Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of the Western Hemisphere (1933 - 2005)
His Eminence Late Abune Yesehaq, Archbishop of the Western Hemisphere and South Africa
His Eminence Abune Yesehaq was borne on June 27, 1933 in Adwa, Ethiopia, from Grazmach Mandefro and Woizero Welete Meskel.
At the age of seven, he was enrolled in Abune Gerima Monastry, where he learned reading, writing and comprehension skills in Geez and Amharic. He also acquired the necessary hymnal and liturgical knowledge and skills for his future spiritual service. He received the rite of a monk, and was ordained a priest by the Archbishop of Mekele at the time, Abune Yesehaq. He served for ten years at the Monastery of Abune Gerima for ten years.
Abune Yesehaq continued his theological study by enrolling in several distinguished monasteries where renowned scholars were teaching. He received a Diploma from Holy Trinity Theological College in Addis Ababa. Upon graduation he started to teach Moral, Religious educations, Amharic under the Ministry of Education and Fine Arts in Ethiopia. He taught for a total of five years at Gebeyehu School in Gamo Gofa and Atse Libne Dengel School in Debre Zeit.
Abune Yesehaq later joined his Alma Mater, Holy Trinity Theological College, as Dean of Students for two years. After several years of dedicated service to his Church and country, He was awarded a scholarship by the Patriarchate and the Government of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, for further studies in the United States of America. He enrolled at the University of Buffalo and the Vladimir Orthodox Theological College and received a Bachelor Degree in Divinity in 1966.
Upon his graduduation, he was appointed as Administrator of newly established Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in USA, Caribbean Islands and Canada. Abune Yesehaq enrolled at the New York Theological Seminary, while fulfilling his duty as administrator, and earned a Masters Degree in Religious Education, in 1968.
After earning his Masters Degree, he was recalled to Ethiopia and was appointed as Secretary to His Holiness Abune Tewoflos, who was at that time was Assistant Patriarch. After two years of service in this capacity, he was reassigned his former duty as Administrator of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the North America, the Caribbean Islands, and Jamaica, by His Holiness Abune Basilios, the first Ethiopian Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewhado Church.
The untiring Abune Yesehaq resumed his expanding Church responsibility and, at the same time enrolled in Princeton Theological Seminary and earned a Maters Degree in Systematic Theology, in 1973. He continued his study, but was called again to Ethiopia, just a year short of completing his PHD study. Upon his arrival in Ethiopia, in 1979, the prominent Ethiopian Orthodox Church figure in the west, known as Aba Laike Mandefro, was ordained a bishop by His Holiness Abune Teklehaimanot, and was made Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church in Western Hemisphere, a distinguished leadership he held until the day of his final departure on December 30, 2005.
His Eminence Abune Yesehaq devoted his entire life in spreading the word of God and the teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Faith. He has built lasting bridges and a wide network not only within his own Church Community but also among various religions across the world.
The accomplishments of his Eminence Abune Yesehaq throughout his Archdiocese and elsewhere are too many to enumerate. But a few of his accomplishments include the following:
His Eminence Archbishop Yesehaq through his wise leadership and devotion has successfully established and or helped establish several parish churches in the United States of America, Canada, many Caribbean Islands (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, the United States Virgin Island and Bermuda) Guyana, South Africa and United Kingdom. Today the number of parish churches has increased to at least seventy (70), starting with the Church in the Bronx, New York, established by His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I in the early days.
Abune Yesehaq, who was deeply concerned about the well-being of children and the elderly, has built two education centers for children and a retirement home attached, in Jamaica.
Abune Yesehaq baptized at least fifty five thousand non Ethiopians into the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Faith in North America, the Caribbean Islands, and South Africa. Forty five thousand of these were Ras Taferians, who used to worship Ras Teferi (His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I). Through the untiring efforts of Archbishop Yesehaq, the Faith of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is now rapidly spreading in the Caribbean Islands, North America and elsewhere.
Abune Yesehaq, who knew right from the beginning the need for well-educated clergy in large numbers, provided adequate training in English, Geez and Amharic, and ordained at least 200 of the new converts as deacons and priests. These deacons and priests are now are successfully serving throughout the Archdiocese.
In addition to providing religious education, His Eminence also organized programs for the new converts to learn about Ethiopian history, culture and language.
His Eminence Archbishop Yesehaq has contributed significantly as a member of a large number of religious and humanitarian organizations, including the following:
National Council of Churches in the United States of America
Standing Committee of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in USA and Canada
Oriental Orthodox Churches and Roman Catholic Bishops Conference
Anglican and Oriental Orthodox Churches Dialogical Forum
Caribbean Conference of Churches
Jamaican Council of Churches
Trinidad Council of Churches
California Council of Churches
Coalition of Black Clergy in New York.
Archbishop Yesehaq has represented Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in a large number of meetings, conferences and symposiums, including the following:
World Peace Conference in Russia and Prague
World Council of Churches Meetings in Japan, and Australia
Caribbean Council of Churches Meeting, Kiroso
Caribbean Council of Churches Meetings, Trinidad, and Guyana
Ecumenical and Folklore Meeting in Rome, Italy
The 9th Independence Ceremony in Jamaica, as a Special Representative of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Special Guest of the Government of Jamaica, as Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church in the Western Hemisphere
The great religious leader who created the momentum for spreading the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Faith, by providing creative, selfless and spiritual services is the man we are honouring today: His Eminence Abune Yesehaq, Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the Western Hemisphere.
His Eminence Archbishop Yesehaq had departed to an everlasting peace of the Lord, on December 30, 2005.
May God rest his soul in peace, and help us carry on his legacy of love, peace, unity, and evangelism.
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