Today, January 8, 2021, at noon, the Holy See officially announced that Pope Francis has appointed our confrere Friar Dominique MATHIEU, currently Assistant General for the Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF), Archbishop of Tehran-Ispahan of the Latins (Iran).
The Holy See also reported that Pope Francis has transferred the cathedral of the jurisdiction to the Cathedral of the Consolata in Tehran. The Archdiocese of Tehran-Ispahan of the Latins is the seat of the Catholic Church in Iran and is immediately subject to the Holy See. It serves all the faithful of the Latin rite living in Iran. The other ecclesiastical jurisdictions in Iran are the Armenian Eparchy of Ispahan; the Chaldean Archdiocese of Teheran, the Archdiocese of Urmya, the Diocese of Salamas, and the Archdiocese of Ahwaz.
The Archdiocese of Ispahan had been governed for the last five years by an apostolic administrator, the Reverend Father Jack YOUSSEF, CM (Lazarists), after the Holy Father had accepted the resignation of Archbishop Ignazio BEDINI, SDB (Salesians), in January of 2015, for reasons of age.
Friar Dominique was born on June 13, 1963, in Arlon, Belgium. In 1983 he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economic Sciences. Also in 1983, he entered the novitiate of the Friars Minor Conventual in Germany. He professed his simple vows on September 23, 1984, in Damme, Belgium. That same year, he undertook theology studies at the Seraphicum in Rome, and concluded his studies there in 1989. He made his solemn profession on September 20, 1987, in Halle, Belgium. He was ordained a priest on September 24, 1989, in Damme, Belgium.
In the Conventual Franciscan Province of Belgium, which later became a General Delegation, he held various offices including Vocation Promoter (1989-1995), Provincial Secretary (1992-1995), Minister Provincial (1995-2001), and General Delegate (2001-2012). In 2013, he began serving in Lebanon as a member of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land. Here, too, he held various positions, including Custodial Secretary (2014-2018) and formator (2016-2019).
Friar Dominique speaks French, English, Italian, Dutch, German, and has studied literary Arabic. As he himself will tell you, his passions include “astronomy and gastronomy.” Indeed, in his spare time he gazes at the stars and occasionally has fun preparing sweets.
We wish Friar Dominique every blessing in this new service that the Holy Father Pope Francis has entrusted to him, and, in a certain way, to our Order as well. We say this with much emotion and enthusiasm also because it has been so long – almost half a century – since Iran was last mentioned in the Order’s official publications. That was the autumn of 1976, when Fraternus Nuntius reported in its October-November issue that Friar Arcangelo MASSA had gone to Bandar Abbas in Iran to provide spiritual ministry to foreign Christian workers residing in that city.
Asking for the blessings of the Most High upon Friar Dominique, we invoke them upon the entire country of Iran, a land of ancient culture, poetry and the Magi! According to some traditions, in fact, the Three Kings came to Bethlehem from ancient Persia! Moreover, we hope that these ancient saints, wise observers of the stars, may also intercede for Friar Dominique and for the people of God entrusted to his care.
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