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Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph's Statement Regarding the Archdiocesan Syrian Relief Program

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
November 11, 2015 

Beloved Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Parish Councils, Beloved Faithful:

Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we are about to begin the time of prayer and fasting in preparation for His Nativity in the Flesh.

Over the past several weeks and months, we have received numerous emails, calls and letters from within and outside our Archdiocese, from Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, expressing their willingness to help, give money, sponsor families, and more, with regard to the Syrian refugee and relief effort. As a result, during our Board of Trustees meeting in Los Angeles last month, I appointed a committee to oversee all the humanitarian and fundraising efforts of our Archdiocese relating to the ongoing Syrian crisis. (You can read the appointment letter explaining the scope and members of the committee on

An Appeal For Syrian Refugee Relief from Fr. Anthony Sabbagh

Dear Friend,

This is a time of unparalleled need. Right now, we are now witnessing the largest exodus from a single conflict in a generation. More than 11 million innocent men, women and children are escaping from the unrelenting violence brought on from the brutal conflict in Syria. You've seen the images. The Syrian refugees are leaving everything behind and some are even dying to get to safety inside Syria and abroad.

Parishioners of St. George Orthodox Church in Allentown, PA, have strong family ties in Syria—grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles; nieces and nephews. In fact, Lehigh County ranks third among U.S. counties for number of people who are of Syrian descent, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Appoints an Archdiocesan Steering Committee for Syrian Relief

At the recently completed meeting of the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees which was held in Van Nuys California, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph appointed a Steering Committee which is expected to plan and coordinate all efforts within the Archdiocese which are directed toward Syrian relief. The actual appointment letter to the committee can be read here.

The Committee members are as follows:

BuzzFeed Features St. Nicholas Cathedral in Story About Syrian Christians

St. Nicholas CathedralSt. Nicholas CathedralOn September 28, 2015, the popular website BuzzFeed featured a story by reporter Leticia Miranda, "Christian Syrians in the U.S. Fear for their Families Back Home." Miranda described the situation for many families who are in anguish over the situation of their loved ones living in war-torn Syria. The plight of Christians "has been an ongoing concern for human rights advocates since the beginning of the war in 2011," noted the article. "Since then, more than 700,000 Christian Syrians have left the country, according to Open Doors International, a U.K.-based organization tracking the persecution of Christians."

Read the full post on BuzzFeed

FOCUS NA Provides Meals, Supplies, and Medical Care in Back to School Outreach

FOCUS North America recently celebrated the end of a successful summer feeding program, providing nutritious meals to 200 children a day in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona ranks third in the country in food insecurity, with more than 450,000 children facing hunger on a daily basis.

In partnership with The Sodexo Foundation’s Feeding our Future Program, Sodexo USA and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the program provided more than 16,000 meals to children at two Phoenix YMCAs.

The program required volunteer manpower and FOCUS volunteers turned out in force! Some 50 Orthodox volunteers from seven parishes in the Phoenix area contributed to the program’s success, with some volunteers helping out more than ten times.

“Our Orthodox volunteers rearranged their schedules to be able to serve. Some took time off from work, others came and volunteered with their children. We had volunteers of all ages. That was one of the highlights—seeing how many Orthodox volunteers enthusiastically turned out to help their neighbors in need ,” said FOCUS North America’s Executive Director Nicholas Chakos. “We’re so thankful for their support.” 

Across the US, more than 21 million children receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year. During the summer, children are at greater risk of hunger as their families struggle to provide meals that are typically provided by schools. Lack of nutrition during the summer months sets a cycle for poor performance once school begins and makes children more prone to illness and other health issues. FOCUS’ summer feeding program was designed to fill that nutrition gap. The program also alleviated the strain on parents, who could rest assured knowing that a nutritious breakfast and lunch were being provided for their children.

IOCC Video, "Saving Syria's Children," Tells Story of Displaced Families

"Saving Syria's Children," a new video from the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), recounts how civil war has robbed more than five million Syrian children of their innocence, homes, safety, and education. IOCC is responding with relief to Syria's displaced children and families and those living as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Armenia, Greece, and Serbia.

