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Diocese of Toledo News

Bishop Anthony's Letter to Graduates

His Grace Bishop Anthony writes:

May 2015

Dear Graduates:

In the next few weeks, you will be experiencing a great milestone in your lives. As graduation approaches, we thank God for you and the accomplishments that have culminated in this great accomplishment. And as your parishes celebrate this entry into the next phase of your life, it is my joy to share in honoring your today. 

St. Paul told Timothy, who at the time was a very young man just out of his teens, to practice the traditions he has received from his mother and from the Church; and that the most important thing in his life was training in Godliness. For he said "Godliness profits in every way." We celebrate and are thankful for all of your heard work and for all of your accomplishments. But always keep in mind that your education and your dedication must be sealed with the consecration of the Holy Spirit, even as we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.

Midwest Antiochian Women Release May 2015 Newsletter

Bishop Anthony with Diocese of Toledo Antiochian Women President Sheryl VanderWagenBishop Anthony with Diocese of Toledo Antiochian Women President Sheryl VanderWagenThe Torch Newsletter is the official publication of the Antiochian Women, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. The May 2015 issue is now available as a PDF. In the issue, President Sheryl VanderWagen notes, "At this writing we are rapidly approaching mid-Pentecost. This quote from Fr. Stephen Rogers, gives us direction for our contemplation in the coming days: 'How wondrous is God's love! How grand His purposes for those who love Him! He has immersed us in the streams of eternal life. The living water that flows from the cross through the Church to Heaven itself is given by God to sustain us and nourish us in the fullness of eternal life.' Let us contemplate on those living waters as we go about our daily lives. Let us continue to remember those who are under persecution throughout the world and let us pray that the living water will also sustain them against insurmountable odds."

Read the latest issue of The Torch here.

Pentecost Letter from Bishop Anthony Encourages Support of Mission Parishes

In honor of the Holy Feast of Pentecost, Bishop Anthony encourages all churches in the Toledo Diocese to support our new missions. Missions are a sign of a living, and vibrant church, and evidence that the same Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles is with us today!

May 31, 2015
Great Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost

Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest:

Christ is in our midst!

We give thanks to God in all things as we enjoyed the blessings of the Great Fast, the Feast of Feasts, Pascha, and now our celebration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

As we read in the Holy Scriptures, our Lord asked the apostles and disciples to stay in the Holy City of Jerusalem until they received "power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The Holy Spirit gave them the power and grace to go and preach the Good News of His Resurrection. This "power" has been with the Church since that day and given to us!

This most-joyous feast represents the beginning of the Church's mission to carry the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth. From that day in Jerusalem, the Apostles followed our Lord's command to make disciples of all nations. This mission continues to this very day.

Of particular importance in the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest is the work of our nine mission parishes and our Diocesan Mission Council. Through our mission parishes, the love of God the Father and the Communion of His All-Holy Spirit in His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church have come to rest in the hearts and on the heads of so many in otherwise geographically and spiritually remote places throughout our Diocese.

Wonderworking Icon Travels to St. Willibrord Mission Station in Holland, MI

On the weekend of May 8-10, 2015, St. Willibrord Mission Station in Holland, Michigan, welcomed the wonderworking icon of St. Anna into our community. It was a tremendous blessing to have the Theotokos' mother present in this special way on Mother's Day weekend.

Archimandrite Sergius, the abbot of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, PA (Orthodox Church in America), accompanied the icon, and gave a series of talks throughout his three-day visit. He described his first-hand accounts of miracles worked through St. Anna's intercessions, and challenged the faithful to strive and make progress in their spiritual lives. He also spoke about the great importance the Orthodox faith places in the vocation of motherhood.

View more photos on St. Willibrord's Facebook page.

Thomas the Twin

With this article, His Grace Bishop Anthony has initiated a series of spiritual meditations on the Holy Apostles. The series begins with this reflection by Fr. Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL.

