Diocese of Charleston News
Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics, and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
We are again drawn to contemplate and stand in awe at the holy Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the God-man and our Savior. This year, I pray that we will not mark Pascha as a mere remembrance on the calendar, a happy annual festival that is anticipated and enjoyed but whose power does not provoke us to a radical change in ourselves, a challenge toward holiness and perfection in the Holy Trinity. Indeed, I think many times we enjoy these delightful feasts but have so “institutionalized” them within ourselves that we do not actually let them touch us.
Fundamentally, Christ’s Resurrection is a cataclysmic event. It marks not merely the beginning of a religious movement, but truly the utter reversal of history, the moment that death itself was turned back, when the ultimate catastrophe befell the powers of darkness and bright hope came again into the world. When the God-man died, as St. Basil tells us, “the Author of life could not be held by corruption.” And so He rose again! And so we can be saved from death and from all corruption.
May we ourselves be not simply emotionally moved or cheered by this Gospel; may we never be the same! If even time and history could not stand to remain as they were, how can we ever be content with a mere recollection of past events? Let us once again shout out in victory to the Conqueror of death, casting aside all of our earthly entanglements and entering with Him into that glory that will never fade.
Yours in Christ,
On March 19, 2011, His Grace Bishop Thomas visited the congregation of St. Patrick’s Western Rite Orthodox Mission in Warrenton, Virginia. Since the establishment of the mission, Sayidna Thomas has been a great encouragement, always offering his time, guidance, and love. He is a true shepherd and spiritual father of the community. After greeting and giving his blessing to a group of smiling children, Bishop Thomas prayed alongside Fr. Patrick Cardine during Solemn Vespers. In the midst of worship he spoke with ardent love about our Most Holy Mother’s betrothed husband, St. Joseph. As though recounting the life of a dear and close relative, Sayidna told the story of St. Joseph’s deep faith, humility, and trust in God. His words could not have painted more clearly the reality that our Holy Church is truly one large family. Indeed, “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”!
The Fellowship of St. John the Divine in the Eastern Dioceses of Charleston and New York is offering college tuition scholarships for Antiochian students. Watch for the updated 2013 application form, coming soon! If you have any questions, call scholarship administrator Maria Abdalah at: 412-916-4772, or email her at email@example.com.
The completed form will be due June 1, 2013.
One (1) scholarship (each) of $1,500.00 and $1,000.00 will be awarded, along with four (4) scholarships of $500.00 each. The awards will be presented at the Annual Eastern Dioceses Parish Life Conference.
All scholarships are made possible by endowments created by concerned individuals from the parishes of our Eastern Dioceses and fund-raising programs held by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine.
We wish you all God’s blessings and look forward to submitting your application to the evaluation committee.
His Grace Bishop Thomas celebrated the Sunday of Orthodoxy at St. Mary Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on March 13, 2011. In addition to Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, His Grace also celebrated the Pan-Orthodox Vespers service. At the close of Vespers, a memorial service was held for the recently reposed Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Church.
PITTSBURGH, PA (Jan. 25, 2011)—Speaking to over 450 people at the Jan. 25 FOCUS Pittsburgh fundraising dinner, Theodora Polamalu challenged those present to put their hope and desire to help those in need into action.
Theodora and her Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers husband, Troy Polamalu, are committed to caring for those in need. Theodora, FOCUS North America Advisory Board Member, said during her address to the crowd, “to treat every person as an icon of Christ is the foremost principle of FOCUS, the heart of its mission.”
Seeing that mission realized is what brought such a large crowd to the event, which was hosted by Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church’s Philoptochos Chapter and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Clergy Brotherhood. Through tickets sales, auction items, sponsorships and general donations, the event raised nearly $65,000 to further the good work of serving those in need.
His Grace, Bishop Thomas made his annual visit to the mission of Saint Andrew the Apostle in Lewes, DE the weekend of November 21st.
On Saturday a group of parishioners along with our Pastor, Father Boniface Black, accompanied Sayidna to the property where, God willing, our Church will be built. With appropriate prayer, a cross was planted on the land.
The Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos was celebrated with Vespers, Matins and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Subdeacon Adrian Budica, a son of Saint Andrew and recent Masters Degree graduate of Saint Vladimir's Seminary was ordained Deacon. Archpriest Thomas Zain, Dean of the Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York joined us for the weekend.
