Skip to Navigation

afrishman's blog

Featured Author of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Virginia Nieuwsma

Virginia Nieuwsma Virginia Nieuwsma lives in San Jose, CA, has been married to Tim for several decades, and has six children and six grandchildren. Ginny grew up in the Philippines with her missionary parents, and later graduated from evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois. Since 1981, she has worked in Christian media, both as an editor and writer. Twenty one years ago she discovered Orthodox Christianity, and subsequently she edited the book Our Heart's True Home. She has served as an editor and project manager for the Orthodox Church in America, St. Vladimir's Seminary, and the Antiochian Archdiocese. For many years, she edited The Handmaiden and served as (the former) Conciliar Press Acquisitions Editor.


Lucia: Saint of Light + An Interview with Conciliar Press Author

In anticipation of St. Lucia's feast day on December 13, Ginny Nieuwsma interviews Katherine Hyde, author of Conciliar's recent release, Lucia: Saint of Light

1. What was the genesis for this book?

I've had a love for St. Lucia ever since I moved to California in 1992 and was invited to participate in a St. Lucia festival hosted by my friends, Nektarios and Anna Burkett. When the Conciliar Press editorial board (on which I serve) decided they wanted more picture books about women saints, I knew I wanted to write one, and St. Lucia immediately came to mind.

2. Who are the children you had in mind, during the writing process?

Metropolitan PHILIP Hosts Metropolitan JONAH at the Archdiocese Headquarters

Left to right: Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Very Rev. Joseph Allen, Mr. Charles Ajalat, Metropolitan PHILIP, Metropolitan JONAH, Bishop ANTOUN, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Very Rev. Ellias Bitar, Very Rev. Michael Ellias.

On the evening of December 10th, 2008, the newly elected primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH was hosted for dinner by Metropolitan PHILIP at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey. This was the first visit for His Beatitude since his election as the First Hierarch of the OCA. He was accompanied by the OCA Chancellor, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs.

All of the following people attended the dinner: Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Very Rev. Joseph Allen, Mr. Charles Ajalat, Metropolitan PHILIP, Metropolitan JONAH, Bishop ANTOUN, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Very Rev. Ellias Bitar, Very Rev. Michael Ellias.

The two Metropolitans engaged in lively and serious discussion, and shared many common visions for the future of the Orthodox Church in North America.

It is our prayer that this was only the first of such gatherings to discuss and address issues that are critical to the Orthodox Church on this continent.

Excerpts from The Winter Pascha

It is the pleasure of the staff to bring our readers this collection of excerpts from The Winter Pascha by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

When the winter begins to make way into the Northern World, the Church of Christ begins to celebrate a "splendid three-day Pascha."

Thus Father Thomas Hopko begins the first of forty meditations for the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, ending with the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple on the fortieth day after Christ's birth. In the style of his popular book for the paschal fasting season, The Lenten Spring, the author again draws on the biblical readings and liturgical hymns and verses of the season to illumine the way for believers to follow the Church's days of preparation and celebration for the Coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in human flesh. Many references are made to the writings of the saints and Church Fathers, as well as to contemporary Christian teachers and spiritual guides. All those who love the Lord's Coming will find comfort and strength, as well as enlightenment and instruction, for having passed through the Winter Pascha with this book as their companion.

(from the St. Vladimir's Seminary Press web site)

The Winter Pascha, Chapter 9: The Conception of Mary

The following is an excerpt from The Winter Pascha, by Fr. Thomas Hopko

Conception of the TheotokosOn the ninth of December the Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of the conception of the Virgin Mary by her parents Joachim and Anna. On this major festival which finds its place in the Church's preparation for Christmas, the faithful rejoice in the event by which Mary is conceived in fulfillment of her parents' prayers in order to be formed in the womb, born on the earth, dedicated to the Lord, and nurtured in holiness to become by God's grace the mother of His Son the Messiah.


The Orthodox Church, particularly in the present time, does not call the feast of Mary's beginning the "immaculate conception," although perhaps in ancient times this title would have been fully acceptable. This is not because the Orthodox consider Mary's conception to have been somehow "maculate" or "stained" (macula means "stain" in Latin). It simply means that the Orthodox do not want to support the conviction that God had somehow to intervene at the moment of Mary's conception with a special action to remove the "stain" of the original sin transmitted by the act of human reproduction because, simply put, the Orthodox do not hold that such a "stain" exists.

