News About His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
On December 24, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presided over the celebration of the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ at his cathedral, St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. He was assisted by Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar-General of the Antiochian Archdiocese and dean of the Cathedral, Priest Adrian Budica, assistant priest at the Cathedral, Archdeacon Hans Elhayek, assistant to the Metropolitan, and Dn. Andre El-Hajj, the Cathedral's deacon. Protopsaltis Sub-deacon Rassem El Massih served as chanter for the feast.
Noursat and Tele Lumiere, Christian television for Lebanon and the Middle East, will broadcast an encounter with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip on Sunday, December 22, at 3:30 pm Eastern time, repeating at 9:00 pm Eastern.
On Friday, December 6, 2013, Metropolitan Philip issued a letter which was read on the following Sunday in all the parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese. In it, he expressed his deep concern over the recent abductions of the bishops, nuns, and children in Syria.
Dear Clergy and Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese,
Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ in the midst of this Holy Advent season.
It is with great sadness that we have received the news of the abduction of our beloved nuns and orphans from the Convent of St. Thekla, Maaloula, Syria. It is inexcusable for such peaceful, God-loving and defenseless people of God to be abducted and displaced from their place of residence and worship, after having suffered so much angush for the past three months. St. Thekla Convent, through the intercessions of its patron Saint and the prayers of all its nuns, has been since its inception in the first century a beacon of light for peace, miracles, and the spreading of our Lord's message of love for all. It is unfathomable to hear that peaceful servants of Christ are being treated in such barbaric manner, as have Metropolitan Boulos and Archbishop Youhanna been treated.
The video below of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip's teaching on December 8, 2013, and remarks on the abducted nuns of Maaloula, has been provided by St. Nicholas Cathedral:
December 7, 2013
The President and Mrs. Obama; The White House; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; Washington D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama,
Greetings and best wishes to you and to your two precious daughters in the spirit of this Holy Christmas season. I was honored to receive your invitation to attend a White House holiday reception on Friday, December 6th, 2013.
I remember fondly my attendance at the White House reception two years ago. The photograph which we took together on that auspicious occasion continues to adorn my office. Unfortunately Mr. President, I did not attend your holiday reception this year because while I do have the joy of Christmas, I do not have the peace of Christmas. This is the peace which the angels proclaimed on that Holy Night "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14). Although I am Lebanese by birth and a proud American citizen for the past fifty-seven years, I received my secondary education in the cities of Homs and Damascus, Syria.
St. George Church in Troy, Michigan recently celebrated both its 100th anniversary and the burning of its mortgage. The weekend began at the Troy Marriott on Friday, October 18th, 2013 with meetings of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board and the Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius, which continued through Saturday morning.
Saturday Evening Great Vespers took place at St. George's at 6:00p.m. followed by a Grand Banquet and the Burning of the Mortgage. The parish was honored to have six hierarchs present: His Eminence Metropolitan Philip; Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West; Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and the Southwest; Bishop Nicholas, Bishop of Brooklyn and assistant to the Metropolitan; Bishop Anthony Michael, Bishop of Toledo and the Midwest; and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Diocese of North America. All of these hierarchs' presence was welcomed with great joy.
As the autumn sets in each year, one annually thinks of a new Ecclesiastical and school year, football season, and the changing colors of leaves. For our Antiochian seminarians, another staple of the fall every year is their annual dinner with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. Each year Sayidna welcomes his spiritual children to the Archdiocese headquarters, where they pray, eat and talk together. This year, seminarians and their wives from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, St. Tikhon's Seminary, and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary were in attendance, along with the archdiocesan clergy who teach them at the various seminaries.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip was interviewed this week by Boston's NPR radio station for their Here and Now program concerning the plight of the ancient Orthodox Christian communities of Syria. The interview is available for listening, and as a written transcript, both available here.
His Eminence in particular highlighted his concern for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria. (Read an appeal for the monastery from the Patriarchate of Antioch here.) Metropolitan Philip said in part:
"My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus."
From Orthodox Christian Network (OCN):
Join us for an exclusive interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, the primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. His Eminence has issued several statements calling for prayer and action on the current situation in Syria, where millions of Christians are suffering and in grave danger of persecution. Listen now to his thoughts on what will happen to Christians in Syria if the country is bombed, how people can help both the political situation and the millions of refugees, as well as about the Day of Solidarity that has been set for September 15th.
