Metropolitan Philip Hosts Dinner in Honor of His Beatitude Mar Bechara Al-Raa’i
On Saturday October 22nd, 2011, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, hosted a dinner in honor of His Beatitude Mar Bechara Al-Raa’i, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey.
Among the guests who were in attendance were the following dignitaries:
Dr. Bashar Ja’afari, Ambassador for Syria to the UN
His Excellency Antoine Chedid, Ambassador for Lebanon
His Excellency Antoine Azzam, Consul General for Lebanon
Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli, Islamic Society of Central Jersey
Imam Fadil Sahlani
Sheik Sami Merhi
His Excellency Bishop Gregory Mansour, Bishop of The Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn
His Excellency Bishop Paul Sayah, Patriarchal Vicar
His Excellency Bishop Hector Doueihi, Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn
His Eminence Metropoitan Philip began his welcome of His Beatitude with the following words:
“From the peak of Mount Sanneen, from the sanctity of St. Rafka, from the old oak trees of Hamlaya, from our great spiritual legacy of the East, from the land which was blessed by the footsteps of Jesus, you dawn on us and on Lebanon like the Spring after a most difficult winter which lasted from 1975 until 2000. Your election as the Patriarch of Lebanon was joyful news to all Lebanese despite their different religious sects and political parties. We have followed you and heard you in your visits to your former diocese of Jebayel and we saw you embrace people with your love. We also saw and heard you during your visit to the city of the sun, Baalbek and we heard how the people received you with joy and enthusiasm. They almost spread their clothing on your path, saying 'Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord.' We also saw and heard you during your historic visit to the resistant and wounded South Lebanon after one thousand years from the vist of the last Patriarch to that sacred land which is stained by the blood of the martyrs, and how great you were when you visited Q’ana to pray for the repose of the souls of the inncocent children who were slain by the Herod of the 20th century.”
In his response, His Beatitude thanked Metropolitan Philip who knew him in his early teen years and said that Metropolitan Philip’s father and his father were best of friends because of the proximity of Abou Mizan to Himlaya. His Beatitude spoke of how joyful it has been to visit so many Lebanese and Arabs during his visit to the United States. He urged the people not to forget their roots but to remain loyal to the country from which they or their parents came to this blessed land. Whether from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq or Egypt. His Beatitude spoke about the corruption of politicians in Lebanon, calling them the demolishers of the beauty of Lebanon reducing it to pieces. He urged the Lebanese and all immigrants to register themselves and their families with the Lebanese consulate so that they may vote two years from now in the Parliamentary elections in Lebanon. His Beatitude is working very hard to have a spiritual summit in Egypt which would be attended by Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Palestinian, Iraqi, and Egyptian religious leaders to discuss the future of Christianity in the Middle East.