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Diocese of Los Angeles News

Diocese of Los Angeles Celebrates 15 Years of Bishop Joseph

Many years, Master!

from the Diocese of Los Angeles web site:

Orthodox Christians living in what was known then as the Western Region of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America witnessed a new dawn in 1995. For the first time in its existence, the Western Region had a permanent auxiliary bishop to pastor the immediate needs of the clergy and laity in a closer, more personal proximity. This bishop took up residence in the Los Angeles Chancery to make regular visits to then 40-some (now nearly 60) parishes and missions in eight American states and three Canadian provinces, covering the largest geographic and diverse territory of the Archdiocese. When he was asked to come to North America, and eventually the West Coast, His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH (Al-Zehlaoui) did not question it for two reasons: his obedience to the Holy Orthodox Church; and because, he says, his new assignment came about so quickly there was no time for inquiry.

Click here to read more, and to visit the Diocese's extensive photo galleries of His Grace.

Orthodox Institute Southern California + September 18, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010
St. Michael Church + Van Nuys, CA

Download Brochure and Registration Form (PDF)


Carole Buleza, Archdiocese Director of Christian Education, writes:

Dear Pastor and Church School Director,

I am writing to give you early notice of a not-to-miss opportunity! The parish of St. Michael’s in Van Nuys will be hosting an educational day very soon after the new Church School year begins--the Orthodox Institute Southern California. The Institute is a pan-Orthodox continuing-education event sponsored by the Antiochian Department of Christian Education, and the Orthodox Christian Education Commission. “Sharing Our Faith,” the theme of the upcoming event, will be presented by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick who originates the Ancient Faith Radio podcasts, “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy,” and “Roads From Emmaus.” Fr. Andrew is a priest of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic. We are inviting all who are interested in the faith, and especially those involved in church school ministry to join us for the day--

Saturday, September 18, 2010, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Homilies of Very Rev. Jon Braun Available Online

V. Rev. Fr. Jon E. BraunV. Rev. Fr. Jon E. BraunA selection of more than 30 recorded homilies by V. Rev. Fr. Jon Braun have been made available on the website Prudence True. Fr. Braun is Pastor Emeritus of St. Anthony the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church of La Jolla, CA. He also serves as dean of the Southern California Deanery of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West.

Click here for Fr. Braun's homilies. We particularly recommend the sermon, "Today's Meaning of Antioch," which highlights the Church of Antioch's roots as a mission-minded, multicultural Church born from persecution.

Click here for a biography of Fr. Braun.

Diocese of the West 2010 Fall Gathering

Diocese of Los Angeles and the West
2010 Fall Gathering + October 8th-10th, 2010
The Right Reverend Bishop JOSEPH, presiding

Hosted by Holy Virgin Mary Church, West Sacramento, CA
Registration/Dinner Reservation Deadlines: September 25th, 2010

Download Brochure and Registratrion Form (PDF)

Fr. Paul Baba of Holy Virgin Mary Church writes:

This year, we have been granted the honor by His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, to host for the first time in West Sacramento, the Fall Gathering: October 8-10, 2010. In conjunction with the Gathering, our parish will be hosting a dinner Saturday following Great Vespers, in honor of His Grace, open to everyone.

Enclosed with this memo is everything you will need to register and reserve your rooms at the Courtyard by Marriott. Please remember that the dinner is an open event, and so you can invite friends and family to come. However, we must stress that seating is limited, so book your tickets right away. All information is available online at

2010 Diocese of Los Angeles and the West Clergy Seminar Audio CD's Available

His Grace, the Right Reverend ILIAHis Grace, the Right Reverend ILIAThe Diocese of Los Angeles and the West has made a set of audio CD's featuring the sessions from the 2010 Clergy Seminar available here. Web browsers may download the CD's for free of charge using the links provided, or the series is available for purchase here. The series features the special guest speaker, His Grace, the Right Reverend Ilia, the Titular Bishop of Philomelion, of the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America. The theme, "'...but make us worthy to approach Thee by mouth and heart…':The Priest, Pastor and Spiritual Father" emphasized the high calling of the priesthood; one CD also features a talk on Albania's Church, titled "From Oppression to Renewal The Orthodox Church in Albania."

