In a majestic Christian ceremony and amidst a spiritual atmosphere of blended fragrances of incense and angelic church hymns, His Holiness Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, chaired the Episcopal ordination of Mar Narsai Benjamin Bishop for Iran in Tehran.
The morning of thirteenth of September, the Feast of the Holy Cross and according to the ceremonial tradition of the Church of the East, witnessed the largest attendance in Iran’s contemporary history from the clergy and faithful members of the Church of the East, our other sister Churches and all the Assyrian people in Iran to participate with the Church Fathers of the Church of the East. The Church of Saint George, the martyr, in Tehran was filled with the presence of clergy and believers from all the different churches to participate in this great event.
Beginning at eight o’clock, the morning of the blessed day, the holy consecration procession moved from Holy Church courtyard, heading to the main door and then to the Holy Altar carrying the cross, the Holy Gospel and incense.
Heading the procession was H.H. Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East accompanied by H.G. Mar Gewargis Sliwa Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Iraq, Iran and Russia, H.G. Mar Odisho Oraham, Bishop of the Diocese of Europe, H.G. Mar Aprim Nathniel, Bishop of the Diocese of Syria, H.G. Mar Isaac Yousip, Bishop of the Diocese of Dohuk and Russia, H.G. Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Diocese of California, H.G. Mar Youkhanan Yousip, Bishop of the Diocese of India, and with reverend parish priests, deacons, and a number of guests.
After the arrival of the procession to the sacred altar and before the beginning of ceremony, Reverend Chor-Bishop Gewargis Benjamin, as is the tradition of the Church, read his commitment to work with his brothers, members of the Holy Synod under the leadership of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch for the glorification of the name of the LORD. He then ended his reading with the signing of the document signifying an admission and promise to comply with the faith.
Then the Episcopal consecration ceremony began according to the apostolic authority held by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch, heir to the apostolic chain of the Apostle Peter and with the participation of bishops and metropolitans of the Holy Synod members and according to church rituals. At the conclusion of the Episcopal consecration rituals, the clergy and the official guests offered their best wishes, blessings and congratulating to His Grace Mar Narsai Benjamin, Bishop of the Diocese of Iran.
Attending the ceremony were H.G. Mar Gewargis Karmo, Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Reverend Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana, Archdeacon of the Diocese of Lebanon Church of the East on behalf of and representing His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon, Reverend Chor-Bishop Peter Yelda, Reverend Father Ryan Issa of the Chaldean Church, and Reverend Father Ninos Mekdisniah of the Assyrian Evangelical Church, and the Reverend Father Eddie of the Protestant Church and several others.
Also attended the ceremony was Mr. Yonatan Beit Kolya; the representative of the Assyrians in the Iranian Shura Council, Mr. Hussein Rezai; the representative of the Presidency, Dr. Mozaffari; the administrator for Interfaith Dialogue Foundation, Ms. Rustamabadi; member of the Foundation, Mr. Mohammad Zadeh; representative of the Ministry of Interior, and Mr. Said Taqwe; representative of the Ministry of Islamic culture.
In addition, officials and members of the National Assyrian Institutions in Iran like the National Assyrian Council in Tehran, the Assyrian National Council in Urmia, and the National Council in Shahinshahir, and the Assyrian National Council in Vardes.
After the consecration, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch offered a word of blessing to the church and her children, the new bishop and shepherd, and expressed his gratefulness to the Iranian government and its officials for hosting this pastoral visit of His Holiness and his brethren bishops whom they were guests of the government and dignitaries of the Iranian people.
His Holiness also noted in his speech, which was translated into Persian, Christianity’s and the Church’s commitment to the principles of respecting others and their beliefs and the importance of co-existence of citizens of one nation from different affiliation, beliefs and persuasions, criticizing and refusing the call of the preacher in the United States to burn the Koran.
His Holiness also gave a sermon on the occasion highlighting the Feast of the Holy Cross, its implications and its place in the Church of the East, being one of the seven Holy Feasts. He also gave his blessings and offered fatherly guidance for the faithful of the Church and clergy urging them to obey H.G. Mar Narsai Benjamin and assist him in carrying the burden of his diocese.
The Iranian media participated in the coverage of the ceremony. Various TV channels radio stations broadcasted the news of the celebration and the ceremony of the consecration.
It is noteworthy that His Holiness the Patriarch and the Church Fathers accompanying him arrived in Tehran on Friday, 10th September. The visit includes a number of meetings with leaders and institutions of Iran and the Assyrian national as well as meetings with clergy and members of the Church of the East church bodies and committees in Tehran and Urmia, the various parishes of the Assyrian Church of the East.
Our congratulations to His Grace Mar Narsai Benjamin wishing him the best in his Episcopal passage.
A brief biography of the life of H.G. Mar Narsai Benjamin:
* He was born Gewargis Benjamin in 1980 in Urmia University graduate
* Is one of the activists of the Youth Committee of the Church of St Mary in Urmia
* In 2000, ordained a deacon by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch in the Church
* In 2006 moved to Nohadra in Iraq to spend the three years of learning in the diocese and preparation for the priestly ordination, Reverend Father Youkhana Hormuz overseeing his education
* On May 10, 2009 was ordained priest by His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Sliwa Metropolitan in the Church of St. Mary in Urmia
* May 15, 2009 was ordained Chor-Bishop by His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Sliwa in the church of Saint George in Tehran