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News About His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph

Metropolitan Joseph Visits St. Ignatius Church + Twin Falls, ID

Karen Hefner writes:

On the weekend of August 22-23, 2015, our little parish of St. Ignatius of Antioch Orthodox Church in Twin Falls, Idaho was graced with the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. Our father and chief shepherd celebrated the baptism of our newest member, Maximus Joseph Habib, new infant son of Fr. Michael and Kh. Masha Habib.

Special guests attended from throughout the Orthodox communities in our surrounding area, as well as many others both of our Orthodox faithful and non-Orthodox alike. The visiting clergy included, Fr. Mark Fenn, Archdeacon George Shishim, Deacon Mark Townsend, Deacon Christopher Payne, Deacon John Mahfouz, Subdeacon Thomas Rice, Subdeacon Peter Samore and Subdeacon Matthew Romero.

On Saturday, August 22, the church was overflowing with more than 90 people when the metropolitan arrived. Parish members joyfully rang the bells and the choir sang, "Blessed is he who cometh in the Name of the Lord" and "Eis polla eti, Destpota," as they and all those present welcomed Sayidna for the first time as the Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Although crammed into our little church, there was great excitement among the faithful as we witnessed the sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation and Eucharist being bestowed upon little Maximus Joseph by our Metropolitan.

St. Vladimir's Seminary to Bestow Honorary Doctorate on Metropolitan Joseph

July, 2015: Metropolitan Joseph, Patriarch John X, and The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield at St. Vladimir's SeminaryJuly, 2015: Metropolitan Joseph, Patriarch John X, and The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield at St. Vladimir's SeminaryOn September 14, 2015, the Board of Trustees and Faculty of St. Vladimir's Seminary will bestow a Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, on His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, at an Academic Convocation beginning at 7 p.m. St. Vladimir's will also award an honorary degree to His Beatitude the Most Blessed Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Metropolitan Tikhon serves as President of the Seminary and Chair of its Board of Trustees, and Metropolitan Joseph serves as Vice Chair of the Board. The event is open to the public and will be held in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building.

Patriarchal and Hierarchical Divine Liturgies to be Rebroadcast on NOURSAT

The Patriarchal Divine Liturgy from the July Convention in Boston will be broadcast on Lebanese television station NOURSAT at midnight Wednesday, September 9 (between Tuesday and Wednesday evening) Eastern time. It will air a second time on Wednesday evening at 6:00pm Eastern time.

The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph during his upcoming visit to St. Elias Cathedral in Ottawa, will be broadcast live from 9:45am to 12:30pm on Sunday, September 13th.

To enjoy these broadcasts, please visit www.noursat.tv at the scheduled times.

A Synaxis of the Antiochian World: A Report on the 52nd Convention

A Synaxis of the Antiochian World:
A Report on the 52nd Convention of the
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Boston, Massachusetts, July 20-26, 2015
By Subdeacon Peter Samore

“O Antioch: lift up your eyes and look around, for your sons came like the pearls shining with the light of God from the West, and the North; from the sea, and the East, glorifying Jesus Christ in you to the ages of ages.” – St. John of Damascus

These words best describe the communion of the apostolic Orthodox Church of Antioch that can never be broken, even if oceans keep her children at a distance from one another. Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ is at the center of the Antiochian communion, manifest by the apostles and their spiritual descendants who proclaimed Christ’s gospel in all corners of the world throughout all ages.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Hosts Dinner in Honor of His Beatitude Patriarch John X

View the photo gallery

On July 28, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, hosted a dinner in honor of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, at the Archdiocese headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey.

In attendance were the Antiochian hierarchs who accompanied the Patriarch, the first hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches who are located in the NY/NJ metropolitan area, representatives from the Roman Catholic church, the Syriac Catholic church, local Muslim spiritual leaders, and diplomats representing Syria, Georgia, Lebanon, and Cyprus.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph introduced His Beatitude and spoke about the tireless work of His Beatitude for peace in Syria, Lebanon, and the entire region. (The remarks of Metropolitan Joseph are here).

