DEVELOPMENTS IN AARTSBISDOM
The first Syrian Orthodox Christians came in 1975 as a refugee to the Netherlands. They came from various countries of the Middle East: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other countries. In 1977 there were about 100 families who lived in the city of Hengelo. In the same year, a new Syriac Orthodox diocese of Central Europe was formed, with an energetic monk called Jeshu Cicek, as its Patriarchal Vicar. The Diocese of Central Europe had its headquarters in the Netherlands. The dynamic and energetic Cicek was then Archbishop, dedicated on June 24, 1979 and named for Julius. In 1981, the Diocese of St. Olaf bought Abbey, a Roman Catholic monastery whose name Olaf coincidentally is the first letter of the Syriac alphabet! This meant a new beginning for the Syriac Orthodox Church in Europe and the monastery in the village Glane. On July 7, 1984 the monastery was consecrated as the Archdiocese of Central Europe and was named after Ephrem the Syrian. The countries belonging to the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Central Europe, were the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Austria.
The Archdiocese grew rapidly within a short time and split into several smaller dioceses. In 1997, a separate diocese was formed in Germany. Then, on October 29, 2005 Mor Julius Jeshu Cicek died unexpectedly, the Holy Synod of the Syrian church the former Archdiocese of Central Europe divided into three dioceses. On October 10, 2006 the Netherlands became an independent Archdiocese. Switzerland and Austria have formed a second diocese together. And France and Belgium third. In October 2006 appointed His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Patriarch of Antioch and the East monk Augin Aydin to Pateriarchale Vicar for the new Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Netherlands. He was the successor of Mor Julius Yeshu Cicek. Shortly thereafter, on April 15, 2007, he was ordained by His Holiness Archbishop Polycarp, named after St. Polycarp. This was a saint of the Eastern Church and the Western Church. He explained a link between East and West.
The number of members of the Syrian Orthodox community in the Netherlands is around 25,000 people. Most of these are resident in the region of Twente and Amsterdam. By now almost everyone has acquired Dutch nationality. In their new homeland they strive to integrate it within the Dutch society. Suryoye as they themselves in their native language, Syriac, call, are now organized into eleven parishes with a monastery as their headquarters. The Syriac Orthodox Church as a whole is a member of the Council of Churches in the Netherlands and has close relations with local churches and congregations.