Diocese of Los Angeles News


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

OCA.org 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,

+ JOSEPH
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: http://www.plc2009.org/

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: http://www.antiochianladiocese.org/pastevents/2008/holyweek.htm.

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