Who are these people with the Crosses?

I would like to take a few minutes before Sayidna inducts these people in the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch to explain to you a little about our ministry.

The Order of St. Ignatius is the fund raising philanthropic ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese. It is a spiritual movement manifested through sacrificial giving. It would be nice if the work of the church could be accomplished without money, but the reality is that all of our programs, departments and institutions require funds to run.

The Order contributes 38% of the Archdiocesan annual budget and distributes funds outside the Archdiocese on its

There are over 3,700 men and women who contribute $500 or $1,000 annually. 314 members made a lifetime commitment of $15,000 and are considered Life Members. Annual distribution 1.5 million, over 20 million since inception 32 years ago.

Why St. Ignatius?

Ignatius was one of the first bishops of the see of Antioch the spiritual source of our Archdiocese and a martyr for the faith. St. Ignatius said that, as the tree is known by its fruit, so they who claim to belong to Christ are known by their actions. In other words we put the lessons of Advent and the Nativity wreath into practice! Don’t just sit their do something!

The members of the Order of St. Ignatius believe that they can do more good together than any one person acting alone. They stand before the altar of Christ and pledge their gifts for the rest of their lives. As Christ called his apostles by name so Sayidna will call each by name before placing the Cross around their neck. We wear the cross to remind us of the sacrifice the he has made for our salvation.

Where does the money go?

Make a Difference in Your Life and the Lives of Others

December 2008

This is a festive time of the year as the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord approaches. We think of parties, shopping, caroling, decorating the tree and simply having fun. Surely, our Lord finds contentment in His children seeking joy. Through all these festivities, however, we must take some time to remember the significance of His birth and remember that this is truly a time for giving.

The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch celebrates 32 years of “touching people’s lives” by distributing over $20 million dollars since its inception. The Order’s goal is to provide a financial foundation for our Church’s future in America and
throughout the world. Members of The Order are men and women from all walks of life: secretaries, factory workers, business entrepreneurs, executives, young adults, and grandparents who commit to a lifetime of annual giving. Members are people like you and me who believe that when we combine our gifts miracles can happen because we can do more collectively than any one individual can do alone. This is what The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch is all about.

The Order embodies four principles: humanitarianism, fellowship in Christ, love of the Orthodox Christian faith, and commitment to the Antiochian Archdiocese. Combined, these four principles equip us for the work of ministry. In its own uniquely effective way, the Order mobilizes the laity of this God-protected Archdiocese to accomplish vital ministry none can do alone.

Make a Difference in Your Life and the Lives of Others

December 2007

This is the time of year when our hearts are opened and we make a token gift to those less fortunate amidst the celebrations, shopping, caroling, decorating the tree and simply having fun. We teach the children in church school that the Nativity wreath is a circle representing God’s endless Love for us not just during the season but also during our whole lifetime. But after the New Year we find it hard to continue to live a spiritual life. We are surrounded with war, disease, crime and death. We have become immune to all the bracelets and ribbons. We close our hearts. The Order of St. Ignatius is not just another cause with a ribbon. At the end of our ribbon is the symbol of what we believe—the cross. Our children often ask parents, usually before they are asking for something, how much do you love me? The parent usually responds with a big outstretched arm “I love you this much” Christ loved us enough to be born and ultimately die so that we could live.

So what are we really asked to sacrifice for the church? The equivalent of a cup of Starbuck’s a day. The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch celebrates 35 years of “touching people’s lives” by distributing over $17 million dollars since its inception. The Order’s goal is to provide a financial foundation for our Church’s future in America and throughout the world. Members of The Order are men and women from all walks of life: secretaries, factory workers, business entrepreneurs, executives, young adults, and grandparents who commit to a lifetime of annual giving.

Members are people like you and me who believe that when we combine our gifts miracles can happen because we can do more collectively than any one individual can do alone. This is what The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch is all about.

