A VERY BLESSED WEEKEND
Christ Is Risen!
Glory to God, in the wake of our Paschal celebration we experienced the added joy of a wonderful Patronal Feast celebration. The presence of our Father in Christ and Chief Shepherd, Metropolitan +Joseph to preside over our St. George weekend was a special blessing for our parish community. This was Metropolitan Joseph’s first official visitation to St. George as our Metropolitan Archbishop and we are confident he will return on a regular basis as we welcome him with open arms and hearts. Together with our own Bishop +John, these two exceptional hierarchs inspired and encouraged us all as they met, prayed, ate and conversed with us during our three days together.
We enjoyed an engaging dialogue on Friday evening as we gathered around a table laden with exquisite Middle Eastern food at Fairouz Restaurant. The members of our Parish Council and the heads of our parish organizations had an opportunity to share a meal together ‘family style’ and to raise questions of concern with the Metropolitan and Bishop John. In his remarks, Metropolitan Joseph emphasized the role of the bishop as servant of the faithful.
An effective strategy on behalf of the Church to promote and preserve our unique Orthodox heritage in response to extreme social pressure here and devastating social upheaval in the mother countries was one of the concerns we discussed at length. We all agreed that we need a more coordinated response by the Church to address current socio/ political issues from our rich tradition of theology and social justice as well as to effectively advocate on behalf of and provide assistance to those who are now suffering. We also spoke of employing effective ways to utilize current ‘social media’ technology in reaching out to the youth and keeping the faithful fully informed.
Saidna Joseph spent a good afternoon with some of our children as they enjoyed a family style picnic lunch and games day on our church grounds. After lunch, both Saidna Joseph and Bishop John had a lively discussion with our children in the church. The responsibility of bishops, priests and the laity to be committed servants of Christ and of one another was the main topic of conversation.
Two exceptional gourmet meals were prepared and served by our resident Chef Douglas [Howdy] and his impeccable staff of kitchen aids and servers. We thank him and everyone of the community who assisted in preparing and serving these delicious meals. We had a fun time at the traditional Hufli as we danced and enjoyed each other’s company. Thanks to the committee that made these evening and afternoon events possible.
As always, the celebration of the Divine Services was the central joyous event of the weekend. Some of our local clergy and our Antiochian seminarians joined us for Vespers. The chanting by our seminarians and our chanters was most inspirational, setting the theme for both the commemoration of St. Thomas Sunday and the Feast of St. George. The Arch Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, with our two bishops presiding, was impressive and glorious. In his sermon, Saidna Joseph again emphasized the role of a bishop as the servant of all the faithful.
Following the Gospel reading, our Deacon Nicholas was elevated to the rank of Arch Deacon in recognition of his distinguished service to the parish and the Archdiocese. His son, Andrew proudly held and presented the new Arch Deacon’s stole that Metropolitan Joseph placed on his father. The whole parish rejoices in this most deserving honor bestowed on our Arch Deacon Nicholas and together we cry out AXIOS.
A surprise induction into the Order of St. Ignatius awaited us at the close of the Divine Liturgy. Ten-year-old Alison Irving approached the Archbishop respectfully bowed and raised her right hand to take the oath of allegiance to the Order of the Archdiocese. Accompanied by her sponsor, Georges Nehme she repeated the words of the pledge after Metropolitan Joseph and beamed a radiant smile as he placed the Cross of the Order around her neck. Her proud parents, Subdeacon James and Atty. Valerie stood by as Saidna commended them for choosing to honor their daughter by making such a commitment on her behalf. This is indeed a historical occasion in the life of the parish and Archdiocese as the youngest member of the Order is inducted.
Saidna Joseph explained that because Christ Himself welcomed the children uninhibited and admonished us that we must be like them to enter the Kingdom that we cannot deny the good intention and desire of parents to do what is good for their children. We congratulate Alison, the newest Dame of the Order of St. Ignatius and her parents and thank them for the honor they have given our community. The image of little Alison being embraced by our Metropolitan as he stood with her at the Royal Doors and the radiant smiles of all will be forever cherished.
Our newest Icon, one of St. Raphael [Hawaweeny] and Fr. George [Maloof] holding the image of our original church was blessed and dedicated. Painted by Iconographer Kh. Erin Kimmett of Norwood, this Icon is a very special addition to our church. Commissioned by Fr. George’s great granddaughter, Nancy Solomon in honor of her mother Amelia Maloof Haddad, the Icon depicts the ‘Founding of St. George Parish’ in 1900. We are eternally blessed as the inheritors of the spiritual legacy of these two spiritual leaders of the early 20th century. Saidna Joseph asked that, through the prayers and intercessions of St. Raphael and Fr. George, our community continue to thrive and prosper.
Metropolitan Joseph presented Meritorious Service Awards to three distinguished parishioners in recognition of their exemplary ministry to the parish. Sally Rihbany, Soraya Bandeli and Bob Saba are well known for their dedication to and support of the parish and for the leadership they have provided in countless ways. We commend them as expert examples of service and ministry and we are honored that they have received this most deserving recognition.
Thanks to all who supported and encouraged us as together, we celebrated our Patronal Feast. May the Lord Whom we strive to serve continue to Bless, Guide and protect us, through the intercession of our Patron Saint George and by the prayers of our saintly founder Fr. George.
Blessings in the Risen Lord,
Icon of the Founding of St. George
The beautiful Icon of the Founding of St. George is donated by the family of Fr. George D. Maloof; his great granddaughters Nancy Solomon and her husband Michael and Elizabeth Seaver and her husband William have offered it for the health and safety of Fr. George’s granddaughter Amelia Haddad and for the eternal memory of his granddaughter Jean Nunziato and the dearly departed members of the Maloof Family.