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Stories on the Church of Antioch and the Middle East

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is an archdiocese of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. It traces its roots to first century Antioch (modern-day Antakya, Turkey), the city in which the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The Patriarchate is led by His Beatitude John X from Damascus, Syria. In addition to its continuing presence in Syria and Lebanon, the Antiochian Patriarchate has archdioceses in Europe; Asia; North, Central and South America; and Australia and New Zealand.

The Church of Antioch was established by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 42 A.D., with St. Peter serving for the next eight years as its first prelate. The Church of Antioch is one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the Christian Church, along with Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome. Antiochians are in full communion with other Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, such as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Orthodox Church in America, as well as many other Orthodox jurisdictions around the world.

 

Latest News

Memory Eternal! +Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou)

+Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou), 1924 – 2016

It was with great sadness that we learned of the falling asleep in our Lord Jesus Christ of His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou) on Sunday April 17th, 2016.  I was personally blessed to know Metropolitan Constantine during my time in Damascus, and I can certainly testify to his holiness, and prayerfulness.  It can truly be said that he was a man of God. 

Metropolitan Constantine was born in 1924 in Damascus, Syria where he was educated in the city's parochial schools. Desirous of entering upon an ecclesiastical career, His Eminence was blessed to study in Greece before he was ordained to the holy priesthood in 1951 by Patriarch Alexander III (Tahan) of Antioch.  He then served as a priest in Damascus and its vicinity for eighteen years. During the late 1950s he was appointed as the director of the Balamand Clerical School in north Lebanon, and in 1964 was assigned by Patriarch Theodosios VI (Abourjaily) VI as abbot of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of the Great-martyr George al-Humayra in the "Valley of the Christians" in Syria.

Memory Eternal! + Rose Mousi Yazigi, Mother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His holy ones" (Psalm 116:5).

Memory Eternal! Rose Mousi Yazigi, the mother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, has reposed in the Lord. In a letter of condolence to His Beatitude, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph wrote: "It is with a sadness that we have learned of the falling asleep in Christ of your beloved mother, Rosa. On behalf of myself, my brother bishops, the clergy, the members of the Board of Trustees, the heads of the departments and organizations, and all of the faithful of this Archdiocese, we offer our prayers and condolences as you struggle with the departure of your beloved mother, especially at a time when so many events are weighing so heavily on your shoulders."

Service information will be published as it becomes available.

Read Metropolitan Joseph's Letter of Condolence

Letter of Condolence from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to His Beatitude Patriarch John X

April 8, 2016

His Beatitude John X
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Beloved Sayedna and Father in Christ:

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His holy ones” (Psalm 116:5)

It is with a sadness that we have learned of the falling asleep in Christ of your beloved mother, Rosa. On behalf of myself, my brother bishops, the clergy, the members of the Board of Trustees, the heads of the departments and organizations, and all of the faithful of this Archdiocese, we offer our prayers and condolences as you struggle with the departure of your beloved mother, especially at a time when so many events are weighing so heavily on your shoulders.

Metropolitan Joseph Meets with CAMECT (Christian Arab and Middle Eastern Churches Together)

On Monday, April 4, 2016, His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph attended a meeting of CAMECT (Christian Arab and Middle Eastern Churches Together) at the Armenian Orthodox Prelacy in New York. His Eminence was accompanied by the Archdiocese Vicar General, Archpriest Thomas Zain. Nearly all of the various churches with their roots in the Middle East were represented by their respective hierarchs or a representative.

There were two main items on the agenda for the spring meeting. The first was a dialogue with the New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner, William Bratten. This was a very welcomed and enlightening dialogue as it was the first time such a meeting has taken place with the leaders of the NYPD and the New York Middle Eastern Christian community. Both sides agreed to further the dialogue in the months to come. Other representatives of the NYPD from the Arab-American community were present and gave their input on how both groups can work together to help build bridges and keep our neighborhoods safe.

Memory Eternal! + Nassif Elias Abdallah Saliba

Memory Eternal! + Nassif Elias Abdallah Saliba
(Former mayor of Abu Mezan)

Nassif Elias Abdallah Saliba fell asleep in the Lord in Lebanon on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at age 94. Beloved husband of the late Adma Saliba, he was also the cherished father of five girls: Najat (Nick Nicola) of Danville, California; late Daad (Fayez Chalhoub) of Nakach, Lebanon; Dr. Amal (Dr. Gregory Dalack) of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Bahaa (Gabriel Nasr) of Bickfaya, Lebanon and Attorney Ghada (Nassif Malouf) of San Francisco; Beloved brother of the late Metropolitan Philip Saliba of Thrice-Blessed Memory; Dr. Najib (Elaine) Saliba of Worcester, MA, and the late Chaheed Saliba and Nazira Ibrahim Kfouree. He was loving Jiddo of 13 grandchildren, and great grandfather of two great-grandchildren.

