Very Reverend Father Elias Bitar
Father Elias Bitar, the oldest of the eight children of Sadalla and Zahwa Bitar, was born in Rabah, Homs-Syria on August 28, 1948. He attended the Balamand Seminary in North Lebanon at the age of 11 studying music, religious education, and scriptures, in addition to his regular sixth grade subjects. Elias successfully graduated Balamand in 1967 with a high school degree.
For the next two years, Elias served as the chanter at Saint George Cathedral of the Archdiocese of North Lebanon under the care of Metropolitan ELIAS Kurban. In 1969, he continued his studies in Theology and Byzantine Music in Thessalonica, Greece. Elias came to the United States in 1971. After a year of intensive English studies, he enrolled in St. Vladimir’s Seminary graduating with a Masters of Divinity in 1975.
The year 1975 was filled with many great milestones. On July 19, Elias married his future Khouria, the former Joanne Nicola of Grand Rapids, Michigan. On August 14, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by Bishop ELIAS Saliba at the Holy Virgin Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Yonkers, New York. The newly ordained deacon was then assigned to serve at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, California. On December 7, Deacon Elias was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Metropolitan PHILIP and was assigned to Saint Nicholas as an assistant priest to the Very Reverend Paul Romley. In August 1980, Father Elias was then assigned to the pastorate at Saint John the Evangelist Antiochian Orthodox Church in Orinda, California.
Father Elias served his first Divine Liturgy at St. George Little Falls on August 22, 1985 and has continued to bless this parish with his spiritual leadership to this day. On August 1987, Metropolitan PHILIP elevated Father Elias to the rank of Archpriest.
In addition to his duties as pastor at Saint George, Father Elias also teaches Byzantine music and chant and Practical Theology at Saint Vladimir’s seminary, where he has earned the title, “the voice of the Archdiocese” among the seminarians.
Father Elias and Khouria Joanne have raised four wonderful children — Katrina, Sara, Martha, and Antony. This family has truly blessed the Little Falls parish and the Archdiocese with their love and commitment to the Orthodox faith!