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His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II
The Supreme Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II was born in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, on May 3, 1965. After finishing primary schooling in Qamishli in 1977, he received his religious secondary education at St. Ephrem's Theological Seminary in Atchaneh, Bikfaya, Lebanon. After completing school in 1982, he worked in Aleppo, Syria, as an assistant to the Archbishop Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim. From 1984 to 1988, he attended the Coptic Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Divinity.

In 1985, he took the vows of a monk, and changed his name to Aphrem in honor of the 4th-century Syriac poet-theologian Ephrem the Syrian and former patriarch Aphrem I Barsoum. He was ordained deacon, and, later that year, was elevated to the sacred priesthood. From 1988 to 1989, he served as both the secretary to his patriarchal predecessor, Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, and as a teacher at St. Ephrem’s Theological Seminary in Damascus, Syria.

In 1991, he entered St Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland, from where he received a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (1992) and Doctor of Divinity (1994). During that time, he also served as a priest to the Syriac Orthodox Community in the United Kingdom.

On January 28, 1996, he was consecrated as Metropolitan Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Eastern United States by Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at St. Mary’s Syriac Orthodox Church in his home town of Qamishli. Taking the episcopal name Cyril, he arrived in the United States on March 2, 1996, and was officially installed at St. Mark’s Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, New Jersey, as Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim.

During his time as Metropolitan Archbishop, Cyril Aphrem Karim oversaw the creation of 11 new parishes, bringing the total parishes in the archdiocese to 20. He created an advisory council to aid in oversight and administration of the archdiocese. He created the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocesan Youth Organization to coordinate youth activities across the archdiocese's parishes, and oversaw a number of youth conferences as he sought to grow the church. He organized a special youth liturgy in the New York/New Jersey area and created a choral society.

Cyril Aphrem Karim oversaw the creation of the Archdiocesan Sunday School Committee to unite lesson plans across the archdiocese. He created a pre-marriage counseling program which afforded couples-to-be the chance to meet with him personally. He also established an annual liturgy service to recognize and appreciate the elderly members of the community. He worked for inter-church unity, serving on the World Council of Churches. Cyril Aphrem Karim played a significant role in founding Christian Churches Together.

On March 21, 2014, Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas died after a long illness. Following his death, the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch was convened to elect a successor. The synod elected Cyril Aphrem Karim to be the 123rd successor of St. Peter in the Apostolic See of Antioch. He was enthroned on May 29, 2014, at St Ephrem's Monastery, Maarat Saidnaya, near Damascus, Syria.

His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II

Archbishop Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan
Metropolitan, Patriarchal Vicar
of the Western Archdiocese of USA

Born in Qamishly, Syria, in 1955, His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Clemis Eugene (Awgen) Kaplan completed his high school education in Qamishly. In 1969, His Eminence joined the St. Ephraim Theological Seminary in Atshaneh, Lebanon and graduated in 1973. He then pursued theological, pastoral and liturgical education at Mor Hananya Monastery (Deyr ul-Zaafaran), Turkey. He was called to monastic life in 1971 and was ordained to sacred priesthood in 1983. From 1974-1981 he served as a teacher of Syriac and Arabic languages and theology at the Za`faran monastery. In 1982, His Eminence was appointed as the Principal of the Theological Seminary of Mor Gabriel Monastery in Turkey and served in this capacity until 1990. On April 12, 1991, His Eminence was consecrated Metropolitan and appointed Patriarchal Assistant. His Eminence was elected to the Patriarchate Vicarate of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western United States by H. H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I and assumed responsibilities as Patriarchal Vicar on April 7th, 1996. Archbishop Mor Clemis is fluent in both classical and vernacular Syriac as well as Arabic, Turkish and English. He is the author of many theological, historical and linguistic articles, and has translated many books and articles from and into Arabic, Syriac and Turkish.

Archbishop Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan

Rev’d Fr. Fadi Z Yousif
St. Thomas Parish Priest

Father Fadi was born in Baghdad 1976. He completed his first degree in Statistics at the College of Administration and Economics in University of Baghdad in 1998. He joined St Ephrem’s Theological College in 1998 where he was made a Curate Deacon by His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas, the Supreme Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in 1999. In 2001 Father Fadi finished his theological studies and was selected by His Holiness to pursue his academic studies in the United Kingdom. In 2003 he gained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Practical Theology with merit from Cardiff University. Then he continued his theological studies in Cardiff University finishing a Master of Theology in Christian Social Ethics in 2004. In 2007 Cardiff University awarded Father Fadi a Master of Philosophy in Christian-Muslim Relations. While studying, he joined ecumenical groups in the United Kingdom and represented his Church. He was able to bring his Eastern religious experience and his Western education into fusion by integrating religious faith in society. Fr. Fadi was ordained a Deacon Evangelist in January 2007 and a week later, he accepted the Sacrament of the Holy Orders and became an ordained priest by His Holiness at St Ephrem’s Patriarchal Monastery.

Rev’d Fr. Fadi Z Yousif

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