Steppin' Out of Your Comfort Zone

Presented by Kathy Abraham

This summer during one of the Parish Life Conferences, one of the orations began with a quote from Jeremiah "The temple of the Lord…. the temple of the Lord!" The topic for the contest was "Prophesying". How you may ask does this quote relate to the topic? In reality, it is all about getting people out of their personal comfort zones in order to prophesy. We in America have found ourselves in a comfort zone. Our churches are built thanks to our parents and grandparents. We have become complacent to give a little each week, go to church on Sunday and accept the status quo. Well, Jeremiah was warning us that this is not enough. The building is not all there is to the faith.

Sometimes we must do something uncomfortable in order to be saved—we must sacrifice. Prophesying is using the gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit in order to change a life. Spiritual giving through The Order of St. Ignatius is one step on the road to living a life that follows Christ.

Today, we face many challenges trying to live a Christian life. Each day we have the choice to say "yes" to Christ and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit and allow it to direct our actions. It is hard to rationalize that we give enough to the church. The cross of The Order represents the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made for our salvation. The ribbon is red because of the martyrdom of St. Ignatius who was touched by Christ as a child. Members wear the cross as a symbol of what we believe in.

Bishop THOMAS' Nativity Greeting

The Feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
December 6, 2008

Your Eminence Metropolitan Philip,
Beloved Hierarchs,
Reverend Fathers,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the Fathers by the Prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." (Hebrews 1: 1-4)

Once again the Church is calling us to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is through this feast that God, who is transcendent in His very nature, condescended in humility and love and took our flesh so that we may become God by Grace.  At His birth participates the whole of creation; nothing is left aside.  The Kontakion of this feast, through the inspiring words of Saint Romanos the Melodist, summarizes this mystery in the most amazing manner:

Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Transcendent in essence; the earth offereth the cave to the unapproachable One; the angels with the shepherds glorify Him; and the Magi with the star travel on their way; for a new child hath been born for our sakes, God before the ages.

The Winter Pascha, Chapter 8: St. Nicholas

The following is an excerpt from The Winter Pascha, by Fr. Thomas Hopko

The Feast of St. Nicholas

Following the feast of St. Andrew, prefeast hymns of the Nativity are heard once again on the feast of St. Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra in Lycia who through the ages had come to be especially connected with the festival of Christ's birth.

St. NicholasO you who love the festivals,
Come gather and sing the praises of the fair beauty of bishops,
The glory of the fathers,
The fountain of wonders and great protector of the faithful.
Let us all say: Rejoice, O guardian of the people of Myra,
Their head and honored counselor,
The pillar of the Church which cannot be shaken.
Rejoice, O light full of brightness,
That makes the ends of the world shine with wonders.
Rejoice, O divine delight of the afflicted,
The fervent advocate of those who suffer from injustice.
And now, O all-blessed Nicholas,
Never cease praying to Christ our God
For those who honor the festival of your memory
With faith and love.


Sad as it is to see St. Nicholas transformed into the red-suited Santa Claus of the secular winter "holidays," it is easy to understand why the holy bishop has become so closely connected with the festival of Christ's birth. The stories about the saint, fabricated and embroidered in Christian imagination over the ages, in various times and places, all tell of the simple faith and love of the man known only for his goodness and love.

DOWAMA's 2009 College Mission Trip: Bosra-Hauran

As part of the sister diocese relationship between the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran and the Diocese of Wichita and Mid America, Father Richard Petranek of St. Paul Church and Father Matthew MacKay of St. Joseph Church of Houston, Texas, have been blessed by Metropolitan PHILIP of New York, Metropolitan SABA of Bosra, and Bishop BASIL of Wichita to lead a group of eighteen college age students from the Diocese of Mid- America on a Mission Trip to the ancient Archdiocese of Bosra in southwest Syria.

The purpose of the two week Mission Trip (May 24th-June 7th, 2009) is to join with Metropolitan SABA and his clergy and laity who are valiantly laboring to rebuild the church temples, shrines and ministries of the Archdiocese. Our group will assist in refurbishing some of the church temples and properties of this ancient See. In addition, the group will go on pilgrimage to several of the most famous monasteries, shrines and historical sites of the Patriarchate of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East.

