On Saturday, July 3, 2021, His beatitude Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, presided at a Holy Mass celebrating the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, and the installation service of Bishop Mar Yacoub Ephrem Semaan as Patriarchal Vicar of the Syriac Catholic Church of Jerusalem, Holy Land and Jordan. The service took place at the Church of St. Thomas Syriac Catholic Church in Jerusalem.
In his homily, Patriarch Mar Ignatius Joseph III spoke about the countries of the East and Holy Land, especially Palestine and Lebanon, which have been suffering lately from many hardships, noting that “we remain the Church and people of hope, and we place our trust in the Lord Who said to His disciples: Do not fear, for I am with you”.
The Patriarch added: “We are aware of the challenges and difficulties, but your beloved Bishop, puts his trust in the Lord Jesus and walks with Him, placing all his hope in you to assist him, so that this Patriarchal Vicariate may flourish despite the small number of its faithful, and be an example of love, justice and hope,” noting that Bishop Ephrem Semaan took the name of St. Jacob “Mar Yacoub”, who was the first bishop of the Church of Jerusalem.
In his speech, the bishop expressed his joy that his installation coincided with the celebration of the Feast of St. Thomas, the patron Saint of the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle for the Syriac Catholic, as well as the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the consecration of the Church of St. Thomas on July 3, 1986. “The ordination calls repeatedly to the Bishop with the phrase “come in peace”, for the Bishop is the successor of the apostles, the good shepherd whose work is to offer peace by coming to the parish, following the example of Jesus Christ, Who by His death and resurrection gave us peace and eternal salvation,” said Bishop Semaan.
Bishop Semaan added, addressing Patriarch Younan: “From this Holy place, I renew my pledge of complete obedience to you and your good fatherly directives and wise guidance, for the good of our Antioch Syriac Church in the Holy Land. I also place myself at your disposal at all times, ready to meet every service. May God always make me worthy of your expectations”.
The Holy Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Mar Ephrem Youssef Aba, Archbishop of Baghdad and Secretary of the Holy Synod; and Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.