The Apostle Thomas, for the most part, lives in the background of the four Gospels. St. John tells us in his Gospel that Thomas was also called "Didymus," or "the Twin," but we really do not know anything about the origin of this nickname. Perhaps he had a twin brother or sister? The name "Thomas" seems to be derived from a Hebrew word which means "twin," so perhaps "Didymus" was simply his name translated into Greek. We know him colloquially as "Doubting Thomas," which is true up to a point, but still a rather unfortunate way to remember him! St. Thomas did at first doubt the Lord's resurrection, but only because he was not with the other disciples when the Lord first paid them a visit. When he met the Risen Lord, he believed!

Three times in St. John's Gospel St. Thomas rises to the forefront, and we can learn a great deal about him and about our own faith from these instances.

May 17: IOCC Syrian Relief Benefit in Grand Rapids, MI

The Syrian civil war is one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. Over 200,000 people have died including more than 10,000 children. You can help by contributing to an event to benefit the International Orthodox Christian Charities' Syrian Relief Fund. The event takes place on May 17, 2015 at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids, MI and will feature keynote speaker Mark Ohanian, who oversees approximately 300 relief workers on the ground in the Middle East including the IOCC's response to the Syrian civil war. Event donations may be made at www.iocc.org/grandrapids.

Download the flyer.

Listen: Bishop Anthony's Homily on the Feast of St. George

Listen to the homily here.

On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the community of St. George Orthodox Christian Church of Fishers, IN, hosted His Grace Bishop Anthony and area clergy for a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in honor of the Feast of the Holy Great-Martyr George. Bishop Anthony offered an inspiring homily explaining the meaning of the life of St. George, and how we can draw lessons from his life today. "My brothers and sisters, the Church is a military unit," exhorted His Grace. "We have to bivouac in the world, we have to travel in the desert...we have to fire with faith. 

"As St. George did when he confessed Christ before the soldiers—he showed them the courage of goodness and the morality of lasting love—that's what the world needs. Unless we face the fact that Christ is risen from the dead, we will never have the courage to live up to the possiblities of our own life. Each of us has a center and gift and unique talent to offer the world."

Memory Eternal! Bishop Anthony Presides at Funeral of Wade Abraham

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! !المسيح قام! حقا قام

His Grace Bishop Anthony led all of the attending clergy at the Funeral Services for Wade George Abraham of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, Grand Rapids, MI: the Trisagion Service on April 29th and the Funeral Service on April 30th.

His Grace was received by our gracious host V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Daly, pastor of St. Nicholas-Grand Rapids, MI, V. Rev. Elias Mitchell, retired pastor of St. Nicholas, V. Rev. George Alberts, former pastor of St. Nicholas, V. Rev. Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, pastor of St. George-Cicero, IL, V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Abud, pastor of St. George-Flint, MI, V. Rev. Fr. John Winfrey, pastor of St. George-Grand Rapids, Rev. Fr. Charles Hogg, pastor of Holy Cross-Dorr, MI, Rev. Fr. John Hogg, assistant pastor of Holy Cross, along with Archdeacon David Khorey, Dn. Clement Nicoloff, and Dn. Justin Adolphson all of St. Nicholas-Grand Rapids, MI.

His Grace spoke beautifully at both the Trisagion and the Funeral and also read a comforting letter from Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. Fr. Daly gave an inspired sermon reflecting on his friendship with Wade and how much he and all the faithful of St. Nicholas will miss him.

May Wade's memory be eternal with all of the saints.

Read the obituary for Wade George Abraham.

Antiochian Parish Hosts Commemoration: 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Gathering at the Basilica of St. Mary to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (Photo: Tom Beaudoin)Gathering at the Basilica of St. Mary to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (Photo: Tom Beaudoin)Father George Shalhoub, pastor of The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, writes:

Beloved,

For almost a half of century, our church community has grown to be a bridge among all people and this is a testimony of other religions and ethnic communities granting our community that honor.

On April 24, 2015, we hosted the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which over 2500 people gathered in the church, the Activity Center and outside as the relic from 1.5 million men, women and children were killed in 1915. Present was His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Archdiocese, His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel from the Romanian Orthodox Church of America, His Eminence Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Detroit Catholic Diocese and scores of clergy representing all denominations in our area.

