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On the First Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of Metropolitan Philip

by Fr. Joseph Antypas

March 19 marks the first anniversary of the falling asleep of the thrice-blessed and our Father in Christ of the late Metropolitan Philip. There is not a single day that passes without remembering the life and the contributions of this giant of a man, who has endeared himself to the cause of spreading Antiochian Orthodoxy in North America, and who has left a tremendous impact on the institutions that belong to the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. People continue to remember and sometimes are visited in dreams, recalling Metropolitan Philip and his dynamic ministry in the life of American Orthodoxy in general and Antiochian Orthodoxy in particular.

On the occasion of his anniversary I want to focus on three areas that characterized this 'world historical individual', to use the expression of the German philosopher George Hegel.

First, Metropolitan Philip believed in the value of the human person. He provided to the ministries of the Antiochian Archdiocese an army of men and women. Some went to seminaries so they became priests and deacons, and some were promoted into the office of the bishop. Others took leading positions in the various institutions and church organizations. He established a great rapport with all those who worked with him, promoting the goals and aspirations of the Holy Church.

Secondly, Metropolitan Philip was visionary in the sense of building and establishing institutions and programs such as the Antiochian House of Studies, the Antiochian Village, the Antiochian Women, the Order of St. Ignatius and many other institutions and programs that invited thousands of people to benefit from such ministries. Today, the Antiochian Archdiocese is helping young people from all Orthodox jurisdictions in North America to come and learn in a friendly atmosphere the ethos of the Orthodox Church and experience its life in a healthy manner that will benefit the Church in the 21st Century.

Thirdly, Metropolitan Philip did not forget his roots and his mother church and the 'old country.' He encouraged young seminarians and clergymen to go to Balamand School of Theology in Lebanon. He invited choirs to visit his Archdiocese and make special tours in various parishes. He supported the school of theology and the University of Balamand as well. He created departments that helped coordinate mutual work towards the orphans, needy people and food for hungry people.

On the first anniversary of this great man, inspiring hierarch and visionary architect of our church in North America, we pray that the Lord God will establish his soul where the just repose. Remember, O Lord, Thy servant, the most blessed Metropolitan Philip, among the saints. Memory be eternal!