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St. George of Troy, Michigan Triple Celebration

by Editors

What a glorious weekend we were blessed with to celebrate His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba’s forty years in the episcopacy, V. Rev. Archpriest Joseph E. Antypas’s thirty years in the priesthood, and the ninetieth anniversary of the founding of our St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church. It was very fitting that Sayidna’s anniversary be celebrated with us, as he started his ministry at St. George as a Deacon and returned to us as a Beacon, a guiding light, guiding his God-protected Archdiocese.

It all began on a beautiful crisp fall day, Thursday, October 5, when Sayidna, His Grace Bishop Antoun, and Archdeacon Hans El Hayek were met at the airport by Fr. Joseph Antypas and Ayman Kfouf. Archdeacon David Nimer and some members of the Governing Council of St. Ignatius, Archdiocese Board of Trustees and the Village Council greeted him at the Troy Hilton, which was the hub of the meetings.

On Thursday evening, in honor of Metropolitan PHILIP and Father Joseph Antypas, a member of the Archdiocese Board, Nicola and his lovely wife Virginia Antakli, hosted the Hierarchs, visiting clergy and members of the Board of Trustees at a very elegant dinner at the Oakland Hills Country Club.

We were indeed honored to have Metropolitan PHILIP preside over all the activities of the weekend. The meetings at the Troy Hilton on Friday included the Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius, the Antiochian Village Council and the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, with various Hierarchs and clergy present.

Following the morning meetings, Sayidna PHILIP, Bishops Antoun and Thomas, with Father Joseph Antypas, Board members and clergy, visited the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The museum is renowned throughout the country for its historical significance in the culture and history of the Arab world. The group was received by Dr. Anan Amery, the Director, and lunch was served at the Museum after the tour. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the exchanging of artifacts and ideas pertaining to our Heritage Center at the Antiochian Village.

Later in the day, Labeeb and Karen Hajjar of the Beirut Restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, prepared and hosted a great dinner at Sayidna’s suite at the Hilton. On Friday evening, St. George hosted a lovely program of entertainment, with an array of maza for all of our guests. Board meetings continued at the hotel with Sayidna, Bishops Antoun, Thomas, Basil, Mark and Alexander in attendance at the hotel until 11:00 p.m.

On Saturday, meetings of the Board of Trustees continued, followed by a wonderful luncheon hosted by our local Board of Trustees members, George and Dorothy Darany, Robert and Diane Koory, Nicola and Virginia Antakli and Walid and Cheryl Khalife. During the luncheon a beautiful engolpion was presented to each bishop, gifts from St. George Church on the occasion of our 90th anniversary. Also, all guests present at the luncheon received an elegant key chain. The key chain, donated by our Walid Khalife of Gold Corporation, represents Sayidna PHILIP’s name in Arabic calligraphy. Walid, a member of the Archdiocese Board and Chairman of our St. George Parish Council, had this gift made for this blessed occasion.

On Saturday evening, Great Vespers took place at St. George Church, in the Byzantine style nave, with five diocesan bishops in attendance. Our Hierarchs, clergy and guests then proceeded to our banquet hall for an elegant evening. A cocktail hour was held, followed by our Grand Banquet, with Metropolitan PHILIP presiding.

The dinner began with the invocation by Sayidna PHILIP, followed by a welcome to all by George Darany, a member of our Archdiocese Board of Trustees, and our weekend Co- Chairman. His sincere and heartfelt welcome was endearing to all present. Master of Ceremonies was Robert Koory, Chancellor of the Archdiocese Board and member of our St. George Parish Council, who proceeded with a sense of dignity and humor. Our Walid Khalife welcomed Sayidna and all present to this wonderful celebration. He expressed his love and dedication and continued blessings to our dear Primate. This was followed by remarks from the Right Reverend Bishop Mark, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. His words were very moving and enjoyed by all present.

Following Bishop Mark, we were delighted to have Philip Saliba, nephew of Sayidna, give a reflection from a nephew’s perspective. It was a delightful collage of humorous memories and anecdotes of growing up under the “stern and loving” guidance of his dear uncle, Sayidna PHILIP.

Dr. George Farha then followed with wonderful and sincere remarks, highly reminiscent of his days with Sayidna. He then presented to Sayidna, with the Right Reverend Bishop Antoun, a gift of $250,000.00 on behalf of the Board of Trustees and clergy of the Archdiocese. Thirty minutes later, this gift was donated by His Eminence to the clergy retirement fund. “What am I going to do with this?” His Eminence said.

Father Joseph Antypas, pastor of St. George Church of Troy and host of this celebration, followed with remarks. He welcomed Metropolitan PHILIP and all present with heartfelt love and sincerity. It has been under his loving pastorate and stewardship that our parish has been able to grow, steadfast, praying and working together, in the love of God.

