Congressman Scott Garrett Visits His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim
On Friday, March 9, 2012, His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim received The Honorable Congressman Scott Garrett at the Archdiocese Complex in Teaneck. Opening the hour and a half program with a prayer, His Eminence asked the Almighty Father to bless those who are in the service of this Country, that they may be given the strength and courage to lead this wonderful Nation with foresight and wisdom. The Archbishop welcomed the Congressman assuring him that the mindset of our Syriac Orthodox Community is always one of cooperation and willingness to serve our country. His Eminence said that we are community living the fear of the Lord and continually striving to be better citizens.
Congressman Garrett being from Wantage, New Jersey, was impressed at the Archdiocese Beth Antioch initiative. His Eminence discussed our 96 acre property and touched upon the future plans the Archdiocese has for that location.
Member of the clergy in attendance included Very Rev. Fr. Shamoon Asmar, Rev. Fr. Aziz Hadodo, Rev. Rev Fr. Samer Yacoub Yohanon and Rev. Fr. Joseph Chamoun. Also on hand from the Archdiocese Executive Council were Sait Samuel, Jack Darakjy and Elias Sarkar. Other participants included John Samuel, Ramona Malki and Dr. Gretchen Hannoush.
Mike Ghassali, program Coordinator, asked Elias Sarkar, Chairman of Public Relations to give a brief history of our Church and Community in North Jersey. Jack Darakjy, Archdiocese Counsel, presented the future plans of the Archdiocese in terms of the Midland Avenue Project. The architectural plans were shared with the congressman giving him a clear picture as to the direction the Archdiocese is taking.
His Eminence displayed a few parchments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and some antiquities to the Congressman. He was extremely impressed at what he saw and expressed his deep appreciation for being afforded such an opportunity.
After some refreshments, in his remarks Congressman Garrett thanked His Eminence for his hospitality and spoke about the history of separation of Church and State. He recalled in history the days when God and the Bible were a significant part of Government. He also noted that the Rotunda of the Capitol was used for prayer groups in the early days when there were no church buildings to be used. Congressman Garrett said that he was a believer and a man of faith. At this point, His Eminence invited the Congressman to tour St. Mark’s Cathedral.
Upon entering the Cathedral, His Eminence drew attention to the Altar Design and explained that it is constructed in the tradition of the Syriac Orthodox Church. After the singing of the Aboon Bashmayo (The Lord’s Prayer) Ramona Malki, Secretary of the St. Mark’s Parish Council, welcomed everyone and explained that St. Mark’s is a Cathedral because it is the seat of the Archbishop. She continued to introduce two members of the Junior Youth, Mina Matty who sang a hymn in Syriac, entitled Toyson, and Zahra Denho, who sang a patriotic song, America the Beautiful. Both were accompanied by Elias Sarkar on the Violin and Dr. Gretchen Hannoush on the Keyboard.
At the conclusion, Congressman Garrett thanked His Eminence for being so gracious. He also thanked everyone present for such a delightful and enjoyable reception.