Our Parish History


Welcome to Mar Yosip Parish

Mar Yosip Parish is part of the Assyrian Church of the East, Diocese of California in the United States. This parish was initially established by men and women of Assyrian descent. Today, Mar Yosip Parish consists of approximately 480 families who also reflect a great diversity of backgrounds and religious traditions of origin.

The Assyrian Church of the East has her origin with Jesus Christ, and in the Apostolic Community called into being by Jesus Christ, and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost, which is celebrated fifty days after Easter, commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and marks the beginning of the mission of the Church to the world. The Assyrian Church of the East believes that she has maintained a direct and unbroken continuity of love, faith, and order with the Church of Christ born in the Pentecost experience. As the matter of fact, the Assyrian Church of the East still uses in all the church services the Aramaic Language, the language that Jesus spoke and parts of the scriptures were written.

If you are a newcomer or a visitor to Mar Yosip Church, you are most welcome; please know that our hearts are open to you! And while it is our hope that this website will help you learn more about our community and our Faith, we hope you will personally visit and pray with us. You will discover an ancient yet dynamic faith, a welcoming Christian family, and a spiritual home in which you can deepen your relationship with Christ.

Early Beginning of MYP -

The Assyrian population in the city of San Jose, CA in 1964 consisted of only about 10 Assyrian families. There was no Assyrian Church of the East in San Jose at that time. Church members moving to San Jose either went 50 miles to Mar Narsai Church in San Francisco or to Turlock once in a while for church services.

In 1976, as more Assyrians arrived in San Jose an effort was made with HG Mar Aprim Khamis’s approval to start a church in San Jose.

The original families to start this movement were:
- David & Virginia Zia
- Jack & Mary Bookie
- Ed & Janet Farhad
- Roger & Mary Yonan
- Arnie & Barbara Isola
- Joe & Shirley Yonan
- George & Jennie Joseph.

These husbands and wives did everything - like meet 3 times a week at restaurants to plan church meetings at halls, gave dinner and dance parties and picnics to make money until the first church service could be held. They were like a church committee. Other members helped too, but the above were the backbone and were consistently meeting and working.

For the first time in San Jose with HG Mar Aprim’s approval a church service was held on Sunday, March 11, 1979 at the First Congregational Church of Campbell, 400 W. Campbell Avenue, Campbell, CA, which was rented. Services were conducted at 3:00 pm by Archdeacon Nenos Michael until Shamasha Joseph Zaia (now HB Mar Meelis Zaia) was Ordained as the priest for the San Jose Parish.

In October of 1980, the first major church fundraiser was held in San Jose, CA at a banquet given in honor of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV and HG Bishop Mar Aprim Khamis.

In 1981, the late His Beatitude Mar Narsai Debaz at a church committee meeting named the church for San Jose, ”Mar Yosip Khnanisho”.

In 1981, the first official church committee (motwa) was elected by the members of the new San Jose parish for a period of two years 1981-83 and three trustees were appointed by HG Mar Aprim. These trustees were, jack bookie, Ed Farhad and David Zia.

In 1982, the first building committee approved by HG Mar Aprim consisted of three members: Roger Yonan, David Zia and jack bookie.

Election results of the first election were as follow:
- President, Roger Yonan
- Vice President, Jack Bookie
- Secretary, Shirley Yonan
- Treasurer, Arnie Isola

Committee members were:
Ed Farhad, David Zia, Daniel Benjamin, Atour Paul, Romeo Michael, Victor Badal, Shmoel Khalipa and Shamasha Joseph Zaia (who became our priest and later became HB Mar Meelis).

In 1982, land was purchased to build a church which was near the Santa Clara county fairgrounds, about 1 acre. The second major fundraiser was held by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV at a dinner honoring him in San Jose.

In 1984-85, all necessary city of San Jose permits for the building of a church on this land were completed and a mortgage loan acquired from pacific valley bank.

In 1985, Qasha Joseph Zia was ordained a bishop, HG Mar Meelis, and sent to Australia.

In 1988, the building and property at 680 Minnesota Avenue in San Jose was purchased and remodeled and became the church of Mar Yosip Khnanisho. The land by the Santa Clara fairgrounds was sold.

On June 1, 1998 the property, parking lot, and small building at 650 Minnesota Avenue, which is adjacent to the church property was purchased and eventually paid off on December 21, 2001.