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Reflections on the Holy Priesthood

Economos Antony GabrielEconomos Antony GabrielEconomos Antony Gabriel is Chairman of the Antiochian Heritage Foundation and is recently retired from St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Montreal, Quebec and McGill University, and has authored numerous articles in The Word magazine and elsewhere.

I.  A Brief Reflection on 54 Years in the Holy Priesthood

Today, it is coincidently the 50th Anniversary of the Repose of our late Metropolitan Antony.

While it is a long time ago, the event is like yesterday. I remember kneeling before the altar as His Eminence was about to ordain me a Deacon, and before he did, he whispered: "What name did you choose, since Kenneth is not a saints name?" I whispered back: Elias, the name of our parish. When he began the prayers of elevation, he loudly exclaimed Antony as he banged me on my head with his heavy hands. Read more...

II.  My Days at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary

As I stand back, lo these many years, there are incidents that are embedded in our hearts and minds, especially of my time at St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary.  We seminarians were blessed to have professors who, while “cloaked” in our humanity, were men and women of immense faith, compassion, and deep spirituality.  They were trained in the Classics, literature, mathematics, languages, the ancients, the Holy Fathers, Greek Philosophy, Western modalities, etc. While there was something of the “old world” in their demeanors, styles, verbalization and values, they knew instinctively that they were placed by God on campuses at West 121st Street and Union Theological Seminary in New York City to inculcate a new generation of students with their real-life experiences from “another world” in a new, Orthodox context. Read more...

III.  The Inception of the Western Rite

One of the fondest memories that I must share is, when Professor Sergei Verhovskoy lectured, he did so with his eyes mostly closed and with no notes. In between him saying, “Well, well, you see,” my classmate, Fr. Thomas Hopko, and I envisioned him before the Holy Trinity contemplating Divinity. He once surmised that one could not be a good Christian unless he/she was a good human person. Once when asked if he believed there was life beyond this planet, he replied pensively, “Well, why not? God is greater than this universe. His creativity is not bound to only the earth.” Read more...

IV.  My Days at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary; His Grace, Bishop Antoun

As I look back on those days at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, my mind frequently flows back to His Grace, Bishop Antoun.   Newly arrived from Brazil and accepted by Metropolitan Antony to study at the Seminary, we all became fast friends because living in New York was a new adventure for all of us and all we had was one another to hold onto.

The Slavic students were so much different in mentality. Many of them came from small Pennsylvania towns and were reared according to Russian traditions, while we Antiochians had very different upbringing with all of our Arabic traditions. But for then-Deacon Antoun, America was altogether an alien territory. Read more...