His Holiness, Francis, Pope of Rome
As Melkite Greek-Catholics, we are the Church of Antioch that is in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.
His Beatitude Youssef Absi, Patriarch of Antioch
On May 6, 1973, Youssef Absi was ordained a priest and became chaplain of the Missionary Society of St. Paul (Italian: Società dei Missionari di San Paolo; abbreviated as S.M.S.P.), a Melkite Greek Society of Apostolic Life that is also known as the Pères Paulistes. After the conclusion of philosophical and theological studies at the Major Seminary of St. Paul in Harissa, Lebanon, he obtained a licentiate in philosophy at the Lebanese University, a licentiate in theology at the Institute of St. Paul in Harissa, and a doctorate in musical science and hymnography at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik.
On June 22, 2001, he was appointed titular archbishop of Tarsus dei Greco-Melkiti and curial bishop and auxiliary bishop in the Melkite Patriarchate. Patriarch Gregory III Laham was his consecrator, and the co-consecrators were Archbishop Jean Mansour, titular archbishop of Apamea in Syria dei Greco-Melkiti, and Archbishop Joseph Kallas, Archeparch of Beirut and Byblos, on September 2, 2001.
From 1999 to 2006, he was Superior General of his religious community, the Missionary Society of St. Paul. He assisted as co-consecrator at the episcopal ordination of Yasser Ayyash, Archbishop of Petra and Philadelphia in Jordan. In October 2007, he was appointed patriarchal vicar for the archdiocese of Damascus.
He was elected by the Melkite Synod of Bishops as the patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church on June 21, 2017. Pope Francis wrote to Patriarch Joseph the day after his election, congratulating him and granting him ecclesiastical communion.
Most Rev. Nicholas J. Samra, Eparchial Bishop
The Most Rev. Nicholas Samra was born in Paterson, New Jersey on August 15, 1944 to George H. Samra and Elizabeth Balady Samra. His grandparents and his father were immigrants to the United States from Aleppo, Syria. He was ordained a priest for the Eparchy of Newton on May 10, 1970 and served as a pastor in Melkite parishes in Los Angeles, Chicago and New Jersey. Bishop Samra has a B.A. from St. Anselm’s College, in Manchester, New Hampshire, and a B.D. from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts.
On April 21, 1989 Samra was appointed Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of the Eparchy of Newton, and Titular Bishop of Gerasa, by the Holy Father, His Holiness Blessed Pope John Paul II. He was consecrated and installed on July 6 of that year by Archbishop Joseph Tawil as Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of the Eparchy of Newton and Titular Bishop of Gerasa. Samra served as Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus until his retirement on January 11, 2005.
On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, he was appointed Bishop of the Eparchy of Newton by the Holy Father, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, replacing His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros. He is the fifth eparchial bishop and the first American-born bishop to serve the Eparchy.
An active speaker and author, Samra has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism, Christian leadership and stewardship. He has also published a multi-volume history of the Melkite Church and a book on the legacy of Archbishop Joseph Tawil. He is the past president of the Eastern Catholic Association of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Very Rev. Archpriest Thomas P. Steinmetz, Pastor
Fr. Tom is a lifetime Manchester, NH resident. He graduated from Manchester Central High School in 1974 and St. Anselm College in 1978, and married his wife Kathy that same year. They have three adult children, Michael, Elizabeth, and Sarah, a daughter-law, Mary, and two grandchildren, Rebecca and Katherine.
Fr. Tom was a career police officer with the Manchester Police Department and retired as a Detective Lieutenant in 2002 after 24 years of service.
Raised in the Latin Church, Fr. Tom began attending Our Lady of the Cedars Church in 1975. After petitioning for a transfer of enrollment from the Latin Church to the Melkite Church he and Kathy formally became Melkites in 1985.
As a layman, Fr. Tom actively participated in parish life. He was a member of the parish young adult group from 1981 to 1986, served on the Parish Council from 1983 to 1993 and taught religious education for several years.