In addition to work projects, the young people will also make pilgrimage to many of the most revered holy sites within our Patriarchate, including the house chapel of St. Ananias where the Holy Apostle Paul was baptized and the Patriarchal Cathedral and residence in Damascus, the women's monasteries of Our Lady in Saydnaya and St. Thekla in Ma'aloula, the men's monastery of St. George Al-Humayrah in the "Valley of the Christians," the reliquary shrine of the Martyr and Unmercenary Healer St. Julian (Mar Ilyan) in Homs.  The group will return to the U.S. in time to attend our Parish Life Conference in Wichita where they, along with Metropolitan SABA, will share their experiences with us. 

Cost is $2,000.00 per person (including round-trip airfare from Houston, lodging and meals).

It is our hope that we will have young people from every DOWAMA Deanery on this trip!

December 10, 2008 + The Perfect Gift

by Very Rev. Stephen Rogers

from The Word, December 1998

Probably every one of us has uttered these words this time of year: “What do you want for Christmas this year?” The more we care for a person, the more important those words are as we seek to bring joy to those we love.

“What special something can I get my wife this year?” “What can I give that special friend to show how much I appreciate him?” “What can I do to make Christmas special for the kids this year?” And so we scurry about, seeking that perfect something — that perfect gift that will fulfill our loved ones’ hearts’ desire.

But once the gifts have been given, the question changes. Now the words on our lips are not, “what do you want,” but “what did you get for Christmas?” Those words are uttered in almost every household, office, schoolroom, and yes, even every church. The measure of a joy-filled Christmas is most often a comparison of our “wants” and “gets.” A good Christmas is when we “get what we wanted,” when we give that perfect gift.

Try as we might year after year, we will never be able to give that “perfect gift.” Why? Because there is only one Bestower of perfect gifts. Near the end of the Divine Liturgy we proclaim, “For every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from Thee, the Father of Lights.”

Patriarch ALEXY II of Moscow + Memory Eternal

His Holiness Patriarch ALEXY II + Memory Eternal!From the web site of the Moscow Patriarchate:

His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, 79, died on 5 December 2008.

Session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will take place on December 6 to elect Patriarchal Locum Tenens who will chair the Memorial Commission.

The Holy Synod will announce the time of the funeral of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy.

Click here to view video coverage of the Patriarch's funeral from Russia Today.




Metropolitan PHILIP writes to the U.S. Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S.:

Beloved Brother in Christ:

I greet you in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life of all who repose in him.

It is with great sadness that I awoke this morning to the shocking news of the passing into eternal life of His Holiness ALEXY II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The loss of this great man is not only a loss for the Church of Russia, but for the entire Orthodox world. I recall with great fondness the two occasions I had to be in his presence, once on his visit to the United States in the early 1990s when we hosted him at our Archdiocese Chancery and the second when I accepted his kind invitation to visit Russia in 1997. It was during this trip in 1997 that I came to realize the greatness of his leadership and vision for the Church of Russia and the Orthodox world at large. Having met with him at the Danielov Monastery and having served with him in the historic Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin and again at the dedication of the awe-inspiring Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow (that he was instrumental in rebuilding as a symbol of the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church after more than 70 years of oppression), I felt assured that the Church would continue to thrive under his leadership.

Bishop THOMAS Visits Saint Andrew Mission in Lewes, DE

On October 25th and 26th, His Grace Bishop THOMAS visited Saint Andrew the Apostle Mission in Lewes, Delaware for a most blessed and wonderful weekend.  A fellowship hour was held at the Grange Hall after Vespers, and following the Sunday Matins and Liturgy, parishioners were all invited to enjoy hospitality at nearby home.

Bishop Thomas encouraged all to continue to share the Good News of Christ and Orthodoxy and to "grow" the building fund, pursuing the goal of a more permanent home for the divine services.

Bishop THOMAS Visits St. Philip's in Souderton, PA

His Grace, Bishop THOMAS, visited the Saint Philip Church community in Souderton, Pennsylvania, November 13-14 for the parish's Patronal Feast.  On Thursday evening we celebrated Vespers and Artoklasia, and on Friday morning Matins and Divine Liturgy for our Patron Saint.