The Address of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to the General Assembly of the 52nd Archdiocesan Convention

The Address of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to the General Assembly of the 52nd Archdiocesan Convention 
July 24, 2015, Boston, Massacusetts

Listen to His Eminence's address on Ancient Faith Radio

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Your Beatitude and Beloved father in Christ Patriarch John X, brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, beloved monastics, honored guests, and delegates to this 52nd Archdiocesan Convention:

I greet you with great joy as we gather together as one unified Archdiocese of the Church of Antioch to do the work of the Lord. Our joy is increased a hundred fold by the presence of our Father in Christ, His Beatitude Patriarch John X who is presiding over this Convention. We welcome him with love and prayers for the great burden which he carries to be the father of all of his spiritual children throughout the vast expanse of the world where we find the Church of Antioch. We bear in mind that His Beatitude has spiritual children around the world, from the Middle East to Europe, from North America to Central and South America, and from Australia and New Zealand to the Philippines. Wherever he is present, he is ever mindful of the needs of his spiritual children everywhere, and he never ceases to search for ways to bring comfort to them. May our gracious and loving Lord bless him and his ministry to all of us.

Services with Patriarch John X to be Broadcast Live

On July 18-19, 2015, St. George Cathedral in Worcester, MA will welcome His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. Together with His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, His Beatitude will celebrate Divine Services at the Cathedral on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

If you cannot attend in person, consider tuning in to the Live Broadcast, either at www.antiochian.org/live-broadcast-july-2015 or www.acboston2015.com/live for the following scheduled services (Eastern time):

Saturday, July 18th Vespers Service • 5:00 pm
Sunday, July 19th Orthros • 8:45 am
Patriarchal Divine Liturgy • 10:00 am

Metropolitan Joseph's Letter in Support of March for Marriage

On April 25, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington D.C., people journeyed from around the U.S. for the March for Marriage. This year's March included an Orthodox gathering, sponsored by the group Crown Them With Glory. Prior to the March, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph released a letter encouraging the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate. Given its timeliness, we are reposting that message below.

To our Beloved Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy and all of the Faithful of this God- Protected Archdiocese:

Blessings to you during this Holy Season of the Great Fast! On January 16th of this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex "marriage," and "rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex "marriages" and to refuse to recognize such "marriages" performed in another state." More details on the announcement can be found at the Supreme Court's website.

Metropolitan Joseph Condemns Charleston Slayings, Calls for Prayer

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America issued a statement yesterday condemning the racially-motivated shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, in historic Charleston, South Carolina. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph expressed his great sorrow and offered his prayers for the nine victims, their families, and the entire community.

"I learned of this tragedy from across the ocean in Lebanon, and am deeply saddened that, in this land of freedom and opportunity for all people, we still find such hatred and racism," noted His Eminence. "May the sacrifice of the nine victims who gathered to do nothing more than pray to the almighty God and study the scripture, inspire all of us to work to eradicate racism from our great nation."

Annual Spring Meetings at Antiochian Village

This past weekend, May 29-31, 2015, the hierarchs and leaders of the Antiochian Archdiocese met at the Antiochian Village for their annual spring meetings. Our bishops met on Friday morning and the Archdiocese Board of Trustees met on Friday evening and Saturday morning. In addition, several other meetings took place including the Village Council and the newly formed cemetery committee.

During the bishops' meeting, our hierarchs discussed various issues relating to their respective dioceses, upcoming clergy transfers and other issues. They also heard a report from Fr. Thomas Zain and Mr. Khalil Samara, the NAC Fellowship of St. John the Divine Spiritual Advisor and President, about the proposed changes to the Fellowship and the newly formed Young Adult Ministry. The hierarchs wholeheartedly endorsed the new concept and one of the NAC officers will attend each of the Parish Life Conferences this year to explain the restructuring of the organization to the faithful of each diocese.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Appoints Mr. Paul Jabara to Head the Archdiocesan Department of Sacred Music

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has appointed Mr. Paul Jabara of Montreal QC, Canada to be the new Head of the Archdiocesan Department of Sacred Music, replacing Mr. Christopher Holwey who is finishing his tenure in that position to pursue new opportunities. A brief biographical summary for Mr. Jabara can be found here. His Eminence wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to Chris Holwey for his dedicated service to this department and wish him well in all of his future endeavors. In addition, His Eminence congratulates Paul Jabara on this appointment and wishes him every blessing.

