Diocese of Charleston News
The 110th anniversary of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA was celebrated over the weekend of October 10-12, 2014.
For the weekend Bishop Thomas presided over all of the events. On Friday morning the parish had the funeral of the oldest parishioner, Lorraine George, who was 98. Bishop Thomas arrived before to be able to serve the funeral.
On Friday evening there was a potluck dinner to which the parishioners brought many different kinds of delicious fast-day foods.
On Saturday, Bishop Thomas went to visit his family’s restaurant in Wilkes-Barre and enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers from Abe’s Restaurant on Main Street. He reminisced there about his family during the meal. (View the photo gallery of the festive weekend.)
During the weekend of October 3 – 5, 2014, the faithful of St. George Church in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania were blessed with the annual pastoral visit of His Grace Bishop Thomas. The events of the weekend began on Friday evening with the local Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) chapters gathering for a falafel dinner and discussion with Bishop Thomas. Students came from three of the Philadelphia area OCFs: Drexel/UPenn, Eastern and Temple. After a delicious meal the students talked with His Grace about his own travels and work as the chair of the Assembly of Bishops Committee on Youth, as well as the particular struggles facing young people today with the increasing media and technology impact on life.
From September 30 to October 3, 2014, over two dozen priests from the diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic and the diocese of New York and Washington met at the Antiochian Village for a clergy retreat led by His Grace Bishop John. There were lectures and discussion groups in addition to the Divine Services.
Bishop John opened the retreat with a session about the role of a pastor in the solving of problems found in parishes. Questions such as: What is my role? What is appropriate? Who are we ministering to (or who do we need to minister to)? What are my boundaries? What are my obligations? Am I competent here? What is the will of God here?
His Grace Bishop Thomas' namesday is October 6, Thomas the Apostle of the Twelve. Many years, Master!
Thomas, the faithful servant and disciple of Christ, filled with divine grace, cried out from the depth of his love: "You are my Lord and my God!"
Kontakion — Tone 4
Registration is open for the Annual St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage, with His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic presiding. Lodging for both adults and children is available for the weekend, which is an annual event at the Antiochian Village Conference Center and camp in Bolivar, PA.
"Did you know that the Antiochian Village is one of the few places places in the United States where you can visit the grave and shrine of a saint of the Church?" notes Bishop Thomas. Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in the United States, reposed in the Lord in 1915 and was later canonized by the Orthodox Church in America in 2000. Appropriately, since St. Raphael is buried on the grounds of Antiochian Village, the pilgrimage includes a Service of Supplication to him. Other activities include small group workshops, a panel discussion with Bishop Thomas, a special movie showing, and the full cycle of liturgical services.
September 26-28, 2014
In conjunction with the St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage
Open to all deacons in the Mid-Atlantic Diocese
Speaker: Archdeacon David Khoury from St. Nicholas Church in Grand Rapids, MI
For more information, contact Dn. Peter Maris: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clergy Synaxis (Retreat)
September 30-October 3, 2014
Open to all clergy in the Mid-Atlantic Diocese
Speaker: His Grace Bishop John (Abdalah) of the New England Diocese
Download schedule (PDF)
Download registration form (PDF)
For more information, contact Fr. Anthony Yazge: email@example.com
A new home for the parishioners of St. Patrick Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA, demonstrates that fresh beginnings can arise out of tragedy. Two years ago when their new church building burned to the ground before the parish even had a chance to move in, Fr. Patrick Cardine said that the community didn't ask "why?" but "what now?"
"The congregation of St. Patrick Orthodox Church had spent about $80,000" on the original building, Fr. Patrick Cardine explained to the Fauquier Now reporter who covered the story of the blaze in 2012. Later, the community of St. Patrick learned that an arsonist had set the fire. Undeterred, the priest and parish set out to rebuild, aided by generous contributions from members of the community and the Orthodox SICA Foundation.
The new building will be fireproof, and larger than the original structure. "It's going to be a very interesting building," says Fr. Patrick, adding that it might be finished sometime in the fall of this year.
Antiochian Orthodox priest Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, rector of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA, has released a new book with Ancient Faith Publishing titled An Introduction to God. In his book, the author of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy author and Roads From Emmaus podcaster speaks to non-believers and Christians about creating "a sacred space in which we can encounter God.
The book's description explains that Fr. Andrew's goal is to explain to a new generation what is "...the essence of the traditional Christian faith, addressing the fundamental mysteries of where God is, who God is, why we go to church, and why Christian morality matters."
In an interview with Holy Trinity Bookstore, Fr. Damick comments that as a priest, " I've met many folks who don't come to church or are perhaps not very engaged in church not because they are in rebellion against God but because they just don't see the point. Most of the time, no one ever really tried to explain it to them."
Over 500 faithful from the Eastern Dioceses of New York and Washington, D.C. and Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic participated in the historic 2014 Parish Life Conference (PLC). Held at the Antiochian Village (AV) in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, it was a testament to the vision of Metropolitan Philip, who founded AV to foster fellowship and spiritual growth in the Orthodox faith. The grace of the Holy Spirit emanated throughout the conference, which was focused on the theme of loving God and neighbor, and was hosted by St. George Orthodox Christian Church of New Kensington, PA, with Fr. Meletios Zafaran.
