HIS HOLINESS MAR AWA III
122 Catholicos-Patriarch of the
Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East,
on the Apostolic See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon
His Holiness Mar Awa III (Royel) was born in Chicago on July 4, 1974, to his parents the late Korosh Ezaria Royel and the late Florence Awikam Shmoel Khan. He was baptized at the St. Mar Sargis church in Chicago, on November 23, 1975 by the late Reverend Qashisha Aprim d’Qashisha Elias De Baz.
He was tutored in the Aramaic language by various priests of the Church in Chicago. Since June of 1990, the Reverend Qashisha Shlemon Heskiel (now Archdeacon) tutored him in the Aramaic tongue and in the liturgies of the Church for nine years, preparing him for the diaconate and priesthood. Thus, he was ordained a deacon on January 19, 1992 at St. George cathedral in Chicago by the late His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, of blessed memory.
He completed his undergraduate studies from 1989-1993, and received his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in 1997 from Loyola University of Chicago, Illinois, with a major in Theology and a minor in Philosophy. In 1999, he graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake (Mundelein Seminary), in Mundelein, Illinois. He was then ordained a priest on May 23, 1999 (Feast of the Pentecost) by the late His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch, at the patriarchal cathedral of St. George in Chicago.
His Holiness Mar Awa III was then sent for graduate studies in Theology to Rome in June of 1999, and in 2001 he graduated with a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome. In 2005, he was appointed assistant pastor at the St. Mary’s parish in Los Angeles, California. In 2006, he was appointed as the priest of the Mar Yosip parish in San Jose, California. In 2007, received his Doctorate of Sacred Theology in Eastern Liturgy, from the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome.
His Holiness Mar Awa III was promoted to the rank of Cor-bishop on July 15, 2007 by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV at St. George cathedral in Chicago. He was elected to the sacred episcopacy by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East which was convened in Dohuk, Iraq, in October of 2008. His Grace was promoted as Archdeacon on November 23, 2008 by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV at Mar Yosip Khnanisho church, in San Jose, California. His Holiness Mar Awa III was consecrated to the episcopacy at Mar Zaia Cathedral in Modesto, California, on November 30, 2008, by the late His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch, assisted by Their Graces Bishops Mar Yosip Sargis, Mar Aprim Khamis and Mar Odisho Oraham.
An extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod was convened on September 6, 2021 due to the demission of the Patriarch-Emeritus His Holiness Mar Gewargis III Sliwa. Consequently, on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, the Holy Synod elected His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Diocese of California, as the 122nd Catholicos-Patriarch to the apostolic see of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. His consecration will take place at the St. John the Baptist patriarchal cathedral in Ankawa, Erbil (KRG), Iraq, on Monday, September 13, 2021, which is also the Feast of the Holy Cross.
His Holiness Mar Awa III served as Secretary of the Holy Synod since December of 2008. He represented the Assyrian Church of the East as a member of the Forum Syriacum (Pro Oriente Foundation, Vienna) since 2010. In 2009, he was awarded a lifetime membership in Cambridge Who’s Who. His Holiness was a member of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East since 2009. He was also co-chair of the Bilateral Dialogue Between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East since 2016. His Holiness Mar Awa III also served as Secretary of the Holy Synod and the President of the Assyrian Church’s Commission on Inter-Church Relations and Education Development (CIRED), since 2008.