Biography of Paul Jabara

Conductor Paul Jabara was born in Montreal and is a graduate of McGill University. Originally a trombonist, he obtained his undergraduate degree in voice and piano, a Master's degree in choral conducting, and divides his time between conducting and teaching.

Metropolitan Joseph Visits St. George Church + Washington, D.C.

Fr. Joseph Rahal writes:

The week of May 6-11, 2015 was a glorious week for the city of Washington and the Parish of St. George. On Wednesday, May 6, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, accompanied by Sub-Deacon Rassem El-Massih, arrived in Washington, D.C. for an official visit.

On Thursday May 7, His Eminence, accompanied by the Very Rev. Joseph Rahal, Pastor of St. George Church of Washington, D.C., the Very Rev. Isaac Crow of Ss. Peter & Paul Church of Potomac, MD, and Sub-Deacon Rassem El-Massih, attended and participated in the 100-year commemoration of the Armenian, Assyrian, Syriac and Antiochian genocide that took place in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire in Turkey.

On Friday May 8, His Eminence attended a private dinner with members of the parish council of St. George, their spouses and other prominent members of the Parish at the home of Jamal & Amal Motran in Fredrick, MD.

Metropolitan Joseph's Call to the Convention

Letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph regarding the 2015 Archdiocesan Convention to be published in the church bulletin and distributed to all parishioners:

May 14, 2015

To: Our Beloved Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Archdiocesan Trustees, Department Heads, Organization Presidents, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-protected Archdiocese:

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

It is with this joyful proclamation of the Risen Lord that we send to you this official Call to the 52nd biennial Archdiocesan Convention. We direct your attention to the following matters:

Metropolitan Joseph Participates in Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

Metropolitan Joseph, seated in the first row, listens as the President of Armenia delivers his speech.Metropolitan Joseph, seated in the first row, listens as the President of Armenia delivers his speech.Press release: By the Very Rev. Joseph Rahal, Washington, DC
Friday, May 8, 2015

On Thursday, May 7, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph was a participant in the ecumenical commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The service was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. as a part of the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial coordinated by the Diocese and Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Churches of America, East and West.

Accompanying His Eminence were the Very Rev. Joseph Rahal, Pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of Washington, DC; the Very Rev. Isaac Crow, Pastor of Ss. Peter & Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Potomac, MD; and Subdeacon Rassem El Massih. The delegation was seated on the first row facing the altar.

In the Armenian Genocide, over 1.5 million Armenians, Antiochians, Syrians and Assyrians perished at the hands of Ottoman Turks from 1915-1923.

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Patronal Feast with Arizona Community

From April 23-26, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph visited the parish of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, AZ. The active community is led by the pastor, the Very Reverend Dr. Christopher Salamy, assisted by several other clergy. During His Eminence's days ministering in Phoenix, he presided over a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy commemorating the feast day of the community's patron saint, St. George. Metropolitan Joseph's visit concluded with a celebratory banquet on April 26.

(View the Facebook photo album.)

Youth Ministry Leaders Meet with Metropolitan Joseph

L to R: Fr. Joseph Purpura, Sandy Mitchell, Fr. Noah Bushelli, Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas Zain, Khalil Samara, Metropolitan Joseph, Fr. Anthony Yazge, Carole BulezaL to R: Fr. Joseph Purpura, Sandy Mitchell, Fr. Noah Bushelli, Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas Zain, Khalil Samara, Metropolitan Joseph, Fr. Anthony Yazge, Carole BulezaOn Tuesday, April 21, 2015, Metropolitan Joseph convened a meeting at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, NJ, with all of the Antiochian Archdiocese Youth Ministry leaders.

In attendance were:
V. Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura – Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry
V. Rev. Fr. Anthony Yazge – Chair of the Department of Camping and Director of College Ministry
V. Rev. Fr. Noah Bushelli – representing home school parents
Carole Buleza – Director of the Department of Christian Education
Khalil Samara – Fellowship of St. John the Divine (Young Adult Ministry)
V. Rev. Thomas Zain – Spiritual Advisor of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine
Sandy Mitchell – representing Antiochian Orthodox parochial schools

His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn, NY, also joined the group for lunch.