His Eminence Philip (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, sent a message to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which reads, in particular: “We monitor with gratitude your tireless efforts in support of the Christians, and all the God-fearing people of Syria.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expresses his conviction that the forces responsible for stirring up the conflict in the country “have ulterior motives in mind, not the least of which is to expunge the area of Christians who have been living in that land peacefully with Muslims for many years under the secular government…”
The hierarch of the Church of Antioch thanked the Russian Church for carrying out the fund-raising campaign and sending the money collected “to help the needy, homeless and downtrodden people of Syria” who have been suffering from “the uncivil war that continues to rage.”
“Throughout history, Russia has protected the Orthodox of the Middle East in times of need and it seems history is repeating itself once again,” the letter reads. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expressed his gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for his support in this difficult time and asked him “to remember the victims of this barbarism” in his prayers.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
September 6, 2013
President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC
Dear Mr. President:
We write to you with a heavy heart having heard the recent news of the attack on the ancient Christian city of Maaloula, Syria by the rebel forces. This city houses one of the oldest and most important monasteries, the Monastery of St. Thekla, which is considered a holy place by both Christians and Muslims.
This attack by the rebel forces, who are supported by the U.S. government, is an unspeakable act of terror, and speaks volumes to the viciousness of those rebel forces who seek to overthrow the Syrian government. Apparently there is nothing that is sacred to these people, and it is very disturbing that these same people are being supported by our government.
Mr. President, we appeal to your humanity, and compassion for people to halt consideration of any U.S military action against the Syrian government. This would be a deadly and costly action, and nothing can be gained by it. If indeed chemical weapons have been used (and this is still to be determined by the UN inspectors who recently returned from Syria), there is no compelling evidence which points to the use of these weapons by the Syrian government. On the contrary, there is some compelling evidence that the rebel forces had both the means and the will to launch such a heinous attack against innocent people, Christians and Muslims alike, who are all the children of God.
May our Lord and God guide you to find a peaceful solution which relies on negotiation and not bombs.
+Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy and Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese:
Greetings to you and your families as we begin a new ecclesiastical year. I pray you had a pleasant summer. I write to you today as our president and United States Congress contemplate military action against Syria. As those of us with deep roots in that land already know, more bombs and destabilization of the country will only lead to further bloodshed and devastation. In my opinion, based on a lifetime of knowledge in that area of the world, it serves neither the interest of the United States, nor the Syrian people (or the people of the Middle East at large for that matter) to bomb and further destabilize the country. Extremists groups such as Al-Kaeda are waiting in the wings to prey on any weakness in the Syrian government and infrastructure. The results of such a bombing would be yet another step in the extermination of our Christian presence in the Middle East, a presence that dates to the dawn of Christianity. Our Church has already suffered greatly and has new martyrs waiting to be glorified –we do not need any more!
Therefore, I urge all of you during the next few days to contact your respective senators and congress people to urge them to vote NO to any unilateral military action by the United States. Time is of the essence so please distribute this email to everyone you know as quickly as possible and share this message on your Facebook and other mass media sites.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba delivered the following speech at the evening prayer service at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, in Little Falls, New Jersey for the release of the two abducted Archbishops, Youhanna Ibrahim, and Boulos Yazgi. It is also an appeal to all Arabs in the Middle East and overseas. The speech is also available to download in Arabic (PDF).
Most Reverend Archbishops and beloved brothers and sisters,
We are gathered this evening to pray for the repose of the souls of the Arab martyrs who were killed in a vain war which history never experienced. When President Zain Al'abedeen was overthrown by a revolution in Tunisia, and when Colonel Mou'ammar Alqathafee was overthrown by another revolution in Libya, the United States said: "This is the Arab Spring."
In the Word Magazine, published in June which expresses the opinion of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese in North America, I wrote an editorial titled: "Is this an Arab Spring or a tornado?" This tornado extended to wounded Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, beloved Syria, and beautiful Lebanon, while Jordan is standing in these days on the edge of the abyss. After the Zionists' gangs defeated all Arab armies during the ﬁrst war between Arabs and Israel, the great Syrian poet ‘Omar Abou Reshee, and with much indignation, delivered a poem in Aleppo which he said:
My nation, do you have among other nations a pulpit for the sword or pen?
I look at you with much sadness ashamed from your past which has vanished.
My nation, how many idols you gloriﬁed which did not have the purity of an idol?
