The Speech of H.B. Patriarch Louis Sako at the Installation of H.E. Bawai Soro, Bishop of Canada
Patriarchate Media – on 29th November 2017
Dear Sisters and Brothers
I would like to start with my heartfelt congratulations to you all, for having the new Bishop, Mar Bawai Soro, who showed during his service in our Chaldean Church; a strong faith; great trust in God; a lot of patience; and a steady hope. In addition, he is gifted with wisdom and a bunch of good human and Christian characteristics. We thank God for you, our Dear Bishop.
Your Excellency Mar Bawai
It is my pleasure on this blessed occasion to congratulate you personally, for being elected as a shepherd to lead this distinguished diocese. I wish you success and assure you that all our bishops will support and accompany you with prayers and love.
On this Sunday, the Chaldean liturgy concludes the time of the Sanctification of the Church, which marks the end of our liturgical year, to begin a new one with the 1st week of the Annunciation (advent) time on this coming Sunday. Hence, on the one hand, the church of human not of stones, should be prepared during the time of Sanctification of the Church to be worthy for the “Divine Bridegroom” and on the other hand, to be qualified for entering the mystery of incarnation through vigilance, prayers and paying attention to the signs of the Lord’s coming.
I believe that, it is not a coincidence to have the installation of H.E. Mar Bawai at this time of the year, when both liturgical times converge (the end and the start). Thus, we pray that the Lord help you to link “the end and the beginning” with confidence and enthusiasm.
It gave me a great joy to hear from H.E. Bishop Francis Kalabat about your teamwork in helping and collaborating with each other. Furthermore, I am familiar with your sincere love for Christ and the Church even though, none of us is “perfect”. However, I understand all the hardships that you are going through, knowing that Clergy’s duties signify a vital and very important mission, on which the progress of the parish relies, it is “to serve” but not a “job” at all. Therefore, we must equip ourselves on daily basis with prayers, meditation and “self-revision”, which empower us to live up our consecration. Besides, our way of serving should be free from all restrictions and constraints, especially “money” as well as the family and tribal relationships, in order to be fully devoted to deliver the “Word of God” for the community in these harsh conditions.
In this Regard, Pope Francis warned us from falling into what distorts the mission of the Church: “service is the rule. The one who is greatest is the one who serves most, who is most at the service of others, not the one who boasts, who seeks power, money vanity, pride”. because “it is a story that happens every day in the Church, in every community” where it is often asked: “Who is the greatest among us? Who is in charge?”. Thus, “ambitions” emerge, along with the “desire to climb, to have power” (Pope Francis morning meditation in the Chapel of St. Martha, Tuesday, 17 May 2016). From this, we conclude that the dignity of a bishop and a priest is in his self-denial, love, and service to the community entrusted to him by God, so as to find peace and joy in a simple and humble life.
My brothers, I wish that you put into practice the “free service for the Church Sacraments” similar to what we are doing in Iraq. Moreover, I call upon all of you to; establish unity and intimacy with the Patriarchate, the mother Church in Iraq; implement the recommendations of the Synod; preserve our Chaldean identity; and safeguard our Eastern spirituality and living heritage. Such union is a sign of strength and richness.
My Sisters and Brothers of Mar Addai Diocese
It is an opportunity to assure you that you are in our prayers and also to thank you, with all other dioceses abroad, for your solidarity with the displaced people in Iraq, and the regional countries. We really appreciate your role in relieving their pain and encouraging them to remain committed to their faith in Jesus Christ.
As the Chaldean Abraham “the father of faith” departed from his land in the East holding onto his hope in spite of all difficulties and challenges, I call you “who came from the East as well”, to hold onto your hope, moral values, traditions, identity and language. The Bible tells us the story of the Magi who followed an unusual star (Matthew 2:9) and start spreading the news of the newborn King. Likewise, you “in diaspora” are called to be “that same star” leading people to Jesus. For this reason, we chose this particular verse as a motto for the Chaldean Patriarchate: “For we saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him” inspiring everyone to spread the Good News with deep faith, joy and eagerness. Hold onto your unity with Jesus Christ.
My beloved, I urge you to bear your responsibilities, each according to his position, talents and capabilities. Laypeople are members of the Church community and partners in pastoral work, so their role shouldn’t be advisory only, but an actual contribution. Please work closely with your new bishop and your priests for the better future of the Church and to protect your unity because “dividing the community is a sin”. I also invite you to play a role in cultural and social activities, particularly by joining the Chaldean League that brings all Chaldeans from around the world and unite them to face current challenges.
To conclude I would say, words alone cannot express my thanks to all those who served this diocese, in particular the “Apostolic Visitor” Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, the Late Bishop Hanna Zora, the Apostolic Administrator Msgr. Dawood Bafrro and Bishop Emmanuel Shaleta, who initiated reforms, organized administrative and pastoral work in this diocese. Last but not least, I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Bishop Francis Kalabat, the present Apostolic Administrator, for the care he has given to this diocese during the three months of chair vacancy.
Please pray for Iraq, where we face thousands of problems due to conflicts and instability. However as Christians, we have a “firm and steady” hope for a better future, strengthened by Christ’s promise, “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20). Despite the oppressions and difficulties, such promise motivates our powerful presence, and perseverance, and steadiness to achieve peace, the same peace that filled the Early Church.
Finally, I believe that we have met at this place, in spite of the distances, to affirm our support to HE Bishop Soro and the community of St. Addai diocese in Canada. Let us stand and pray together: “will keep our lamps lit, waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ”.