Skip to Navigation

Diocese of Toledo News

"Beyond the Image" Sacred Art Conference Hosted by St. Nicholas in Grand Rapids

St. Nicholas in Grand Rapids, MISt. Nicholas in Grand Rapids, MIIcons in the Orthodox Church are called "windows to Heaven." Saint Nicholas Church, Grand Rapids, MI, is opening those windows to the public in a special iconography conference on Saturday, October 15th, from 1–6 p.m. Admission is free, all are welcome!

"Beyond the Image" is an afternoon that will explore sacred art as a means of drawing near to God. Doors open at 1 p.m. A number of exhibits will be on display all afternoon, and Iconographer Brian Whirledge will demonstrate the ancient art of iconography.

A wide variety of icons from all over the world representing numerous artistic approaches have been loaned to the exhibit from the private collections of St Nicholas parishioners. In addition, there is a great line up of speakers: Mother Gabriella, the Abbess of Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan will speak at 1:30 on the role art plays in worship. After a break, Mother Olympia, the iconographer at Holy Dormition Monastery, will talk about what is involved in creating sacred art, from choosing subjects to portray: events, saints or groups of saints, to the step by step process and materials used. Mother Olympia will share how she created an indescribable masterpiece of sacred art at the monastery. Finally at 4:30 p.m., Dr. Charles Makhoul, an instructor of religious education at St. Nicholas Church, will explain the icons chosen for inclusion in St. Nicholas Church and the religious symbolism contained in those works of art.

Refreshments will be available.

Diocese of Toledo Announces Fall Meeting Schedule

Father Basil Koory and the members of St. Ignatius Church in Madison, Wisconsin are pleased to announce that our diocese's Fall Meeting will take place October 20-23, 2016. Please see the schedule, registration form, and flyer for more information!

Memory Eternal! + Dn. Bassam Alsweis

Fr. Joseph Abouid of St. George Church in Cicero, Illinois writes:

Dear Brethren in Christ,

It is with a deepened heart that we must inform you of the falling asleep into the Lord of our dear Rev. Dn. Bassam Alsweis. Deacon was an integral cog of our St. George community in Cicero and throughout.

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Cicero offers her sincerest condolences to the Alsweis/Sweis family on the falling asleep of the servant of God, Rev. Dn. Bassam Mikhael Alsweis, who passed into eternal life on Friday afternoon. Dn. Bassam was ordained into the Holy Diaconate in 2004 and has ever since served faithfully at our St. George Cicero parish.

Our sincerest condolences are extended to his wife, Sana, and their children, Natalie and Nicholas. Also, condolences are offered to his mother, Fadwa Sweis, brothers Basil and Khaled (in Jordan) and their families, sisters Manal Sweis and Nawal Sweis (also in Jordan). He is preceded in Christ by his father, Mikhael Sweis(†).

Funeral arrangement information is below:

His Grace Bishop Anthony Michaels will be presiding over the services on Tuesday and Wednesday (9/27 - 9/28).

A Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Tuesday the 27th at 7:00 p.m., followed by a Trisagion Service, and a mercy meal that will be offered by and held at St. George as well.

The Funeral Service will take place the next day, Wednesday the 28th, at 11:00 a.m. at St. George, followed by the burial at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleum (6001 W 111th St, Alsip, IL, 60803), and a mercy meal at St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church (6330 W 127th St, Palos Heights, IL, 60463) offered by the Fuheis Club.

Memory Eternal! + Khouria Loretta Mae (née Francis) Wilson

Loretta Mae (née Francis) Wilson, born June 29, 1933, in Beech Grove, Indiana, departed to eternal rest August 25, 2016. She was a resident of Greenwood. She attended Manual High School in Indianapolis and was a homemaker, wife, mother and grandmother.

Loretta was a loving and faithful companion to her husband of over 65 years, the Very Reverend Athanasius Wilson, who survives her and who will miss her for a "little while" but is confident they will be one, together for eternity.

Loretta is also survived by son Dan Wilson, daughter Deborah Fisher (Thomas Fisher), sister Kathleen Stallings, sister Shirley Caldwell, 6 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

Father George Shalhoub Offers Homily at Ecumenical Vigil Service

Feast of St. Anne
Ecumenical Vigil Service
Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Monday, July 25, 2016
"Community in Communion": Homily offered by Fr. George H. Shalhoub 

Your Eminence Archbishop Vigneron, Your Graces, Brother Clergy and my beloved neighbors,

I wish to thank you on behalf of our Metropolitan Joseph and our local bishop, Bishop Anthony.

What an awesome moment as we come together at this Holy Cathedral, celebrating Vespers in honor of a special grandmother, wife, mother and aunt, St. Anne on the occasion when the Holy Church honors her memory.

