VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis erected an apostolic exarchate for Syriac Catholics living in Canada.

The exarchate, a church jurisdiction similar to a diocese established for Eastern or Orthodox Christians living outside their native land, will have its seat in Montreal, the Vatican announced Jan. 7.


The Vatican said the exarchate will be made up of territory in Canada that was once part of the Newark, New Jersey-based Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance for Syriac Catholics. It will include cities such as Ottawa and Mississauga, Ontario; and Laval, Quebec.

Pope Francis also named Father Antoine Nassif as the first apostolic exarch of the new jurisdiction. Born in Beirut in 1969, Father Nassif worked in two parishes in Lebanon before serving as rector of the patriarchal seminary in Charfet, Lebanon.