St. George Church in Troy, Michigan recently celebrated both its 100th anniversary and the burning of its mortgage. The weekend began at the Troy Marriott on Friday, October 18th, 2013 with meetings of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board and the Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius, which continued through Saturday morning.
Saturday Evening Great Vespers took place at St. George's at 6:00p.m. followed by a Grand Banquet and the Burning of the Mortgage. The parish was honored to have six hierarchs present: His Eminence Metropolitan Philip; Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West; Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and the Southwest; Bishop Nicholas, Bishop of Brooklyn and assistant to the Metropolitan; Bishop Anthony Michael, Bishop of Toledo and the Midwest; and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Diocese of North America. All of these hierarchs' presence was welcomed with great joy.
The banquet was memorable, with over 400 attendees. The social hall was decorated and emitted great beauty with its floating walls and
flowers. The friendship and camaraderie that took place put God's love into all of us sharing this blessed event and encouraging us to
peace and tranqulity in our future at St. George Church of Troy. A wonderful program was presented throughout the evening. It began
with Fr. Joseph Antypas, Master of Ceremonies, introducing our beloved Metropolitan Philip, who gave the invocation. Mr. Philip Holwey sang the National Anthem, followed by a welcome from Linda Norgrove, Banquet Chairperson. Special remarks were given by Mr. Walid Khalife, General Coordinator of the Centennial Weekend; Anna Jahshan, Teen SOYO president; and Anita Pollock, Chairman of the St. George Parish Council. Additional speeches were given by the Honorable Dane Slater, Mayor of Troy; Bishop Anthony Michael of the Antiochian Diocese of Toledo; and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Archdiocese. The parish also received congratulatory messages from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and United States Senator Debbie Stabinow, as well as from bishops and hierarchs who could not attend.
Following a wonderful dinner, memorable events took place. V. Rev. Ayman Kfouf, Assistant Pastor at St. George, presented the evening's
Keynote Speaker, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. The introduction was awesome, with a beautiful vignette presented on film outlining
Sayidna Philip's life and rise to his position as Metropolitan of our Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. The film was prepared by Fr. Ayman Kfouf as a tribute to His Eminence. Sayidna Philip was also presented a painted portrait of himself by our parish of St. George.
Needless to say, the main address by Metropolitan Philip, as well as the speeches by Bishop Anthony and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Archdiocese during the church services and social events, were for the spiritual nourishment of all. In summarization, that we must continue to pray for the growth and service to Christ and His church.
The highlight of the evening was the Burning of the Mortgage. What a wonderful sight took place! A member of the parish, representing St. George, in full garb, carried a flaming torch to the podium, bearing a replica of the Mortgage. Though the flame was doused, it will remain in our hearts forever.
During the evening festivities other wonderful events took place. The V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Antypas was presented the Antonian Gold Medal by Metropolitan Philip. His Eminence also presented Antonian Silver Medals to Bill Swor, Jr., and to Neal Norgrove, an officer of our Centennial Committee, for their meritorious services at St. George. In addition, icons were presented to Walid Khalife, George Darany, Ghassan Elian, Anita Pollock and Randa Nasr in appreciation of their services to the church.
On Sunday morning, the most blessed event of the weekend took place: the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with Metropolitan Philip presiding. The church was filled to the rafters with music as St. George's choir and chanters lifted their voices to the heavens. At the offering and partaking of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, the most sacred and integral part of the Divine Liturgy, the grace of the Holy Spirit engulfed all the congregation. His Grace Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo gave an enlightening sermon. The parish's dear Fr. Ayman Kfouf was elevated to the dignity of Archpriest. The St. George community is very proud of his love and achievements at the parish, and of the ten new members who were inducted to the Order of St. Ignatius and of Fr. Joseph Antypas who was inducted as a life-time member of the Order.
As to our future... we do not know what it will be, but it will be greater than the present. With God's help, our Pastor Fr. Joseph Antypas will lead us to greater visions in our second hundred years, through the prayers of our patron Saint George. Amen!