His Eminence set forth his vision for youth ministry in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and called all of those in attendance at the meeting to start working together in their efforts to form the youth of the Archdiocese. He also stressed the importance of increasing our efforts to form our youth in Christ.

"It's time to renew our efforts, not to abolish what has been done," he said. "We must build upon what we have received, what has been delivered to us....We have a great task before us to improve these ministries to our young people across the Archdiocese. It is the right time for change and improvement.

"We cannot bury our talents," he concluded.

Assembly of Bishops Committee Chaired by Metropolitan Joseph Pursues Ambitious Agenda in 2015

Metropolitan Joseph and other bishops at Assembly meeting in Dallas, TX, Sept. 2014Metropolitan Joseph and other bishops at Assembly meeting in Dallas, TX, Sept. 2014
April 16, 2015: From the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America

Can Orthodox weddings be celebrated on Saturdays? Are group confessions permissible? How are catechumens prepared for reception into the Church?

The answers to these questions and others depend on which Orthodox jurisdiction you call home. While there are vast areas of agreement in the Orthodox Church, there are variations in practice across jurisdictions in the United States as pertain to baptism, marriage, confession, and other sacraments of the Church.

As the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strives to manifest the unity of Orthodoxy, it is necessary to develop a common understanding among its member bishops regarding pastoral practice.

Photo Gallery: Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Pascha

Christ is Risen! 

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided over the services for Great and Holy Pascha at the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY. Assisting in this high point of the liturgical year, were Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Archdiocese and Dean of the Cathedral, and Fr. Adrian Budica.

View the photo gallery by St. Vladimir's seminarian Rami Dahdal.

Metropolitan Joseph Visits St. Stephen the Protomartyr Church + South Plainfield, NJ

On the fifth Sunday of Lent our parish community of St. Stephen the Protomartyr Church in South Plainfield, New Jersey, led by Father Stephen Tewfik and assisted by our Deacon Joshua Burnett, was blessed by a visit from our new Metropolitan Joseph. A week of intensive preparation led up to this historic event. Sayidna who was accompanied by sub-deacon Rassem El-Massih, delivered a homily discussing the meaning of Lent and the life of St. Mary of Egypt. The Church School children sang a church hymn for his Grace, led by our choir director, Sandra Hatrak. A fitting end to this service on the last Sunday of Antiochian Women's Month, was the induction by Sayidna into the Order of St Ignatius of Antioch of two of our parishioners, Mrs. Ibtihaj Kanj and Mrs. Guitta Barghash. Following Liturgy Sayidna was given a brief tour of our facilities and activities including Easter clothing donations to children from the local Head Start program. A delicious Lenten luncheon prepared by the ladies was served to climax a fulfilling day.

"What is This Victory?" Metropolitan Joseph on the Sunday of Orthodoxy

On March 1, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of Orthodoxy at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, with host The Very Reverend Thomas Zain. Other hierarchs present were The Right Reverend Michael, bishop of New York and New Jersey (Orthodox Church in America); The Right Reverend Bishop Nicholas, auxiliary of Brooklyn and resident assistant to the Metropolitan; and His Grace John, bishop of Naro-Fominsk and administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.

For the evening's Vespers, Metropolitan Joseph joined Bishop Michael, Bishop Nicholas, area clergy, Antiochian seminarians, and the faithful who braved the snowy weather, at St. John the Baptist (OCA) in Passaic, NJ. He offered the following reflections on the significance of the day. (View the photo gallery on Facebook.)

St. Paul Church Founders’ Weekend Celebrates 18 Years in Naples, Florida

Metropolitan Joseph addresses the communityMetropolitan Joseph addresses the communityParishioners of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Naples, Florida, are just now beginning to wake up from a dream ... that our newly enthroned Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America blessed us with his presence this past weekend!

Awaiting the arrival of His Eminence, Fr. Joseph and Subdeacon Rassem El Massih at the Hilton Hotel were His Grace, Bishop Antoun, Archpriest George and KH Nouhad Shalhoub, Archpriest Elia and KH Odette Shalhoub and Archdeacon David Nimer and our Council Chairman, Dr. David Thomas. The Greeters disbursed very quickly in order to allow an interval before the scheduled dinner that evening.