Local News Coverage Features Kentucky Mission Parish

(Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)(Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)On April 11, 2015, Holy Saturday, a story by reporter Laurel Wilson was posted in the Bowling Green, Kentucky Daily News. In the piece "Vespers commemorates taking Jesus from the cross," Ms. Wilson wrote about Holy Week observances in the Antiochian parish there, Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission, with Fr. Michael Nasser. 

"An important part of Orthodox Holy Week is the Vespers of Holy Friday, a service to remember the unnailing of Jesus from the cross," the article noted, and quotes Fr. Michael as saying that 'It's easy to think we're doing a re-enactment. That's not what we're doing. We stop and we remember ... where they had to take the nails that had been impounded in the body of Jesus. We weren't there and we were not to imagine that we were, but Joseph and Nicodemus were, and we remember that moment for them.'"

Read the full piece here.

Antiochian Parish Featured in Toledo Newspaper

The St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania, Ohio, was recently featured in a newspaper article in The Blade, a premier Toledo publication. Archpriest Ayman Kfouf spoke with Religion Editor TK Barger about the commemorations of Holy Week and Pascha, and queried him for his thoughts about the crisis in the Middle East.

St. Elias is not "an ethnic church that is closed upon itself and that tries to alienate itself from the world," Fr. Ayman said. "Rather, our mission is to unify ourselves with the world and serve the world, because that is the mission of the Orthodox church, and the community. That's what we're doing in Toledo."

Read the full interview.

Russian Choral Group to Give Benefit Concert

On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, St. Raphael Orthodox Church (722 E. College St., Iowa City) will host the choral group Lyra, for a 7:30 p.m. concert. Lyra hails from St. Petersburg, Russia, and is composed of professional singers, most of whom have been trained at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire. During their current North American tour, Lyra is performing the sublime and soaring melodies of Russian Orthodox sacred music along with some spirited Russian folk tunes, complete with traditional costumes. St. Raphael Church's beautiful acoustics will support and enhance what is sure to be an excellent performance. A free-will offering will be taken, with a suggested donation of $20-35 per adult and $10-15 per student. A reception with refreshments, will follow. All proceeds will benefit St. Raphael Orthodox Church.

From a Washington Post Review

"...Lyra produced a pure a cappella sound that could both fill the intimate space and drop to an edge-of-your-seat whisper, and the ensemble coordination remained impeccable through even the most complex polyphony.

2015 Paschal Letter from Bishop Anthony

Pastoral Letter for Great and Holy Pascha
Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest

April 12, 2015

Dear Fathers, Deacons, and Faithful of Toledo and the Midwest Diocese,

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
!المسيح قام! حقا قام

When Adam fell, he could, from then on, only see ahead of him. Close to the ground and on his knees, his spiritual vision was narrowed to seeing only horizontally. He couldn't see above him. But from his knees he could pray.

The long Lent is over. As Holy Week begins, and as the fast returns, we begin to get up off the ground. We are ready for a standing posture not a prostration. Easter and Pascha show us we were meant to look above us in a heavenly direction.

"Christ is Risen, and there is no one left in the tombs." The humiliation of the Cross is changed into the glorification of His Resurrection. Everything has changed for me too. The Resurrection of Christ has opened the door to eternity. The limits of time that stop us from discovering the possibilities of who we are have been overcome. I see only opportunities forever in Christ. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the likeness from one degree of glory to another." (2 Corinthians 3:18).

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church Hosts Sunday of Orthodoxy

St. George Church of Cicero, IL was honored to hold the Triumph of Orthodoxy Vespers for all Orthodox churches in the Chicago area, with host Archpriest Nicholas Dahdal, seven bishops, and over sixty priests and deacons in attendance.  Click on the link below for the photo stream.

View the photo album

Midwest Fellowship Spring Gathering + March 27-29, 2015

From Julia Shaheen, president of the Midwest Fellowship:

It is time once again for the Fellowship's Spring Gathering, scheduled for March 27-29 in Cicero. Bishop Anthony is scheduled to attend as well. We would like to see a delegates from every parish for the teens, fellowship/young adults, and ladies. The flyer and schedule are attached to this email. I've posted the registration information for the hotel and the meetings on this website: https://dotamregistration.wordpress.com/

Also, we are going to do a sock drive (something easy and fun!). Everyone who attends is asked to bring one pair of socks (or more) with his/her registration. We are hoping that organizations within each parish might do a sock drive...they are going to the nuns at the Fraternite Notre Dame. So please help get the word out on this.

