2012 Archdiocesan Executive Council Biannual Meeting
On Saturday, February 18 , 2012, the Archdiocese Executive Council held its biannual meeting at the upper hall of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Teaneck, N.J. His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim opened the all-day session with a prayer, and welcomed the Executive Council members, the various Board Presidents and parish representatives, members of the Clergy of the Archdiocese and stake holders in the numerous Archdiocesan initiatives on the meeting’s agenda.
The Archbishop thanked Dr. Yamo Deniz, President of the AEC for all that he has done and continues to do in providing the leadership necessary to move the plans of the Archdiocese forward. His Eminence congratulated the Doctor on his most recent promotion to Chief Medical Officer of GE Healthcare.
The Archbishop said that he was pleased to report that we have received approval from the Board of Adjustments of Paramus on our Midland Avenue initiative, with the exception of the dome height of the new Cathedral. Once this is modified we should be able to move ahead with the renovation plans of the existing building.
His Eminence reported on several projects as works in progress: The Clergy Education program is being reviewed by Dr. George Kiraz and Janine Azar, the Rutgers Syriac Language course will be funded up to a maximum of $5,000. And Sait Samuel and Dr. Kiraz will be working on a recognition program for the Archdiocese.
The Archbishop concluded by reporting that 20 Syriac people were killed and hundreds of families displaced in Homs, Syria. He encouraged all to pray for peace in that region. His Eminence said that a letter will be sent out asking all parishes to support our community in Syria and to contribute to the humanitarian work being carried out in that country.
His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim took the opportunity to welcome His Eminence Mor Dioscoros Bunyamin Atas, Archbishop of Sweden who is presently visiting our Archdiocese. He praised him for all the success he has enjoyed in his Archdiocese and told him that this Archdiocese, the place where he spent several years studying as a monk, will definitely be a place where he is always welcomed.
The meeting quickly built speed as each up-date and report on the agenda was addressed.
John Samuel reported on the work of the search committee for a Youth Director. After much time and careful consideration, the chairman reported that Mr. Gabriel Barsawme has been hired for the position. This individual comes from Sweden with outstanding credentials, having previously worked with the Youth in Sweden. He is married and is presently studying for his PhD in Princeton University.
Mr. Jack Darakjy spoke about the By-laws amendments. Mr. Darakjy explained that many comments have already been received and we are still waiting for input from several churches. Once all these comments have been received, we will review them and incorporate what works best for all.
Ramona Malki gave the Sunday school up-date. Mrs. Malki spoke about the work that is presently being done on the Sunday School Curriculum with Parables & Books Publishing. She presented several illustrations and informed everyone that the work on this initiative is well underway, and that both Eastern and Western Archdioceses are working as a team on this project. She also reported that both Archbishops, Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim and Mor Clemes Eugene Kaplan, are involved closely with the selection of materials to insure the integrity of the content.
Samir Sirazi, presented a detailed plan regarding the finances of the Midland Avenue Property. He went into details with regards to committee structures and names of individuals who will be designated to these committees in order to insure successful results. Mr. Sirazi made it perfectly clear that the ultimate purpose of these committees is to insure financial stability, through every phase of the work to be done in the Midland Avenue project.
Elias Sarkar, Chairman of the Public Relations and Communications Committee spoke about the ‘Voice of the Archdiocese” a quarterly Publication that will be put out by the Public Relations group of the Archdiocese at the end of each quarter. Mr. Sarkar explained that with the Midland Avenue fund raising initiatives and kick off campaign being imminent, a publication of this nature is essential. People must be informed regularly of the progress of work of the Archdiocese. So much work is being done by the Archdiocese and sometimes goes unrecognized by our own community. This quarterly will be informative, tell it the way it is, and will be made available on-line. The first issue will include 2011 in review. This initiative will be underwritten by Individual sponsors.
Jack Balji, spoke briefly about the centralized on-line events calendar for the Archdiocese. After quickly demonstrating the on-line tool, Mr. Balji said it would be his responsibility to monitor the calendar on an on-going basis.
At this point in the meeting Sait Samuel, Chairman of the Parish and Clergy Committee, took center stage and spoke about uniformity throughout our churches. The committee had produced a sizable display Logo of the Archdiocese which will be mounted on each church building structure throughout the Archdiocese, visible from the street and will be positioned next to the name of the Church. The produced church Liturgy books added significantly to the uniformity of our various church services and rituals, especially when implemented and used at the appropriate time. Mr. Samuel explained that this committee also functions as a conflict resolution committee, and has been serving successfully in that capacity for the past several years. He also discussed the Clergy Pension Plan and Health Insurance benefits , which is to be provided by each individual parish. Mr. Samuel introduced a census form for the Archdiocese, and a second form to help the committee in compiling a yearly report.
Very Rev. Fr. Shamoun Asmar reported on the Archdiocesan Clergy Council’s activities. He highlighted the monthly council meetings, the annual clergy retreat to be held on the first week of March, the monthly public spiritual night and the Pre-Marriage courses to prepare the couples who intend to marry in our parishes.
Dr. Emanuel Aydin, Board President of Mor Barsawmo Church, spoke briefly about the importance of “shared lessons across parishes”, and that small churches have their own issues as do the big churches. The Doctor emphasized the importance of collaboration and cooperation with the Archdiocese.
Raymond Dunia, Board President of St. Aphraim’s Syriac Orthodox Church of Washington DC, who will sponsor the upcoming 49th Annual Archdiocesan Convention, gave an update on the convention preparations , and introduced the theme as being “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”.