As the autumn sets in each year, one annually thinks of a new ecclesiastical and school year, football season and changing leaves. For our Antiochian seminarians, another staple of the fall every year is their annual dinner with His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP . Each year Sayidna welcomes his spiritual children to the archdiocese where they pray, eat and talk together. Seminarians and their wives from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology , St. Tikhon’s Seminary  and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary  were in attendance along with the archdiocesan clergy who teach them at the various seminaries.
The evening began with great vespers where the seminarians chanted the entire service under the direction of Rasem El-Massih, himself a seminarian at Holy Cross. After vespers and a group photo (see photo), the group enjoyed a scrumptious dinner prepared by the archdiocesan chef Almaza Farhat and her staff. His Eminence then welcomed the seminarians and, after introducing the clergy, he listened to Rasem chant a beautiful polychronion in his honor. Then, His Grace, Bishop NICHOLAS of Brooklyn addressed the seminarians, reminding them that our Lord is with them, even when they will face difficult times in their ministries. Using the illustration of a bird who protects her babies, even to the point of death by covering them with her wings, he told them that our Lord will shelter them in times of trouble. He also implored them that, like God protecting them, they too are the “mother bird” to their flocks and must always protect their spiritual children from harm.
After dessert, Metropolitan PHILIP spoke to the seminarians about the importance of touching the lives of their future flocks by being with them through their joys and sorrows and ministering to them where they find them when they arrive at their new parishes. In answering a question about the situation in Syria and its effects on the Church here, he stressed to them the importance at the present time of them learning some Arabic in order to be able to say a few phrases in the liturgy and to learn some basic conversation in order to enhance their ministries and serve their flocks. He referred to a “new reality” in many of the parishes in our archdiocese given the current wars and deteriorating economic conditions driving the new wave of immigration from throughout the Middle East.
The seminarians then thanked Sayidna for his hospitality and love and the evening ended with them singing “Many years” to their father in Christ.