The New Antioch is a Widowed Church
By The V. Rev. Joseph Antypas, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Troy, MI
With much sadness and with broken hearts and teary eyes, we received the news of the repose of our Father in Christ, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Wednesday night, March 19, 2014. His Eminence was hospitalized at the Holy Cross hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He suffered a heart attack in the presence of his family members and his longtime friend and fellow hierarch, His Grace Bishop Antoun.
I was privileged to have known Sayedna Philip since 1973. My appreciation and respect to him increased throughout the years of my studies at St. Vladimir's, later during my pastorates, and by the rich experiences and contacts I had with this visionary spiritual leader. In his last letter which I received from His Eminence during the past Holy Epiphany season, he wrote: "The year 2013 has vanished in the mist history and the New Year 2014 has already dawned on us. We do not know what the New Year 2014 is hiding for us, but we hope it will be peaceful, prosperous and healthful." (Read about His Eminence's visit to St. George for the Centennial Celebration in October, 2013.)
The spiritual children, clergy and laity of our God-protected Archdiocese mourn the death of their beloved spiritual Father who since his consecration, as Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America in 1966, he has played a dynamic role in the lives of his flock and in the planning and executing the infrastructures of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the Western hemisphere. Despite his struggle with his heart conditions, Metropolitan Philip challenged his spiritual children for the past 48 years leaving his landmarks and imprints on many different levels and was instrumental in placing the Antiochian Archdiocese as one of the most organized and leading Archdioceses in the Patriarchate of Antioch.
Metropolitan Philip instilled in his spiritual children love for learning and appreciation to excel in all aspect of Church life. This man of God is responsible for recruiting a group of dedicated men and women who were inspired and challenged to make a difference in the life of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Let me mention some of these highlights. I will be doing injustice if I summarize some of Sayedna's accomplishments. However, I will attempt to enumerate the following.
1. Our beloved Metropolitan showed a passionate concern to bring unity among all children of the New Antioch. It was his main desire to bring all his spiritual children of Antiochian stock to be proud of their heritage and unite them as one United & strong Archdiocese that is destined to leave a mark in Orthodoxy in America and Canada.
2. Sayedna Philip did not sit on his glorious accomplishments. He enjoyed height, not simple summits. He is the builder of many church institutions and organizations, which created stability, discipline, and services to hundreds of thousands of men and women throughout the world. He was a leader par excellence and a visionary planner. The Order of St. Ignatius, the Antiochian women, and the fellowship of St. John the Divine, to mention few, became channels that brought much benefits to the spiritual children of the church of Antioch.
3. These vital organizations brought cooperation and interaction within the Antiochian Archdiocese and the contemporary world; especially between the Mother Church of Antioch and the other Orthodox Churches throughout the U.S. & Canada. Thousands became instrumental and committed to do God's work in the world. Sayedna was catalyst in his speeches, sermons, and interviews. Nothing stopped his efforts to move forward. He was a true and genuine church leader and an inspiring friend, bringing the best out of his children, who shared his vision and dreams.
4. Sayedna Philip built the human person and great institutions of bricks and mortar. The Antiochian Village, the camp, the Learning and Heritage Center which became the haven of thousands of seekers overwhelmed by their search for truth. All these institutions have become the jewels in the crown of our beloved and most respected leader and hierarch.
Rest in peace, our beloved father in Christ. You were great in your love, great in your friendship, great in your struggle, great in your dreams, and great in your legacy. Your presence during our Centennial Celebration last October will be remembered by many as your last celebration as our spiritual leader. Memory eternal, good and faithful servant of God. You were a faithful hierarch, beloved father to your spiritual children, and a true friend. Enter into the vast joy of your Master, where there is neither sickness nor sorrow, but life everlasting.