Unity and Diversity of Our Beloved Antiochian Archdiocese
By Fr. Joseph Antypas
As we have celebrated the 40-day memorial service of our beloved Primate and Metropolitan of our Archdiocese, the reposed Archbishop Philip Saliba, we recall his ministry and his glorious achievements which will continue to touch our lives in one or another. His Eminence served as our Metropolitan for almost half a century. He moved his Archdiocese from a primitive to a leading role in all aspects of church life. He challenged his spiritual children, both clergy and laity, and they responded to his call. He established organizations and orders which will continue to bring more committed people into the vineyard of our Lord.
The celebration of this memorial service invites us as Christians to consider certain basic issues which ultimately necessitate the continuation of the Antiochian presence in the 21st century. The Church is not established as a legalistic entity; it is embedded in our love for Jesus. Whatever we do in the life of church does not force God or even control the outcome of God's action. It is only our way of learning how to understand ourselves and our inner spiritual existence.
There are three things that we need to establish as basic priorities, impacted by the legacy of our late beloved Primate: First, our connection with the Mother Church, from which we receive our spiritual and cultural identity. Secondly, the Unity of our Archdiocese as One body, incorporates, in its history, the components that led to the story of our successes and accomplishments. Thirdly, the diversity of those who constitute the fabric of the Archdiocese: Cradle Orthodox and converts, new immigrants, evangelicals, and the western rites, all such components must be maintained, nurtured, and cherished, so that Antiochian Orthodoxy can provide the doorway to those who seek truth, genuine worship, and sound doctrines.
Antiochian Orthodoxy will always recall the sacrifices and the relentless effort of a giant of a man, a devoted missionary, Metropolitan Philip, who carried the banner of Orthodoxy high and inspired many to seek the truth.
I am sure God will not abandon His Church. The torch will pass on and the spark of life will continue. This unity in diversity will shine in the horizon of our beloved Archdiocese as a beacon, which will guide many from the storms of life into haven. Our beloved Metropolitan will watch over us.