On the morning of Saturday, the 14th/27th of February 2016, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem left Jerusalem for the town of Sdeide in the Accra-Ptolemais region of Northern Israel, home to an Arabic-speaking Rum-Orthodox Community numbering approximately 700 members.

The Community’s worship centre is a Church dedicated to St Patrick the Hieromartyr and Bishop of Proussa.

His Beatitude was welcomed by priests from the town’s adjacent parishes and went on to bless the faithful and begin the Katabasias hymns, leading the Matins and divine Liturgy. Co-officiating were Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Metropolitan Joachim of Zambia, Archimandrite Chrysostomoss, hegumen in Fhes, Jordan, and Hierodeacons Markos and Anastasios. Archimandrite Philotheos sang with his choir for a pious congregation from Sdeide’s Arabic Orthodox residents.

To the faithful, Patriarch Theophilos preached the Word of God in Greek, saying that the Holy Church is indeed the Body of the living God, a pillar and establishment of truth, whilst we, baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, are members of its Body, of the Body of Christ. “Our Holy Church”, added the Patriarch, “being the arc of salvation, calls upon us today through the Apostle Paul, who says: “[pursue] righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses [1st Timothy 6, 11-12]”.

In Arabic, the Patriarch’s speech may be reached here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2016/02/27/19352

Addressing the Very Reverend f. Elias, the honorable President of the Community and the members of the town of Sdeide, Patriarch Theophilos extended thanks for the invitation to inaugurate the town’s new halls and expressed joy over the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of Orthodox Christians with fellow residents of other religions.

Finally, the Patriarch expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and closed with words of the Apostle Paul: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” [2nd Thessalonians, 3, 5].

In Arabic, see link: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2016/02/27/19354

From the Secretariat-General