Nassif, most tender of hearts, loved his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so dearly. He
had a great relationship with many patriarchs, metropolitans, and clergy of the Antiochian Patriarchate, and defended the church and his Orthodox Faith on many occasions. The Funeral Service will be on Saturday
April 2 at 4:00 pm at St. Nicholas church, Shreen, Lebanon. The Saliba family will receive relatives and friends on Friday and Sunday, April 1 and 3, 2016, between 10:00 am, and 7:00pm at their home in Shreen and on Saturday, April 2, at the hall of St. Nicholas in Shreen.

 

Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches to Hold Common Prayer Service

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Public Invited to Gathering on Evening of Thursday, April 21, in Haworth, N.J.

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in America (SCOOCH) are pleased to announce that a “Common Prayer Service” will be held on the evening of Thursday, April 21, 2016, at St. Gabriel Syriac Orthodox Church (750 Sunset Avenue) in Haworth, N.J.  The service will begin at 7:00 p.m.

This service is meant to bring people together as they pray for the safety of two Syrian hierarchs held in captivity—Syriac Orthodox Archbishop John Ibrahim, and Antiochian (Greek) Orthodox Metropolitan Paul Yazigi—and for all suffering calamities in the Middle East. This gesture of solidarity between the Assembly of Bishops and SCOOCH also marks the commencement of the organizations’ shared work.

The distinguished speakers during the service will include His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of the Assembly of Bishops and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Eastern Armenian Church of America and Chairman of SCOOCH; His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese; and Archbishop Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak, Patriarchal Delegate of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of the Eastern U.S.A.

The Assembly of Bishops and SCOOCH invite all residents and visitors of the Tri-State Area to join our communities in prayer on the evening of April 21st.

Media Contacts:

Armenian Diocese – Mr. Chris Zakian
chrisz@armeniandiocese.org  (212-686-0710) 

Texas Newspaper Article Features Antiochian Orthodox Christians

"They grew up in Damascus in a time before Syria was a synonym in the Western mind for chaos and religious extremism. Reem Hoff and Rouba Heckenlively grew up a half-hour's walk from each other, both in families that practiced their Syrian Orthodox Christian faith openly among Muslims. Rouba's mother and Reem's aunt were friends. By coincidence, both women met American travelers who were visiting monasteries. Both women ended up living as American citizens in a suburb of Waco."

So begins a recent Waco Tribune-Herald article featuring the extraordinary story of two families from St. Andrew Orthodox Church, an Antiochian mission in Waco. In November 2015, investigative reporter J.B. Smith began contacting Syrians in Central Texas to get their take on the provocative words of a Texas state official, who had likened Syrians entering the U.S. to "rattlesnakes" ready to strike. Smith soon found there were a number of Syrian Christians in the area, a fact which defied the simplistic and false stereotype of all Middle East immigrants as "extremists" and "radicals" – this led him to contact St. Andrew parish priest Fr. John Ballard, who put the reporter in touch with the Hoff and Heckenlively families.

Metropolitan Joseph Hosts Honorary Retirement Dinner for His Excellency Antoine Chedid

On Friday, January 8, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph hosted a dinner at the Archdiocesan Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey in honor of His Excellency Antoine Chedid, Ambassador of Lebanon to the United States, on the occasion of his retirement. Ambassador Chedid has distinguished himself as a man of peace and positive action, and is well loved and respected by all who have come to work with him and know him.

The dinner was attended by many members of the clergy from various denominations, as well as members of the diplomatic corps. Metropolitan Joseph honored Ambassador Chedid by awarding him the Medal of the Order of St. Raphael, the highest award given by the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Read the complete address of Metropolitan Joseph
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The Complete Works of St. Raphael are Now Available in Arabic

To the Beloved Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese:

Greetings and Blessings in the Name of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ!

We are pleased to present and commend the tireless effort of Dr. Adnan Trabulsi in compiling and editing this monumental work of The Complete Works of St. Raphael Hawaweeny that are being published collectively for the first time in Arabic as a three volume set. By his work, Dr. Trabulsi has assured that the legacy of this great saint will not only be preserved, but will be made known to the many Arabic-speaking people both inside and outside of America who have not yet come to know St. Raphael. 

This set of three volumes is being made available for the first time in Arabic and includes the writings of this Antiochian saint that were originally published in the "WORD" magazine from 1905 to 1915.

2015 Nativity Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

December 20, 2015
By the mercy of God
Patriarch John X, The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
(Read the Arabic version)

To my brother pastors of the Antiochian Holy Church, and my children throughout the Holy See                                                                   

I behold a strange, most glorious mystery: heaven—the cave, the cherubic throne—the Virgin, the manger—the place where Christ lay. The uncontained God whom we magnify in song.

In a manger of love our Jesus was born, and in a cave He chose to visit our humanity.

By His descending, the Lord experienced all our weaknesses except for the sin. He did not chose the scepters or the sofas of the rich in order to preach the salvation, but the womb of a Virgin. He put us on so that we could put Him on. He dwelt in a cave so we may become citizens of Heaven.