Participants at the PLC had the unique opportunity to pray at the gravesites of St. Raphael and Metropolitan Philip. Father Anthony Yazge, the AV host priest and camp director, guided the group on an uplifting tour of the St. Raphael and St. Thekla shrines, and led a Supplication Service to St. Raphael.
His Grace Bishop Thomas announces two new mission parishes being formed in the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic.
Beloved in Christ,
The Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, is pleased to announce that we are beginning to establish two new missions.
The first is a mission station in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For information about this mission endeavor, you should contact Paul Abernathy (firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-334-0917).
A second mission endeavor is being attempted in Talbot County, Maryland. An advertisement offers information about our first meeting, which I plan to attend.
I would appreciate it very much if those of you who are on the East Coast would regularly remind your faithful about both these movements. Those of you who are not in this area, but know people who might live in or travel to this area, please pass this information on.
Antiochian Village Camp has compiled a collection of summer camp photos at www.avcamp.org/memories. Photo prints are available for purchas at avcamp.smugmug.com/Antiochian-Village-Photos-2014, or photos and DVDs are available via Antiochian Village by downloading and returning the order form (PDF).
Summer 2015 Camp staff:
The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) recently opened the FOCUS + Pittsburgh Free Health Center. The Center provides free, quality physical and mental health care as well as pharmaceutical and laboratory services to uninsured individuals. Patients are seen by Orthodox physicians and health care providers who volunteer their time. The Center specifically targets and serves people who fall through the gaps in today's health care system: those who don't qualify for government assistance and/or those who don't have employer-sponsored health insurance.
The FOCUS + Pittsburgh Free Health Center is the first fully-accredited Orthodox health center in the United States. Using this model, FOCUS hopes to launch more health centers in areas where Orthodox physicians are available to donate their time and skills to serve the uninsured and working poor. A church hall, Sunday school rooms, an office—any of these can double as a health center in a community, on a weekly or monthly basis. Medical malpractice liability protection under the FOCUS model is provided by the federal government and the Federal Tort Claims Act at no charge, to any physician or medical staffer serving at a FOCUS clinic. Details are available on the Free Health Center's Information page.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Beloved in Christ,
God bless you!
I would like to make you aware, if you are not already, of several opportunities for us and our young people to become more educated in the Orthodox Christian faith or in an Orthodox environment. Please pass these on to your own diocesan, parish and other mailing lists as you see fit:
1. The proposed Institute for Orthodox Thought and Culture at Eastern University:
A fully accredited undergraduate education with a broad range of majors and also including a minor in Orthodox Thought and Culture in its Arabic, Greek and Slavic iterations. Also included will be liturgical and community life. Be sure to fill out the survey and encourage others to do so. It is also on Facebook.
Lately, he's been feeling called to do something even bigger. After much prayer and consultation with hierarchs and clergy throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, he has proposed the creation of an Institute for Orthodox Christian Thought and Culture at Eastern University.
Eastern is a fully accredited, Christian university with 35 majors and about 1,500 undergraduate students on its beautiful campus in suburban Philadelphia.
The proposed Institute would offer a minor for Orthodox students and serve as a hub for their spiritual, academic, and professional development.
His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, encourages the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to explore the possibilities of the educational opportunities that exist at the Balamand Seminary and the University of Balamand. "This is a multi-purpose institution," notes His Grace. "Here are some links that you and your high school and college students might want to take a look at. I was very impressed when I visited the University. In addition to Theology, there are a number of areas that can be studied the Balamand. The links that are provided here will familiarize you with everything the University has to offer.
Exhibits highlighting the work of two remarkable women artists recently opened at the Antiochian Heritage Museum at Antiochian Village. In Women with Icons: Photographs, by Jocelyn Mathewes, the beauty and meaning of iconography is explored through a series of portraits of women posed with icons of their patron saints. (Selected portraits can be viewed online.) Vibrant, colorful paintings and textile work are showcased in Eternal Spring: The Art of Leila Chokheli, an exhibit that celebrates the abiding faith and joy of an artist who lived for decades under oppressive Communist rule in the Republic of Georgia.
The two exhibits are open until February, 2015. Contact the Village's Director of Sales Barli Ross at 724-238-3677, ext. 426, to arrange an overnight package or a luncheon; view photographs and read more about the artists in the June 2014 edition of The Word magazine.
The first two Parish Life Conferences (or PLCs) for the Antiochian Archdiocese have kicked off the summer PLC season with a splash! From June 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas, host parish St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Church is overseeing a lineup of events for attendees from the Diocese of Wichita, including talks by Keynote Speaker Sister Vassa Larin, as well as excursions to local attractions such as the River Walk and Sea World San Antonio. Also enjoying water access are the faithful of the Diocese of Miami, who are being hosted on June 11-15 by the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando at the Crown Plaza Hotel, with its proximity to lakes and the Atlantic coast.
