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Syriac Theology 13.09.2022

Dear Reader,

Last week the international students of Syriac Theology held an advent prayer service in Beth Suryoye together with local friends of Syriac Theology. In the vesper prayers according to the Syriac rite, and the international Christmas songs in Chinese, Korean, Russian, English and German, the focus was on the joy Jesus Christ brought into the world, as Mor Ephrem wrote; “This is the month that carries all kind of joy,” (Nat 5.1).

I wish you all a happy Christmas with a lot of joy and all good wishes for 2020.

Aho Shemunkasho

New students - International and Ecumenical

New MA students this year come from Hong Kong, S. Korea, Russia, India and the USA. Equally diverse are the churches they represent including Methodist, Presbyterian, Russian Orthodox, Syro-Malabar Catholic and the Melkite Catholic Church. One of the first year MA students Matthew Ng from Hong Kong explains why he chose to study Syriac Theology: "The Syriac tradition is so distinctive that it preserves the ancient and enriches Christianity. It is definitely a "hidden pearl" with a unique and rich tradition for all Christians and the world to understand and experience Christianity anew".

Pope supports MA in Syriac Theology

The preservation and knowledge of the Aramaic language and Christian spirituality of the Syriac Christians is important for the future world church, commented Pope Francis to Prof. Peter A. Bruck, President of the Syriac Institute. Meeting in Rome at the ordination of Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, the Pope encouraged the Churches, university and parishes to support the project in Syriac studies and the passing on of the Aramaic language in Salzburg. Prof. Bruck emphasised with gratitude the particular involvement of the Catholic Archdiocese and Land Salzburg in providing "Beth Suryoye" student house for MA students which includes its own chapel.

Patriarch encourages students to take advantage of MA Syriac Theology

H.H. Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met Dr. Aho Shemunkasho in the patriarchal residence in Atchanah, Lebanon for fruitful discussions about the development of Syriac Theology in Salzburg. H.H. commented: "I encourage students from Germany and other EU countries living in the diaspora to study in Salzburg and benefit from the MA in Syriac Theology". A meeting was also held between the Patriarch and the Syriac Theological Seminary Salzburg (STSS) committee in Stockholm with Bishop Polycarpus (President of STSS) from the Netherlands, Gabriel Malas (Vice President) from the UK and Abdulmesih Barabraham (Secretary) from Germany discussing progress in Syriac Theology.

MA students active ecumenism

MA students Sijo George representing the Mar Thoma Syriac Church, and Fr. Jobin from the Malankara Orthodox Church took part in the Pro Oriente Colloquium Syriacum in November. "It was a great opportunity to experience ecumencial work at first hand," commented Sijo George. The three day meeting in Vienna focussed on:"With hope toward the future - living together and common witness of the Syriac tradition". Organised by Prof. Dietmar W. Winkler and attended by Prof. Pablo Agrarate and Dr Ephrem Ishac, both lecturers on the MA.

Beth Suryoye Team - New administrator for Beth Suryoye

Beth Suryoye is very pleased to welcome Mr Luka Kalas as part-time administrative officer to streamline administrative tasks in Beth Suryoye. Even better is that he has trained as both cook and is an enthusiastic gardener so his skills could come in very handy in a number of ways. Along with Nanor Moses as cook and Kegham Hagop as gardener, Beth Suryoye now has a compliment of three. Fr. Paul George, Spiritual Director, commented: "Beth Suryoye is also helped by kind and active students but the appointment of an administrative officer who is also responsible for overseeing the kitchen and garden is a great step in the right direction".

Tur Abdin Study trip

For the thirty year anniversary of the Friends of Tur Abdin Dr. Shemunkasho organised a trip for Initiativer Christlicher Orient (ICO) visiting monasteries, churches and villages in Tur Abdin which resulted in a publication updating people on the current situation. Now a further trip is planned for ICO members in spring 2020.

Winter Semester Events

23rd-24th September 2019: ICO Tagung St Virgil, Salzburg. Speakers included Bishop Mor Polycarpus Aydin on "Tur Abdin - living centre of Syriac Christianity?", MA visiting scholar, other speakers included Prof. Martin Tamcke.

24th September 2019: Celebration of Dr. Hans Hollerweger, founder of ICO and the Friends of Tur Abdin, Linz.

14th-16th September 2019: Prayer Breakfast: "Dialogue, a way of life and a path to peace. The challenge of Pluralism and Freedom", Libanon, Prof. Shemunkasho as Syrian Orthodox representative.

2nd October 2019: Live panel TV debate and presentation about the MA in Syriac Theology, Suryoyo Sat TV, Stockholm

5th-8th November 2019: ‘Christian Witness: A Life Patterned on the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27)’ Conference organised by The Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative, the Logos Centre of the Monastery of St Bishoy, Wadi el-Natrun, Egypt where Dr. Aho Shemunkasho represtented the Syrian Orthodox Church.

26th-28th November 2019: 6th Colloquium Syriacum " With Hope towards the Future: Living together and common witness of the Syriac Tradition", Pro Oriente Vienna, organised by Prof. Dietmar W Winkler.

Forthcoming events

7th January 2020: Ecumenical reception - MA students attending at the invitation of the Archbishop of Salzburg.

21st January 2020: World prayer week for the unity of the Church Mathaus Evangelical Church, Taxham, Salzburg with MA students.

25th January 2020: Church Service and Syriac project information evening, Maria-Hilf Church, Leopoldskron, Salzburg, with MA students.

February 2020: Oriental Church Meeting, Pro Oriente, Vienna.

March 2020: Public lecture with Dr. Otmar Oehring and journalist Nuri Kino, moderated by ORF journalist Mag. Christian Wehrschütz on the current situation of Christians in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.