Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 
Bishop Samra at the Entrhonement

August 23, 2011

As reported by Justin Bell in PilotCatholicNews.Com

with additional photography from Kathleen Laplante's Blog Taste and See

A New Jersey native was installed as the first American born eparchial bishop in the United States for the Greek Melkite Catholic Church on August 23.

Bishop Nicholas J. Samra, 67, was installed as the Eparch of Newton during an elaborate service, called an Enthronement Liturgy, at the Melkite Cathedral of the Annunciation in West Roxbury.

The Melkite Church is an Eastern rite of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Samra was first ordained as an auxiliary bishop of Newton in 1989 and went into retirement in 2005, until his appointment as eparch this June.

After an entrance procession that included many bishops, priests, and deacons, Exarch Joseph Haggar read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI, called the Papal Bull of Designation, which declared the appointment of Bishop Samra.

Bishops at Enthronement

Bishops and Heirarchs at the Enthronement

"May the lights and joy of the Holy Spirit and under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, be always with you and with your ecclesial community which is so very dear to us," stated Pope Benedict in his letter.

The previous Eparch of Newton, Metropolitan Archbishop Cyrille Bustros of Beirut and Jbeil, thanked Bishop Samra for his work as a priest and auxiliary bishop. He also thanked the clergy, religious, and laity of the Newton Eparchy and pledged his prayers for them, while asking for their prayers in turn.

Archbishop Bustros then read a letter from Patriarch Gregory III, the head of the Melkite Church who resides in Damascus, Syria.

The patriarch wished Bishop Samra "a successful pastoral ministry founded on strength and faith in the hearts of the believers in your vast country."

"We pray that he will continue to find those we call the hidden Melkites, whom we do not know, so we can serve them the holy mysteries and that they will not feel lost in their Church, but have one Church to belong to," stated Patriarch Gregory.

Following the letter, Bishop Samra approached Archbishop Bustros to receive the shepherd's staff, escorted by various clergy. Prayers were then invoked by a deacon and the choir that the new bishop may be preserved by God for many years.

Clergy at the Enthronement

Preists and Deacons at the Enthronement

In the vesting ceremony of the liturgy, Bishop Samra received and blessed seven distinct vestments, a pectoral cross, and medallion called an engolpion. He also blessed his crown--similar to a bishop's miter in the Roman rite -- and his staff.

Following these rituals, the Divine and Holy Liturgy of John Chrysostom began. After a Gospel reading, Bishop Samra addressed the congregation.

He noted that the date was the closing of the eastern feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, marking the death or "falling asleep" of Mary. Bishop Samra called it probably the most important day of commemoration for Mary. In the Roman rite, the Dormition is celebrated as the Assumption, when Mary was taken into heaven.

In his remarks, he repeatedly pointed to Mary as an example for Christians to follow in giving flesh to Jesus. Bishop Samra cited Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist as ways for the faithful to bring Christ to others.

"Not only should we hear it, but we should digest it into our hearts and then when we leave the church, we become the word of God to the community outside," said Bishop Samra.

He noted that when the bread and wine are brought to the altar prior to the consecration, these items also represent the gifts of the people assembled.

"We say thank you to God for life and for all the aspects of life that he continues to give us -- each day of our lives -- and we take those gifts and place them on the altar, you are now there," said the bishop.

He said that God in turn gives the gifts back to the people transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

"Now Christ flows through you, but it's not over. That's nice, we're transformed, we become one body because we're one bread and one cup. It unites us together, but something more important happens, we leave the church...Now that we are transformed we go back into the world in which we live to transform it," said Bishop Samra.

Following his homily, the liturgy proceeded into the eucharistic consecration and distribution of communion. The overall ceremony incorporated English, Aramaic, and Greek words and chants.

Toward the end of the liturgy, Bishop Samra expressed thanks and signaled the dismissal of the people with a blessing gesture with two long candles, called a dikerion and trikerion.

Cathy Moody, whose grandfather came to Massachusetts from Lebanon and was one of the founding members of the cathedral, described the event as "incredible" and said she was "excited for the future of the Melkites in America."

Eric Alaimo, 27, a religion teacher from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, is a Latin Catholic who attends the Latin Rite Mass on Saturday evening and the Melkite liturgy on Sunday morning.

