“By honoring Fr. Milad today, by putting the cross on him, you are honored because you are working together in synergy.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph concluded a full weekend of festivities and visits in Worcester, Mass. by celebrating the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy on Sunday, April 3, 2022 during which he elevated Fr. Milad Selim, dean of St. George Cathedral, to the dignity of archpriest. (photo gallery)
“The elevation is not worldly, just a cross I put on Fr. Milad,” Sayidna Joseph preached. “The elevation is a big responsibility that I put on him, to double his work, to love you more, to serve you more, to be a good example more and more.”
His Eminence called upon the clergy and faithful gathered around him also to emulate St. John Climacus who was commemorated on the fourth Sunday of the Great Fast. His famous book, ‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent,’ teaches Christians how to lead virtuous lives and ascend to heaven.
“In Orthros, we heard that St. John was like dead in the body when he was alive,” Sayidna Joseph said. “He didn’t care about the desires of his body or about how much food he would eat or anything else. His focus was on God.”
At the end of the liturgy, His Eminence inducted three new members into the Order of St Ignatius of Antioch: Mr. Tony El-Nemr to the Metropolitan Level, Mr. Patrick El Khoury and Mrs. Jo-Ellen El Khoury as Life members.
Joining His Eminence for the festive weekend were His Grace Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England; Archdeacon Emile Sayegh, chancellor of the Archdiocese; Mr. Fawaz El Khoury, vice chairman of the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees, and Ms. Mary Winstanley O’Connor, Board member.
On Saturday evening, April 2, New England clergy concelebrated Great Vespers at the cathedral. Afterward, the Hierarchs welcomed U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern of Worcester. In their meeting, His Eminence presented the congressman with an icon of St. George. “I told the Congressman that we pray ‘for all civil authorities’ in our services,” Sayidna Joseph said after their meeting. “He asked us to double our prayers.” (photo gallery)
That night, the cathedral community hosted a banquet in honor of their dean, Fr. Milad, for his many years of service, leadership and sacrifices. “The best image of the priest is when he is caring for and loving his flock,” His Eminence said.
On Saturday morning, Sayidna Joseph met with the children, teens, young adults and young professionals of St. George Cathedral. He answered questions ranging from the Church’s liturgics, the priesthood and the sacraments. The youth and young adults asked how they can best serve Christ and His Church. (photo gallery)
His Eminence also shared stories about St. Paisios of Mount Athos, giving each of the participants an icon of the saint. “This icon should be in your prayer corners at home,” Sayidna Joseph told them. “Repeat the prayer, ‘O St. Paisios, intercede for us.’ This saint’s prayers are heard by God like every other saint.”
On April 1, the fourth Friday of the Great Fast, His Eminence presided over Little Compline with the fourth stasis of the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God at St. John of Damascus Church in Dedham, Mass. (photo gallery)
“As Christian believers, we have to be peacemakers,” Sayidna Joseph preached. “Our duty in the church is to pray for everyone and the salvation of humanity.”
The parishioners and their pastor, Fr. John Teebagy, warmly welcomed both hierarchs, along with Fr. Ghassan Haddad, Fr. Anthony Niqula and their parishioners from St. George Church in West Roxbury.
“As humans, we cannot memorize long prayers and services,” His Eminence preached. “St. Paisios of Mount Athos – who I had a blessing to meet a couple of times – used to tell us that when we have no words for a prayer, say ‘Most Holy Theotokos, save us,’ leave everything with her, and she will take care of the rest.
“This phrase might be short in words, but it can heal, strengthen, sanctify and transform us.”
Photos by Elio Nicolas