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H.B Mar Meelis Zaia AM (Syriac: ܡܝܠܣ ܙܝܐ), is the Assyrian Church of the East's Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon. A native of Baghdad, he was ordained a priest of the Church in 1982 in California. He is an ethnic Assyrian. He was appointed Bishop of the Church’s diocese of Australia and New Zealand in 1984 and arrived to take up that position in March 1985, which he held until 2008 when he was elevated to Mar Meelis Zaia, Metropolitan of Australia and New Zealand.
H.B is the chairman of the Board of Trustees which controls the financial affairs of the Church. Since his arrival, as head of the Church he has steadily built up the diocese in Australia. His duties include fundraising, active pastoral work, and arranging for the purchase of property and the construction of buildings when required.
In 1990 he played a central role in obtaining a donation of $1.1 million to build a cathedral in Greenfield Park, and in 1999 assisted in the raising of funds for the construction of a reception hall on the cathedral property. In recent times, he played an important part in raising funds from private and government sources for the construction of classrooms and an administration facility for a primary school.
Mar Meelis Zaia's diocese includes all of Australia, including Sydney and Melbourne, New Zealand and Lebanon. He said that there are about 19,000 registered adult members who contribute financially to the Church, and about 4,500 registered non-paying members under the age of 18 years. Of the adult members there are approximately 13,000 in Sydney/New South Wales, 3,500 in Victoria, and 2,500 in New Zealand. The Assyrian community also includes about 6,000 people who are not members of the diocese.
Archbishop Mar Meelis Zaia was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) medal on 26 January 2007 in the Australia Day Honours List by the Queen of Australia, Elizabeth II, for his community service through the Assyrian Church of the East and for his pioneering work in the field of education and the establishment of educational facilities.
On 7 December 2008 he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon, taking the honorific His Beatitude in place of the earlier His Grace. He was blessed by Mar Dinkha IV who flew from Chicago along with a further five bishops from around the world. The event drew close to 3,700 people at the St Hurmizd Assyrian cathedral, Greenfield Park in Sydney Australia.
Mar Meelis Zaia expanded and contributed to the growth of the church and its activities. He was instrumental in the establishment of the first Assyrian school outside of the Assyrian homeland (Mesopotamia), St. Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School in Sydney. Mar Narsai Assyrain College, a secondary school in Sydney, is now the second school run by the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, catering to hundreds of students in the Fairfield area and its surrounding suburbs. In 1988 Archbishop Mar Meelis Zaia officially established the Assyrian Church Youth Group, teaching and preaching in Assyrian.
In 2004 Archbishop Mar Meelis Zaia approved and supported the establishment of the St. Peter and Paul Parish in Sydney; an English-speaking parish created to work for the benefit of Assyrian youth. The fledgling parish grew from 50 members to a 300+ strong congregation in less than two years. Meelis Zaia also initiated a number of programs for troubled youth including drug and alcohol addicts.