(Syrian Orthodox Church) - It is with great sadness that we, the North American Archdioceses of the Syriac Orthodox Church, wish to inform you of the passing of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church. His Holiness was called to his eternal rest today, March 21, 2014, following a heart attack while in Germany for medical treatment. Eighty years of age, His Holiness was born in Mosul, Iraq on April 21, 1933 and served as our supreme spiritual father since his election to the Patriarchal See of Antioch on September 14, 1980.
A tireless servant of the Lord, His Holiness labored faithfully to strengthen and guide the Holy Church for more than three decades during which time he was instrumental in the establishment of new vicariates throughout the world and the construction of St. Ephrem Monastery and Theological Seminary at Ma’arrat Saidnaya, near Damascus, Syria. His Holiness was very active in the Ecumenical Movement, strengthening ties with other Christian traditions and churches. He was likewise an outstanding theologian and scholar. During the recent years of the tragic suffering in Syria and Iraq, His Holiness has been a source of consolation and support to his spiritual children both near and far.
We ask that you kindly remember His Holiness in your prayers and ask the Lord to sustain and support the Holy Church of Antioch through this time of sorrow and loss. We also request that you pray for the Church as it now seeks to select a worthy successor to shepherd the flock through the challenging years that await us. May the Lord bless you and may He grant His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas eternal peace and rest in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Western USA
Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Eastern USA
Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi, Canada
Mor Titus Yeldho, Malankara Archdiocese