December was filled with tidings of great joy at St. George Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia. We welcomed home for the holidays His Grace, Bishop Thomas, who served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Nativity and was in attendance for several of our holiday presentations.
On December 5th, after Divine Liturgy, our teen group served their annual pancake breakfast with all the toppings. On December 6th, 8th, and 10th, the Antiochian Women/Ladies Guild, St. Ignatius, and the Young Adults held their Christmas Dinners and end of year meetings.
HARK! The voices of angels were heard on Sunday, December 12th, and fourteen members of our Junior Choir performed solos and duets of traditional Christmas carols for the congregation, after Divine Liturgy. Under the direction of our choir director, Lexie Damous, and accompanied by Michael Barnhouse, this was truly a gift of the season.
Greetings in the name of our incarnate God and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!
As we turn our thoughts once more to the birth into this world of the God-man Jesus, let us consider what God has given us to witness. While His conception at the Annunciation to the Virgin was in secret, His birth reveals Him openly. And what is revealed?
It is that our God, the Maker of all things, eternal, invisible, untouchable and incomprehensible to mortal man has now become one of us, a member of the human race. He retains His eternality while stepping into time. He remains the invisible God while becoming visible. He is beyond touching yet is now touchable. And though His essence as God is forever incomprehensible to us, in His incarnation as man, He has become truly knowable.
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando, Florida was founded in 1968. During the V. Rev. Fr. John Hamatie's thirty-seven year tenure the parish purchased and remodeled their church building, and also bought the office building and parking lot behind the Church. The parish has been a presence downtown since 1974, when the community established the annual tradition of Diving for the Cross in Lake Eola Park. Then in 1976 the parish celebrated their first liturgy in the church downtown, on the Fourth of July.
In 2009 in conjunction with the Ephraim Project, Fr. John began to put St. George's parking lot to good use during the week, when he established a weekly feeding for those he calls "our homeless brothers and sisters." Volunteers arrive earlier in the day to prepare food for between 150 and 200 people every Friday; meals are served in the outdoors in the same place that parishioners park on Sundays. "The Blessings deriving to us for over the last year of feeding 200 homeless men, women and children every Friday behind the Church is perhaps one of our greatest spiritual 'highs.' To be actually fulfilling a command of the Lord to love those closest in proximity is a wonderful thing."
On October 30-31, 2010, the congregation of St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Church, located in Chantilly, Virginia, and its priest, Fr. Thomas Palke, gratefully received His Grace Bishop Thomas. Bishop Thomas' visit was his first to the mission since the mission's move to Chantilly from nearby Centreville, Virginia, where we had met for four years. Sayedna Thomas presided at Great Vespers on October 30, during which he offered words of instruction, admonition, and encouragement to the congregation. Afterward, the congregation enjoyed dinner and a mini-concert from violinist Michael Munayer, a member of St. Raphael's. Over dessert, Sayedna spoke briefly and opened the floor for questions from the faithful. Among other topics, he discussed with the faithful the prospect of administrative unity among the Orthodox churches in America. Joining the mission for the evening's events were Fr. John Anderson, attached priest of St. Raphael, Fr. Patrick Cardine of St. Patrick's Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA, Fr. Nicholas Aflord of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, D.C., and Deacon Peter Maris of Holy Cross Orthodox Church of Linthicum, Maryland.
(By kind permission of St. Vladimir's Seminary)
“If we have faith, and allow God to do to us that which He wills, everything good will come down to us,” said His Grace Thomas, visiting bishop to our Three Hierarchs Chapel, during his homily on the Feast of St. Barbara and St. John of Damascus. Preaching on Luke 8:43, the gospel story of the woman with the flow of blood, His Grace reminded our seminary congregation that obedience to God’s will, within the providential circumstances of life and within the Holy Orders of church service, produces healing and perfection.
His Grace Bishop Thomas recently visited St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York on the occasion of their patronal feast. Sayedna arrived in New York on Friday, December 3, 2010 and served liturgy for the feast of the Great-Martyr Barbara and St. John of Damascus on December 4 at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. The seminary hosted a lunch for His Grace together with the Antiochian students and staff. On Sunday, the feast of St. Saba, Bishop Thomas celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral and also celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas that day, followed by a dinner and dance in the Cathedral hall.