Bishop Thomas spoke to us about being Apostolic in our message and outreach.  His presence blessed and encouraged us to follow Christ and share the Good News.

Bishop THOMAS Visits St. Michael Church, Greensburg, PA

Bishop THOMAS visited St. Michael Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on the weekend of November 20-23. During the visit, His Grace inducted new members into the order of St. Ignatius.

Bishop BASIL's Christmas Letter 2008

The Nativity 2008

To the Right Reverend Archimandrites, the Very Reverend and Reverend Priests and
Deacons and their families, the Venerable Monastics, and all the Christ-loving Faithful of
the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Incarnate Christ. I
send to each of you and your communities my paternal love, festal greetings and prayerful
best wishes for the merriest of Christmases and a healthy and happy 2009.

Glorify Him!

In Christ Jesus the Incarnate Word,

+ B A S I L
Bishop of Wichita and the Diocese of Mid-America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Featured Parish: Holy Resurrection + Hobart, Indiana

Holy Resurrection + Hobart, INFrom the Holy Resurrection web site:

The faithful of Holy Resurrection Antiochian Orthodox Church now worship at the corner of 6th and Water in Hobart, Indiana, under the loving care of Fr. Gregory Owen.  In this story, our former pastor, Fr. Gregory Rogers (St. Catherine Mission) recounts a time when we worshipped at 45th and Harrison in Gary, Indiana. We thank God for those early years and the love and dedication that Fr. Gregory displayed for his parish.

On the outside the building wasn't beautiful. It looked like an old brick warehouse, having gone through numerous incarnations and transformations. Originally built as an auto repair garage, it became a printing business, a hot dog stand and video arcade, a warehouse for storage, and finally, an empty and vacant monument to a more prosperous era. The brick didn't match, old with new, white with red, in spite of the tuck pointing and repair that had been done. The neighborhood itself was dreary, across the street to the north, a cemetery, to the east, a convenience store with its transient clientele, to the south, an eighty year old house long past its prime. Like most early spring days in Gary, IN, this one, March 21, 1987, was chilly and overcast, and a trifle gloomy.

Inside, though, was a different story. The building had been stripped to the walls and studs, new wiring, new drywall, painted, carpet on the floor, new furnishings, redone windows. The accoutrements of worship had been added - a wooden altar, a cross suspended on the wall behind it, huge icons of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God. In the rear of the church an old Russian icon of the Resurrection of Christ hung, candles burning before it, calling down the grace of God upon the people gathered there.

Western Rite Orthodox Wall Calendar 2009

Western Rite Calendar 2009

Containing Sundays, Feast Days, Fasts and other Observances of the Christian Year, According to the Use of the Western Rite Vicariate General of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Features beautiful medieval Western Christian statuary and reliefs, with quotes from the Fathers of the Church.

Click here to order!

Sample pages:

Sample Page Sample Page

Metropolitan PHILIP in the View of His Excellency General Emile Lahoud, President of Lebanon

On the occasion of his fortieth anniversary in the episcopacy, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP does not only create a special nostalgia, he makes Lebanon, the country of Faith, completely full of nostalgia in anticipation of this event. In the life of those who have come to know him and love him, he has a heart full of generosity. His words sparkle with the Spirit—an uplifting language that leaves in us some of his faith in the Absolute.

Saidna’s faith

To understand faith is a difficult task, and living it may be most intricate; however, the simplicity and completeness of Metropolitan PHILIP’s faith make one realize that eternity resides in us. When that happens, our entire dimensions are filled by the power and depth of love.

Since I have known Metropolitan PHILIP, his visits to Lebanon have become a focalpoint of a nation with a message. He has made himself a champion of humanity, in whom the dialogue among cultures is realized. As I have known him in the Land of Cedars, which embraces the sky, I have seen in him a balanced thinker. His speech is the discourse of the Spirit. With him one realizes how to incorporate faith and thinking in order to discover the way to the truth. He who believes knows who is the way and the life, and also knows the truth that liberates from oppression.