Your Eminences, Your Graces, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees, Generous Members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Energetic Members of the Antiochian Women of North America, Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Beloved members of SOYO, and members of our Parish Councils throughout North America and all faithful of our God protected Archdiocese.
Before I address the theme of our convention, first, I would like to convey to you some very good news about our Archdiocese. We have completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla Monastic Community at a price of $885,845. The property is located in Glenville, Pennsylvania and consists of 51 acres of land which includes a four bedroom “move in ready” house, a two story barn, and a three car garage with an attached workshop. The property also has a pond, and includes 30 acres of farmland and 7 acres of woodland. Our original plan was to build this convent at the Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of building at the Antiochian Village would have been $4,091,907. This is a total saving of $3,206,062. The purchase was funded by money saved in the Archdiocese from an endowment fund by the late Archimandrite John Matthieson, money which has been raised by the Antiochian Women, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.
On June 29, 2013, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the Holy See of Antioch, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip traveled to Glenville, Pennsylvania in York County to bless the property and house which will be the home of the nuns of the Convent of St. Thekla in America.
His Eminence was accompanied by His Grace Bishop Antoun, and several clergy from the area, including Fr. Peter Pier, the host pastor from St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church in York, Pennsylvania.
Approximately 50 people attended the blessing ceremony, many of whom were first time visitors to the convent property. The blessing was followed by a light lunch at the convent, and a dinner in the evening with the members of the Parish Council of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania.
On Sunday, His Eminence presided at his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. John Chrysostom Church in their newly constructed church building.
St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, is the mother cathedral and seat of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. It is also the first community established by St. Raphael of Brooklyn, North America's first consecrated bishop, founder of The Word magazine, and a great evangelist and teacher who planted twenty-nine parishes before his repose in 1915.
The history of the Archdiocese and of St. Nicholas Cathedral of Brooklyn are one and the same. St. Nicholas Cathedral is the oldest continuous church in the Archdiocese and its only Mother Cathedral. Its long and illustrious history unfolded through the love, devotion and sacrifices of a venerable hierarchy, greatly respected priests and deacons, and holy people of God who have served and continue to serve.
"We invite you to explore the beauty of our historic mother cathedral through this virtual tour (see below) as well as the photos on the Google Plus page," notes Cathedral Dean The Very Rev. Thomas Zain. "The tour and photos were all created by the same professional photographers. Our building dates back to the 1850s, and we have been worshipping there since 1920. Much of the iconography is recent, having been added in the past 15 years."
For the first time since his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America in November 2012, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was the guest of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip at the offices of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in Englewood, New Jersey on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Metropolitan Tikhon was accompanied by Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations; and Subdeacon Roman Ostash. Joining Metropolitan Philip in welcoming the OCA delegation was His Grace Bishop Nicholas, Auxiliary-Brooklyn and Resident Assistant to Metropolitan Philip; Archpriest Thomas Zain, AOCA Vicar General; and Archpriest George Kevorkian, AOCA Assistant to the Metropolitan. A warm atmosphere provided the context for substantive conversations about the current plight of Christians in the Middle East and specifically the situation of the two Syrian hierarchs who remain in captivity as well as the OCA’s recent history, the ongoing work of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, and hope for a united autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America.
"Christ is Risen!" "Indeed He is Risen!" This joyous refrain could be heard in St. Nicholas Cathedral in the early morning hours of May 5. After waiting for spring in the Northeast this year, the dark and short days of the season have given way to "the day that knows no night" and the celebration of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. Once again, our father in Christ, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, returned home to celebrate the Feast of Feasts and the season of seasons in his cathedral, the mother church of the North American Archdiocese.
Listen as the chanters of St. Nicholas, led by Protopsaltis Rasem El Massih, sing "Today is the Day of Resurrection."
By Ernestine Ede and Justin Sayfie
On November 16-18, 2012, St. George Cathedral of Coral Gables, FL, began a year-long celebration of her Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary) with a weekend to remember.
