Ghassan Sabbagh was born in Damascus, Syria on May 15, 1947 to Issa and Jamilie Sabbagh. Later, he was taken to his father’s hometown, Marmarita, about one hundred and sixy miles from Damascus. In Marmarita, he gained his academic education. Later, he was called to the ministry and assigned to the Balamand Seminary in The Koura, Lebanon. He was ordained to the deaconate by Metropolitan Abiphanious Zaid of Akkar and Metropolitan Basilious Samaha of Houran. His ordination to the deaconate took place in Marmarita, Syria on May 21, 1966. Upon the completion of his seminarial course, he was assigned to the University of Damascus to study law. While studying law, Father was the Archdeacon to Theodosius Abourjailee of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Father Sabbagh was chosen among a qualified group of seminarians by His Eminence Metropolitan Michael Shaheen, Archbishop of Toledo, Ohio to serve the parish of St. George Orthodox Church of El Paso, Texas. He was elevated to the dignity of the priesthood and ordained June 8, 1969 at St. George Orthodox Church in El Paso, Texas.
While in El Paso, Father Anthony Sabbagh met his wife, Minerva Haddad. On August 16, 1970, Father Anthony and Khouria Minerva were married at St. George in El Paso. They lived in El Paso for two years and then were moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1971 to serve St. Mary’s Orthodox Church. At St. Mary’s, Father Anthony started a newsletter called The Scroll and a softball and volleyball team, all three are still in existence until today. While living in Wichita, Father Anthony and Khouria Minerva had three children; Tammy, Mary, and Christina.
In July of 1979, by the order of Metropolitan Philip, Father Anthony and his family was moved to Houston, Texas to serve at St. George Orthodox Church. There in Houston, Father Anthony initiated a Mediterranean Festival in 1980 and a Community Center. He also started a mission church named St. Anthony in Spring, Texas that started from a humble bible study that met each week. St. Anthony’s is now a thriving and prosperous church due to the faithful servant Anthony and his dedicated flock.
In July of 1983, by the order of Metropolitan Philip, Father Anthony and his family was moved to Allentown, PA. At that time, St. George Allentown needed an Arab-American speaking priest that could bring stability and peace to the community. The congregation of St. George also shares the native region of Father’s homeland, and Father Anthony is able to share his culture and national background with his newly found flock. Father Anthony was appointed Dean of Eastern Pennsylvania in 1983. He inspires and assists priests in the local area with needs and support, and is a liaison between the archdiocese and the region. He also works very closely with the Brotherhood of the Lehigh Valley Orthodox Clergy. Father Anthony initiated a successful annual Heritage Festival in 1985 and also initiated a building project. Father Anthony is a spiritual advisor for all St. George organizations. Under the direction of Father Anthony, homeless dinners were instituted and numerous humanitarian deeds for needy families occurred. St. George Teen Soyo has lovingly taken on many of these projects and have won numerous Most Active and Humanitarian Awards under Father’s leadership.
On July 12, 1993, Father Anthony and Khouria’s daughter, Hope, was born. Father Anthony and Khouria Minerva married their other three daughters, Tammy, Mary, and Christina in Allentown, and now are proud grandparents of eight beautiful grandchildren.
Fr. Joseph was born with the name Giuseppe Mario Landino. He was born on June 15, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York to Mario and Maria Landino. They moved to New Jersey for some years and finally found a home in San Jose, California from 1977 where he grew up. He was born and raised by immigrant parents who only spoke Italian in the primary and formative years of his life. He learned English only in grade school. The experience of being raised in an immigrant family and community, both in Brooklyn, NY and San Jose, CA, taught him first-hand the struggles of assimilating and settling into a new country. Not only can it be difficult, but it also provides many wonderful opportunities which one could never take for granted.
He graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1986. Following High School, he spent six years serving in the United States Marine Corps. The Marines conditioned him to understand leadership, to be disciplined, to be loyal and committed to his peers, the community, and the world at large, At the end of his military career, he was recognized for uncompromising commitment to excellence and awarded a medal for good conduct. He also accrued many experiences in life by managing his family’s Italian restaurants in the Santa Clara Valley.