St. Stylianos Books was founded by Lily Parascheva Rowe to publish books she has written with illustrator Roland J Ford. Both attend Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum MD. In looking for children's books for her children, Rowe found that there wasn't much Bible story material available in English to give her children something to return to again and again--without the need for parental revisions or additions in order to make the Bible story books truly Orthodox.
Astounded by the overall lack of material in English for Orthodox children, Lily started writing books which combine elements from iconography and the hymnography of the Church, while interweaving these things with the Traditional narrative of the Church. "The main difference a reader will notice between these books and typical Bible story books is the completion of the narrative," she explains.
On November 13, 2010, the parish of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania warmly welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas on the occasion of their annual patronal feast day celebration. Sayidna Thomas began the weekend festivities by attending a dinner with the parish council members and their spouses on Friday evening.
On Saturday morning, His Grace presided at the Divine Liturgy concelebrated by the Very Reverend Fr. Peter Pier, pastor of St. John Chrysostom and Reverend Stephen Vernak of Christ the Savior OCA Church in Harrisburg. Following Divine Liturgy, Sayidna enjoyed breakfast and interaction with the children in the parish hall. In the afternoon, the Teen SOYO met with Bishop Thomas for a session of “Ask Sayidna.” Great Vespers was then concelebrated by Fr. Peter and Fr. Nicholas Alford of St. Gregory the Great Church in Washington D.C., with Bishop Thomas presiding. Following Great Vespers, a gala banquet was held at nearby Heritage Hills Resort.
2011 Parish Life Conference + Diocese of Charleston and New York
Hosted by St. Mary Church; Hunt Valley, MD
June 29-July 3, 2011
Fr. Noah Bushelli writes:
By God's grace, the prayers for many, and the wisdom, love, and forbearance of Sayedna Philip and Sayedna Thomas, much good for the Kingdom of God is being accomplished here at St. Philip Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania.
We were recently blessed with an special visit from Bishop Thomas, October 7-10.
On Thursday, Sayedna accompanied myself and Cranford Coulter, the founder and director of The King's Jubilee to Center City Philadelphia where a food, clothing, and a good word was shared with about 150 homeless and hungry people. (For more on The King's Jubilee see www.shoutforjoy.net)
An article in the Food and Living section of the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia, has reported on an upcoming festival at St. George Cathedral which will feature icons. Keynote speaker Paul Finley, Executive Director of Antiochian Village, will be speaking on the topic "Icons, Not Idols: A Call to Christians to Give Their Sight to God."
The parish hopes to reach out to art lovers as well as those who already appreciate the intrinsic religious value of icons.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
Explains the Charlotte Ferrell Smith of the Daily Mail, "Featured iconographers from Pennsylvania include Michael Goltz of Pittsburgh; Michael Kapeluck of Carnegie; Nicholas Papas of Greensburg, and Cheryl Ann Pituch of Davidsville.
Father Andrew, a monk at the Holy Cross Hermitage in Wayne County, also will be on hand both days to demonstrate the process of painting an icon. Some refer to the process as writing an icon.
'Iconographers are theologians who write icons just like scripture is written,' said Father Olof Scott of St. George Cathedral.
'Laymen and priests do them. It involves preparation and prayer before starting. Iconography began in the first century. St. Luke was an iconographer who wrote the image of Jesus Christ.'"
During the weekend of October 8-10, 2010, the deacons of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic gathered with His Grace Bishop Thomas for the diocese's second annual deacons’ retreat. The deacons were hosted this year by Fr. Noah Bushelli, Fr. Deacon Herman Acker, and the parishioners of St. Philip Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania. The deacons gathered with Sayedna and Fr. Noah and Fr. Dn. Herman to pray the Supplication Service to St. Raphael Saturday morning before beginning their retreat sessions.
Over the course of several days in September 2010, the clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, MD, were blessed by a visit from His Grace, Bishop Thomas. Several events, liturgical and otherwise, were held during this period, giving the faithful multiple opportunities to greet, speak with, and be blessed by Sayedna.
Early in the week, the clergy and many of the faithful journeyed with His Grace to St. Mary Church in Hunt Valley, MD to join that congregation in the celebration of their Patronal Feast (Nativity of the Theotokos). Father Theodoros Daoud and the congregation welcomed us and provided a wonderful reception after the Liturgy.