The festivities began on Friday evening. Saint George Cathedral was adorned with long ribbons of red and white satin streaming from the center archway of the altar and the bells were joyously ringing in jubilation at the arrival of the Metropolitan’s motorcade at the front of the Cathedral. Our pastor Fr. Fouad Saba, the members of the parish council, and the faithful of St. George Cathedral had for several months eagerly awaited the arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, His Eminence Archbishop Joseph, His Grace Bishop Antoun and His Grace Bishop Nicholas. The Cathedral was also honored to have in attendance The Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, Fawaz El-Khoury, the vice chairman of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, and Mrs. Mary Winstanley O’Connor, the North American chair for the Order of St. Ignatius. In addition, a special honor was bestowed on the Cathedral with the arrival of Maronite Bishop Mounir Khairallah of Batroun, Lebanon.
On Friday, December 21, 2012, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip continued an annual tradition at the headquarters for the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, NJ, by hosting the choir of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Little Falls, NJ. The night of caroling and fellowship, a tradition of some forty years, featured the St. George choir directed by Christine Lynch.
The carolers arrived at the door of the Archdiocese singing the hymns and carols of the season, until ushered in by Metropolitan Philip. They continued the mini-concert of liturgical and secular religious carols while the Metropolitan and his guests, including Bishop Nicholas, St. George's pastor Fr. Dimitri Darwich, and area clergy and friends listened, and then joined in the singing.
Metropolitan Philip Celebrates Divine Liturgy and Trisagion Prayers in Memory of Patriarch Ignatius IV
On Sunday, December 16, 2012, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip celebrated the Divine Liturgy and a Trisagion Service in for His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn. The cathedral was filled to capacity with many dignitaries and faithful from the greater New York area. His Grace Bishop Nicholas assisted His Eminence, along with The Very Rev. Thomas Zain, The Very Rev. Dimitri Darwich, Fr. Charles Baz, Fr. Adrian Budica, Archdn. Emile Sayegh and Dn. Andre Elhajj.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip will hold a Trisagion (Memorial) Service for our departed father of thrice-blessed memory, Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY.
Orthros begins at 9:30 a.m. with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy followed by the Trisagion Prayers of Mercy celebrated by Metropolitan Philip and assisted by His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn and the Cathedral clergy beginning at 10:30 am.
Representatives of sister Orthodox Churches and other religious communities have been invited as well as members of the diplomatic corps. For questions regarding the service you may contact the Vicar-General, Archpriest Thomas Zain at firstname.lastname@example.org. For directions to the Cathedral, see the Cathedral website.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip wishes to thank all of those people who conveyed their best wishes and prayers to him for his Name Day (Apostle Philip, November 14). He also would like to wish all of the clergy and faithful of this Archdiocese a most blessed Thanksgiving, and a spiritually rewarding Advent Season.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
Beloved in Christ: Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
I write to you today with a heavy heart as we continue to endure the effects of the massive storm “Sandy” that engulfed the Northeast last week. In fact, I had hoped to communicate with all of you earlier, but we just received our electricity back at the archdiocese and until now we have no Internet access. Nevertheless, the inconvenience we endured pales in comparison to what hundreds of thousands experienced, and continue to experience in the Northeast, most especially in New Jersey, New York City and Long Island. No doubt, all of you have seen on television from the comfort of your warm homes, the death and destruction this rare and massive storm brought to the coastal areas and beyond. Until now, people are without the basic necessities of life, countless families have lost their homes, and even more have suffered extensive damage to their homes- if they can be saved at all. People continue to have to sleep in near freezing temperatures without heat; many are without food, electricity, transportation and other basic needs.
With that in mind, we appeal to you, the faithful of our God-protected archdiocese, to respond to this disaster with your monetary offerings so that we can help those desperate people who are in the geographical “backyard” of our archdiocese headquarters and our Mother Cathedral.
Metropolitan Philip Receives the Chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church
His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP received His Eminence, Metropolitan HILARION, the Chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow and all Russia on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Accompanying Metropolitan HILARION was His Eminence, Archbishop JUSTINIAN, the Patriarchal Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States as well as clergy and a reporter. His Grace, Bishop NICHOLAS and Archpriest Thomas Zain also attended the meeting.
After welcoming Metropolitan HILARION, the hierarchs exchanged ideas and concerns on issues relating to the Orthodox world in general and the situation of the Orthodox Church in North America in particular. Of special interest to Metropolitan HILARION was the situation of the Christians in the Middle East and the ongoing conflict in Syria. Metropolitan PHILIP thanked Metropolitan HILARION for the support His Holiness, Patriarch KIRILL gave to our Patriarch IGNATIUS IV during his visit to Syria last December. He also thanked the Russian government for standing by Syria in this time of need.