Head Of Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North America Passes Away After 48 Years As The Head Of The Archdiocese

ENGLEWOOD, N.J., March 24, 2014 /CNW/ - The Most Rev. Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba, head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North America, died Wednesday, March 19, according to the church's chancery in Englewood, New Jersey.

Aged 83, The Metropolitan served as head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North America (US and Canada) since 1966. Described as a visionary, Metropolitan PHILIP was the longest serving bishop in any branch of Orthodoxy in the United States -- having been in his role for nearly half a century since the age of 35.

Under his guidance, the church, originally founded primarily by Arab Christian immigrants from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine over one hundred years ago, has grown to include a wide variety of Americans of all backgrounds.

In 1975, he accomplished the unification of two Antiochian Orthodox Archdioceses into one in North America. The "jewel" of the Archdiocese was the purchase and establishment of the Antiochian Village, a summer camp and conference center, in the Laurel Mountains of Western Pennsylvania.

In the 1980s, it was Metropolitan PHILIP who worked closely with leaders of the 1970s Campus Crusade for Christ in bringing them and their established congregations into the Orthodox Church, most coming from Evangelical Christian backgrounds. "Others turned them away because they didn't know what to do with them," said the Rev. Thomas Zain, Vicar General for the archdiocese. "He took the bold step to say, 'Come home.' "

Metropolitan PHILIP was born on June 10, 1931, in Abou Mizan, Lebanon, the fourth of five children to Elias and Saleema Saliba. After completing his primary education at the Shouier Elementary School, he entered the Balamand Orthodox Seminary, near Tripoli, Lebanon, at the age of fourteen. He subsequently attended and graduated from the Orthodox Secondary School in Homs, Syria, and the Assiyeh Orthodox College in Damascus, Syria.

He attended the Kelham Theological School at the University of London. In 1956, he arrived in the United States and enrolled at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. Assigned to a position at St. George Church in Detroit, Michigan, he entered Wayne State University from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959.

Viewing will be from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday March 26, Thursday March 27, and Friday March 28. The Funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday March 29. All services will be held at St. Nicholas Orthodox Christian Cathedral, 355 State Street, Brooklyn, New York. The Metropolitan will then be buried at Antiochian Village, the church's retreat center, Ligonier , PA, near Pittsburgh, near the gravesite of St. Raphael of Brooklyn.

The schedule of events, along with all current information can be found at the website of the Archdiocese www.antiochian.org

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North America is headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey and has a membership of over 150,000 in North America. It is a part of the worldwide Eastern Orthodox Church, which is the second largest Christian denomination in the world with over 250 million members.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Fr. George Kevorkian, (201) 871-1355, frgeorgek@antiochian.org

SOURCE: The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

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