Father Albert Hisham – The Chaldean Patriarchate Media Administrator: After arriving in Rome Friday evening, October 25, Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael I Sako celebrated the Holy Mass on Saturday morning in the chapel of the Pontifical Oriental Institute on the occasion of the opening of the new academic year, followed by a lecture where he gave a testimony on the Christians of Iraq and their strong faith giving an overview analysis of the future that awaits them in the current circumstances .
During his speech at the Holy Mass, His Beatitude thanked the Pontifical Oriental Institute, as he was a student there and was influenced by who had established it especially their overwhelming love for their church, and which he will never forget, according to what His Beatitude said. He also praised the Institute’s role in the education of our Eastern culture and traditions and our spirituality which we try to remain steadfast in though there is continuing migration, as His Beatitude said, where our Liturgy gives us the strength and courage to continue our witness to Christ .
The Holy Mass, which was held at the Catholic Russian Church next to the Pontifical Oriental Institute, was attended by His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Head of California Bishops and Secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute Professor Father James McCann, and a number of teachers and students of the Institute, where the studying priests in Rome had prepared for the Holy Mass according to the Chaldean Rite and was celebrated by His Beatitude with the assistance of His Excellency Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni.
The opening of the academic year was also attended by His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, and expressed in his speech the solidarity of the Church of Rome with the churches of the Middle East and its desire to renew the communion with them always.
During the flight from Baghdad to Istanbul to Rome, His beatitude was accompanied with a delegation of thirteen faithful Christians from Baghdad, who will participate with the Holy Father Pope Francis in the Family Day meeting this Sunday accompanied by His Excellency Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni, the Chairman of ‘The Family Committee’, and father Thaer Abdul-Maseeh Al-Sheikh, priest of Sacred Heart Churchin Baghdad and Vice-Chairman of the Committee. The delegation also participated in the Holy Mass celebrated by His Beatitude in the Pontifical Oriental Institute and carried the offerings along with Iraq and its people to the Lord to protect it and bring upon security and peace. At the end of His speech within the Holy Mass, His Beatitude addressed the Iraqi delegation in Arabic, calling on them to be the yeast that would spread Kingdom of God among all people.
Upon his arrival at Fiumicino Airport in Rome, His Beatitude met with His Excellency the Iraqi Ambassador to the Vatican, Mr Habib Al-Sadr. His excellency also met the Iraqi delegation from Baghdad, and attended Patriarch Sako’s lecture on the future of the Christians of Iraq.
It is noteworthy that the Pontifical Oriental Institute had graduated many of the priests of our Chaldean Church holding specialty in Eastern Canon Law and Liturgy, and some of our priests are still studying there.