His Holiness Patriarch
Ignatius Aphrem II
The Supreme Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II was born in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, on May 3, 1965.
After finishing primary schooling in Qamishli in 1977, he received his religious secondary education at St. Ephrem's Theological Seminary in Atchaneh, Bikfaya, Lebanon.
After completing school in 1982, he worked in Aleppo, Syria, as an assistant to the Archbishop Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim.
From 1984 to 1988, he attended the Coptic Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Divinity.
In 1985, he took the vows of a monk, and changed his name to Aphrem in honor of the 4th-century Syriac poet-theologian Ephrem the Syrian and former patriarch Aphrem I Barsoum.
He was ordained deacon, and, later that year, was elevated to the sacred priesthood. From 1988 to 1989, he served as both the secretary to his patriarchal predecessor, Ignatius Zakka I Iwas,
and as a teacher at St. Ephrem’s Theological Seminary in Damascus, Syria.
In 1991, he entered St Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland, from where he received a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (1992) and Doctor of Divinity (1994).
During that time, he also served as a priest to the Syriac Orthodox Community in the United Kingdom.
On January 28, 1996, he was consecrated as Metropolitan Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Eastern United States by Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at St. Mary’s Syriac Orthodox Church in his home town of Qamishli.
Taking the episcopal name Cyril, he arrived in the United States on March 2, 1996, and was officially installed at St. Mark’s Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, New Jersey, as Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim.
During his time as Metropolitan Archbishop, Cyril Aphrem Karim oversaw the creation of 11 new parishes, bringing the total parishes in the archdiocese to 20.
He created an advisory council to aid in oversight and administration of the archdiocese. He created the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocesan Youth Organization to coordinate youth
activities across the archdiocese's parishes, and oversaw a number of youth conferences as he sought to grow the church. He organized a special youth liturgy in the New York/New
Jersey area and created a choral society.
Cyril Aphrem Karim oversaw the creation of the Archdiocesan Sunday School Committee to unite lesson plans across the archdiocese. He created a pre-marriage counseling program which afforded couples-to-be the chance to meet with him personally.
He also established an annual liturgy service to recognize and appreciate the elderly members of the community. He worked for inter-church unity, serving on the World Council of Churches.
Cyril Aphrem Karim played a significant role in founding Christian Churches Together.
On March 21, 2014, Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas died after a long illness. Following his death, the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch was convened to
elect a successor. The synod elected 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.
Archbishop Mor Clemis
Metropolitan, Patriarchal Vicar
of the Western Archdiocese of USA
Born in Qamishly, Syria, in 1955, His Eminence Metropolitan Mor
Clemis Eugene (Awgen) Kaplan completed his high school education
in Qamishly. In 1969, His Eminence joined the St. Ephraim
Theological Seminary in Atshaneh, Lebanon and graduated in 1973.
He then pursued theological, pastoral and liturgical education
at Mor Hananya Monastery (Deyr ul-Zaafaran), Turkey. He was
called to monastic life in 1971 and was ordained to sacred
priesthood in 1983. From 1974-1981 he served as a teacher of
Syriac and Arabic languages and theology at the Za`faran
monastery. In 1982, His Eminence was appointed as the Principal
of the Theological Seminary of Mor Gabriel Monastery in Turkey
and served in this capacity until 1990. On April 12, 1991, His
Eminence was consecrated Metropolitan and appointed Patriarchal
Assistant. His Eminence was elected to the Patriarchate Vicarate
of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western United States by
H. H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I and assumed
responsibilities as Patriarchal Vicar on April 7th, 1996.
Archbishop Mor Clemis is fluent in both classical and vernacular
Syriac as well as Arabic, Turkish and English. He is the author
of many theological, historical and linguistic articles, and has
translated many books and articles from and into Arabic, Syriac