By Sajeev K Peter, Staff Writer
KUWAIT: Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, on Friday inaugurated the 40th anniversary celebration of the establishment of St George Universal Syrian Orthodox Church Kuwait.
The patriarch arrived in Kuwait on Thursday accompanied by bishops and an Apostolic delegation from Lebanon. A host of dignitaries, guests and parishioners attended the grand and solemn public meeting held at the Ramada Hotel Riggae. “I extend my gratitude to all the rulers of the State of Kuwait who have supported us and given us the freedom of worship in the state,” the Patriarch said in his inaugural address. He said the church will continue its humanitarian charities to the deprived.
“Her Highness Sheikha Fariha Al- Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s presence on this auspicious day is remembered as a grand recognition to the church,” he added in his speech. Catholicose Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, in his presidential address, announced new projects of medical aid, housing aid and educational assistance, being initiated by the parish. “MBYA has undertaken humanitarian and social service schemes and as part of it, it has implemented a social service program under the name of St Basil Housing Project to build and donate houses to needy persons in one of the dioceses each year.”
The project was inaugurated by Anoop Jacob, Kerala Minister for Food and Civil supplies, Consumer Protection and Registration. Later, Sheikha Fariha Al-Sabah released the anniversary souvenir. Fr Amanuel Ghareb, the NECK chairman, was decorated by the Patriarch on the occasion. The occasion also marked the 32nd year of the enthronement of Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Antioch and the All the East, and Baselios Thomas I, the Catholicose and the head of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. Mor Theophilus George Saliba released the directory while Mor Gregorios Joseph, Secretary of the Holy Synod, delivered a felicitation speech on 32nd year of the enthronement of the Patriarch of the Antioch.
Minister Anoop Jacob was also decorated with the highest title of the church ‘Commander’ by the Patriarch. Mor Chrysostomos Michael Shamoun, patriarchal vicar of the Patriarchal Institutions in Lebanon, Kerala’s Minister of Excise K Babu, Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait Archbishop Peter Rajic, Indian Ambassador Satish C Mehta, Lebanese Ambassador Dr Bassam Al-Nomani, Iraq Ambassador Mohammed Bahr Al-Uloom, Armenian Ambassador Fadey Charchoglyan and Bishop of the Armenian Orthodox Church Shahe Panesian were among the dignitaries who addressed the anniversary celebration. St George Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, Kuwait was established 40 years ago.
From its beginning with just 13 Malayalee Jacobite families owing allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch as members, the parish today has grown to the strength of more than 650 families with around 2,500 members. It is one of the largest parishes in the Gulf region. The church was elevated to ‘Reesh’ church later.