Category Archives: Eastern Church

Is the Church confused?

The title of this blog post is a very broad and provocative question. But what do I mean by it? Well, when we think of the universal Church, her catholicity in the widest sense possible, you will experience division, feel a lack of cohesion and yet we profess faith in one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, even share in fact that we have a valid priesthood and the sacraments (mysteries, as Eastern Christianity calls them) but truly unity lacks –and I am only indicating a local context for the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Andrew Stephen Damick, an Orthodox priest, wrote a superb article for First Things online, titled, “Are you Greek?  He writes as having not been raised as cradle Orthodox person but as a convert and as a priest struggling with the question of Christian unity from within his own ecclesial context. I highly recommend the article because he raises the identity question in a way that makes sense. We want a less confused, a more united Church where discipleship is not the object of human manipulation.


Vigil for Persecuted Christians at Quinnipiac

Hvizdak --the ZinnsHere is a photo essay for Persecuted Christians at Quinnipiac University that happened last evening (17 September 2014).

A friend sung Psalm 129 in Gregorian notation as the candles were lit; other liturgical pieces were sung in Greek, Arabic, and Aramaic chants. Likewise, the Gospel (“Blessed are the peacemakers…”) was sung and proclaimed in the various languages. Dominican Father Jordan Lenaghan, Catholic Chaplain, organized Christians in prayer from various Churches with the presence of the University Rabbi and other officials, for our brothers and sisters facing persecution in the Middle East. About 100 people attended. A large turn-out of students and concerned Christians attended.

Joy Alappat as new auxiliary bishop for the Syro-Malabarese USA

Joy AlappatI awoke today to read that His Holiness, Pope Francis, nominated a friend and former colleague to be an auxiliary bishop for the Syro-Malabarese Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Chicago. Father Joy Alappat, 57, the current rector of Mar Thoma Sleeha Cathedral in Bellwood, IL, takes on a new ministry: the first auxiliary bishop for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in the USA.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is a fast growing Eastern Catholic Church which follows the East Syrian liturgical tradition; it would be a cousin to the Chaldean (Iraqi) Catholic Church. Often this Church is referred to as the Thomas Christians.

Born in Kerala, in 1956 the bishop-elect was ordained a priest of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Irinjalakuda in 1981. Following graduate studies and ministry in India, Father Joy came to the US in 1993 and served as a hospital chaplain at Georgetown University Hospital (1999-2002). Father Alappat worked in New Milford, CT, and Newark and Garfield, NJ.

The Church to which the bishop-elect belongs number about 4 million worldwide, largely in India; it is the second largest Eastern Catholic Church. In the USA, the Malabars  have one eparchy,  St. Thomas the Apostle of Chicago led by Bishop Jacob Angadiath, the first bishop of the eparchy. The official 2010 stats indicated that the eparchy serves 86,000 faithful, with 37 diocesan priests, 10 religious priests, and 18 parishes.

The date of Fr. Alappat’s episocopal consecration has yet to be determined.

May Saint Thomas richly bless my friend, Father Joy, as he takes up the cross of being a bishop in Christ’s vineyard.

Patriarchs Gregory and John meet

Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchs 2014The annual Synod of Bishops of the Melkite Church just finished meeting. The Melkite bishops from around the world meet together each year for some time in prayer, discussions on theology, liturgy, canonical process and the election of bishops. This year the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, John X, met with Melkite Patriarch Gregory III –a historic meeting.

The Melkites in the USA are governed by Bishop Nicholas J. Samra (of the Eparchy of Newton) and the Antiochian Orthodox Church is awaiting a new head of church since their Metropolitan Philip Saliba died not long ago. The new metropolitan is expected to be announced late next week.

Melkite Synod 2014 meeting with Patriarch JohnSaint Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.

Francis meets Aram

Francis and AramIn these days approaching Pentecost Sunday, we ought to set our eyes on the coming of the Holy Spirit. I find it striking in these days leading up to the great feast of the Pentecost that there have been many meetings between the Bishop of Rome and those bishops of Eastern Christianity. These meetings happen but so many so close together…and today is no different.

In Rome, Pope Francis met with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia. Aram is well-known among the various Christian bodies who work in the World Council of Churches but also in the Middle East Council of Churches. Few of the patriarchs have as personally as Aram have made lasting contributions  in the ongoing work of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Remember, the Oriental Churches are those who historically didn’t share the accepted Chalcedonian Christology (Coptic, Armenian, Church of the East, etc.)

Aram blessing with relicIn the Vatican press we read that Pope Francis noted how he –and the Church of Rome– considers the Armenian Church and the Catholicos Aram I as “a part of the Christian world that is irrevocably marked by a history of trials and sufferings courageously accepted for the love of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people; it has experienced in a singular way what it means to journey towards the Kingdom of God. The history of emigration, persecutions and the martyrdom experienced by so many of the faithful has inflicted deep wounds on the hearts of all Armenians. We must see and venerate these as wounds inflicted on the very body of Christ, and for this very reason a cause for unfailing hope and trust in the provident mercy of the Father”.

Philippa Hitchen and Aram“In these days before Pentecost … in faith, let us invoke the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, that he may renew the face of the earth, be a source of healing for our wounded world, and reconcile the hearts of all men and women with God the Creator. May He, the Paraclete, inspire our journey towards unity. May He teach us to strengthen the fraternal bonds which even now unite us in the one baptism and in the one faith.”

Here is Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Aram. Listen…

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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