The 53rd ARCHDIOCESE CONVENTION – MIAMI 2017
Thanks to the tireless dedication of Fr. Fouad Saba and his devoted committee along with all the parishioners of St. George Cathedral in Miami, a successful and historic convention of the Archdiocese was convened in Hollywood, Florida the last week of July. Over sixteen hundred faithful from across North America registered and participated in the weeks events. Those attending from our parish included; Fr. Nicholas, Kamal Hourani, Bob and Gladys Laham, Gregory and Debbie Laham, Gloria and Jamie Cortas, Alma Haddad, Khalil and Mariah Samara, Kh. Louise Ferguson and Dr. Anthony Bashir.
The week was devoted to honoring His Grace Bishop +ANTOUN who, after sixty-six years of faithful ministry, is retiring as Bishop of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast. Bishop +ANTOUN was ordained a Deacon in Damascus in 1951 and assigned to Brazil.
He arrived in the United States in 1959. In 1960, Metropolitan +ANTONY ordained Deacon Antoun to the Holy Priesthood here at St. George Church of Boston. Fr. Antoun was consecrated an auxiliary bishop to His Eminence Metropolitan +PHILIP in 1983 and served at the Archdiocese headquarters until 2003 when he was appointed as the diocesan Bishop of Miami and the Southeast. Having been ordained a priest at St. George, our parish has always enjoyed a special relationship with His Grace. He regularly visited us for our St. George Feast. Over the years, he celebrated the marriages of several parishioners, baptized some of our children and presided at the funerals of some of our loved ones. As a sign of his special love for us, in 2010 Bishop +ANTOUN decided to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary of ordination here at St. George. On Saturday evening, his glorious ministry was celebrated at the Grand Banquet where he deservingly received the enthusiastic accolades of all those in attendance. As he begins his much deserved retirement from active ministry, we wish His Grace Bishop +ANTOUN “long life, good health and the furtherance of all things that are good and pleasing in this life”.
His Eminence Metropolitan +JOSEPH announced the appointment of Bishop +NICHOLAS to succeed Bishop +ANTOUN. In his official letter of appointment, His Eminence noted that; “..I have decided that His Grace Bishop Nicholas will be your bishop.You all know His Grace and his dedication to and focus on spreading the word of God. His Grace, as the Bishop of the Diocese of New York and Washington D.C. for the past six years, has proven to be an effective shepherd and father to all clergy and laity, especially to the teens and young adults. Furthermore, His Grace has been a successful and trustworthy administrator, especially in the past six years as the Assistant to Metropolitan Philip of thrice blessed memory and to me. I am confident that he will do the same in the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast.”As a ‘son’ of St. George parish, we are honored at Saidna +NICHOLAS’s selection as Diocesan Bishop of Miami and we extend our heartfelt prayers for his fruitful ministry there.
As a further tribute to Bishop +ANTOUN, the host parish published an historic [5 pound] ‘Journal’ commemorating His Grace and highlighting the parishes of the Archdiocese. A copy of our St. George page is included in this issue of ‘The Messenger’.
The General Assembly received and accepted reports from all Archdiocese departments and committees. A very thorough report was reviewed by the Finance Committee and a detailed report was received from the Investment Committee. The assembly accepted a proposed operating budget of approximately 7 million dollars for 2018/19.
Candidates for the Archdiocese Board of Trustees ran unopposed and were elected by acclamation. From our parish, both Bob Laham and Gregory Laham remain on the Board, Tony Bashir decided not to run for a new term and he was promptly appointed by His Eminence as an honorary member of the Board. A daughter of our parish, Carol Laham, of our sister parish in Potomac MD, was appointed to the Board by His Eminence Metropolitan +JOSEPH. We congratulate these Board members and we pray they be granted the grace to serve our Archdiocese with distinction and with God inspired devotion.
In his first real address to the General Assembly, Metropolitan +JOSEPH reviewed his three years of ministry as our Archbishop. He emphasized his vision of fostering ‘vocations to the priesthood and religious life’ among our young adults. He asked the Antiochian Women to assist with this endeavor by raising needed funds as part of their annual ‘Archdiocese Project’. He also commended several programs underway to promote ‘inspired leadership’ throughout the Archdiocese, including the newly established ‘Antiochian Orthodox Institute’ in California.
His Eminence highlighted the newly revamped Department of Internet Ministry and its role of keeping us up-to-date with news and developments in the Archdiocese while also being a tool for outreach to the broader community. He emphasized that our role in contemporary society was to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through our ‘good works’ and dedicated service to others with ‘patience, honesty and love’ as we offer an ‘welcoming and open door’ to all who seek the truth of God’s Word.
The Metropolitan emphasized our strong bond with our Mother Church in Damascus especially during these tumultuous times of social and political upheaval. He spent one month in the Middle East in June participating in the meeting of the Holy Synod and meeting with religious and secular leaders in the area to discuss the current state of the Church there. In spite of the great obstacles facing us, we remain dedicated to following the ‘historic path’ given to us as we remain faithful to the Gospel and our fervent witness to the saving message of Jesus Christ in this war torn region. He highlighted the work of the Patriarchal department DERD [Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development] who actively provide assistance to refugees and victims in the areas most affected by the war. DERD is the ‘on the ground’ Orthodox social service of nearly 1,000 volunteers that is partnered with the IOCC representative in Damascus to distribute ongoing aid.
Ties with our sister Orthodox Churches around the world, in general, remain strong. The recent meeting of some Orthodox Churches in Crete and the reports issued from there were received with caution by our Patriarchate, which did not attend, and several other Orthodox Churches, including the Russians, who did not agree with the process by which the consultation was conducted or the manner in which decisions were reached by some churches.
Over the past two months, three Metropolitans of the Patriarchate have died and a special meeting of the Holy Synod will be convened in September to elect new Metropolitans for Mexico, Australia and Hama, Syria.
Metropolitan +JOSEPH outlined our attempt to establish a monastic presence in the Archdiocese and emphasized the necessity of a vibrant monastic life as vital in sustaining the future of our Archdiocese. He also emphasized our need for additional qualified priests to serve the Archdiocese as bishops. Ideally, these candidates would come from an established monastic community.
Metropolitan +JOSEPH commended the work of the newly revamped leadership and administration at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center and noted the progress they were making in stabilizing this vital aspect of our Village ministry.
Look for a more detailed report and analysis of this historical 53rd Archdiocese Convention presented by Bishop +JOHN in the upcoming edition of “The WORD” magazine.