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80th Birthday of Metropolitan Niphon of Phili…

80th Birthday of Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis is celebrated at the Antiochian Representation in Moscow

On December 4, 2021, the Representation of the Antiochian Orthodox Church hosted a solemn reception to mark the 80th birthday of Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Among those who extended congratulations to Metropolitan Niphon were Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR); Mr. Mikhail L. Bogdanov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and Presidential Special Envoy for the Middle East and Africa; H.E. Chawki Bou Nassar, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Lebanese Republic to the Russian Federation; H.E. Riyad Haddad, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Russian Federation; members of the diaspora and the public. Addressing Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis, Metropolitan Hilarion said: “Your Eminence, dear Vladyka Niphon! Today, at the Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia congratulated you on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church on your 80th birthday and bestowed on you a high award – the Order of the Holy and Right-Believing Prince Daniel of Moscow, 1st degree, to acknowledge your distinguished service during your tenure as the rector of this church and representative of the holy Antiochian Church to the Moscow Patriarchal See. Now, people who love and respect you as their dear friend have gathered here at this church, in which you have been serving for several decades. On my own behalf and on behalf of the staff members of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations which is a place of your long-time association, I would like to extend my most hearty congratulations and wish you to enjoy many years of life in good health. There is a story of a man, who on coming to England asked what was to be done to have a lawn so smooth. He was told that a lawn should have a regular mowing every two weeks; as soon as the grass grew a little higher, it should be mowed over and over again during three hundred years. If anyone asked me what to do to be a worthy representative of one Church to another Church, I would say: Look at Vladyka Niphon and do the same for the next forty years. Dear Vladyka! We not only respect you, we love you very much seeing you not as a foreigner, not as just a representative of another Church, but as our brother and our friend, feeling toward you a sincere love and sympathy. I would like you to stay with us for many years ahead and grace by your presence not only your own Antiochian Orthodox Church, but the Russian Orthodox Church as well. I wish that the Lord may keep you from any evil and send peace to triumph in your native land so that all the troubles Lebanon is suffering at present should be over and you can have the church building you are constructing in your home town finished up and consecrated. On my own behalf and on behalf of the Department for External Church Relations, I would like to present you with a holy panagia and a cross with a prayer to the Lord to strengthen you in your ministry, and to the Most Holy Mother of God to cover you with her precious omophorion and deliver you from all evil. Many Years to you!” In his response, Metropolitan Niphon mentioned with profound gratitude the award he has received from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. Representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Moscow Patriarchal See thanked all those who congratulated him for their kind words and good wishes and added: “This celebration means a lot to me. My special thanks are due to all of you for your attitude to me and love towards me. Indeed, love is what the Church is teaching us.” Addressing the DECR chairman, Metropolitan Niphon said: “I thank Vladyka Hilarion for his love of our Representation and for his love and kind thought of me. Here at the Antiochian Representation in Moscow we are offering our prayers for His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and for His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Both of them are dear to us. They both are our fathers,” Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis emphasized. Among those attending the reception were DECR vice-chairman Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, ambassadors of several countries, and public representatives. DECR Communication Service
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