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Four Sub-Deacons Ordained in Urmia, Iran

His Grace Mar Narsai Benjamin, Bishop of Iran, has ordained 4 young faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East to the rank of Sub-Deacon. The ordination, on 29 November 2013, was conducted in the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the city of Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. In his sermon on the occasion the Bishop of Iran expressed his joy at the ordination and committed to nurturing and guiding the young Sub-Deacons in their religious education and the strengthening of their spirituality. His Grace was assisted in the service by the Rev’d Fr Daryawish Azizyan, parish priest, and a large number of deacons. Also in attendance was Mr Yonathan Bet-Kolia, representative of the Assyrian community in the Majlis (the national legislative body) of the Islamic Republic of Iran along with a large number of faithful from both Urmia and Tehran. Another ordination of Sub-Deacons is to be held in the Iranian capital Tehran on 15 December 2013. Following this ordination the total number of ordained Sub-Deacons of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iran will be brought to 10 in the hope that many will be elevated to the rank of full Deacon in the future. …

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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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Assyrian Church of the East Represented at 10th World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan, Korea

Commissioned by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch, Rev’d Cor-bishop George Toma, parish priest of St Andrew’s Church in Glenview, Illinois has represented the Assyrian Church of the East at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. Under the theme ‘God of life, lead us to justice and peace’, more than 2000 delegates of world churches convened in Busan, Republic of Korea between 30 October – 8 November 2013. The Assembly of the World Council of Churches is a unique moment when the fellowship of member churches unites in prayer, celebration and sets the future agenda for the council. The Assembly is held once every 7 or 8 years. The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. At the end of 2012, there were 345 member churches. While the bulk of the WCC’s founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the …

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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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Metropolitan of Iraq Ordains Deacon in Baghdad

On the occasion of the Commemoration of Mar Awgin the Blessed and the first week of the Hallowing of the Church, His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Metropolitan of Iraq, Jordan and Russia has ordained Shimshon Warda Yaqo to the holy diaconate in the Church of Mar Odisho, Baghdad on 8 November 2013. The service took place prior to the consecration of the Holy Qurbana. The newly-ordained deacon is to serve the Mission congregation of the Assyrian Church of the East in Damascus, Syria. The Metropolitan was assisted in the service by Baghdad parish priests, Rev’d Fr Yosip Gewargis, Rev’d Fr Awgin Hurmizd and Rev’d Fr Shmoel Sh. Athneil. A large number of church deacons also participated in the presence of the church choir and faithful. During his sermon, the Metropolitan discussed the theme of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and ascension to the cross for the salvation of humankind. He went on to note that Mar Awgin, on whose commemoration day the service was held, is a model emulating the abandonment of early pleasure for the abundance found in Jesus Christ. Following the service, the newly ordained deacon was congratulated by all the clergy and faithful present who prayed that Almighty God …

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Sydney Assyrian School Students Hold Assembly Marking the Barnabas Fund ‘Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church’

The students of St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School of the Assyrian Church of the East in Sydney, Australia have participated in the Barnabas Fund Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. On 1 November 2013 the students gathered at the ‘H.H. Mar Dinkha IV Assembly Hall’ to remember and pray for suffering Christians throughout the world. During the program they also recited the Lord’s Prayer in the Assyrian language. The Rev’d Fr Ninos Elya, school chaplain noted during the program, “It’s good to pray for Christians but it takes greater strength to pray for your enemies.” Addressing the students, school principal Sargis Makko discussed the great importance of praying for fellow Christians and spoke about the tremendous work done by the Barnabas Fund in aid of suffering and persecuted Christians worldwide. The students expressed their gratitude to the Barnabas Fund, a partner of the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (ACERO), for the work it has done to support all Christians and in particular Assyrians in the Middle East. It is noteworthy that Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of the Barnabas Fund visited the St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School in November 2010. During Dr Sookhdeo’s visit, His Beatitude Mar …

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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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Sydney College Students Commemorate 2010 Baghdad Church Massacre Anniversary

On 5 November 2013, the students of St Narsai Assyrian Christian College of the Assyrian Church of the East in Sydney, Australia gathered to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the October 2010 terrorist attack upon Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq. During the heinous terrorist incident 58 Christians, many of whom were women and children lost their lives following a lengthy siege of the church. Addressing the assembled students, Jacob Awraham, Assyrian language coordinator at the College discussed the sacrifices and suffering of the Christians of Iraq following the commencement of the Iraq War in 2003. In particular, Mr Awraham noted that the storming of the church and martyrdom of the many faithful came during a time in which they had congregated to celebrate the liturgy and pray for peace and stability in their homeland. School principal John Haskal spoke urging the students to reflect upon the tragic events and immense suffering of Iraq’s Christian community which has led hundreds of thousands to flee the country. He exhorted the students to uphold their Christian values, Assyrian national identity and heritage. Mr Haskal went on stressing the great contribution of the Assyrian people to civilisation and urging …

