Life of Jesus
The Western Archdiocese Stride: Yesterday and Today in brief
Since his Eminence took over the responsibilities of the Western Archdiocese in 1996 he never spared any effort in shepherding the faithful of the Archdiocese by visiting them wherever they were, exploring their situations, circumstances, and concerns. And thus, the Archdiocese prospered and expanded due to his continuous watch and efforts.
In the first year of his arrival in 1996 there were 5 churches in the
Archdiocese: St. Ephraim Cathedral, St. George church, St. Mary church in Orange County, St. Ignatius of Antioch in Portland, and St. Thomas church in San Jose. Due to the unfortunate situation in our home-lands, many families immigrated to the US, many for work, others for reunions. Therefore, the need to establish churches to take care of the newly immigrated faithful increased because the church was and will always be the tent under which all faithful are gathered seeking the peace of mind and the salvation of the soul.
With sincerity and seriousness
His Eminence Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan started visiting areas where the Syriac Orthodox faithful resided throughout the Western region of the US. He succeeded in establishing several churches and in securing priests and Parish Councils to oversee the affairs of these immigrants. Until this day he is still responding positively to the calls of these young churches by visiting and inquiring about their needs from Diocese Center in Burbank, the home of the Archdiocese.
The number of churches today exceeds Eighteen in the Western
Archdiocese. Fourteen of them are shepherded by qualified priests who have dedicated themselves to serve the Lord and His faithful by fulfilling their spiritual and social needs, and the remaining four churches are served by some of our local priests who have established a rotating schedule. His Eminence assigned a monthly meeting for the clergy of the local churches, which is hosted by one of the Diocese church each time. All matters discussed at these meetings have resulted in positive changes to our churches. The priests also express their concerns to his Eminence and to their fellow clergy brethren, looking for wise and realistic solutions. There are also monthly meetings for Parish Council's Representatives for local churches as well as the Archdiocese Council in which all matters are discussed to ensure progress for the Archdiocese as a whole.
We still have to mention that there are great efforts exhorted to encourage the churches' social organizations like the Ladies Auxiliary, Scouts, Sunday Schools, Youth organizations, and a group of deacons who are well educated spiritually. It is worth mentioning that for the first time in the history of both the Eastern and Western Archdioceses such great student books are being published by both Archdioceses for the Sunday School children from age 4 to 13, with a Teachers Manual (book) for the teachers. Mrs. Patricia Allaf has spent a long time in arranging the religious information that suit the age of these children. Thus, and for the first time such a magnificent book enters the Syriac library specialized to guide our children to the Syriac Orthodox Christian teaching.
The Archdiocese has also fully
participated in the
Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches of the Los Angeles area which
holds regular meetings and Liturgies throughout the year. During these
meetings, reports are presented on the activities of the Sunday School
and Youth Committees, as well as future collaborative efforts to unite
the Oriental Orthodox churches of the Los Angeles area. The Sunday
Schools of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac churches have held yearly
events for the past 7 years in which students attend Liturgy, have
lunch, and join together to create very unique and artistic spiritual
Archdiocese also holds twice yearly a Sunday School Teachers and
Clergy retreat in which theological matters such as: church dogma,
doctrines, sacraments, and classroom skills are taught to the
dedicated number of teachers who serve our churches. Through these
retreats a need to deeply understand our Liturgy was expressed by
many, and thus the historic and vital DVD entitled, "Understanding
the Syriac Orthodox Liturgy" was developed. It was a 1 year
project designed as an educational resource for the community,
especially for our Youth and children. It takes the viewer beyond the
curtain of the Holy Sanctuary to how the celebrants conduct the weekly
Liturgy in which the rich rituals and symbolism are explained.
His Eminence attends to the need of all churches whether big or small, and looks to find solutions that fit the situation of every church. Today, the Archdiocese expanded to other states like Arizona, Texas, Washington,
Colorado, Vancouver (British Columbia-Canada)... etc.
Following is the list of churches with their respective priests:
1 - St. Ephraim Cathedral in Burbank served by Very Rev. Fr. Abdelahad Shara and
Rev. Fr. Louis Yacoub.
2 - St. Georges Church in San Fernando served by Rev. Fr. Peter Rouboz.
3 - St. Mary Church in Orange County served by Very Rev. Fr. George Touma.
4 - St. Elias Church in Upland served by Rev. Fr. John Saif.
5 - St. Peter Church in Glendora served by Rev. Fr. Yousef Kallo.
6 - St. Julian Church in Victorville served by Rev. Fr. Mtanos Askar.
7 - St. Thomas Church in El Cajon served by Rev. Fr. Fadi Youssif Atto.
8 - St. Thomas Church in San Jose served by Very Rev. Rabban Hanna Salameh.
9 - St. John Church in Las Vegas served by Very Rev. Rabban Afram Tahan
10 - St. Mary Church in Phoenix-Arizona served by Rev. Fr. Paul Yacoub.
11 - St. Ignatius Church in Portland - Oregon served by Rev. Fr. George Al-Banna.
12 - St. Helen Church in Palmdale served by Rev. Fr. Aphram Adde.
13 - St. Behnam Church in Sacramento served by Rev. Fr. Abdelmasih.
14 - St. Mathew Church in Seattle served by Rev. Fr. Abdallah Tafas.
Archdiocese churches listed below are in need of permanent priests, and they are: (they are served by our local clergy who rotate to serve these churches)
15 - St. Paul Church Parish in San Diego
16 - St. Elias Church Parish in Chico.
17 - St. Mary Church Parish in Vancouver- British Columbia.
18 - St. Ephraim Church Parish in Houston-Texas.
This is a brief list of accomplishments by his Eminence Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan. There are many signs of an expected renaissance and spiritual leap for this Archdiocese due to the efforts of all those in charge and their continuous hard work in this regard.
Prepared in Arabic by: Very Rev. Fr. Abdulahad Shara.
Translated into English by very Rev. Fr. George Touma