Pictures from Diocese of Los Angeles Parish Life Conference Order of St. Ignatius Dinner

His Grace Bishop JOSEPH is presented an Icon of our Lady of Saidyna for his 15th Anniversary as Diocesan BishopHis Grace Bishop JOSEPH is presented an Icon of our Lady of Saidyna for his 15th Anniversary as Diocesan Bishop

Parish Life Conference Season Ends With A Bang on July 4

Bible Bowl winners with His Grace, Bishop JosephBible Bowl winners with His Grace, Bishop JosephFor the Dioceses of Toledo, Ottawa, Charleston and New York, and Los Angeles and Eagle River, the Fourth of July holiday weekend ushered in the long-planned for Parish Life Conferences. With the Creative Festivals, liturgical worship, fellowship, and special speakers as the reward, the faithful of each diocese traveled long distances to convene over the holiday weekend. In Tucson, Arizona, the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West met at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa, thanks to the hard working parishioners of Fr. Philip Nixon's parish, Holy Resurrection. Attendees were also able to sign up for day tours to two sacred Arizona sites, St. Anthony's and St. Paisius' Monasteries.

Bishop Basil Reflects on Historic Episcopal Assembly

Recently, Bishop Basil spoke with AFR correspondent Matthew Namee about the historic assembly of bishops which took place in the week following Pentecost. His Grace was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Below are excerpts from the interview, which can be found here in full:  

"The bishops delighted in being together and doing the work of the Church."

"The ultimate task was to prepare the Orthodox (Church) of this constitute itself as a canonical, single Church.…It is a huge task, one that a vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America have been praying for, hoping for, talking about, for a long, long time."

"It’s as if the Mother Churches have said to us, ‘Look, you have been asking for this. Before we give it to you, we would like to know, what is your plan?’"


"We were blessed by the work of SCOBA….the work of the Episcopal Assembly was made quite easy by the 50 years of preparation."

"The Episcopal Assembly is comprised of every Orthodox bishop, not just the primates. We had 55 in attendance, (in New York) where the maximum of SCOBA members would have been 8."

Ancient Faith Radio has also posted an extensive interview with Fr. Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA, titled Unraveling the Episcopal Assembly. Additionally, has compiled a summary of online Assembly articles.

Bishop JOSEPH Receives Honorary Doctorate from St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Much to the surprise of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, the faculty, trustees and students of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary bestowed on Sayidna the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa. In a gesture of brotherly love in Jesus Christ, His Grace, Bishop MICHAEL (outgoing seminary dean and now Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America) personally announced the award, recognizing Sayidna’s lifelong efforts to spread the Holy Gospel everywhere he has lived and shepherded. The honorary doctorate described Sayidna as a “loyal son of Antioch and devoted father in North America, illumined educator and patient shepherd, inspiring churchman and loving archpastor.” You can read the entire citation here.

Sayidna then had the honor and distinct pleasure of addressing the graduating class of 2010, their families and friends at the 68th Commencement exercises at St. Tikhon’s. At this institute of spiritual learning and refinement, Sayidna’s message centered on knowledge, but not the secular type that traps us in this world and deprives us from the life to come. Sayidna reminded the gathering that “the Theologian is one who prays.” His Grace’s message often cited that pillar of spiritual knowledge, the ecumenical teacher St. Basil the Great. Though this archbishop of Caesarea did not abhor secular learning, Sayidna quoted him as saying “the arrogance of philosophy has nothing in common with humility.”

FOCUS North America's Youth Equipped to Serve (YES) Program Hosts Los Angeles Weekend

By Charles Ajalat

I’ve just come home from the FOCUS North America YES trip to the Fred Jordan Mission on skid row in Los Angeles and am still so excited I want to capture part of what happened, for the benefit of Orthodox Christians.

 Our group of 23, included Katrina, five older “counselors” or leaders, the young adults (7th graders through high school students), and myself. We started Friday, February 4 at noon with a two hour briefing and training session at a local Orthodox Church by our truly spiritual, truly uplifting and inspiring YES! Director, Katrina Bitar. What rapport she has with the teens and counselors, what humility, what love for the poor, what a model for our young people. God willing, she is in the process of replicating herself .

We are not only more than doubling the YES program this year but, God willing, will multiple it many times over in the near future. Preparation had been made by the staff the day and week before the YES weekend. The trip was well-planned.

