The return trip home and reunion - 11/17/10

Los Angeles, California

Our flight to Los Angeles departed Damascus at 7:00 a.m. on November 17. We were all tired but had plenty of time to sleep on the way home. Through the grace and great mercy of God, His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH and the delegation of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West safely returned to the United States. The group returned home after a most successful visit to many churches, monasteries and historic sites in Syria, Lebanon and most especially Antioch in Turkey, filled with spiritual refreshment and vigor after witnessing the beautiful life of the Church of Antioch. We drove an estimated 1,800 miles on the bus in these three countries, and the Diocesan website recorded more than 5,100 hits on the pilgrimage webpage. The delegation consisted of:

His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH
V. Rev. Christopher Salamy
Rev. Philip Nixon
Subdeacon Michael Habib
Subdeacon Peter Samore
Subdeacon John Mahfouz
Robert and Adrianne Andrews
Donald and Jasmina Boulanger
James and Jasminka Gabrie
Dr. Andrew, Jeri and Marilyn Geleris
Ronald and Rose Samore

On March 3, the delegation reunited at the home of James and Jasminka Gabrie, where some of us had the opportunity to see each other for the time since the historic pilgrimage. Sayidna JOSEPH went around the dinner table to have each person share and recall their experiences so that they stay fresh in our minds. We all remember certain aspects to form one complete picture, but no one forgot the one man who had dreamed of this voyage and made it our reality: His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH. He never mentions his connections in the Middle East, and he did not have to do that because we saw it for ourselves. We also saw the absolute love, respect and admiration the people have for Sayidna, which carried over to us as members of his flock. We thank His Grace for all that he does for us in the Name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we thank all those who cared for us during these blessed two weeks in November of 2010.