On May 29, 2014, His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II became the 123rd Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch when he was enthroned as Patriarch in Damascus after the passing of the beloved Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I on March 21, 2014.
The Holy synod held at St. Jacob Baradeus Monastery in Atchaneh, Lebanon, presided over by Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Catholicos of India and Mor Severius Jamil Hawa Archbishop of Baghdad and Basra and Patriarchal Locum Tenens. The synod elected Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim to be the 123rd successor of St. Peter in the Apostolic See of Antioch. He was enthroned on May 29, 2014, at St Ephrem’s Monastery, Maarat Saidnaya, near Damascus, Syria. Baselios Thomas I oversaw the ceremony.Cyril Aphrem Karim took the patriarchal name Ignatius, replacing his episcopal name Cyril and being the second patriarch to bear the monastic name Aphrem (the first being Ignatius Aphrem I Barsoum), his name became Ignatius Aphrem II. Unlike his immediate predecessors, but following older convention, Aphrem II chose not to use his family name Karim in his official title.
Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas-I, the spiritual head of the Syrian Christians of India, was born in the Cheruvillil family of Vadayambadi, Puthenkuriz to Mathai and Kunjamma on 22nd July 1929.
His priestly formation was under the guidance of Mor Philoxenos Paulose (late Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose-II) who ordained him ‘Korooyo’ in 1952 and ‘Shamshono’ at Kadamattom Church in 1957. In August 1958, C M Thomas was ordained ‘Kassisso’ (full priest) by Mor Yulius Elias at the Majanikkara Dayro. In 1959 he was appointed as the vicar of St.Peter’s church, Puthencuriz. Later he served the churches at Vellathooval, Keezhumuri, Fort Cochin, Valamboor, Calcutta and Thrissur. For a period of seven years from 1967, he was the organizing secretary of Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital. He also served as the Chief organizer of the North Indian mission at Bhilai in 1970’s and as the secretary of the Pourasthaya Suvishesha Samajam in 1974. He was well known as a great revivalist preacher and was also recognized as an excellent organizer. In January 1974, Fr. C M Thomas was elected to the episcopate by the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Association convened at the Karingachira St. George Church and was consecrated Metropolitan with the title ‘Mor Dionysius’ by H.H. Mor Ignatius Ya`qub-III on 24th February 1974 at Damascus, Syria. He was entrusted with the charge of Angamali diocese, the largest of all the Syrian Orthodox dioceses which has a membership of more than half a million.The untiring efforts of Mor Dionysius in those days had helped a lot to revive the confidence of not merely the faithful of the diocese, but the entire Malankara Church. Metropolitans Mor Dionysius, Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (late) and Mor Koorilos Kuriakose (late) together were a great support to the (late) Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose-II, the then Chief of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. As the Metropolitan of Angamali Mor Dionysius had successfully initiated many welfare programs and also reorganized the diocesan administration. In 1978 Mor Baselios Medical Mission Hospital at Kothamangalam was started under his patron-ship.
On January 4, 2004, His Eminence was consecrated as the Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar of the Malankara Archdiocese in North America. His Eminence is currently pursuing his Doctoral program in US.
His Eminence is the only prelate from Malankara to receive five ordinations (Sub-deacon, Full Deacon, Ramban, Priest & Metropolitan) from the Supreme Head of our Church, the Patriarch His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I.
Born in 1970,His Eminence Mor Titus Yeldho was ordained Deacon (Qoruyo) at the age of 12, on October 28, 1982 by Mor Athanasius Paulose (Kadavil), the late Metropolitan for the Evangelical Association of the East. In 1997 he was invited to the St. Ephrem Patriarchal Seminary in Damascus, Syria. On September 26, 1998 he was ordained Ramban by His Holiness the Patriarch and on September 5, 1999 ordained as Priest. His Eminence had his theological education from the Patriarchal Seminary at Damascus and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary at Udayagiri, India. During this period he had the opportunity to stay in the Syrian Orthodox Monasteries of Jerusalem, Turkey, Holland, Germany and Switzerland. After the demise of Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (Perumpally) in 1999, he was appointed as the Administrator of the Perumpally St. George Simhasana Church and its institutions. From 1995 to 2001, he was actively involved in YMCA organization as its State Vice- Chairman and also as its National Executive Board Member.
His Eminence was later deputed to New York and was serving different churches of the Malankara Archdiocese of North America till the end of 2003. He also completed his Master of Divinity degree in 2003 from the St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, New York.