Bishop Joseph Helps Lead Pan-Orthodox Retreat for over 100 West Coast Clergy reports:

At the initiative of the canonical Orthodox Bishops of the West, 106 priests and deacons gathered at Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Dunlap, California, December 1-3, 2009 for a retreat.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos [Greek Archdiocese]; His Grace, Bishop Joseph [Antiochian Archdiocese]; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin [OCA]; and His Grace, Bishop Maxim [Serbian Patriarchate] encouraged their clergy to participate in this historic gathering. Each hierarch addressed a reflection to the group during one of the services.

Nativity Greetings from Bishop JOSEPH

“Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdest all creation in the hollow of His hand. He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe. The God Who from of old established the heavens lieth in a manger. He Who showered the people with manna in the wilderness feedeth on milk from the breasts. And the bridegroom of the Church calleth the Magi. And the Son of the Virgin accepteth gifts from them. We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ. Show us also Thy divine Theophany!” (The Idiomela for the Ninth Royal Hour of Nativity)

Beloved in Christ:

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Just as our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary after she heard the proclamation of the Archangel, let each of us heed God’s word with joy and bear the fruits of the Spirit. Let us become partakers of the New Adam and the new humanity He offers us through His Incarnation, Death and Resurrection. Let us be transformed so that we may not just know about God, but know Him through the experience of His dwelling within us.

Yours in His Service,

Bishop of Los Angeles and the West

A First: The Convent of Saint Thekla Celebrates the Feast of Saint Thekla

After Sunday Liturgy, His Grace Bishop JOSEPH with Father Anthony Yazge, Mother Alexandra, Mother Miriamne and Father George AlbertsAfter Sunday Liturgy, His Grace Bishop JOSEPH with Father Anthony Yazge, Mother Alexandra, Mother Miriamne and Father George AlbertsOn September 24, 2009, His Grace Bishop THOMAS, led the Convent and many clergy, present at the Village for a clergy retreat, in celebration of Festal Vespers the evening prior, and Orthos and Divine Liturgy on the Feast at the Saint Peter and Paul Chapel.  His Grace was also able to be with us for the beginning of Pilgrimage.  We thank him for presiding at the Liturgy and for being with us.  Many years, Master!

During the September 25-27 weekend, the Convent celebrated the Saint Thekla Pilgrimage.  His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, arrived on Friday for the Pilgrimage celebration which included daily Vespers, Orthros, and Divine Liturgy.  We thank all of the clergy and chanters who served.  After the Liturgy on Saturday morning, all processed to the Shrine of Saint Thekla where His Grace led us in a Supplication Service to Saint Thekla.  Later in the day, His Grace presided at an Unction Service.  Over the course of the Pilgrimage, His Grace presented three spiritually uplifting homilies on our theme, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” and led an “Ask Sayedna” panel.

Prayers for the Faithful of Los Angeles

From the Diocese of Los Angeles web site:

Update Sep. 7: Containment efforts are moving slowly at the Station fire in the Angeles National Forest, due to unfavorable weather conditions over Labor Day weekend. A scheduled controlled burn to build more fire lines on Monday was scrapped. The blaze is almost two weeks old and has scorched 157,200 acres (246 square miles) and approximately 75 homes, but it is 56% contained. Full containment is still expected on September 15. No further deaths or injuries have been reported. Not all evacuations have been lifted, though some members of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles who live near the fire have been able to return home. Fire officials are continuing their arson investigation.

Please continue to pray to the Lord God for the souls of the firefighters who lost their lives last week, for all those who have been harmed or impacted by the Station fire and for the inferno’s speedy extinguishment.  For the latest fire information, log onto the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection website.

2009 Diocese of Los Angeles and the West Parish Life Conference

“Be mindful, O Lord, of those who bear fruit and do good works in thy holy Churches, and who remember the poor.”

This passage from the Anaphoras of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom served as the theme for the Parish Life Conferences of the Archdiocese this year. This theme resonated throughout the 2009 Parish Life Conference for the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, powerfully sounded out by the words of keynote speaker Father Thomas Hopko.

