Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
A ministry supported by The Order of St. Ignatius and many individual Antiochian parishes, Project Mexico is in the midst of its busy summer in Tijuana, Mexico. Home building crews have been working each week since May.
Two types of homebuilding groups participate each summer: small groups, and Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) groups. During small group weeks, teams from one, two, or three parishes construct a single home for a needy family and spend the afternoons interacting with the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. During OBT weeks, larger groups travel to Tijuana to construct between four to seven homes in one week, and evening speakers each evening discuss a variety of Orthodox Christian topics. Two of this year's presenters are Antiochian priests Fr. Michael Nasser from Bowling Green, KY and Fr. John Bethancourt from Santa Fe, NM.
The Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations reported today that with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service is continuing to coordinate a fund-raising campaign to help those affected by the armed conflict in Syria. Noted the Department's Website, "Among those transferring money are dioceses, monasteries, churches and individuals."
"Surely, we have received such a good response thanks to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill which was very convincing,” explained The Rev. Vladimir Vigiliansky, rector of the Moscow Church of St. Tatiana. On June 25, 2013, His Holiness addressed the faithful in a letter, in which he stated:
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place.
July 2, 2013
As the communities of Prescott and Yarnell, Arizona, mourn the loss of 19 firefighters and the destruction of 200 buildings by the wildfires that have already scorched 8,400 acres and are still raging out of control in the area northwest of Phoenix, please join IOCC in praying for the impacted families and lost loved ones.
IOCC has been in contact with the Orthodox community in the affected area as well as its ecumenical partners, and at the request of the local Orthodox priest, has sent a team of its Frontline trauma counselors to assist in spiritual and emotional care as well as further assess the emerging needs for any appropriate future responses that IOCC might offer.
For more information or to find out how you can help, visit the IOCC's Website.
June 28, 2013
Imagine if you or your children could not attend school or stay healthy because you did not have a sturdy pair of shoes. Children should be able to have the freedom to run and play with durable soles and their feet protected. Throughout the country, children who are experiencing homelessness and poverty have inadequate or no shoes at all, which leads to being unable to go to school, participate in sports, play on the playground, and pose numerous health risks.
In response, FOCUS is launching Operation: Lace Up, a national shoe distribution program that will begin in the summer of 2013. Hundreds of thousands of children affected by homelessness and poverty will receive two new pairs of high-quality shoes each year. The goal of the program is to ensure that all school-age children have comfortable, properly-fitting shoes and are able to attend school. Operation: Lace Up will work with public school districts in 28 metropolitan areas across the United States to reach kids in need.
The first shoe distributions will begin in August 2013, in preparation for the new school year. Details are available on the FOCUS website.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) marks World Refugee Day in remembrance of the sacrifices made by refugee families all over the world.
June 19, 2013
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — When violent clashes suddenly erupted in his Aleppo neighborhood, Faruk, 33, his pregnant wife, Mona, and their three children left their home in Syria and the only life they had ever known to make the exhausting, 160-mile trek to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Arriving safe but penniless and alone in a foreign land, the former construction worker fashioned a small shelter out of scavenged scrap metal for his family. The long and difficult journey made Mona seriously ill. Faruk took her to several hospitals in search of help, only to be turned away from each one because he couldn't pay for her care.
With his wife's life at stake, he pleaded with strangers for any help they could give and eventually scraped together enough money to cover the hospital fees. Mona gave birth to a little girl, but the long journey and harsh living conditions in their makeshift home took their toll on her weakened body and she passed away four days later. A devastated Faruk, who left Syria out of fear for the safety of his family, was now a widower filled with a new fear – how to care for a newborn and three more children with no means to support them.
FOCUS North America, a national, Orthodox non-profit organization that provides sustainable services to the homeless and working poor of America, is looking for a National Program Intern. The Program Internship will provide practical, hands-on project management training and skills development in the context of a multi-million dollar community engagement and distribution program implemented in more than 20 cities across the United States.
This is a high-level internship that requires a high-performance and driven individual who is seeking to gain a deep understanding of community and volunteer engagement, and the federally-mandated social services framework. Qualified candidates who are interested in domestic or international social services, social entrepreneurship, or community development programs is encouraged to apply.
The intern will be stationed in FOCUS’ office in Orange County, California, with some national travel required to speak on behalf of FOCUS/promote FOCUS activities. FOCUS will pay for all program-related travel expenses and will, in addition, provide a fixed monthly stipend to the successful candidate. To apply, please send cover letter and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, view the job description.
Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage of Tijuana, Mexico, have announced a celebratory anniversary gala to be held in Southern California later this summer. "As we conclude our 25th year building hope in Mexico, we find ourselves with much cause to celebrate! Our 25th Anniversary Gala will be hosted on Saturday, August 24, 2013, at the beautiful Grand Tradition Estate in Fallbrook, California. Please join us for an elegant evening of celebration and giving thanks to God for keeping us under His loving arm, allowing us to continue serving those in need."
Since 1988, Project Mexico has ministered in three primary ways:
- by alleviating suffering by building homes for impoverished families facing adversity
- by providing an opportunity for Orthodox people of all ages to participate in missions
- by providing a home and a family for orphaned teenage boys
An internship program began in 1993 as a way for young people to give a few months to one year in service. Interns have helped with everything from work trips to projects at the orphanage to administrative tasks. Additionally, over 10,000 volunteers from forty-three of fifty states and eleven foreign countries, including many teams from Antiochian parishes, have come to give of themselves and have been blessed in return.
The Village of Al-Kafaàt is a unique campus where children and adults with special needs live in a sheltered environment and receive special education, rehabilitation and employment, all free of charge.
Join us in Houston and check out the various handicrafts—stationery items, coaster, baskets, beautiful ceramic vases and glassware, paintings—all produced by our very special ones at Al-Kafaàt, in partnership with designers and artisans from Lebanon.
Put a little Al-Kafaàt soul in your home and select the items that you would like to take back with you. Your full payment goes into our fund dedicated to constructing the Specialized Building of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, located in the Village of Al-Kafaàt.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has announced Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday:
Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me...only Luke is with me. 2 Timothy 4:9-11
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Laity of the Orthodox Churches in North and Central America:
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Christ is Risen!
We greet you in the surpassing joy of the Risen Christ. By the grace of God, we are blessed to observe the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, which this year falls on June 9, as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday. We embrace the diakonia of prison ministry in keeping with the example of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Physician of our souls, who did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; who ate in the houses of thieves and forgave the sins of harlots; and who said that, when we visit those in prison, we are in truth visiting Him, the Lord of Glory.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The leader of one of the largest humanitarian efforts in Syria has been named 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by InterAction, an alliance of more than 180 U.S.-based international relief organizations. Samer Laham is a driving force inside Syria, providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need without regard to religious, ethnic, or political affiliations. Under Laham's leadership of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) based in Damascus, Syria, GOPA has worked tirelessly to provide more than $31 million in emergency aid to displaced Syrians as well as ongoing assistance to Iraqi refugees, including educational support, vocational training, small business development, and crisis counseling.
With the outbreak of violence in Syria that has inflicted hardship on millions of its citizens, Laham has courageously led his staff of 120 to provide food, medical supplies, crisis counseling, and other services essential to survival for people in need across the country. In the face of bombardments, fighting and constant fear, Mr. Laham and his staff have persevered to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 300,000 vulnerable Syrian children, families and elderly.