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The Arab American News

Community mourns death of prominent religious leader, human rights advocate
| Friday, 03.21.2014, 12:10 AM |

Saliba, a Lebanese American, led the Archdiocese of All North America for nearly 50 years.

MICHIGAN — The Arab American community is mourning the death of prominent religious leader Philip Saliba, the Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. 
He died Mar. 19 at age 82 of heart-related illness at a Florida hospital.
Saliba, a Lebanese American, led the Archdiocese 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.
The Arab American National Museum benefitted directly from Saliba'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.
"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, Pennsylvania, which contains important archival collections on the history of Arab Americans.” 
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. Saliba was not only a strong spiritual leader for the Orthodox community, 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.
Saliba served as First Vice Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, Vice President and Vice Chairman of Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, and Chairman of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission. Saliba also served as an Advisory Board Member of ADC, was a strong voice in the fight for justice and equality, and a strong believer in Arab unity.
Under his leadership, the Archdiocese has also undertaken numerous charitable campaigns to aid victims of disasters in the United States and throughout the world. For his many charitable deeds and renowned humanitarian concern, Saliba has been commended by many governments. 
He has met with United States Presidents, Eisenhower, Johnson, Ford, Carter and Reagan, as well as with Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II and many other world leaders on behalf of a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
 He served as chairman of the Standing Conference of American-Middle Eastern Christian and Muslim Leaders, which represents the two million Americans of Arabic heritage.