At the gathering in Santa Clara, CA, hosted by St. Stephen in nearby Campbell, Father Hopko described how the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, and the history of the Church teach us the importance of ministering to the poor. He began his opening talk making the striking observation that the phrase “with God all things are possible” is only used in context with three things in the Gospels: (1) the incarnation, (2) the resurrection and (3) Jesus saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” In his second talk, Father Hopko noted that in the book of Acts the three thousand people converted after Pentecost divided all they had with those in need and were united. He closed the session pointing out how, in Christianity today, helping the poor is the exception and not the rule, and that the Orthodox Christians in America are not united because we are not poor. In the closing question and answer session, Father Hopko acknowledged we must care for those in our lives who we are responsible for, but that we must also question what all of us really need, always bearing in mind that everything we have is from God.

Orthodox Christians of San Diego Gather to Celebrate Triumph of Orthodoxy

On Sunday, March 8, 2009, Eastern Orthodox Christians from a dozen parishes in San Diego and Riverside counties filled St. George Serbian Orthodox Church—one of San Diego’s architectural and iconographic jewels—to celebrate “The Triumph of Orthodoxy” in a Vesper service.

“I’ve dreamed of this day for fifteen years!” exclaimed Fr. Jon Braun, priest Emeritus of St. Anthony Antiochian parish in La Jolla.  While the Orthodox parishes in San Diego have been celebrating this feast day together for many years, it has been sparsely attended in the past and this was the first time in several decades that a Pan-Orthodox choir sang the responses for the city-wide Vesper service.  The chorus of 40 singers from nine different parishes was organized and conducted by Valerie Yova, Music Director of St. Anthony's Antiochian Orthodox Church.  Ms. Yova is a Founder and former Artistic Director of the Orthodox Christian Chorale of Detroit, Past President of the Pan-Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Liturgical Music and graduate of New England Conservatory. “For a number of reasons, the timing seemed right to begin a pan-Orthodox music ministry here in San Diego, and I’m very grateful to the clergy here for giving us their enthusiastic blessing!  We have so much to gain from coming together to share our knowledge and traditions!  Not just the musicians, but ALL of us.” stated Yova.

California Orthodox Bishops Issue Statement on Proposition 8

A Statement of the

Orthodox Christian Bishops of California

in support of Proposition 8:

A Constitutional Amendment to Restore the Definition of Marriage

The decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, unilaterally redefines the sacred institution of marriage in a manner unprecedented in human history — and alien to our Christian tradition. We, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, were saddened by this decision which constitutes a direct attack upon the longstanding role and freedom of religion in American life. A majority of the justices declared not only that same-sex couplings must be allowed to exist at those couples’ discretion as “marriages,” but that the state of California is forbidden to refer to these couplings as anything but “marriages.”

Orthodox Christianity holds in high regard the God-ordained institution of marriage and the family. The Orthodox Church must and shall remain true to its faith and tradition, and affirm that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, given by God to one another for mutual support, encouragement, love and the ability to bear children.

Reminder: Register for the 2008 Fall Gathering by Sept. 20

The Diocese of Los Angeles 2008 Fall Gathering will be hosted by St. Andrew Church in Riverside, CA from October 10-12. St. Andrew's will be celebrating the groundbreaking of their new Temple by His Grace Bishop JOSEPH on the concluding day, Sunday, October 12, following the Divine Liturgy.

Please fill out the Registration Form and mail it to the church no later than the September 20th deadline.

For more information, please visit St. Andrew's 2008 Fall Gathering web site.

2009 Parish Life Conference

The Diocese of Los Angeles 2009 Parish Life Conference will take place May 20-24, 2009 at St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Campbell, California.  For more information, please visit the website for the conference:

See you there! 

Bishop JOSEPH Visits 11 Parishes During Holy Week

During Holy Week, Sayidna JOSEPH visited all 11 churches of the Northern California Deanery. Here is the link:

St. Michael's Parish Honors Fr. Timothy Baclig on His 25th Anniversary As A Priest

On January 20, 2008, St. Michael's Parish in Van Nuys, California, honored Fr. Timothy Baclig on his 25th anniversary as a priest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Fr. Timothy Baclig on his 25th anniversary as a priest

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Fr. Timothy making his plate of his favorite Hawaiian Food

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Fr. Timothy thanking the parish at  the luncheon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Fr. Timothy's son Michael Baclig inviting the Parish to a Luncheon in Fr. Timothy's honorOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Parishioners setting up the Luncheon for Fr. Timothy