Giuseppe was raised Roman Catholic, but felt strongly that it wasn’t complete and drifted away from church altogether. Eventually, he began reading the Bible on his own and started to attend Protestant Churches thinking this was the truth. Nevertheless, he realized that the Protestant Church had been missing 1500 years of history. He was in search of that historic church, where Christians were first called “Christians”. He would pray to God as his heart was searching for the truth. By God’s grace, Giuseppe met some Orthodox Christians from the Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos, CA where he eventually met Fr. Thomas Ruffin (of blessed memory) and His Eminence Joseph in 1995. The Christians he met at this parish had something he wanted and desired, a warmth and a connection with the Ancient Church which was truly desired by him and that he found lacking in the Catholic and Protestant Churches. This brought about his entrance into the Orthodox Church, where he eventually began his journey to the fullness of the Faith. Giuseppe was joyfully chrismated by Fr. Ruffin on Holy Saturday, 1997. Following his chrismation he traveled to the Holy Land during Holy week of 1998 and received the Holy Fire from Christ’s Tomb.
The fall of 2000, Giuseppe met Mary Sabbagh Landino (daughter of V. Rev. Anthony and Minerva Sabbagh) and decided to leave the family business and pursue a Bachelor’s Degree of Religious Studies. Giuseppe and Mary married on Jun 24, 2001. He graduated from Hellenic College in Brookline, MA in 2003 with Valedictorian honors. At that time, he was the father of two young daughters, Gabriella and Katerina. Following graduation they moved back to California to help his father successfully operate a pizzeria restaurant there. It was there where they became the parents of two more children, Mario and Rosalia. Not satisfied with just operating the family business, he pursued a career in insurance. However, this was still not enough because God was tugging and preparing his soul for something greater. They decided as a family to leave their him, family and careers and petition His Eminence Metropolitan Philip (of blessed memory) for a blessing to attend St. Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania. In May 2011, Giuseppe was granted a blessing to attend seminary and pursue the Holy Priesthood. During his studies, Giuseppe and Mary brought another daughter, Sophia Theodora, into the world on March 23, 2013. His Eminence Archbishop Joseph Zihlawee gracefully laid hands upon him on July 7, 2013 and ordained him Deacon Joseph. His sponsors were Fr. Samer Yousseff and Fr. Theodore Sakellar.
Fr. Joseph has a strong and persistent desire to serve Christ’s Church. He desires to share his life experience, which he feels have been instrumental in forming his character and person. He also faithfully attended and served the Antiochian Archdiocese in many capacities such as Sunday School teacher, Bible Bowl coach, SOYO Advisor, Parish Council member, choir member, altar server, deaconate and now in the Holy Priesthood. Fr. Joseph was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on January 12, 2014. He has been serving with Fr. Anthony as his assistant both during his years of seminary and since his ordination. Axios!
We will be welcoming Fr. Meletios as our new pastor on August 1st, 2020!
Born to an Orthodox family in 1966, Fr. Meletios grew up in a suburb of Damascus, Syria called Sahnaya. After graduating high school, he studied two years at Damascus University before going on to graduate from Balamand-Lebanon where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology in 1993. He moved back to Damascus where he was assigned to help at St. George Al Homyrah Monastery Al Waddi until 1996.
On May 19, 1996 he married his wife Kh. Rima El Chaim Zafaran (Bachelor of Arts in Theology 1994) of Lebanon Halba Akkar, whom he met at the Theological School of Balamand. They have four children: Mark (August 15, 1998), Maria (March 6, 2001), Marina (October 27, 2005) and Michael (July 7, 2008).
On August 15, 1996, Fr. Meletios was ordained to the holy diaconate by His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV of blessed memory at St. Mary Cathedral in Damascus and to the Holy Priesthood on October 26, 1996 by His Eminence Metropolitan Gorge of Homs at the Holy Cross Church in Damascus.
Between 1996 and 2005, Fr. Meletios:
- Taught at Al Assyah Patriarchal School in Damascus (1996 – 2005)
- Served St. Mary Church Dir Attiah-Damascus suburbs (Oct 1996 – June 1997)
- Served as the pastor of Archangel Michael in Damascus (Oct 1997 – Aug 2005)
- Was appointed as the Clerk of the Appeal Family Church Court at the Patriarchate in Damascus (1997 – 2004)
- Was appointed as the Representative of the Antiochian Orthodoxy Patriarch at Middle East Council of Churches (1996 – 2005)
In September of 2005, Fr. Meletios and his family left Damascus and moved to the United States where he served as the pastor of St. George Church in Albany, NY from October 2005 to July 2010. He was then assigned as pastor of St. George Church of New Kensington, PA in August of 2010 before coming to St. George Church of Allentown, PA in August of 2020.