Basilica of St. Mary Hosts Diocese of Toledo PLC

By Fr. Joseph Abud and Fr. Andrew Kishler

The Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan, hosted the Diocese of Toledo’s annual Parish Life Conference, June 22–26, 2016.  We had an edifying, successful, and enjoyable conference this year, with over 800 registered attendees!  Our beloved Bishop Anthony continued to inspire us with his teaching, encouragement, and words of wisdom.  Many of our priests preached homilies and taught Bible studies, and of course our youth gave us much hope for the future of our church at the Bible Bowl, Oratorical Festival, and other events. 

Special thanks to the host priests Fr. George Shalhoub and Fr. Jim King, to the conference co-chairs Mr. Walid Matta and Mrs. Arwa Ansara, and their committee, whose tireless efforts, along with the loving and hospitable community of the Basilica of St. Mary, helped make this year’s Parish Life Conference a blessing for all who attended.

Bishop Anthony Celebrates Hierarchical Liturgy at Parish Life Conference

At the conclusion of a wonderful and successful Parish Life Conference, on Saturday, June 25, 2016, His Grace Bishop Anthony celebrated a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the priests and deacons of the Toledo Diocese.

See the photo album at the Facebook page of the host parish, St. Mary's Basilica in Livonia, Michigan.

Axios! Deacon Joseph Abouid is Ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Bishop Anthony

Deacon Joseph (Hector) Abouid was ordained by His Grace Bishop Anthony at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, IL, on June 12, 2016. He has been appointed as the Youth Priest at St. George, serving under Archpriest Nicholas Dahdal.

Bishop Anthony's Annual Mission Appeal

June 19, 2016
Great Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost

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

Today we celebrate the Great Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, which the hymnography of our Church describes as the "fulfillment of the promise and the completion of hope." Prior to our Lord's Glorious Ascension into Heaven on the 40th day after His Resurrection, He promised the disciples He would send them His all-Holy Spirit. He also instructed them that, after receiving the Holy Spirit, they should be His witnesses "in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8).

Important Updates: Read the June 2016 Midwest SOYO Newsletter!

Download the newsletter

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! The Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest would like to wish everyone a most joyous and blessed period after Pascha! As June has now arrived, most of us are preparing for an amazing summer! With summer’s arrival, this also brings the 2016 Parish Life Conference, our summer camps, SOYO Special Olympics, but most importantly, a relaxed and blessed time to devote to God.

In less than 15 days, we will all be gathered for the 2016 Parish Life Conference! With this coming up, be sure to make sure you are registered for the convention! St. Mary of Livonia, Michigan has planned an amazing conference, so be sure to get a taste of as much as you can! If you are interested in running for a position on the Midwest SOYO Board, be sure to attend the meeting. You must notify Amal or Father Mousa if you are interested in running by June 15th. Your nomination forms, however, may be turned in at the meeting. Additionally, to be eligible for our Chapter awards, make sure you fill out the chapter reports and submit them to Amal Michael by June 15th. Nomination forms as well as Chapter Report forms can be found online at

2016 Metropolitan Anthony Bashir Memorial Scholarship Applications are Available

Metropolitan Anthony BashirMetropolitan Anthony BashirThe Diocese of Toledo announces that the 2016 Fellowship of St. John Divine Metropolitan Anthony Bashir Memorial Scholarship is now available. Scholarships are awarded to worthy and needy Orthodox youth of the Antiochian Archdiocese who have resided within the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest for at least one year prior to awarding of the scholarship. Scholarships will be awarded to students of outstanding excellence in any field of study toward a baccalaureate degree in an accredited college or university.

A board of judges has the duty of selecting scholarship recipients on the basis of scholastic achievement, participation in religious life, need, character and worthiness. Two scholarships will be awarded based on academics and two will be awarded based on academics and need.

Download the scholarship application form

2016 Paschal Letter From Bishop Anthony

Pascha 2016

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

Our Church has given us the sacred sacrament of Holy Baptism to guarantee our personal resurrection from the dead. St. Paul clearly taught this when he writes: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. (Romans 6:4) Just as Jesus rose bodily from the dead and stayed with His Apostles for forty days to teach and deliver them the practices of our faith, we will rise bodily with the same recognizable features and personality traits which now and forever will identify, distinguish, and define us: only in a most purified and perfected way: I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ‘For no eye has seen, nor ear heard, no heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’ (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4) Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

We realize the Great Lent and Holy Week purifying discipline of prayer and fasting is to tame the flesh and give power to the soul in preparation to become the beautified body of the resurrection, all in anticipation of the glory to come when Christ returns at the end of time. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (at the Second Coming), who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20) We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

New Guide to Holy Week and Pascha Services Available

A new booklet by the Very Reverend Ayman Kfouf, pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania, Ohio, has been released in time for this year's observances of Holy Week and Pascha, 2016. The booklet, Journey to Pascha: An Explanation of the Holy Week Services, also includes introductions by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and His Grace Bishop Anthony.

