SODERTALJE, Sweden – Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church Mor Ignatius Ephrem II is in Sweden for a pastoral visit to his faithful. On Sunday, Mor Ephrem attended the silver jubilee of Bishop of the Diocese of Sweden Dioskoros Benjamin Atas, which was covered live by Syriac TV stations Suroyo TV, Suboro TV, and Suryoyo Sat.
The Syriac Orthodox Church community in Sweden numbers about 120 thousand with two dioceses, one led by bishop Benjamin Atas, and one led by bishop Ablahhad Gello Sabo. There are major congregations in Södertälje, Norsborg, Örebro, Gothenburg, Norrköping, Jönköping, Norrköping, Västerås, and many more in the suburbs of the capital Stockholm.
In 2019, the Syriac Orthodox Church established the new monastery Dayro d-Slibo (Monastery of the Cross) in Nyköping. The Syriac Orthodox Church has three other monasteries on the European continent, in the Netherlands, Germany, and in Switzerland.
In Södertälje, which has some 35 thousand Syriacs, the Church partnered with the Stockholm School of Theology (University College Stockholm) to establish the Sankt Ignatios Syriac Orthodox Seminary – previous attempts to open a seminary in Salzburg, Austria, failed. The seminary needs to provide in the great need for priests for the many Syriac Orthodox parishes in Sweden and abroad.
The total number of Syriacs in Sweden is about 150 thousand. The Syriac Orthodox are the most numerous of the Syriacs in Sweden with the others adhering to the Syriac Chaldean Church, the Syriac Assyrian Church of the East, the Syriac Ancient Church of the East, the Syriac Maronite Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and then there are the Syriac Mandeans.
There are five Syriac Members of Parliament in the Swedish Riskdag: Tony Haddou (Left Party), Robert Hannah and Roger Haddad (both Liberalerna), Robert Halef (Kristdemokraterna), and Abraham Halef (Social Democrats). The Suryoyo Ibrahim Baylan is Minister of Enterprise. Baylan gave a speech in honor of bishop Benjamin Atas at Sunday’s silver jubilee.
Patriarch Mor Ephrem II has a busy schedule; the Patriarch will consecrate and officially open the new Dayro d-Slibo monastery, will hold a Sayfo memorial in Norrköping, consecrate the Church of St. Mark in Linköping, elevate deacon Fuat Kesenci to priest of Saint Jirjis (George) Church in Norsborg, hold several official meetings, and meet with local parishes.
The Syriac Orthodox hierarch will end his visit to Sweden on September 27.