Metropolitan Joseph didn’t have a trumpet fanfare announcing his entrance into any event but rather chose to quietly appear in the company of His Grace Bishop Antoun, our pastor, Archpriest Joseph Shaheen, and visiting clergy!

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Founder's Day with Florida Community

Photo: Naples Daily NewsPhoto: Naples Daily NewsSt. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Naples, Florida's celebration of its 18th annual Founder's Day over the weekend of February 21 and 22 included a dinner, group talks, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy graced by the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. The Metropolitan was joined by His Grace Bishop Antoun and their host, Archpriest Joseph Shaheen.

Several hundred people filled the church for Sunday's Liturgy, with dignitaries in attendance from around the United States. In his remarks to the Florida community, Metropolitan Joseph said Christians must refuse the path of violence, instead choosing the harder road of forgiveness.

"We will not be hostages, and we will not be puppets for anyone, and we stand for peace. ... We do not condone violence. We want open dialogue and peaceful resolution to any issues."

Anniversary of the Repose of Metropolitan Philip

Metropolitan Philip of Thrice-Blessed Memory Celebrates Pascha in 2013Metropolitan Philip of Thrice-Blessed Memory Celebrates Pascha in 2013His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings to you and your families as we begin our season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. I pray you are having a blessed beginning of the Fast.

March 19 will mark the one-year anniversary of the falling-asleep of our beloved Metropolitan PHILIP of thrice-blessed memory. It is hard to believe a whole year has already passed since our father and chief-shepherd of more than 48 years reposed. His life and legacy will continue to be with us and inspire us for many years to come. May God rest his soul with the saints and may his memory be eternal!

So that we might commemorate this anniversary in a unified way, I am directing all of our hierarchs and clergy to hold Trisagion Prayers of Mercy in their respective parishes throughout the entire archdiocese on Sunday, March 22 (the Fourth Sunday of the Fast) at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.

I will preside over the official memorial at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY on that Sunday along with several guest hierarchs from our sister jurisdictions.

Metropolitan Joseph's Formative Years: A Reflection

November 2, 2008: Metropolitan Joseph stands with his lifelong mentor and spiritual father Patriarch Ignatius IV in Boston before the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy.November 2, 2008: Metropolitan Joseph stands with his lifelong mentor and spiritual father Patriarch Ignatius IV in Boston before the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy.His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph Reflects on Early Lessons Learned from His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East

by Subdeacon Peter Samore

All he knew was that he was going to Balamand. Everything else was in God's hands.

In 1964, a 13-year-old Joseph Al-Zehlaoui had been recruited by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East to study at a newly established secondary school next to the seminary and monastery at Balamand near Tripoli, Lebanon. His parents, Georgi and Matilda, had consented to send their fifth of six children at a tender age to a sacred place to know our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ; and to learn how to serve His Holy Church.

Nowadays, the automobile drive between Damascus, young Joseph's hometown, and Tripoli takes just a few hours. In 1964, the drive took several days. And it took several automobiles – taxicabs – to transport the future Metropolitan of North America to his educational and spiritual center. He had some company: boys who would grow up to become Metropolitan Damaskinos Mansour of Brazil; Metropolitan George Abu-Zakhem of Homs, Syria; and Archimandrite Elias Bitar, a legendary priest of the North American archdiocese.

The Enthronement of Metropolitan Joseph: Celebrations of East and West

Imagine the spiritual renewal, excitement, festivities and joyful reunion of the clergy and laity at a Parish Life Conference or an Archdiocesan Convention – in the middle of winter.

Antiochian Orthodox Christians on this continent did not have to wait until summertime for such large gatherings. We had great cause for celebration before then – the enthronement of a new metropolitan, the first that the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America had celebrated in 48 years.

The Archdiocese came together twice this winter – first in Brooklyn, and then in Los Angeles – to celebrate the beginning of the leadership of its new father and chief shepherd: His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph. Inaugurating the first celebration was none other than his roommate in the late 1970s at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece, who is now the successor to the throne of the Apostles Peter and Paul: His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East. (View photo galleries, video, and press releases in Antiochian.org's special Enthronement section)