Saturday, January 14, 2006

Abuna Yesehaq, R.I.P.

One of the pivotal figures of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Abuna Yesehaq (Laike Mandefro) passed away in Newark, New Jersey, on December 29, 2005. He was 72. Ethiopian Emperor Haile-Selassie sent Abuna Yesehaq ("Fr. Isaac") to the West in 1962, after his royal majesty encountered a number of Jamaican Rastafarians who worshipped the emperor instead of God. By 1979, Abuna was given the title Archbishop of the Western Hemisphere and South Africa. He became best known for presiding over the funeral of reggae artist Bob Marley in 1981. Abuna established dozens of churches in the West and converted tens of thousands, especially former Rastis in the Caribbean. In the 1990s, Abuna claimed the church did not have the right to elect a new patriarch, Paulos (who is his cousin), while the former patriarch is still alive, and broke communion with Addis Ababa. Patriarch Paulos, in turn, carved the Western hemisphere into three dioceses and appointed Abuna Matthias of London, Ontario, as bishop for North America.

One of Abuna Yesehaq's last acts was to accept a number of Western Rite parishes under his patronage. What will happen to them after his passing is not yet known. Our prayer is that God will re-establish these parishes -- and all Oriental Orthodox -- in visible unity with the Byzantine Orthodox, ut unum sint.

On January 12, a Washington, D.C., parish Abuna founded celebrated a nearly 10-hour funeral liturgy for him. His body will be flown to Jamaica, where he will be buried. R.I.P.



Blogger Aristibule said...

That's a new one on me - I noticed: "the Missale Anglicanum in its 1549 edition corrected." as one of their two usages. They must mean the 1549 BCP, that Gothicized shorter 'Sarum in English'. Besides a Deacon Christopher, I'm not sure who they are - that gives the OO two WRO works in the US (the other being Malankaran.)

8:24 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Interesting; what is the Malankaran WRO? This is news to me. I guess we can learn from each other....

5:22 PM  
Blogger Aristibule said...

Goan Catholics who came into the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church more than a century ago - at least two parishes are still open in Goa. And, they have a couple of clergy here in the States.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Fascinating; what does their liturgy look like - the Latin Mass? Any idea where one could see the text? Also, do you happen to know where those clergy are located in the U.S.? I haven't been able to turn up much with a web search.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Aristibule said...

Yeah - the Malankara Western Rite in Goa is the Portuguese version of the old Roman rite (with associated Portuguese customs, and 'Orthodoxed'.) The USA clergy, from what I understand, serve the same Roman rite that Villatte did. In the USA, the few clergy are not listed separately as 'Western Rite' - all Syrian Orthodox clergy serve their first (and present at their funeral) liturgy as Syriac St. James. After that, they are free to serve any of the other liturgies.

10:30 PM  

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