On Wednesday, September 8, Holy Cross members and others met in the Parish Hall to hear an address by Bishop Thomas' spiritual son Dr. Tristram Engelhardt, entitled "After Christendom: Living in an Aggressively Post-Christian World." The address was well-received and discussion was vigorous and thoughtful.
Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip
The annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage was held on September 24-26 at the Antiochian Village. Bishop Thomas was the presiding hierarch, and Mother Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla was the main speaker of the weekend. Both of them talked on the theme of “Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip."
The main emphasis of the pilgrimage’s theme was in learning how to live an average, workaday life in a holy, Orthodox manner. Along with the talks by His Grace and Mother Alexandra, four small group discussions were led by clergy from the area. The topics included “Confession: Setting and Resetting the Course," “The Eucharist: What’s In Your Lunchbox?," “Holy Unction: First Aid and Urgent Care” and “The Walk: A discussion of the New York Times Best-Seller by Richard Paul Evans."
The priests of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic and the Diocese of New York and Washington gathered together for their annual clergy retreat at the Antiochian Village from September 19 to 24, 2010. The special guest speaker was His Grace Bishop Michael, the bishop of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America. He spoke about evangelism in America. Evangelism, he said, involves three fronts: evangelism to ourselves and our community, evangelism to inactive members, and evangelism to the unchurched. Bishop Michael's lectures gave the priests in attendance excellent guidance on ways to minister in all three of those aspects with a view toward building a healthy and vital parish community.
In addition to the presentations by Bishop Michael, Fr. John Nosal and Fr. Joseph Butts led a discussion of the short story, “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy. The priests also gathered for a service of supplication to St. Raphael of Brooklyn at his grave site. They also had a question and answer session with Bishop Michael and Bishop Thomas, and had a discussion based on a movie. The retreat culminated with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Friday morning.
On Saturday, October 30, 2010, Very Rev. Alexander Atty will be installed as the Seventh Dean of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA. The Installation Service will begin at 11:00 A.M. at St. Mary Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA, followed by a luncheon at the Church Hall, hosted by the Board of Trustees of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. An invitation is enclosed. Cost of a ticket will be $20.00 and your reservation can be made by contacting Leda Dzwonczyk, 3210 Rosalie Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21234, not later than October 15, 2010.
All are welcome to attend the installation, but attendees are asked to return the attached form to make reservations.
For more information, please download the invitation and reservation form (PDF).
Lust, Love, Sex and Marriage: Why God Cares About Your Body
Saturday, Sept. 11
St. Paul Church + Emmaus, Pennsylvania
On Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania will host a teen retreat from 2pm to approximately 7:30pm, led by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, entitled Lust, Love, Sex and Marriage: Why God Cares About Your Body. The retreat will conclude with Great Vespers at 6pm, followed by dinner together.
What Happens After We Die
Presented by Father Thomas Hopko
St. George Cathedral
Saturday, September 11, 2010
9:00 AM – Liturgy and continental breakfast
10:15 AM – First presentation
12:30 PM – Lunch
1:15 PM – Second presentation
4:00 PM – Third presentation
5:30 PM – Light dinner
6:30 PM – Vespers
Separate program for children ages 6-12.
Suggested donation $10.00. Reservations required: 412-681-2988
The Administrative Office of the Diocese of Charleston writes:
Beloved in Christ,
May God be with you always.
The diocesan office of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic is announcing that Bishop THOMAS has been invited as a guest of a group that will be making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP has kindly given his blessing for Bishop THOMAS to make this pilgrimage. The tentative dates for this trip are the first twelve days of June in 2011. Final dates have not been set yet and may vary by a few days earlier or later. The dates will be finalized after the Antiochian Archdiocese announces its dates for the Spring Local Synod Meeting and Board of Trustees Meeting.
This trip is being led by Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky of the Orthodox Church in America in Binghamton, NY. It's our understanding that some people have been approaching Bishop THOMAS about the possibility of joining him on a trip to the Holy Land. This trip is open to you if you choose to accept the invitation. All information regarding location, visitation, fares, etc. are available through Fr. Ilya, whose contact information follows. Please only contact Fr. Ilya. Neither Bishop THOMAS nor the diocesan office will be accepting inquiries about the trip.