Beginning Sunday, June 15, 2014, Antiochian Village Summer Camp in Bolivar, Pennsylvania begins its summer-long camping program for kids age 9-18. Since 1978, the mission of the Camp has been to promote the faith of the Orthodox Church through ministry to the youth. The Village has been a "holy mountain" wherein campers form lifelong friendships and grow stronger as Christians.
Is your child going to Antiochian Village this summer? Are you an alumnus longing to vicariously enter into this year's camping season? Visit the Village's Facebook page for introductions to counselors, highlights of each session, and other features, or view all the new photos as they are uploaded to the Village's photo site. A complete list of camps within the Antiochian Archdiocese is available on the Department of Camping page.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, the patriarchal vicar of New York and all North America, the 2014 Archdiocese Summer Meetings will be hosted at the Antiochian Village, July 18-20, 2014. The Archdiocese and diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO, will gather for their annual summer meetings to conduct the business of the Archdiocese organizations.
In addition, the Archdiocese Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals will be held during the weekend with participants from each diocese. Please contact your NAC/NAB President if you have any questions.
Information for the Summer Meetings is as follows:
The people of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington D.C. were happy to welcome His Grace Bishop Thomas on the weekend of May 10-11, 2014. The occasion for this visit was to celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of our church building. In 2006 St. Gregory's congregation bought a townhouse which had been converted to a Protestant church. The community subsequently renovated it and made it suitable for Orthodox worship. On May 5 and 6 of 2007, Bishop Thomas performed the ceremonies for dedication. This year was the first that he was able to return for this annual celebration.
This year's conferences are spread out across five weekends in June and July. On June 11-15, the Diocese of Wichita and the Diocese of Miami will kick off the PLC season in San Antonio, TX and Orlando, FL. Shortly thereafter on June 19-22, the Diocese of Worcester will convene in Boston, MA. Fort Wayne, IN, will be the site for the final June conference with the Diocese of Toledo's PLC on June 25-29. Finally, the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Eagle River, Charleston and New York, and Ottawa, will all meet from July 2-6, combining Fourth of July celebrations with Parish Life Conferences.
As always, this year's theme, love for God and neighbor, will be the focus of the Creative Festivals, a highlight of the conferences. Youth and organizational meetings, spiritually edifying speakers and services, and social events for kids and adults alike, all make the PLCs one of the Archdiocese's most established and popular traditions.
To facilitate your parish participation in the Creative Arts, Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals, all resources are available in the Festivals 2014 section of Antiochian.org. Additionally, ads for the souvenir journals can be purchased and registrations can be submitted through the Department of Conventions and Conference Planning's Antiochian Events pages.
On Saturday May 3, 2014, His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese, visited St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Hunt Valley, MD. Deacon Michael Bishop filed a report and a photo gallery to commemorate the eventful day.
When I first received an invitation to meet Metropolitan Silouan, I did not act because of the traveling requirement. Then I heard that he was coming to St. Mary's Orthodox Church, which is a manageable distance from where I live.
When I arrived at the church and went in the Altar, I was immediately introduced to His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan, whom I found to be a very warm and friendly hierarch. My first impression was that he was the bishop's deacon, especially since I saw Bishop Nicholas there and I did not know that another bishop was also coming. Subdeacon Basil also had the same impression and the three of us had a laugh over this when he told us later....I'm pointing this out because many of our bishops are models of humility. They are very approachable and real spiritual fathers. Both the metropolitan and the bishop were very friendly.
His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:
GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA 2014
Beloved in Christ,
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
The Apostle Paul reminds us of what is central to our Faith: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, along with his appearances. We are fast approaching the greatest celebration in our Orthodox Christian calendar; let us open our hearts to celebrate this Good News with eagerness and embrace it fully.
The death of Christ is not only for our sins, but serves as our example of how to live for others a life of sacrificial love. The resurrection is the evidence that Christ was blessed by the Father, though on the cross he was cursed for our sake. The resurrection appearances of Christ to the Apostles were the call to them to proclaim what he had done through his cross. The apostolic witness to us is a call for us to do the same.
Let us not keep this resurrection joy to ourselves. Let us be like the myrrh-bearing women who left the empty tomb with great joy, and proclaimed the good news: He is risen!
Yours in Christ,
Rt. Rev. Bishop Thomas (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic
His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan, who is serving as our Patriarchal Vicar, has expressed a desire to meet with as many of our Antiochian clergy and laity as possible. This weekend there will be two opportunities to do so in the Western Pennsylvania area.
Friday – Akathist: On Friday evening, April 4, His Eminence will be with us for the Akathist Service at Ss. Peter and Paul Chapel at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center. The service begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a gathering to meet with His Eminence.
Saturday – Vespers and IOCC Syrian Relief Dinner: On Saturday April 5, His Eminence will be presiding over Vespers at 4 p.m. at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh followed by attendance at the IOCC Syrian Relief Dinner. More information and registration for the IOCC dinner can be found at the IOCC's Website, or you may call Zelfa Khalil at 412-417-4706.
Overnight accommodations can be secured at the Antiochian Village Center by calling 724-238-3677.