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Syriac Theology newsletter - Summer 2020

Dear Reader,

This semester we are pleased to be offering a new MA elective course: "Archaeology in the Middle East" with visiting lecturer Prof. Friedrich Schipper. For comprehensive information about the MA, Beth Suryoye, Suryoye Theological Seminary Salzburg and the Syriac Institute please see our dedicated website.

Back in March before the lockdown, MA students enjoyed a visit to Warburg, Paderborn and Gütersloh, getting to know the Syriac Orthodox communities there, followed by a trip to Vienna where some students attended meetings with Pro Oriente and visited the Syriac Orthodox parish of St. Mary's.

Despite the challenges presented by the corona virus MA classes have taken place online so that continuity was assured for our students. We hope to be able to re-organise the open lecture on the situation of the Syriac Christians with journalists Mag. Christian Wehrschutz (ORF) and Mag. Nuri Kino, along with Dr. Otmar Oehring from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, which had to be postponed.

We hope you enoy reading our newsletter.
Aho Shemunkasho

Online teaching - Students and Lecturers carry on

Austria was very quick to lock down due to the corona virus and in the university within an hour of the decision being made to close, students were sent home. However this did not stop the smooth continuance of the MA with online teaching taking place as soon as lockdown began. Online lecturers have included Dr. Li Tang, Mor Polycarpus, Dr. Augin Aydin, Prof. Kaufhold, Dr. Saliba Er and Prof. Herman Teule. We are pleased that all courses are taking place so that we have been able to offer continuity to students.

Congratulations to Abouna Dr. Saliba Er

Congratulations to Abouna Dr Saliba Er on obtaining his doctorate on "Eucharistic Theology in the West Syriac Tradition: A Contemporary Examination of the Select Writings of the Syriac Fathers". Fr. Saliba, who teaches the Syriac language and liturgy for the MA in Syriac Theology commented; "I plan to continue working within academia to contribute to Syriac studies, in particular the liturgy. Next, I am planning to work on making the anaphora prayers more accessible to current and future generations".

Among this years MA graduates

Congratulations to Panagiota Mikropandremenou on the successful defence of her MA thesis on " Babai the great(+628): Historical context and Christological approach". Panagiota is now studying for her PhD at Thessaloniki University. Congratulations also to Fr Joshy Mon with his master thesis on "The Early Development of Syriac Orthodox Monasticism and its Spirituality". Fr. Joshy, originally from Kerala in India, who has been working as a parish priest in Vienna since 2014, commented: "My plans are now to develop a monastic system in India for those who wish to live, pray and work together to the best of our talent that our Lord bestowed upon us". Other graduates have also gone on to further studies, to teach and to work in parishes.

MA students visit parishes in NRW and take part in Pro Oriente meeting

MA students enjoyed a four day trip to Germany where they visited Mor Jakob Monastery in Warburg, being welcomed by Archbishop Mattias Nayis, St Mary and St Aho churches in Paderborn, Mor Malke Church in Delbruck and St Stephanos and St Maria churches in Gütersloh. Students enjoyed meeting the priests, teachers and members of the various committees and groups exchanging information on parish life and the integration of Syriac communities in Germany. Equally parishioners were interested to learn why the students had chosen to study Syriac and what life in Salzburg and Beth Suryoye was like. Some students also took part in a Pro Oriente meeting in Vienna and visited the Syriac community in St Mary parish, Vienna.

New MA elective course "Archaeology in the Middle East"

The destruction of cultural heritage, for example through the IS, and the looting of archaeological sites as well as the illegal trade with stolen cultural goods are very prevalent in the media, social and political discourse today. In particular in the Middle East, cultural heritage and archaelogy as science is of great importance for the interpretative sovereignty of history, present and future of religious confessions, ethnicities, states and nations due the political development of the last 150 years. Prof. Friedrich Schipper who is offering the new elective: "Archaeology in the Middle East, commented: "The course aims to encourage an international discourse about archaeology and cultural heritage of the Middle East". The course also benefits from visits to the archaeological museum in Munich.

Beth Suryoye

Beth Suryoye was the home for all MA students during the lockdown. "Having a great garden in Beth Suryoye was really good during lockdown, making it a lot easier", commented Fr. Paul, Spiritual Director of Beth Suryoye. However students were also happy to visit Erentrudisalm once the lockdown was lifted (seen here at Glasenbach Klamm). Erentrudisalm, named in honour of Erentrudis, the patron saint of Salzburg, who was the first Benedictine abbess (663-718) of the Nonnberg convent and niece of St. Rupert, the first bishop of Salzburg.

Syriac Salzburg website

Syriac Salzburg offers information about everything related to Syriac and Salzburg including the MA, Beth Suryoye, Suryoye Theological Seminary Salzburg (STSS), and the Syriac Institute. It serves as a "one-stop shop" for all information relating to Syriac and Salzburg.


21st January 2020: World Prayer Week for the Unity of the Church, Matthäus Evangelical Church, Salzburg; attended by MA students who contributed with prayers and songs in Aramaic.

25th January 2020: Church Service and Syriac project information evening, Maria-Hilf Church, Leopoldskron, Salzburg. Our thanks to Maria Hilf parish for their support and help in establishing the MA in Salzburg and their welcoming of Syriac Orthodox delegations to the parish.

24th-27th February 2020: Oriental Church Meeting, Pro Oriente, Vienna. Syriac Church represented by Bishop Polycarpus, the event lead by Prof. D. W. Winkler, Prof Agarate, new academic head of the advisory board CEE, and Dr Shemunkasho. Attended by some MA students.

26th Februrary 2020: Meeting at the "Kultusamt", Vienna, to discuss the development of Syriac studies in Salzburg. Attended by Dr. Erhard Busek, former vice chancellor of Austria, Prof. Peter A. Bruck, Bishop Polycarpus, and Gabriel Malas.

11th March 2020: Beth Suryoye ecumenical prayer meeting with Dechant Msgr. Kons. Rat Mag. Rudolf Pacher from St Veit an der Glan parish with MA students. A return visit to St Veit had to be postponed due to corona virus restrictions.

30th 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. Postponed due to corona virus restrictions - to be rescheduled.