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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."

St. Paul's iconostasisSt. Paul's iconostasisSt. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church began with a small group and steadily grew in numbers until 2004, when the parish was able to break ground on the land they purchased in 1998. They held services on the land in a tent, until they were able to build a church complete with a gold dome, now a landmark off Immokalee Road. It was in this tent in 2004 where Metropolitan Joseph, then a bishop, last visited the congregation.Metropolitan Joseph addresses the communityMetropolitan Joseph addresses the community

"When I came this time," said His Eminence, "I looked around and saw how much has been accomplished here, and I am in awe." During a luncheon with the Antiochian Women on Saturday, Metropolitan Joseph discussed his vision for the growth of the Antiochian Archdiocese, mentioning specifically the desire for high-quality senior citizen centers and monasteries as centers for Orthodox fellowship.

Read the report in the Naples Daily News

Read a moving tribute and reflection on the weekend from Khourieh Diane Shaheen