Continued from part I.
The liveliness of his spirit and the zeal that Fares showed in his studies certainly encouraged the hegumen Yuhanna to authorize him to expand his studies, which he did by enrolling at the school attached to the Patriarchal Monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God at Balamand in the region of Koura, North Lebanon. He thus found himself under the authority of +Ignatius (Hazim, the current Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the Orient) who was at that time bishop and superior of the monastery.
He was ordained deacon with the name Phillip at the monastery dedicated to the Holy Greatmartyr Jacob the Persian at Deddeh in Koura in 1963, by the laying on of the hands of +Elias (Kourban), metropolitan of the diocese of Tripoli and Koura, under whom was the monastery of Bkeftin to which he was attached. He was noticed throughout that period for his attentiveness at prayer, his carrying out what he was entrusted to do in peace and with much zeal, and his obedience to his superiors.
Providence, as usual, used local circumstances and caused him to leave the school of Balamand to head to Patmos in Greece in 1968, where he received the diploma sanctioning the end of his secondary studies.
He then persued his desire to deepen his knowledge of scripture by becoming a student at the faculty of theology at Thessolonica, where he served as a deacon at the Cathedral of Saint Dimitrios, patron of the city. It should be noted that he was known for having a very beautiful voice, which attracted many of the faithful to hear the Antiochian deacon chant and say the litanies in Arabic and Greek.
But the most important event for him during this time was that he became acquainted with the Holy Mountain of Athos and with the monastic life that was cultivated in that garden of the Mother of God. There in particular he met the one who would become his spiritual father, the Elder Paissios (+ June 12, 1994).