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 Mor Augin Monastery in Switzerland Consecrated

For the second time this year His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I. Iwas made a visit to the Syrian Orthodox Christians in Central Europe from 1st till 30th of June. He was accompagnied by his two secretaries, Mor Julius Kyriakos and Rabban Eliyo Bahe from Damascus. He was greeted at Stuttgart airport by Archbishop Mor Julius Yeshu' Cicek of Central Europe and Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz, Patriarchal vicar in Germany.

During his visit, the Patriarch consecrated the Mor Barsaumo Church in Polheim, Gießen on 13th of June, and on 20th of June he consecrated the Mor Augin Monastery in Switzerland. Before that, he ordained seven priests as Chorepiskopos, or Chori, of which five in Germany, one in Switzerland and one in Austria: On 3rd of June: Abdulahad Kas Afrem in Bietigheim as first Chorepiskopos in Germany, On 5th of June: Chori Yakub Doganay in Bebra, On 6th of June: Chori Yuhannun Teber in Berlin, On 12th of June: Chori Ibrahim Gök in Gütersloh,  On 13th of June Chori Tuma Bilen in Bad Vilbel, On 24th of June: Chori Sabo Isik in Amriswill (Switzerland) and on 27th of June: Chori Emanuel Aydin in Vienna. 

After having spent three weeks in Germany, the Patriarch travelled to Switzerland, to the Monastery of Mor Augin in Arth. He had been invited officially by the host, the Metropolitan Mor Julius Yeshu' Cicek. Seven other Syrian Orthodox Metropolitans came as well: Mor Severius Isaak Saka from Iraq, Mor Philoxenos Yusuf Cetin from Istanbul, Mor Klemis Augin Kaplan and Mor Kyrillos Afrem Karim from the United States, Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz from Germany and Mor Dioskoros Benjamen Atas from Sweden. Mor Julius Kyriakos came with the Patriarch from Damascus. From the sister churches, Bishop Amba Damian from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Germany was present, as well as from the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Bishop Damaskinos in Chambésy, and from the Roman Catholic Church the assisting Bishop from the regional Diocese in Switzerland. Many monks, priests, deacons and thousands of Syrian Orthodox from neighbouring countries came to Arth.

The solemn consacration began on Sunday 20th of June 1999 at 9 hours in the Monastery Church.The Patriarch consecrated the altar with the name of Mor Augin with the Holy Myron, and the four Bishops the four walls of the inner space. The ceremony was accompagnied by hymns from the appropriate rite of church consacration. After the consacration, the Patriarch, together with the Bishops and Choir of Deacons, solemnly went out of the Monastery Church into the packed Catholic Church opposite. At 10 hours he began there with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. He was assisted by all eight syrian orthodox Bishops who were present.

In his sermon, the Patriarch spoke about the historical day of the consacration and opening of the first Syian Orthodox monastery in Switzerland, and he stressed the tireless services of Metropolit Mor Julius Yeshu' Cicek. The Patriarch called him "founder of churches and monasteries" and "Jakob Burd'ono of the 20th century". In 1992, Mor Julius had already received this honorary title for the first time, when the Mor Aho Church in Paderborn was consectrated. Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas motivated the giving of this title, by saying that Mor Julius leads his diocese with great ardour, builds congregations and strengthens the belief of the Syrian Orthodox faithful. That is why he is dained worthy that his name be written with characters of light' in history, his Holyness told thousands of faithful. Moreover, he also stressed the merits of the Suryoyo people, who give money freely for building churches and purchasing monasteries. For reasons of their generosity and keeping to the tradition and faith of the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch called the Suryoye of Tur 'Abdin the "honey of the Syrians'.
Following this, he preached about the meaning of the Syrian Orthodox monasteries and monasticism for the Syrian Orthodox Church. Monasticism preserves the heritage of the Syrian Orthodox Church today. "And we are proud, that despite the ruined or empty monasteries in the homeland, new monasteries are being established here in the Diaspora," the Patriarch said.

After this, Mor Julius Yeshu' Cicek spoke, thanking the Patriarch fo the consacration and opening of the second monastery in his Diocese. In 1984, His Holyness had consecrated the first Syrian Orthodox monastery in Europe, Mor Ephrem the Syrian. 
He also thanked all Syrian Orthodox, who financially supported the building of the church and monastery in a generous way. Mor Julius also expressed the gratitude and appreciation of the Patriarch in the Syrian Orthodox Church. From the Theological Seminary in Damascus which he heads, a multitude of moks and nuns has emerged for the Syrian Orthodox Church, His Eminence pointed out. He mentioned why Mor Augin from Egypt had a great esteem in the Syrian Orthodox Church. 

Mor Augin (+ 363) was a monk and wonderworker from Klysma near Suez in Egypt. After 25 years of ascesis, he entered the monastery of St. Pachomius, leaving again with 70 disciples for Nisibis, and finally he went to the Mountain of Izlo near Tur Abdin, where he gathered 350 monks around him. Among them was also his nephew Mor Malke, whose monastery in Tur Abdin is still inhabited. The important 4th century Mor Augin Monastery was a great centre, from which thousands of monks came forth. Since about 1983 the monastery has been uninhabited and it has been demolished partly by Kurds.

The new Mor Augin Monastery in Arth was built 351 years ago and belonged to the Roman Catholic Capucin Monks. The Syrian Orthodox Diocese of Central Europe bought the building from the Roman catholic church on 29th of march 1996 for 500.000 [Swiss] Francs. Since 15th of July 1996 there have been syrian orthodox monks living there (two or three monks and four nuns), partly from the Mor Ephrem Monastery in the Netherlands.

The monastery has three floors with 24 rooms, a large chapel, a garden and a library with about 8000 books of the Western tradition. The monastery should become a spiritual and cultural centre for the Syrian Orthodox in Switzerland. About 900 syrian orthodox families from Tur Abdin live in Switzerland. The first ones came 30 years ago as foreign worker ("Gastarbeiter") and later on as asylum seekers. Today, one Chori and three priests take care of the Syrian Orthodox community. 

Gabriel Rabo

Photos 4-7: Anita Aydin 
Other News about Mor Augin Monastery: SOCNews

Suryoyo Online thanks Annabelle Parker (Amsterdam) for the translation 

Suryoyo Online
Webmaster: Gabriel Rabo
Updated: 30.08.1999
Last updated:9.10.1999