Palm Sunday of 2016 marked a special day for the senior-most deacon of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America: the fortieth anniversary of the ordination of Archdeacon George Shishim to the holy diaconate. His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH led a special celebration after the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Archdeacon George has faithfully served for all four decades of his ministry.
Since his ordination on Palm Sunday in 1976 by Bishop ELIA Saliba (now Metropolitan of Hama, Syria), “Arch” – as Sayidna JOSEPH calls him – has trained dozens of men to serve at the holy altar. Many of them started as altar boys and would later become lay leaders, subdeacons, deacons and priests. Some of his “graduates” sent a letter him a letter that was read aloud in the Cathedral. They wished they could be with him to celebrate, but they were “serving and leading worship on one of the busiest feast days of the year in parishes across the West. Indeed, your liturgical acumen and expertise have spread far and wide.”
The letter also announced a gift for Archdeacon George: a brand new, embroidered orarion with icons of two prominent archdeacon saints: Stephen the Proto-Martyr, and Laurence of Rome. The Cathedral clergy presented him a beautiful icon of St. Nicholas. To top it all off, Sayidna JOSEPH awarded Archdeacon George with the high honor of the Medal of St. Raphael of Brooklyn for all of his service to his parish, the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, the Antiochian Archdiocese and, in particular, to Sayidna JOSEPH.
After the celebration, Archdeacon George said, “It’s more than I deserve.” We pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to enflame his ministry in the Orthodox Church for many years.