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Metropolitan Joseph Presides at Parish Anniversary of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Canton, Ohio

The community of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Canton, Ohio welcomed His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to preside over the 95th Anniversary of the parish from April 21–23, 2017. On Friday, April 21, a benefactors' reception was held in honor of Sayedna Joseph at the residence of Dr. Kaleel and Rhonia Shaheen, who also faithfully and elegantly served as the 95th Anniversary Chairs. The reception recognized the fundraising efforts of the benefactors who sponsored the weekend festivities. After Sayedna gathered and thanked them all for their ministry to the church, everyone listened to beautiful paschal hymns chanted by the Metropolitan's newly ordained deacon, Dn. John Al-Massih. On Saturday morning, Sayedna was greeted by over fifty beautiful children and teenagers of the church to the sounds of church bells and the chanting of the Paschal Troparion. After delivering his message to the youth and answering their questions, all were invited to a special breakfast chaired by Nina Shaheen, Malakh Bechara, Laura Kibler, and Nahi Kaed. (View the photo gallery)

Saturday evening began with Great Vespers and Artoklasia for the Feast of St. George, and we were blessed to be joined by His Grace Bishop Anthony and other local clergy. The Grand Banquet and Hafli followed at Brookside Country Club with over 250 in attendance from near and far. Dr. K.J. Shaheen II served as Master of Ceremonies and Sarah Joseph delivered a heartfelt rendition of "America the Beautiful." His Eminence and His Grace were both presented with a crystal plaque dedication by Parish Council Chair Andria Michael, who also was the Chair of the 95th Anniversary Souvenir Journal. Following a poem dedication from Mr. Louis Karoue, speeches were delivered by sons of the parish: Fr. Basil Shaheen and Fr. Michael Massouh. After remarks from Fr. Michael Corbin, His Grace Bishop Anthony introduced His Eminence Metropoltian Joseph to deliver the keynote address. Sayedna Joseph remembered all those who have labored to build up our Archdiocese, including the late Archbishop Michael, a cherished son of the community. At the conclusion of the banquet, His Eminence left all in suspense by declaring that there would be a big surprise at the Divine Liturgy in the morning.

On Sunday, the Feast of St. George, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy began following Orthros and then came "the big surprise" with the elevation of Fr. Michael Corbin to Archpriest following the reading of the Holy Gospel. All of the parishioners were moved by this special blessing as both Sayedna Joseph and Sayedna Anthony laid their hands on the head of Fr. Michael as he kneeled before the two hierarchs. Soon, chants of "Axios!, Mustahiq!, he is worthy!" filled the church and one could feel the great love and unity of this beloved community. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, three parishioners were inducted into the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch: Paul and Claudia Shaheen, along with Leila Andrews. Claudia is the Ladies Society President who helped a great deal with the weekend, and Leila also assisted faithfully with the Grand Banquet.

Finally, the St. George Day Luncheon chaired by Karen Davis capped off a beautiful and historic weekend. As parishioners entered the hall, they were greeted with a special video presentation with 95 years of memories organized by Liz Macris. Ladies were also greeted with a pink carnation donated by longtime parishioner Bea McPhearson, who brags about being older than the church! After being introduced by Teen SOYO President Musa Michael, the teen and children's dabke troupes performed and brought joy to all. Then everyone listened to a special performance from the St. George Choir, directed by Jim Shaheen, who recognized the longtime service of Rosemary Shaheen.

Sunshine filled the skies outside, but warmth and love were felt inside as all flocked to greet and receive the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, whose first visit to Canton was incredibly well received. It was a great weekend that will not be forgotten; the celebration of a church community that is ever growing in the love of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.