A historical meeting between His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East (ACOE) and the Patriarch of the Maronite Church, His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir took place on July 3, 2006 in Chicago. H.H. Mar Dinkha IV was invited as a guest of honor to meet with H.B. Cardinal Sfeir who is visiting the United States for the U.S and Canadian Maronite Church conference.
His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Slewa, Metropolitan of ACOE in Iraq, and Rev. Antwan Latchen of the ACOE in Chicago accompanied H.H. Mar Dinkha and shared dinner with 72 Maronite Church Metropolitans and Bishops along with a large crowd of parishioners of both churches to celebrate H.B. Mar Nasrallah’s 20th ordainment anniversary.
The Maronites are of Assyrian ethnicity that separated from their mother church, the ACOE in the 7th century. The Assyrian Maronites are about 5 million in population and mostly live in Lebanon and Latin American countries.
During Dr. Sargon Dadesho’s regular Tuesday night program on AssyriaSat, Rev. Antwan Latchen called and reported of this historical meeting. Rev. Latchen informed Assyrians around the world how pleasant this meeting was and how thrilled the Maronite church leaders and members present at the dinner were to meet H.H. Mar Dinkha IV. As a sign of respect, they asked H.H. to recite the opening prayer in the Assyrian language. The Maronites continued to use their mother tongue, the Assyrian language after separation from the ACOE but later on replaced their ancient language with the Arabic language. Today’s church leaders have decided to slowly incorporate their native holy Assyrian language in their church services and teach it to their parishioners.
Rev. Latchen recounted the speech of the Maronite Archbishop of New York and Canada, Francis Mansour who described the opportunity of meeting H.H. Mar Dinkha as one of those rare but valuable life events and he encouraged the audience to meet H.H. in person and receive his blessing. Archbishop Mansour praised H.H. Mar Dinkha for the great history of the ACOE and all the atrocity this church has endured. The ACOE is known by historians and scholars, also proclaimed by the Pope John Paul II “The martyrs’ church”. Because, no church has suffered as much martyrdom for Christianity as the ACOE has. Another speaker admired H.H. Mar Dinkha IV and called him, “the builder of bridges between the Assyrians of different denominations”.
H.B. Mar Nasrallah also praised and thanked H.H. Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV for leading the Assyrian nation through these turbulence times. This brotherly meeting has warmed the heart of this battered nation scattered around the world.
The Lebanese Broadcasting Channel (LBC) and the Maronite Satellite network TV, NoorSat interviewed H.H. Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and his Beatitude Mar Gewargis Slewa.
H.B. Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir is also scheduled to meet with President Bush while visiting the U.S.