(Narrated by Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC Executive Director and CEO)

SOYO Vice President Munir Pavez Reports on Ministry Trip

Munir Pavez (back row, left) and other team members in the IOCC Serv-X-treme service groupMunir Pavez (back row, left) and other team members in the IOCC Serv-X-treme service groupMunir Pavez is the son of Fr. Michael and Khouriya Mireille of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Beaumont, TX. As President of the Diocese of Wichita's SOYO, and Vice President of the NAC SOYO, he recently participated in a youth service conference sponsored by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). After this week of ministry, Munir wrote this report for Bishop Basil.

 Your Grace Bishop Basil: Master, bless.

Blessed Feast of the Transfiguration! I also hope that the end of the Dormition fast continues to be fruitful and blessed. It was great seeing you at the Archdiocesan Convention a few weeks ago! I would just like to tell you a little bit about my trip to Minneapolis last week for the IOCC Serv-X-treme Conference. As you probably know, this was a pan-Orthodox leadership/service conference for high school seniors that, by your blessing and delegation, I was so fortunate to attend. Going in, I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect. I had no idea that the next seven days would be some of the most amazing and fruitful of my life.

Throughout the week, we had many speakers come talk to us about various topics such as suffering, compassion, charity, and Orthodox unity, just to name a few. However, the main focus of the week was service. Every day the group of 26 teens would complete at least one or two service projects.

Michigan SOYO Teens Participate in Pan-Orthodox Mission Outreach

The young members of our parish—the SOYO of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Livonia, MI—just returned from a trip that made history. We were all so blessed to participate, support, and watch this holy work take place!

On July 18, our twelve teens: Ibrahem Alrabady, Melissa Ansara, Celine Barghout, Pascal Barghout, Hani Kandalaft, Marisa Khamis, Joseph Nicolas, Michael Nicolas, Elena Saliba, Natalie Samaan, Katerena Sirhan, and Kaila Ziadeh, and two trip leaders, Christina Stavros and Michael Ansara, traveled four hours north on the first ever, 2015 SOYO Summer Mission Trip, to help "build up" the first Orthodox church in Traverse City, MI, the Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church. To our knowledge, this is the first mission trip, ever, in the history of our parish and, perhaps, the first time one mission parish has offered to help a mission parish in another Orthodox jurisdiction build their church.

Syrian Refugees Surge into Serbia Seeking Asylum

Syrian refugees gather outside of the police station in Presevo, Serbia, where they are waiting to be registered for assistance. IOCC is providing meals to the weary travelers as well as to local people in need. photo: Nenad Preleveic/IOCCSyrian refugees gather outside of the police station in Presevo, Serbia, where they are waiting to be registered for assistance. IOCC is providing meals to the weary travelers as well as to local people in need. photo: Nenad Preleveic/IOCCBaltimore, MD (IOCC) — One thousand miles separate Syria and Serbia, but the desperation to flee their war-torn country is driving thousands of refugees from Syria, as well as some from Afghanistan and other countries to make the long and dangerous journey. Their trek is a combination of boats, buses, trains, and walking. Many land in Greece first. From there, they head north on foot, walking hundreds of miles through the Balkans to the European Union. In the past six months, more than 37,000 refugees have endured rough terrain, temperatures hovering near 100 degrees, a lack of food and water, and violent attacks from predatory gangs along the way to reach Serbia.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Serbia is receiving by far the largest percentage of refugees seeking international protection in southeastern Europe. The refugees are using the route through Serbia to reach their desired final destination of Western Europe. Now Serbian authorities face an emerging crisis as they struggle to care for the growing masses of exhausted, hungry, and injured refugees making the arduous journey to hoped-for asylum.

Syrian Refugees Risk Lives To Find Safety In Greece

June 30, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Summer is the height of tourist season in the Greek isles, but Amina, 35, isn't on the island of Chios with her husband and three young sons for a vacation. The Syrian refugee family is in flight from Damascus. Their long and arduous trek took them through Lebanon and into Turkey, where they hiked a grueling 200 miles across the country to reach a boat that would carry them to safety in Greece.

Also part of their group were several Syrian youth under 18 traveling alone or with distant relatives, like Sahir, 17, a member of Amina's extended family. They travel at great risk with the hope to reach Western Europe and register as underage refugees, which would allow their parents to join them.

The eastern Aegean isles have been inundated by the flow of Syrian refugees arriving by sea. The island of Chios, which lies just four miles from Turkey, has received more than 7,000 newcomers since last March.