SECAUCUS, NJ – Last Saturday, June 18, 2016, the Coptic and Eritrean Orthodox Churches convened a joint banquet in celebration of 85 years of life, 65 years of monasticism, and 25 years of episcopal service for H.G. Abune Makarios, a figure widely renowned as a well-beloved father and faithful shepherd of both communities.
The joyous affair – convened at the Empire Meadowlands Hotel by the initiative of H.G. Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of NY & NE – was attended by H.G. Bishop Karas, the Patriarchal Exarch of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, H.G. Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Bolivia, and the clergy and faithful of the Coptic and Eritrean Churches. The V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Varghese, Vicar of St. Mary’s Syriac Orthodox Church in Bergenfield, NJ, attended as a special representative of the Syriac, Malankara-Syriac, and Knanaya-Syriac Orthodox Churches, conveying the greetings of Their Eminences Mor Dionysios Jean Kawak, Mor Titus Yeldho, and Mor Silvanos Ayub. The esteemed scholar and longtime friend of H.G. Abune Makarios, Professor Ephraim Isaac of Harvard University, was also in attendance, and a special video recorded for the occasion by H.H. Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria in honor of H.G. Anba Makarios was also screened.
H.G. Abune Makarios serves on the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches as the representative of the legitimate Patriarch of Asmara and all Eritrea, H.H. Abune Antonious I, who was illegally removed from his Throne in contradiction to the canons of the Church more than a decade ago. The Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches – and indeed the Oriental Orthodox Communion as a whole – has only ever recognized H.H. Abune Antonious as Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhedo Church, a sentiment reiterated by H.G. Bishop David at the dinner. The Standing Conference prays that the Church authorities in Eritrea will restore His Holiness to his Throne rather than needlessly perpetuate schism within the Body of Christ.