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Lebanon Youth Mark Patriarchal Anniversary with Student Graduation Ceremony

On the occasion of the 37th anniversary of the consecration of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV as Catholicos-Patriarch, the Assyrian Youth Association of the Assyrian Church of the East in Lebanon organized a graduation ceremony honouring Assyrian students having successfully undertaken secondary and university level studies. The ceremony, held on 20 October 2013 and held at Mar Guiwargis Cathedral in the Beirut suburb of Sed el-Bouchriyeh commenced with Assyrian and Arabic hymns. Following this Rev’d Fr Yatron Koliana delivered an address highlighting the importance of the occasion and the immense importance of the active participation of young faithful in the life of the Holy Church. Addressing the attendees, Rev’d Fr Georges Youkhanna, Parish Priest of Mar Guiwargis Cathedral emphasised the significant role of the youth in the church and the importance of renewing spirituality in the lives of the young faithful. Speaking next on behalf of the graduates being honoured at the event was Ms Carla Simonian who noted that the graduates were specifically honouring the memory of the renowned Assyrian journalist, nationalist and martyr Professor Ashur Yusef due to his significance as a champion of education as a means of national advancement of the Assyrian people. Assyrian youth leader …

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Sydney Youth Raise Thousands for Breast Cancer Research and Syria Relief Effort in Annual ‘Walkathon’

The annual ‘Walkathon’ of the Assyrian Church of the East Youth Association – Sydney (ACEYA – S) was held on Sunday 22 September 2013 with the participation of over four hundred faithful participants. The annual event seeks to generate funds for the support of both a local Australian charitable organisation, the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (ACERO) and the general work of ACEYA – S. The event was held under the theme: ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, the walk communicated to faithful the Christian message that life’s journey is one of faith and that this faith will triumph the obstacles or adversities faced in life, whether sickness or other trials. The attendees gathered eagerly in front of St Hurmizd Cathedral following the Eucharistic Liturgy registering their names and receiving their packs which included a t-shirt, hat and bag. The event was this year graced by the presence of His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia AM, Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon who welcomed the hundreds of attendees, spoke about the importance of the causes being supported and bestowed his episcopal blessings on all participants. Shortly afterwards balloons were released into the …

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“We Believe In” National Youth Conference 2013

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.’” Ecclesiastes 12: 1 ​The Assyrian Church of the East’s 26th National Youth Conference was hosted by the Diocese of California, from the 10th to the 15th of July of 2013. The conference was attended by over two hundred and seventy youth from around the nation, as well as representatives of our Church’s youth from as far as England. ​This year’s theme was “We Believe in…,” symbolizing the Nicene Creed which is recited at nearly every one of our blessed Church’s services. The goal of the theme was to invite the attending youth to reflect on the fundamentals of our faith, especially those items which are currently being challenged and scrutinized by other Christian denominations and non-Christians alike. Session topics chosen for this year’s conference included: ‘Proofs for the Existence of God’, ‘The Apostolicity of the Church’, ‘Moral Issues Facing the Church’ and ‘Mary and the Saints’, presented by a team of highly esteemed and well-versed clergy from our beloved Church from around the nation. ​The program commenced on Wednesday, July 10th, …

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Assyrian Church of the East Receives Rev. Ephraim Ashur Alkhas

On the Fourth Sunday of Summer, 28 July 2013, His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Diocese of California, formally and publicly received the Rev’d Qashisha Ephraim Ashur Alkhas into the Assyrian Church of the East for the Diocese of California. The reception by clerical confession of faith, oath of obedience and vesting was given and completed before the witness of the clergy and faithful at Mar Zaia Cathedral in Modesto, California. ​On 14 July, Fr. Ephraim was officially but privately received into the Assyrian Church as a priest of the Diocese of California. He was received from the Diocese of Los Angeles of the North American Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (الروم الأرثوذكس). ​Fr. Ephraim grew up in Saint Mary’s Assyrian Church of the East in North Hollywood, later Tarzana. Here he was baptized by Qashisha Barkho Oshana. During his teenage years he enjoyed participating in the daily services at St Mary’s. He learned to love the Church and her services through the Very Rev’d Cor-Bishop George Bet-Rasho and Rev. Deacon Dan Daniel, his close lifetime mentor and friend. He was tonsured and ordained a Reader by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch, at the …

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