On November 11, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met crowds of faithful who gathered a the Municipal Gymasium in Barillas – Guatemala.
His Holiness was accompanied by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Yacoub Eduardo, Archbishop of Central America, Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Western USA, Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nehmeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous and Environs, Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Eastern USA.
His Eminence Mor Yacoub Eduardo welcomed His Holiness and the accompanying delegation and addressed the crowds telling them how great is this historical day because the Patriarch of Antioch is among them and visiting them despite their location which is hard to reach. He told them to receive the peace and love that His Holiness brought with him from Antioch, the city where Christianity was born, and where St. Peter, the Head of the Apostles, established his see. Mor Yacoub Eduardo thanked His Holiness and asked him to bless the people who gathered to receive him.
His Holiness addressed the crowds by expressing first his thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to be able to visit this flock of Christ despite being remote and in an area that is very hard to reach. His Holiness spoke about suffering as a mark of the church and that persecution is a necessary part of the history of the growth of the church. He emphasized that the Lord’s promise that He conquered the world is an encouragement and hope for all those who suffer for the sake of the true faith. He told them that their presence in the Syriac Orthodox Church is a sign of the work of God in their lives and in the life of the Holy Church. He concluded telling them how proud he is of them and that their warm welcome touched his heart and filled him with joy and tears; His Holiness prayed that God bless them and their families and protect them, strengthening them to remain steadfast in their faith despite tribulations and persecutions.