(photo from a previous meeting)

2002 Papal Wishes on the 50th Anniversary of Bishop John Elya

Congratulatory Greetings from His Holiness Pope John Paul II 4/02

To Our Venerable Brother, John Adel Elya – Bishop of the Melkite Greek Diocese of Newton

As if We were present in person, We wish by this letter to commemorate a special event of your life, namely the fiftieth anniversary, on the first Sunday of Lent this year, of your priestly ordination, and with Our sincere wishes and prayers to join you and all your flock in this joyful solemnity.

This is indeed an excellent opportunity to recall on this important occasion your accomplishments in the service of Christ, by which you have embellished your fruitful ministry as a priest and a bishop.

Perceiving the call of the Lord while you were a youth, you entered the Melkite Basilian Order, and there professed your solemn vows at the end of the year 1949. When you had finished your philosophical and theological studies, you were ordained as a priest on February 17. 1952. At the Pontifical Gregorian University you obtained a licenciate in theology, and in Boston you secured the title of Master of Arts.

After you had left your renowned land of Lebanon, you accomplished assiduous pastoral work in various locations: in the town of Zerka in Jordan, in parishes dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Manchester and then in Toronto, in the Parish of Saint Joseph in Lawrence, and finally in the Cathedral Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Roslindale. No less actively you worked in the field of education: you taught moral theology and philosophy in the Monastery of Saint Savior in Lebanon, and then in the Seminary of Saint Basil in Methuen, where you were rector for three years.

Because of your excellent gifts of intellect, in the year 1977 you were named Archimandrite. Then in 1986 you were made Titular Bishop of Abilene of Lysanias and Auxiliary to the Ordinary of the Melkite Greek Diocese of Newton, to whom you succeeded seven years later, and you still fulfill this very weighty duty.

Now that fifty years of your priestly labors have passed, Venerable Brother, we wish to encourage you to zealously continue to fulfill your office of Pastor and Master. Accordingly, renew in your mind the saying of the Apostles of the Gentiles: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on to the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3, 13-14) The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, whom you venerate with filial love, will provide the necessary help and protect your pastoral projects.

Therefore, Venerable Brother, receive this evidence of Our good will and Our Apostolic Blessing, which we joyfully impart as a pledge of heavenly reward, first to you, and then to your Auxiliary Bishop, to all the community of the Melkite Greek Diocese of Newton, and to all who are joined with you in love.

From the Vatican, on January 17, 2002, in the twenty-fourth year of Our Pontificate.

John Paul II

(Translated from Latin by Protodeacon Paul Lawler)