Person; Grace and …

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