Why do I say this? No man is perfect and Philip made his share of mistakes. We are here not to idolize his memory but to take stock of his career. In such a sober light, as we go forward, I don’t think that history will concentrate on his mistakes. The reason is because Metropolitan Philip was a leader, a true leader. I firmly believe that he was a stalwart warrior for Christ. Such men cast giant shadows.
I was talking with a priest this morning and without thinking about it I said “there is now a Philip-sized hole in American Orthodoxy.” As soon as those words left my mouth I felt a degree of chagrin, as if I’d descended to Hallmark Card-like sentimentality, one unbefitting a grown man. Surprisingly (and much to my relief), my interlocutor agreed with me. “George, you’re right, there is a Philip-sized hole in the Church.” I believe that if we were all honest with ourselves –especially as we look at the present wreckage of the Episcopal Assembly–would come to the same conclusion.Philip however could not have accomplished what he did if he didn’t have good men in the priesthood. One of those men was the late Alexander Atty (who reposed just days after His Eminence). Fr Alexander took a middling parish in Louisville, Kentucky and turned it into a large, vibrant, missionary parish. I’m sure that there are other priests like Fr Alexander in that jurisdiction and I ask you to forgive me for not mentioning your fine work, but we would be remiss if we didn’t laud Fr Alexander upon his recent passing. If Philip cast a long shadow, priests like Fr Alexander lengthened it considerably.
In this spirit, I ask that you take the time to listen to the eulogy given by His Grace, Bishop Basil Essey of Wichita, one of the most successful missiologists in that jurisdiction (courtesy of Ancient Faith Radio; hat tip: Byzantine, TX.)
A Post-script: Because I’m not in the Antiochian jurisdiction, some may think my interest in the legacy of these men is presumptuous. Forgive me if I’m stepping out of my bounds, but I very much believe that Philip will continue to loom large for the foreseeable future. It’s my hope that our Antiochian brothers build on his legacy –that they not retrench. The life of the Church is in the parishes and one of the legacies of Philip was that he promoted stalwart men in the priesthood. To put not too fine a point on it, Philip “had their back.” In doing so, he unleashed the native creativity of men such as Fr Alexander.
Source: Byzantine, TX
Bishop Basil: On the Great Fr. Alexander Atty and his Family
(AFR) – Ancient Faith Radio has been provided this recording of the comments made by Bishop Basil at the funeral of the beloved priest Fr. Alexander Atty. May his memory be eternal.