By Presvytera Seraphima Shagoury (OCP Delegate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) – OCP News Service – Exclusive – 12/11/16 – Reposted Article.
Please consider making your valuable donations to help our suffering brothers and sisters in Aleppo and other parts of Syria. You can make donations through the below mentioned organizations.
Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate
Syriac Orthodox Archdioscese of the Western United States
St. Mary’s Syriac Orthodox Church- Dallas
Interview with Fr. Joseph Shabo (Archdiocese of Aleppo) & Church leaders of Syriac Orthodox Mission Parish in Texas.
S: So – tell us, when did your mission parish first start?
Dr: The parish started 2015, May 10th, so – almost 2 years ago.
S: And how often does Fr. Joseph get to come here?
Dr: Not often! We have a different Priest every time, sent to us by the Archdiocese. Now he is here for 2 weeks and in New Jersey.
S: Father Shabo, do you anticipate more orthodox immigrants coming to the Dallas-Fort Worh area fleeing from Syria?
Fr: (shaking his head) No – they don’t come here ….I don’t know why, but they go to California or Detriot or to New Jersey instead.
S:So, you are still a minority here in the Dallas area?
Dr: All our people are scattered to other churches…. because they don’t know we are here! Protestant, Catholic, Melkite, even Greek Orthodox. We face this question all the time, “which came first the chicken or the egg?” (smiling) They belong to our Patriarchate, and we want them to come.We are lucky – we get to use this Church (St Mary’s) and we rent the space for – peanuts, really – from the Malankara Orthodox.
S: So – you’re a Mission Parish, and in a tough situation?
Dr: Yes!. if someone was particularly wealthy we could do more but it’s not that kind of situation.its just 15 families right now.
S: So you just keep working at it….
S: I am not that familiar with the Syrian Patriarchate, but how often do we have people from Aleppo, Damascus, for example… Clergy coming to the USA regularly?
Mr.. C: Usually only the Patriarch himself comes now and again because our headquarters in Damascus. This morning he made a service in Sao Pauolo Brazil,
Tuesday he will see the Armenian Patriarch, then go back to Lebanon and Damaascus.
S: I see. Any other Clergy that may have family here in America, or are they trying to stay as close to Syria as possible during the conflict?
Dr: Our head, Sayedna, but his Chair is in California.So, not very often
S: Does the Archdiocese have an eye towards Pan – Orthodox activities with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches – does it participate?
Mr.. C: They do….and here I can be a help on this. I know we are trying to achieve one goal with the Armenians in sweden; making the calendar the same with them who in turn are working with the Russian Orthodox and their calendar…..
Dr. B: but the most important thing is to keep our strength for those in Syria, because people are leaving Churches, Monasteries and they are getting destroyed – that is why he is going there – to keep the strength of those left behind.
S: Father Joseph, is there anything you want us to know about Aleppo?
FR: It’s the most dangerous city in the world right now – like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but WORSE…..
DR: My 2 cousins lost their lives there….
S: (nodding sadly.)
S: But for your Mission Parish here, do you have a group for men, women, and any actitivites?
Dr: Not yet, but women’s group will take care of the choir right now – most important part, that’s the first, the second is – and i try very hard but we are all busy — we need more people! Right now we have 15 families. We are increasing slowly and gradually – that’s why we like to grab onto people that come here (like you) as soon as we see them!
(At this point Father was asked for a picture by other visitors, and then sat down again. )
Dr: You have quite a few questions! The one I couldn’t answer specifically was about our Bishop; we have one in the East, and one in the West.
S: If your parish could have one workshop sponsored by any other Orthodox Parish coming here to visit you …..what would it be?
Dr: Well we do have a Monastery in Paramus, New Jersey where the monks are. They do a workshop 4 times a year
S: Is that something you want to see your Mission be able to attend?
Dr: I have dreams.
S: What do you think your Mission families need here?
Dr: We need Sunday School and a lot of social activities…..but 1st dream is to get a full time Priest, second is get our own Church building.
S: My last question: Father – how would you like to see other Orthodox Christians help the people in Aleppo and in Syria?
(Father answered the question in Syrian)
Dr: The only thing they ask him there is to send money and to pray for them
Fr: Money — now because even the United Nations cannot drop food for them….. they need the money…..they need donations……
S: (shaking head sadly) Do people go underground? To hide?
Fr: They are trying to do whatever is possible, There is no hospitals, no medicines…. Damascus gets everything because of the Government,so those who do have money people can still get medical care there. But Aleppo is starting to annoy the government and they are working on that next. It’s a very sad situation!
S: i know that we have International Orthodox Christian Charities that contributes here in the USA, but what’s the MOST effective way to give a donation to Syria?
FR: Through our Patriarch or our Bishops. I try to ask everybody i know for a donation for the Church.
Dr: And I as well. In fact, if you give me a donation now, I will hold it for you, to give to the Patriarch……(whispers: I am just teasing you.) (smiling.)
(Father gave me his business card)
S: Do you know Sister Hatune Dogan?
FR: Yes, she’s in Germany now! (looking surprised)
S: I read her site – to me shes like a Deaconess! A good example for those Orthodox churches that don’t have deaconesses yet! (big smile)
Fr: I have so many people in my parish from Aleppo – they have no bread…. no food….remember me, sister, remember me. God bless you! If you can help us that will be very good…….
LIVES ARE COUNTING ON US — please give generously to the best of your ability,and pray for Syria!