Thank you!

Bishop Anthony's Lenten Message, 2015

Reverend Clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest,

Christ is in our midst!

Lent is the road; the Resurrection is the destination. Lent is revival; Pascha is our arrival.

Lent is demanding and rewarding. It is hard to change, to leave the comfort zones of daily routines. And yet, there is also a freshness and happiness when we leave old habits and strike out into the mystery of what waits for us, and of whom we might become through our journey to the empty tomb. There may be strength in us that we discover has always been a part of us. For if we can reverse course, and use our spiritual energy to gain virtue instead of satisfying desire, a youthfulness comes to us. Those many desires that we have waste our energy and exhaust God’s grace in us, and as the eighth prayer in our morning prayers addressed to the Mother of God says, “I am aged by senseless sins.”

AFR Interview: "Holy Egyptian Martyrs, Pray For Us"

Fr. Nabil HannaFr. Nabil HannaFebruary 18, 2015

Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) has released an interview with Fr. Nabil Hanna, rector of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis, IN and a native of Alexandria, Egypt, regarding the recent beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians on a beach in Libya. AFR President John Maddex discusses the martyrdom of these faithful Christians with Fr. Nabil, noting the impact of the video titled "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross," released by the media arm of the Islamic State.

Father Nabil, recently returned from Egypt, describes in the podcast how the 21 men clearly had an opportunity to renounce their faith, yet chose death rather than do so. The interview closes with a prayer for the martyrs, their families, the perpetrators of these murders, and all of the faithful who live in the shadow of violence.

Listen to "Holy Egyptian Martyrs, Pray For Us"

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Milestones with Chicago Community

Metropolitan Joseph elevates Fr. MousaMetropolitan Joseph elevates Fr. MousaView the photos by Toni Milak and Sami Studio.

Between January 15– 18, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph made his first visit to Chicago as Metropolitan, to St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, IL, to join Fr. Mousa Haddad, Fr. Malek Rihani, and their parishioners. Throughout the weekend, His Eminence and the St. Mary community celebrated the tremendous growth the church has experienced since starting as a mission only eleven years ago, and looked forward in anticipation of the expansion and renovation of their recently purchased building.

On Thursday January 15 His Eminence, accompanied by His Grace Bishop Nicholas, were welcomed at Chicago's O'Hare airport by a large delegation led by Fr. Mousa and Mr. Luai Sweiss, the Chairman of St. Mary's Parish Council. This delegation included the Antiochian clergy of the Chicagoland area, local members of the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees, and parish community leaders. After the arrival of His Eminence, the group was treated to a wonderful lunch hosted by Board of Trustees member Constantin Kari.

Theophany Water Blessings Make Local News

Dn. John Mahfouz, Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church, Salt Lake City (Chelsey Allder/Deseret News)Dn. John Mahfouz, Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church, Salt Lake City (Chelsey Allder/Deseret News)On the feast of the Theophany of Our Lord or Epiphany on January 6, 2015, our Antiochian clergy and parishes journeyed to nearby bodies of water for The Great Blessing of the Waters. Several media outlets published articles and photographs from these services; excerpts and links are included below.

Deseretnews.com: "Epiphany: priests bless water, 'essence of life'"

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Orthodox Christians gathered at Sugarhouse Park Tuesday to be blessed during a service of sanctification and commemoration of Jesus' baptism.

More than 60 members of the Orthodox Christian community lined up as the Rev. Justin Havens of Sts. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Salt Lake dipped a bundle of branches into holy water and sprinkled it on parishioners' heads.

Blessed Name's Days to Bishops Antoun and Anthony!

January 17th is the celebration of St. Anthony the Great and the name's days of His Grace Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and of His Grace Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo. May God grant them many years!