Fr. Tom attended the Deacon Formation Program at St. Gregory's Melkite Seminary from 1990 to 1993, and was ordained to the diaconate January 23, 1994 at Our Lady of the Cedars Church by Bishop Nicholas Samra. While serving as deacon, he received a Master of Arts degree in Theology from Notre Dame College in 2002. He was ordained a priest in Rabweh, Lebanon on July 6, 2002, by the hand of Archbishop Salim Ghazal, BSO, of blessed memory. On Sept. 1, 2002 he became the administrator of Our Lady of the Cedars Church, and was later named pastor. He was elevated to the rank of Archpriest by Bishop Nicholas Samra on June 30, 2019.
In addition to his duties as pastor, Fr. Tom currently serves the Eparchy as the National Director for Melkite Youth, The Eparchial College of Consultors, the Seminary Board, the Safe Environment Review Board, and the Advisory board for Sophia Magazine. He is a past Spiritual Advisor for the Ambassadors, and a past elected member of the Eparchial Presbyteral Council. In January of 2021 Bishop Nicholas named Fr. Tom as the Proto-Presbyter of the New England region.
Fr. Tom currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Catholic Charities of New Hampshire.
He is chaplain for the Manchester Police Department, the Manchester V.A. Medical Center, and has faculties with the Archdiocese for Military Services. He is also chaplain for the Knights of Columbus Council #5260, and the Catholic War Veterans. He is a member of the Retired Manchester Police Officers Association, the Manchester Association of Police Supervisors, the Manchester Police Relief Association, the New Hampshire Police Association, and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.
Rev. Fr. Roger Boucher
Father Roger Boucher is a native of New Hampshire having attended Spaulding High School and the University of New Hampshire. Ordained in 1973 as a priest for the Diocese of Worcester, he served for ten years as Chaplain at Clark University, was pastor of St Joseph’s church until he entered the US Navy. He served with the Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Navy having pre-commissioned the USS BONHOMME RICHARD LHD6 as Supervisory Chaplain and served in Norway, Japan, Alaska, Florida and Winter Harbor, Maine among other places. His last duty station was Submarine Base, Groton as Senior Base Chaplain where he retired after 20 years of service in the military.
He holds faculties in the Diocese of Worcester, the Archdiocese for Military Services and the Diocese of Newton. He was granted bi-ritual faculties by the Holy Father in 2008 to serve the Melkite Diocese. His love for orthodoxy and the truth of the Divine Liturgy was his motivation to share his priesthood in the Eastern church. He has been chaplain at Thomas More College, Erasmus Institute and has served two terms as Chaplain to the New Hampshire Legislature. He has served part-time at the Veteran’s Hospital in Manchester. He is currently Chaplain at Magdeline College in Warner, NH.
He lives on a remote hilltop (off-grid) with a semi-private chapel that is open for silent retreat to those who are not weak of heart.
Rev. Deacon John Fleshman
Deacon John came to the Melkite Church in 1990 from a Protestant background. His wife Deaconessa Barbara encouraged him to attend Lenten services at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean, Virginia, and he subsequently completed catechumen training under the tutelage of Archimandrite Joseph Francavilla and Archimandrite Charles Aboody.
Deacon John served in the U.S. Army from 1972 until his retirement in 1992. While on active duty in the military, he completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Law Enforcement at American Technical University (now part of Texas A&M University), and his Masters of Administrative Science degree from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. After retirement from the military, he went onto a second career as a civilian with a variety of Federal agencies until his retirement from civil service in 2012. He has resided in several overseas locations, to include Italy, South Korea, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
While at Holy Transfiguration Church, Deacon John served as vice-president and subsequently president of the Parish Council. Deacon John attended the Melkite Diocese’s Deacon Formation Program from 2006-2009 and was ordained as a Deacon by Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros on November 15, 2009.
Upon retirement from civil service, Deacon John and Barbara settled in Maine and he transferred to St. Joseph’s Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts in early 2012. In early 2020, Deacon John transferred to Our Lady of the Cedars.
Deacon John and his wife Barbara reside in Kennebunk, Maine, and have three adult children, Jennifer, Alora and John III and a step-daughter Julianna, along with seven grandchildren who all reside in far corners of the country. Deacon John is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the American Legion, where he serves as Chaplain to American Legion Post #74 in Kennebunk, ME.