His witness throughout the world

Metropolitan Philip in the View of His Bishops

His Grace, Bishop Antoun,

Diocese of Miami and the Southeast


I met Metropolitan PHILIP in December 1945 at the University of Balamand. For more than sixty-one years of my life I have known this man. When I met him, I did not even know his name. He played a joke on me when we first met. I went to the bishop at the time and told him what this man was doing to me. From that time forward we began to foster a relationship that would last a lifetime, one that is closer than either of us even have with our own families. From those simple and humble beginnings on that beautiful hill in Lebanon, neither of us could have imagined that both of us would come to the U.S and work together many years later.

Different paths, same ending

After our years at Balamand, we found ourselves serving as deacons in the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition in Damascus. Then he left and went to London to study and later returned and taught at the Balamand. All the while I was still in Damascus and teaching in the local Orthodox school.

Later, he decided to immigrate to the United States through Archbishop Samuel David with our friend Father Emil Hanna. This would be a journey that would move him from his birthplace for the rest of his life. I went to Beirut to say goodbye to them, not knowing whether or not our paths would cross again. From 1945 to 1955 I knew him as a young man who was very ambitious, and I can say that, from the beginning, I saw in him the qualities of a leader that I have never seen in any other man.

Metropolitan PHILIP in the View of Fr. Elias Bitar

Met. PHILIP in the View of the Very Rev. Elias Bitar, Vicar-General, Antiochian Archdiocese


Forty years ago I heard his voice: our first meeting

It was a fall afternoon, November 1968, when I, a seminarian serving at the archdiocese headquarters in Tripoli, Lebanon, heard that the Metropolitan of New York and All North American was coming for a visit; my heart rejoiced!

I finished the Balamand Seminary in 1967 and was chanting at the St. George Cathedral of Tripoli, Lebanon. I was excited to meet this famous bishop who greatly loved his clergy and his faithful. I had heard about him and seen him two years before at his consecration at the St. Elias Monastery in Dhour Shweir, Lebanon, where the Balamand choir of which I was a member chanted the Liturgy.

After lunch, His Eminence asked me to chant something. I got my music book and chanted the ninth Ode of Pasch, “The Angel,” in Arabic, from the Mitry Murr book (Alkithara Alrouhia). He smiled and said: “Do you want to come to America?” (Iza Alla Raad), “If God wills,” I responded.

In those years, people just dreamed of going to America.

From Thessalonica to Little Falls

Met. PHILIP in the View of His Brother Dr. Najib Saliba

Family reflections

Born as Abdallah, “the servant of God,” June 10, 1931, Metropolitan PHILIP has been a success story. Little did my father know that the little boy he led by the hand and offered to Patriarch Alexander Tahhan in July of 1945 at St. Elias Monastery would grow up to become the Metropolitan Archbishop of New York and All North America. The name “Abdallah” was probably a good omen for things to come. Abdallah was the fourth child born to my parents, Elias and Salimeh Saliba, after Nasif, Shahid and a daughter, Nazira. I, Najib, the author of this article, was the fifth and last, born some four years after Abdallah. We were all born and grew up in Abou Mizan, a humble village in Mount Lebanon. Larger towns nearby included Bikfayya, Shweir and Btighrine, the capital of the Saliba clan. I remember we used to walk to all these towns to shop, work or break the monotony of life in Abou Mizan.

Early recollections

I actually didn’t get to know my brother well when he was in Lebanon since he left home at an early age and joined the church, assuming the name “Philip.” After that he occasionally came home but only for a short stay. However, I do recall some fond memories of that short period in our lives. Since we were the youngest in the family we were close to each other and he often used to tease me. Being older and more experienced, I looked up to him and considered him a role model, especially after he left the limited environment of Abou Mizan for a wider world.

Christmas: A National Holiday

Chaplain's Corner

by Fr. George Morelli

Christmas a national holiday? Yes Federal law (5 U.S.C. 6103) establishes Christmas Day, 25 December as a Federal National Holiday. Who has not encountered, however, the recent trend to remove the name Christmas and its symbols from this season? This is tragic because culture draws from the well of religion. Religious precepts define and guide a culture, and as those precepts are developed and practiced they form a tradition.

Syndicate content