Metropolitan PHILIP Receives an honory Doctorate at St. Tikhon’s Seminary Graduation


by Editors

On Saturday afternoon, May 26, 2007, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary held its 65th Annual Commencement at the seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. During the commencement, eleven graduates received the Master of Divinity Degree, two graduates received the Bachelor of Arts in Theology Degree, and one received the Certificate in Priestly Formation. The commencement Speaker was Metropolitan PHILIP

When it was time for Metropolitan PHILIP to deliver the Commencement Address, the Seminary Board of Trustees conferred the Degree Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa, on the Metropolitan. Prior to the giving of the degree, the Seminary Dean, the Very Rev. Michael Dahulich, spoke of the many contributions the Metropolitan has made during his 41 years as Archbishop of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Among those mentioned were the Metropolitan’s leadership in the growth of the Archdiocese, his work in bringing all the Antiochian Orthodox into one Archdiocese, his leadership in achieving the status of self-rule for the Archdiocese from the Holy Synod of Antioch, and the establishment of the structure of diocesan bishops governing local churches. In addition, Metropolitan PHILIP’s work for championing Orthodox unity in America, his promotion of Theological Education with the establishment of the Antiochian House of Studies, its Doctor of Ministry Program, the St. Stephen’s Course in Orthodox Theology, and the St. Athanasius Academy, and his many humanitarian and philanthropic works throughout the world, as well as his work for peace in the Middle East and a balanced American foreign policy in the Middle East, were also highlighted.

When Metropolitan PHILIP delivered his address, he spoke to the graduates and to all the students of the Seminary, in a special way reminding them that the fulfillment of their education is not in reading books of theology, but in taking their studies and learning to read the faces of the people whom they will serve in their parishes. Metropolitan PHILIP spoke of the many challenges that face the students and, at the end of his talk, he spoke of the challenge to bring about unity among all the Orthodox. As he looked out over the students, the Metropolitan was talking to students who were a good example of Orthodox cooperation and the possibility of unity, since the students studying at St. Tikhon’s Seminary are there preparing for ministry in the Orthodox Church in America (the Archdiocese that founded St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary), the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Patriarchal Russian Diocese, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Ukranian Orthodox Church, the Church of Alexandria, the Church of Jerusalem, and the Malankar Church of India.

During the graduation, two Antiochian Orthodox students received the Master of Divinity Degree: the Reverend Priest George Shawareb, and the Reverend Priest Andrew Damick, who received his degree with Distinction in Church History after writing a Master’s Thesis on Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh of Brooklyn. Both of these graduates have received parochial assignments in the Archdiocese, with Father George being assigned as the pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Arvada, Colorado, and Father Andrew being assigned as the assistant pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia.

Traveling with the Metropolitan to the graduation were the Very Rev. Elias Bitar, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese, who also teaches Byzantine Music at St. Tikhon’s, Archdeacon Hans El-Hayek, and the Metropolitan’s brother, Dr. Najib Saliba.

The Antiochian Archdiocese was also represented by the Very Rev. David Hester, pastor of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, who teaches Patrology, Church History and Antiochian Liturgical practices at the Seminary and has six Antiochian Orthodox students assigned to his parish, and the Very Rev. Anthony Sabbagh, pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Allentown, who also has two Antiochian Orthodox students assigned to his parish.

Courtesy of the

September 2007 issue of The Word magazine.

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