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ACCESS mourns death of Antiochian Orthodox Church leader



Rana Abbas


DEARBORN, Mich. (March 20, 2014) – The leadership, board and staff at ACCESS join the national Antiochian Orthodox community and the Arab American community in mourning the loss of His Eminence the Most Reverend Metropolitan Philip (Saliba). The Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese passed yesterday at age 82 of heart-related illness in a Florida hospital.

Metropolitan Philip, a Lebanese American, led the Archdiocese of All North America for nearly 50 years and was also a tireless champion of the Arab American community. Nationally, the Antiochian Orthodox Church includes a large number of Arab Americans; in southeast Michigan, the congregations of the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Troy and St. Mary of Berkley are comprised primarily of Arab Americans.

ACCESS and the Arab American National Museum (AANM) benefitted greatly from Metropolitan Philip’s support. He donated numerous items – photos, books and icons – to the AANM’s collections and visited the Museum in 2006, strengthening the valuable relationship between the AANM and the vibrant Orthodox community in Michigan and nationwide.

“Metropolitan Philip was a visionary. He understood the importance of fully integrating Arab Americans into American society and teaching Americans about the rich history of the Arab people,” says ACCESS Board of Directors President William Swor. “His leadership, in creating the bond between the Orthodox churches of North America and ACCESS, will be sorely missed.”

“As a theologian and historian, Metropolitan Philip was passionate about sharing his Arab heritage with the American people,” says Devon Akmon, AANM director. “He worked to establish the Antiochian Heritage and Learning Center in Bolivar, Penn., which contains important archival collections on the history of Arab Americans. The AANM was especially honored when its Little Syria, NY exhibition was accepted for display at the Center in the summer of 2013.”

Philip Saliba was born in Abou-Mizan, Lebanon, in 1931. After completing his studies at the Balamand Theological Seminary in Lebanon as a teenager, he came to the United States to serve the Orthodox Church, first as a deacon and later as a priest. While assigned to St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, then located in Detroit, he earned a degree in history from Wayne State University, where he would later be awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 1986.

In 1966, he was consecrated as Metropolitan of the Archdiocese. Metropolitan Philip was not only a strong spiritual leader for the Orthodox faithful, but a tireless advocate for human rights across the world. Because of his deep personal and spiritual connections to the Arab World, he focused many of his efforts on humanitarian crises in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.


Grounded in the Arab American tradition of hospitality, ACCESS has a 43-year history of providing health, education, employment and social services in greater Detroit to empower people to lead healthy, informed, productive lives. Today, ACCESS extends that mission to a national platform through advocacy, arts, culture and philanthropy. Visit us online at