Byzantine Catholic Church in America
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Death of Melkite Archbishop Joseph E. Tawil 

Newton, MA (From the Melkite Chancery) - 1999-02-18 - With sadness at the loss but with profound gratitude for a long and productive life of pastoral ministry, we announce the death of Archbishop Joseph E. Tawil, Bishop Emeritus of Newton for the Melkites in the United States.

Archbishop Joseph fell asleep in the Lord hoping for the Resurrection to eternal life on February 17, 1999 at 7:15 p.m.

He will be waked at the Cathedral Church of the Annunciation, 7 VFW Parkway, Roslindale, MA on Sunday, February 21st and Monday, February 22nd from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. both days.  His Funeral Service will be on Tuesday, the 23rd of February at this same Cathedral at 11 a.m.  Burial will be in Central Falls, RI immediately following the Mercy Meal. 

Newton, MA (From the Melkite Chancery) - Archbishop Joseph Tawil was born on December 25, 1913, in Damascus, Syria, the son of Elias and Malakie (Salmane) Tawil.  He studied for the priesthood under the White Fathers in St. Anne's Seminary in Jerusalem.  He was ordained as priest on July 20, 1936, and was assigned to the Patriarchal College in Alexandria, Egypt.  For seven years he was a teacher, then Dean of that institution.  In 1943 he became President of the college, and remained in that position for eleven years, and then was appointed Patriarchal Vicar in Alexandria.  He was consecrated a bishop in 1960, and was named Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus.  While in this office he attended Vatican Council II.

On October 30, 1969, Archbishop Tawil was appointed Apostolic Exarch for the United States by Pope Paul VI, and was installed on the following March 15. He succeeded Bishop Justin Najmy, the first Melkite bishop in the United States.  Bishop Najmy had died only two years after his installation, and thus the major task of welding an efficient diocese out of the existing parishes scattered over the country fell to Archbishop Tawil.  He responded well to the challenge.  One of his first actions was to write a Pastoral Letter "The Courage to be Ourselves" to strengthen his flock, many of whom were relatively newcomers in this country and surrounded by the far more numerous Latin Catholics.  He founded the diocesan publication "Sophia", and established a diaconate-training program, the first in an Eastern Catholic diocese, and one of the earliest among all dioceses.  He also established a Diocesan Pastoral Council.  Later he inaugurated a Diocesan Communications Office, the National association of Melkite Youth, and a full-time Office of Educational Services. 

During his tenure as Eparch, Archbishop Tawil founded eight new parishes and five missions.  He ordained 26 new priests and 23 deacons.

After reaching retirement age, Archbishop Tawil became Emeritus on Dec. 12, 1989.  He continued living at the Bishop's residence in West Newton, MA, until his death on February 17, 1999. 

Eternal Memory!

Webmaster's Notes:

Archbishop Joseph's well known 1970 Christmas Pastoral Letter: "The Courage to be Ourselves" is available on-line.

The Boston Herald Obituary can be read at:

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