Annual Visit of His Grace Bishop Antoun, to St. George's in Orlando
"His Grace, Bishop Antoun arrived in Orlando on Friday, February 10th 2012, to Bless and visit the faithful of St. George’s. His Grace was met at the airport by Fr. John E. Hamatie and Sub Deacon Charles P. Hill. After checking in at the hotel, His Grace was driven to St. George’s to attend the weekly Church feeding of homeless people. Fr. John gave his weekly homily/address to the 300 people gathered for the feeding, after which His Grace addressed the assembly. Father John explained to Bishop Antoun that St. George’s has expanded its homeless feeding ministry to include daily breakfast and lunch to approximately 200 people. In addition to the Friday dinner put on by the Ephraim Project and Saint George’s; other organizations hold an evening meal every night in the Church’s parking lot.
After the feeding, Sayidna asked to be taken to the Holy Altar to prepare his vestments and such for the Sunday Hierarchal Divine Liturgy. Sub Deacon Charles had previously taken the suitcase with Sayidna’s things to the Holy Altar. After venerating the Holy Altar, Sayidna looked to see if everything was properly laid out – to his surprise his green vestments were not on the table-but rather a new gold and white bishop’s vestment! He asked about this and Father John informed him that he and the parish had had a complete Bishop’s vestment made to his size, so that when he visited St. George’s he would not have to bring his own vestment with him. Sayidna asked who did the actually sewing and Fr. John told him that a wonderful lady of the parish Sue Amiot had not only made the bishop vestment, but was in the process of making from the same material all new robes for all the servers-including Fr. John! [Special thanks to His Grace, Bishop Demetri for allowing us to use a vestment of his for the pattern.]
That evening, Sayidna was hosted at a wonderful restaurant, Mimi’s Cafe for dinner by the Parish Council of St. George’s. On Saturday, Sayidna met with the Sunday School children of the parish as well as their superintendent and teachers. Sayidna spoke at length about the need for our children to attend Camp St. Thekla this coming summer, and suggested ways of helping the children go to camp. The children really enjoyed His Grace and he seemed to really enjoy them as well. After Great Vespers that evening, Sayidna was the guest of honor of the St. George Ladies Guild at a delicious dinner. After dinner, Sayidna spoke to the ladies and they had a very good repartee.
On Sunday, His Grace arrived early at St. George’s for the matins service followed by a beautiful Hierarchal Divine Liturgy. Being the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, in his address to the congregation, Sayidna spoke about the teachings derived from this Gospel as well as his joy in witnessing the weekly homeless feeding at St. George’s and knowing that the parish is now feeding lunch & breakfast daily to so many homeless people. He emphasized that this is an example of obeying the Lord’s command to love one another. Following the Divine Liturgy, Sayidna inducted into the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch three people: Mr. Joseph Mazloom, Jr., Irene & Emad Mossad.
Following the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, a delicious luncheon was served in the Mama +Alyce Hamatie Fellowship Hall during which our weekly discussion table had as its topic: ‘Why do those who have left the Church – return?
That evening a number of the faithful of St. George’s took His Grace to dinner at the Ginza Japanese Steakhouse in Orlando. His Grace departed Orlando the next day, and as he was driven to the airport-all of us were already missing him.
May Almighty God grant our beloved Bishop many, many years, Amen."