From The Blog

Axios! He is Worthy! Congratulations to the newly consecrated Bishop ANTHONY, Bishop JOHN, Bishop NICHOLAS!

It will be impossible to fully describe the events of this past week, culminating in the Patriachal Divine Liturgy celebrated at Holy Dormition Church at the Balamand Seminary on Sunday, December 11, 2011, where three new auxiliary bishops, His Grace, Bishop JOHN Abdula, His Grace, Bishop ANTHONY Michaels, and His Grace, Bishop NICHOLAS Ozone, were consecrated to serve the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.

For Bishop ANTHONY the trip began in the Twin Cities on December 7 as we flew from the Minneapolis airport to Paris to Beirut.  This long night (and day) ended with our arrival in Beirut at 7pm local time where we met the rest of the United States delegation led by His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH of Los Angeles, and headed to our hotel in the ancient sea port city of Byblos on the northern coast of Lebanon.

There was much scheduled for this trip, eagerly planned by Mr. Fawaz El-Khoury, including seeing many wonderful sights: From the great Mediterranean Sea to the snow capped Mt. Lebanon with it’s great cedar trees, from the Balamand to monasteries to village churches to St. George Cathedral in downtown Beirut, a short trip to Tripoli and visits to the family villages of Bishops JOHN (Duma) and ANTHONY (Al-Hiat), and staying at the Byblos Sur Mer hotel overlooking the great Mediterranean, a hotel that is virtually built into the ruins of a 12th century crusader fortress.

Our first full day together took us to right to the Balamand to be greeted by and receive the blessing of His Beautitude, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV.  His warm and energetic welcome reminded us of our Christian unity with the Mother Church of Antioch.  His Beatitude, now 94 years old, is as vibrant as ever.  It was amazing to hear and see how he has advanced just the Balamand alone during his many years of service to Christ in the Holy Office of Patriarch of Antioch.

Of course, his warmth and enthusiasm translated itself to the main purpose of our trip and all the events relating to the consecration of our new bishops.  His Beatitude was surrounded by 12 other Metropolitans and Bishops, as well several priests (at least six sponsors for the newly elected bishops) and deacons, as chief celebrant of this blessed event.  Being at the altar with His Beatitude and all the men, and being directly involved in the liturgical service, was truly an indescribable experience.

I passed today on a trip to see the ancient Roman ruins at Baalbek in eastern Lebanon.  We’ve had an amazing experience in Lebanon but today, as we prepare for our departure for the states (a 2:05am flight out of Beirut,) I am honestly tired of sitting in a bus and hope to enjoy our last day in Byblos with a walk along the sea coast and maybe a little time spent walking the streets of this beautiful ancient city.  There certainly is much more to say about this experience but I will close by saying how deeply impressed I am with my first experience of international travel, and in particular travel to this place of such history.  My America is only 300 years old… a drop in the bucket to the stones upon which I am now standing.  I look forward to returning home, to my family, to my church, to celebrating the first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy of our new Bishop ANTHONY, next weekend (Dec. 18) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and to the rest of the Nativity Fast and all the celebrations of Christmas & Theophany.  This has been a wonderful experience.   I am so grateful to my parish and their generous gift which supported my travel to this once-in-a-lifetime event.

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