The Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon’s newly ordained priest Reverend Narsai Youkhanis has commenced his lifetime service to the Assyrian Church of the East, following an emotional laying of the hands ceremony at St Hurmizd Cathedral.
The ordination, on 22 August 2010, was led by His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia and assisted by Cor Bishop Reverend Ashur Lazar and more than 30 clergy members including parish priests, deacons, sub-deacons and lectors.
In a symbolic ceremony filled with ritual prayers to the Holy Spirit, H.B. Mar Meelis Zaia placed his blessed right hand on Deacon Ramsen Youkhanis, raising him to the ranking of priesthood and a commitment to work in the field of the Lord under his chosen name ‘Reverend Narsai’.
Attending the early morning ordination were more than 2000 faithful, who filled St Hurmizd Cathedral with a mix of tears and joy, and took part in the new priest’s first offering of the Holy Eucharist, which followed a sermon and gospel reading for the 7th Sunday of summer according to the church calendar.
Rev. Narsai said he felt confident through the strength of God, following the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit, the laying on of hands.
“When the Holy Spirit is descending down, you feel the weight of authority coming down on you. During the ordination, when you’re kneeling down, your legs start shaking. But as soon as the Holy Spirit descended, I felt the pain go away, I felt relieved,” said Rev. Narsai.
H.B. Mar Meelis Zaia praised Reverend Narsai’s love of the priesthood and gave a brief biography of his accomplishments and previous ordinations:
– Rev. Narsai Youkhanis was born in Basra, Iraq in 1989
– His family emigrated to Australia in 1995 and include his father, Dr David Youkhanis, his mother, Mrs Moren Youkhanis and his two brothers Nenos and Deacon Ramen Youkhanis
– Ordained lector in April 2006
– Ordained sub-deacon in November 2006
– Ordained deacon in July 2007
– Assistant to Cor Bishop Ashur Lazar
Rev. Narsai, who is currently completing a degree in BA Architectural Studies at the University of NSW, said his family instilled a love of church activities in him from a very young age, which encouraged him to take part in Sunday school, children’s choir, and St Hurmizd Cathedral choir with church musician Rabi Shora.
“I’ve always had the love of the church and to work in this field. I’ve always wanted architecture as a discipline and hobby but I knew that I wouldn’t be working in the architecture field.”
Next year will see Rev. Narsai begin his postgraduate degree in Early Christian and Jewish Studies at Macquarie University, followed by a Masters degree in Theology.
With his short-term goal being to offer a helping hand across all parishes of the Assyrian Church of the East, Rev. Narsai will be based at St Hurmizd Cathedral but hopes to visit an alternating parish on the last Sunday of every month.
“I want to help out as much as I can with all the parishes, not just one. I’ll be getting the experience of priesthood and studying at the same time,” he said.
“It’s a really good feeling. It’s a lot of responsibility and I can feel that. There’s so much to do but it’s just about trying your best. You’re working for the church so you don’t expect a reward from people; we’ll wait for a reward from God.”[nggallery id=42]