A high point of the evening was a passionate speech by Fr. John Erickson, dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, in which he paid tribute to Sayidna’s courage and vision in pursuit of Orthodox unity over the past forty years.

In addition to the special presentation by Dr. George Farha and Bishop Antoun, presentations were made by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Archdiocese of Detroit, Ed Assile, Chairman of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Joan Farha, President of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Laila Rizk Ferris, President of the Antiochian Women NAB, George Sackllah, Teen SOYO President, Father Joseph Antypas, George Darany and Neal Norgrove, Co- Chairmen of the weekend. We were indeed privileged to receive a passionate message by Federal Judge Jack Zouhary, of the U.S. District Court of Ohio.

Last but not least was the main address by our Most Reverend Metropolitan PHILIP. As usual, Sayidna charmed and mesmerized our audience with his eloquent words, interspersed with humor and showing his love of his flock. He constantly inspires us all with his wisdom and grace.

A highlight of the evening was a “Special Surprise” presented to Sayidna PHILIP by Father Joseph Antypas. It was a beautiful hardbound book, entitled Ordained For Men In The Things Of God. It is a commemorative collection on the fortieth anniversary of Metropolitan PHILIP, co-edited by Fathers Joseph Allen and Joseph Antypas. Those who open the pages of this book will be impressed to find a narrative of loving voices trying to express the dynamic of Sayidna’s charismatic leadership, his impact and inspiration on our many faithful Orthodox and his impact and inspiration to non-Orthodox, including world statesmen.

Fathers Joseph Allen and Joseph Antypas are to be commended for the hours and hours they spent compiling this memorable book. At the end of the program, a beautiful cake in the shape of the Bishop’s miter was presented to Sayidna.

On Sunday morning Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was presided over by His Eminence, assisted by five of our diocesan bishops, Antoun, Basil, Thomas, Mark, and Alexander. Unfortunately, His Grace Bishop Joseph was absent as he was recovering from surgery. After the Gospel reading, Bishop Basil gave an eloquent sermon. Father Anthony Gabriel also gave remarks, saying that Sayidna PHILIP bears in his body and in his soul the scars of his immense love for this Archdiocese. From the dark day of 1966 to the brightness of 2006, we have seen the evolution of a man and the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese and the Church of Antioch are richer for his apostolic ministry.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, four people were inducted into the Order of St. Ignatius, including Betty Bojrab, Dame Commander, Mary Saleh, Dame, Mark Saleh, Knight, and one anonymous lifetime member. At the end of Matins, Milad Selim, our young chanter at St. George, was made a Subdeacon by Metropolitan PHILIP. Following the dismissal, a luncheon was enjoyed by all in our banquet hall.

A great highlight of the evening was a special film documentary outlining the ninety years of growth of our St. George from its beginning to the present. It featured a collage of pictures of our founding parishioners to the present parishioners, all flashed consecutively on a screen in the banquet hall. A DVD was made of the screening for our parishioners to purchase and enjoy. This film project was a monumental undertaking of many days and hours. A very special thank you to Barbara and Jim McCoul for this project and for the special assistance of Ayman Kfouf, our Youth Director.

The Grand Finale was a very elegant dinner hosted by Walid and his lovely wife Cheryl Khalife, in honor of Metropolitan PHILIP and Father Joseph, at Forest Lake Country Club.

It is fitting to say that the real tributes to His Eminence and Father Joseph and to our host parish, were all the wonderful Hierarchs, clergy, and laity present. The collection of people spoke volumes to the lifetimes of the pastoral work of Sayidna and Fr. Joseph Antypas. There were also clergy from other Christian denominations, some in the process of being catechized into the Orthodox faith, who were very inspired by the faith of Orthodoxy.

Father Joseph Antypas and the Committee thank all those who came from far and near to be with our Primate. Many thanks to those who worked tirelessly to make this celebration one of elegance and success, our Executive Committee: Father Joseph Antypas, Pastor; the dynamic duo of George Darany, Chairman and Neal Norgrove, Co-Chairman; Kenneth Biedron, Treasurer; Mary Jane McCoul, Recording Secretary; Carolyn Bicsak, Corresponding Secretary. Special thanks also to our Committee heads: Walid Khalife, Nicola Antakli, Dorothy Darany, Anita Pollock, Linda Norgrove, Vivian Gabriel, Yvonne Gigliotti, Carolyn and John Bicsak, Robert Koory, Dolores Bsharah, Vickie Khoury, Elaina Antypas, Ayman Kfouf and Church office secretary, Randa Nasr.

May God Reward you all Heavenly Things for the Earthly

Courtesy of the

December 2006 issue of The Word magazine.

Return to The Word article listing.