APOLYTIKION OF ST. ANTHONY THE GREAT, TONE 4 

Thou didst become like the zealous Elijah in his condition, and followed John the Baptist in his upright ways, becoming a dweller in the wilderness and an establisher of the universe by thy prayer, O Father Anthony. Wherefore, intercede thou with Christ God to save our souls.

Memory Eternal! + Ann Kafoure Freije

Fr. Nabil Hanna of St. George Church in Fishers, IN writes:

Beloved in Christ,

I regret to inform you that Ann Kafoure Freije left us for the heavenly mansions on Friday, January 9th, 2015. A lifelong member and tireless worker here at St. George's, we will miss Ann as much as we rejoice in her well-deserved rest. As a testament to her faithful service, she was a recipient of the Midwest Antiochian Women's Metropolitan Philip Award as well as of our parish's St. George Award.

New SOYO Spiritual Advisor Appointed for Diocese

Fr. Mousa HaddadFr. Mousa HaddadFr. Patrick KinderFr. Patrick KinderArchpriest Joseph Purpura, Department of Youth Chairman, reports:

For several years Fr. Patrick Kinder has served the youth of the Diocese of Toledo exceptionally well. We are very grateful to Fr. Patrick for his good work. We pray that the next six months, in which Bishop Anthony has granted Fr. Patrick a sabbatical period of rest, are very fruitful ones.

With the blessing of Bishop Anthony, Fr. Mousa Haddad of Palos Heights, IL, has been appointed as the new Spiritual Advisor for SOYO for the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. I ask that you give him your full cooperation. Please pray for both of them.

Father Mousa Haddad is the pastor of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Palos Heights, IL, Chicago's southwest suburb. Father Mousa was born the eldest of four children. His parents immigrated to the United States from Jordan, making Chicago's southwest side their new home. Growing up, he was very involved in the Church, serving in the holy altar from a very young age.

Climacus Conference To Discuss the Theme of Beauty

The fifth Climacus Conference, featuring the theme "BEAUTY, Truth, and Goodness Will Save Us," is scheduled for February 13-14, 2015, at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY. The conference is a pan-Orthodox intellectual and spiritual event featuring scholars and voices across the fields of Theology, Philosophy, Patristics, Classical Education, Literature, History and Politics. It is unique in that it provides an opportunity for people to be enriched by thinking well across disciplines. It furthers the life of the mind through scholarly engagement with the classic liberal arts, but approaches such an endeavor through the spiritual nous, the mind of the heart, enabling our ascension "of the ladder" (κλίμακος), as inspired by St. John Climacus and his Ladder of Divine Ascent.

OCCHY Offers Videos on Substance Abuse Prevention

The Antiochian Archdiocese's Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) is a unique national alliance founded and supported by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Archdiocese. The ministry focuses on establishing, training and leading substance abuse prevention and intervention coalitions across America.

On May 22, 2014,  OCCHY's active Cicero, Illinois Coalition hosted a Town Hall Meeting for parents and teens, titled "Underage Alcohol & Substance Prevention." Sponsored by the federal government's Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration, the meeting featured law enforcement and mental health professionals, who presented talks about how to ensure safety and sobriety for teens. The presentations are available on YouTube and may be viewed on OCCHY's website.

Toledo Blade Features Metropolitan Joseph Enthronement Story

St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church, Sylvania, OHSt. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church, Sylvania, OHIn the December 10, 2014 edition of a Toledo, Ohio newspaper, The Blade, the enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph was described by Blade Staff Writer Tom Troy. "Local members of the Antiochian Orthodox church rejoiced Saturday in the enthronement of a new leader for the church in America, with hopes for expanded unity and outreach to youth tinged with concern for persecuted Christians in Syria," wrote Troy.

The article quotes the local priest and several parishioners extensively. 

"The Rev. Ayman Kfouf, pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Church in Sylvania, welcomed Metropolitan Joseph as 'a son of Damascus' and one who is very close to the church patriarch, the head of the international church in Syria.

"'He is very educated, he is very experienced,' Father Kfouf said. 'He is very active in the way of protecting the Christians in the Middle East in general and in particular in Syria.'"

Read the full report