H. E. Mor Julius Yeshu’ Çiçek (1941 - 2005 †)

His Eminence Mor Julius Yeshu` Çiçek was born in 1942 in Upper Kafro, in Tur `Abdin (Southeast -Turkey). He was the son of Rev. Fr. Barsaumo and Sayde. At the age of nine he went to the seminary at the Monastery of Za'faran (Dayro d’Kurkmo), where he studied Theology and Syriac, Turkish and Arabic languages. In 1958 he was ordained a sub-deacon and appointed as a secretary to the Metropolitan Mor Philoxenos Yohannon Dolabani of Mardin. There he received intensive courses in spirituality. Later he joined the monastery of Mor Kuriakus in the region of Besheriye (Bitlis) and Siirt to administer pastoral services and to engage in a mission among Syriac and Armenian Christians. In particular those who survived the massacres and genocide of 1915. He baptized and solemnized marriages of more than 300 souls during the period of forty days.

In 1960 he became a novice in the monastery of Mor Gabriel in Tur ‘Abdin. As a novice he was immediately appointed as a lecturer of theology at the monastery. There he developed his skills in the art of calligraphy. Ever since, he became famous for his handwriting. After the retirement of the abbot of the monastery of Mor Gabriel,  Rabban Shabo Gϋnesh in 1962, the newly appointed Rabban Jesu’ Çiçek was elected as his successor. He was ordained a priest by the late Bishop of Tur `Abdin, Mor Iwannis Ephrem Bilgic, in 1969. As an abbot he worked very hard to follow into the steps of the fathers in that he maintained the tradition of his church and developed many aspects of Syriac liturgy and literature. These are some of his achievements in the Monastery of Mor Gabriel:

- The foundation of a Theological Seminary;

- The renovations of different parts of the monastery;

- The registration of the property of the monastery at the cadastre;

- The construction of a new road to the monastery.

As a visiting abbot he spent a year in Damascus, the Seminary of Mor Ephrem at Atshane in Lebanon and the Holy land. From there on he went to Germany to follow a course in the German language. During his stay he became a true shepherd for the Syriac people in the Diaspora. Between 1975 and 1977 the late Archbishop of the USA and Canada - his Eminence Mor Athanasios Yesu’ Samuel - invited him to study English. Meanwhile he was appointed as a parish priest for the community in Michigan.  In 1977 the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox church created two new dioceses in Europe. One bishop was chosen for the Scandinavian countries and the other for Middle-Europe and the Benelux countries. Rabban Yeshu’ Çiçek was recommended by the late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Yacob III (1980 †) and appointed as a Patriarchal Vicar for the new diocese with its headquarters in Hengelo, the Netherlands.  In that very same year the Holy Synod appointed him for the position of Metropolitan for the new diocese of Middle-Europe and the Benelux countries. He resided in St. John the apostle in Hengelo, being the first Syriac Orthodox church in Europe. In 1979 the Holy Synod approved of his election as the first Metropolitan of this diocese and he was consecrated at a solemn celebration, which was presided by the late Patriarch. From that time on, he decided to develop this new diocese with different activities. One of his main initiatives was the purchasing of the monastery of Mor Ephrem in 1981, which was consecrated in 1984. This was the place where he organized many activities on different levels. We should like to recall some of these enterprises:

- Kolo Suryoyo (Voice of the Suryoye), the first news magazine of the Syriac Orthodox diocese of Central Europe has been published since 1978;

- Purchasing of the Mor Ephrem Monastery in 1981;

- The foundation of a cemetery for the Syriac Orthodox Community in 1983;

- The foundation of a library in the monastery;

- The foundation of the publishing house Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286) in 1986, in honor of the 700th anniversary of this 13th century Syriac polymath;

- He published more than 120 books, mainly in Syriac. Thirty of them were written in his handwriting;

- Under his supervision and blessing 51 churches and 3 monasteries were built and established in Europe.

- The consecration of more than 80 priests, monks, nuns and hundreds of deacons;

- The support in various ways of other Syriac Orthodox dioceses worldwide;

- He developed and improved ecumenical relations with other churches in Western Europe.

- He was the prominent initiator and the member of the honorary Committee of the majestic and breathtaking Multimedia project "The Hidden Pearl: The Aramaic Heritage of the Syrian Orthodox Church".

On account of these activities, in 1992 he was awarded the honorific title of Mor Yacob Burd’ono by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zaka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. This stresses his significant role in the Syriac Orthodox Community in the diaspora. Furthermore, in 2003 he received the Aram Price from the Association of the Academic Arameans in Sweden for his contribution to Syriac literature.  Unfortunately, he left the Syriac Orthodox Community much too early. We are deeply affected by this great loss of a great leader.


Source: Gabriel Rabo; Suryoyo Online News