His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church

died on 16 August, 2012 aged 76.

Asbaha Gabre Madhin Yohannes was born in the village of Adwa in Tigray Province on 3 November 1935. In 1941, while still a boy, he entered the Abba Garima Monastery, situated close to home and with which his family had had a long association. He began his life there as a deacon-trainee, eventually taking monastic vows and being ordained to the priesthood in 1957. He continued his education at the Theological College of the Holy Trinity in Addis Ababa, under the patronage of Patriarch Abune Tewophilos, who then sent him on to Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, where he studied from 1962-1965, obtaining his master’s degree in divinity in 1966. He then entered a doctoral programme at PrincetonUniversity, but in 1974, his studies were interrupted by the Ethioian Revolution, which toppled the monarchy. Patriarch Abune Tewophilos summoned him back to Ethiopia, and along with four others, in 1975 consecrated him as a bishop, with the name Paulos with responsibility as Director of the Committee for the Inter Church Aid Refugee Service and Ecumenical Relations.

However, as these appointments were made without the permission of the Derg, the Patriarch and the new bishops were all imprisoned and in 1979 the Patriarch was murdered.  Released from detention in 1984 he returned to Princeton in 1984 to complete his doctoral degree, and began his life in exile. He was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by Patriarch Abune Takla Haymanot in 1986, while in exile.

Following the fall of the Derg in 1991 (replaced by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia) and the dethronement of Patriarch Abune Merkorios, the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church authorized a new Patriarchal election. Abune Paulos was elected in 1992, and amidst ecclesial and political controversies that gripped the country, his election and enthronement were recognized by the Coptic Patriarchate in Alexandria.

During his term of office, many urban Church properties that had been confiscated were returned to the Church, notably the campus and library of Holy Trinity Theological College. He also led the restoration of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa and rebuilt the Patriarchate. Further, he regained treasured Church artifacts, including those that had been plundered by British troops in the 19th century. He championed the cause of victims of the Derg and presided over their funerals, including that of Emperor Haile Selassie in 2000.

As one of the seven presidents of the World Council of Churches, representing the Oriental Orthodox Churches, he was instrumental in encouraging interfaith dialogue in Ethiopia and participated in many international meetings, including the World Economic Forum and the World Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations in New York. He made notable efforts in the support of war-displaced and drought-hit Ethiopians, making the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church one of the major relief organizations in the country. He showed keen interest in providing solutions to problems involving youth, women’s issues, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the protection and welfare of refugees, he was awarded the Nansen Medal for Africa by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2000.

Abune Paulos was in Cairo in March for the funeral of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, where he delivered a dignified eulogy. Only recently, on 16 July, he met with President Mohamed Mursi  during the African Union (AU) leaders’ meeting in Addis Ababa.. Memory Eternal !


His Beatitude Torkom II Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem

died on 12 October 2012 aged 93 years.

Avedis Manoogian was born on 16 February 1919, in a refugee camp near the desert town of Baquba, north of Baghdad, Iraq. After completing his elementary education at the Holy Translators’ Armenian School in Baghdad, he entered the Jarangavoratz Theological Seminary at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem as the youngest student of his class. On 2 August 1936, he was ordained a deacon by his spiritual father Patriarch Torkom I Koushagian of Jerusalem, thus becoming a member of the Brotherhood of St. James. He was ordained as a celibate priest on 23 July 1939, and given the priestly name of Torkom.

From 1939-1946 he served in various capacities at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem: on the Board of the Patriarchate’s official gazette, Sion, and also as Vice Dean at the seminary. In July 1946 he travelled to the USA to serve as the spiritual pastor of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His pastorate was interrupted in 1951 when he was appointed to serve as the Vicar of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, headquartered in New York. After returning to his pastorate in North Philadelphia for one year in 1954, Father Torkom returned to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem where he served as Dean of the Jarangavoratz Theological Seminary, assuming the responsibility of the religious education of young seminarians preparing for the priesthood. He also headed the Chancellery of the Patriarchate.

Returning to the United States in 1960, he entered the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to pursue his post-graduate degree. His studies were interrupted in 1962, when he was elected to serve as the Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, based in Los Angeles, California. On 14 October of that same year he was consecrated to the episcopate at the hands of  Catholicos Vasken I.

After serving as Primate of the Western Diocese four years, Bishop Torkom was elected to serve as the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America in April 1966. Two years later, on the occasion of the consecration of the St. Vartan Cathedral in New York, the first Armenian cathedral in America in whose construction he played a pivotal role, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.  On 22 March 1990, after having served six consecutive terms (24 years) as the Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Archbishop Torkom was elected to serve as the 96th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.

When Catholicos Vasken I died in 1994, Patriarch Torkom was chosen as the locum tenens of the Primatial See of Etchmiadzin, serving until the election of Karekin I as Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians in April 1995.

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake which struck Armenia in December 1988, he was instrumental in coordinating international efforts aimed at mobilizing and marshaling financial and material support for the rehabilitation process, in which he was still active.

A musician, choral conductor, composer, poet and writer, Archbishop Torkom had a wide range of personal interests and pursuits. He published some 20 books and monographs including three books of poetry under the pen name “Shen Mah,” original research on the Armenian Divine Liturgy, books on the Armenian genocide, and a detailed guidebook of the holy places of Jerusalem. He also rendered into Armenian the 154 sonnets of William Shakespeare.

He was considered a foremost expert and lecturer on the Armenian composer, Komitas, and was working on a book of Armenian liturgical music by the great musicologist.

His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas

former Metropolitan of North-East America, died on 9 December 2012, aged  88 years.

Mathews Mar Barnabas was born at Vengola, Perumpavoor, Kerala, twin son Kuruvilla and Mariamma of the Kidangethu Thompra family. He received his higher education at Madras Christian College, Osmania University, and Serampore University. He was ordained deacon in 1943 and priest in 1951. In 1977 the Malankara Association elected Father K. K. Mathews as a metropolitan of the church. He was professed as a monk on 13 August 1977 and consecrated to the episcopate on 15 May 1978 at the hands of Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I and appointed him as assistant bishop, first for Ankamaly (1980-1985) and later, Kottayam (1981-1993) Dioceses. He became the first Metropolitan of Idukki in 1993. In 1992/93, he was appointed as the diocesan metropolitan of the undivided American Diocese, which he held until his retirement in January 2011. He left the USA in May 20911 and entered a retired life at Pothanpuram Dayara, Pampady in Kottayam.

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