"To quote Blessed John Paul II, I like to breathe with both lungs," said Alaimo, referring to the late pope's description of the Churches of the East and West as the two lungs through which the universal Church breathes.

Alaimo said the event had an extra special significance with Bishop Nicholas being American born.

"I'm curious to see where that's going to lead the Melkite Church in America," said Alaimo.

 

Axios!

Great Honors

and

Wonderful News

For the People of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton

June 15, 2011

The Rt. Rev. Exarch Joseph Haggar, Administrator pro tempore of the Eparchy of Newton, announces the following:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has given assent to the canonical election by the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church of the Most Rev. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros as Metropolitan of Beirut and Jbeil, Lebanon, and, at the proposal of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church, has named the Most Rev. Bishop Nicholas James Samra as Eparch of Newton.

In addition, His Holiness has also given assent to the canonical election of the Most Rev. Bishop Issam John Darwish as Archbishop of Zahleh and Furzol, Lebanon, and has named the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Robert Rabbat as Eparch of St. Michael the Archangel of Sydney (Australia and New Zealand).

The Patriarchal Web Site announced the joyous news this way . . .

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has given his assent to the election of two archbishops, canonically elected by the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, at Ain Traz on 25 June 2010.

They are:

The Most Rev. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, hitherto Eparch of Newton (USA), elected Metropolitan of Beirut and Jbeil, Lebanon; and The Most Rev. Bishop Issam John Darwish, B. S., hitherto Eparch of St Michael the Archangel of Sydney, (Australia and New Zealand), elected Archbishop of Zahleh and Furzol, Lebanon. 15 June 2011

As of today, 15 June 2011, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, at the proposal of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, has named two hierarchs for the eparchies of our expansion vacant as a result of the transfer of their respective eparchs to other eparchies.

They are:

The Most Rev. Nicholas James Samra, hitherto titular Bishop of Gerasa and former Protosynkellos of the Eparchy of Newton, (USA), named Eparch of the same Eparchy of Newton; and The Rt. Rev. Archim. Robert Rabbat, hitherto rector of the Eparchial Cathedral of Newton and editor-in-chief of the eparchy’s journal Sophia, named Eparch of St Michael the Archangel of Sydney (Australia and New Zealand).

 
Bishop Nicholas Samra

The Rt. Rev. Exarch Joseph Haggar, Administrator pro tempore of the Eparchy of Newton, on June 15, 2011 announced the following:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has given assent to the canonical election by the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church of the Most Rev. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros as Metropolitan of Beirut and Jbeil, Lebanon, and, at the proposal of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church, has named the Most Rev. Bishop Nicholas James Samra as Eparch of Newton.

Biography of Bishop Samra

Bishop Samra, who is widely recognized for his many accomplishments, has just attained another "First." Bishop Nicholas will be the first American-born Eparch of the Melkite Church in the United States. While Bishop Nicholas is well known and loved by the flock of the American eparchy, the following Wikipedia biography sketches out some of his history.

Nicholas Samra (born August 15, 1944) is the former auxiliary bishop and protosyncellus of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton in the United States. He has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism and the Eastern Catholic Churches. On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, he was appointed Bishop, or Eparch, of the Eparchy (Eastern Rite Diocese) of Newton by the Holy Father, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, replacing His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros.

Samra was born in Paterson, New Jersey to George H. Samra and Elizabeth Balady Samra. His grandparents and his father were immigrants to the United States from Aleppo, Syria. He was ordained a priest for the Eparchy of Newton on May 10, 1970 and served as a pastor in Melkite parishes in Los Angeles, Chicago and New Jersey. Bishop Samra has a B.A. from St. Anselm's College, in Manchester, New Hampshire, and a B.D. from St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts.

On April 21, 1989 Samra was appointed Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of the Eparchy of Newton, and Titular Bishop of Gerasa, by the Holy Father, His Holiness Blessed Pope John Paul II. He was consecrated and installed on July 6 of that year by Archbishop Joseph Tawil as Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of the Eparchy of Newton and Titular Bishop of Gerasa. Samra served as Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus until his retirement on January 11, 2005.

An active speaker and author, Samra has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism, Christian leadership and stewardship. He has also published a multi-volume history of the Melkite Church and a book on the legacy of Archbishop Joseph Tawil. He is the past president of the Eastern Catholic Association of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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