Noted a reviewer, "Understanding the true meaning of the liturgical and theological themes of the Holy Week and Pascha allows us to participate in these services more fruitfully and profoundly....The simplified language of this guide is intended to speak to the average faithful and to help them understand the true meaning of the Holy Week services. In spite of this simplicity, however, this guide offers a complete interpretation of the vast majority of the theological and liturgical themes and practices of the Holy Week with Pascha."

Order a copy of Journey to Pascha from Amazon

Orthodox Men's Retreat in Palos Heights, Illinois

St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, Illinois, is hosting a men's retreat on Saturday, April 2, 2016. The topic is an important one: "Retrieving the Sacramental Worldview: Moving Beyond Lust and Pornography," led by guest speaker Fr. Thomas Loya.

Father Loya is well versed on the subject of pornography. He has lectured extensively on the negative impact of this addiction, and how it destroys marriages, families, our society, and ultimately our relationship with God. Thanks to the internet and today's culture, pornography is legal and readily accessible by adults and children of all ages.

All are invited to join us to learn how to prepare our children – and ourselves - to avoid the temptations, and to address the addictive behavior of this "silent killer." More information, including registration, is available here. 

St. Mary of Palos Heights, Illinois, Hosts Spring Gathering

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Mt 18:20

And in His name we were gathered, as His Grace Bishop Anthony presided over two major events in the life of our beloved Midwest Diocese: the annual Clergy Retreat and Spring Gathering. From Thursday, March 10 through Sunday, March 14, 2016, St. Mary Church of Palos Heights welcomed His Grace and the clergy and laity of the Midwest, representing 50 parishes and missions.

On Thursday and Friday 36 priests and deacons participated in a Clergy Retreat led by His Grace, who outlined for us the many ways the passions of this world can disrupt our calling and our holy ministry. There was ample time for clergy to spend time together to discuss and share their success stories and encourage one another in a spirit of love and brotherhood.

Memory Eternal! + Khouria Marguerite Shaheen

Memory Eternal! Khouria Marguerite Shaheen, wife of Archpriest George F. Shaheen (reposed), fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday March 20, 2016, surrounded by her family. 

Service information is as follows:

  • Tuesday, March 22 - Visitation and Trisagion prayers at St. George Orthodox Church in Cedar Rapids  5:00-7:00 pm
  • Thursday, March 24 - Visitation at the Cathedral of St. George in Toledo 2:00-4:00 pm; and 5:00-7:00 pm with Trisagion prayers at 7:00 pm
  • Friday, March 25 - Visitation at 10:00 am; Funeral Service at 11:00 am at the Cathedral of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral; Entombment at Toledo Memorial Park and Mercy Meal following.

If any clergy would like to serve at the funeral, they should contact Fr. Michael Shaheen, Dean of the Cathedral, at

Marguerite was born July 21, 1933 in Montreal Quebec, Canada. She married Fred Shaheen on November 15, 1959. With her husband they served parishes in Montreal, Toledo, Charleston, West Virginia, Syracuse, Louisville, Cambridge, Worcester as well as several Mission Parishes.

Antiochian Professor Moderates "Engaging Orthodoxy" Inaugural Event

On Saturday, March 5, 2016, Dr. Bradley Nassif—Antiochian author, speaker, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, and member of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church in Warrenville, IL—will be moderating a new speaker's series titled, "Engaging Orthodoxy." Metropolitan Kallistos Ware is the keynote speaker for this first event, and the Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary, along with other notable Orthodox leaders, will be the respondents. 

The event will be streamed live on Ancient Faith Radio, and more information about the event is posted on the website of North Park University in Chicago, IL, the host of the conference. 

Words of Wisdom: Reflections From Notable Antiochian Priests on Love, Faith, and Ministry

As we anticipate the start of the Lenten season in March, three of the senior statesmen in the ranks of Antiochian clergy have offered reflections for our spiritual edification: Archpriest George Shalhoub, Economos Antony Gabriel, and Archpriest Joseph Antypas.

Fr. George and Kh. Nourhad ShalhoubFr. George and Kh. Nourhad ShalhoubThe Gospel and the Orthodox Family: The Christian Meaning of Love

"As our nation celebrates the feast of love, Valentine’s Day," writes Fr. George Shalhoub, pastor of The Basilica of St. Mary, Livonia, MI, "it brings with it the measures of marketing and the things that most of us have come to believe will make the wrong right, and the right better. Valentine’s Day will be celebrated by the exchanging of love with flowers, candy, dinner or surprise trips. It has become one more thing to do because others are doing it, and many find it is easier to purchase something than act." Read more

Antiochian Women Raise Funds for Bishop Anthony's Project

The Antiochian Women of the Diocese of the Midwest and Toledo answered the call of Bishop Anthony when he requested the establishment of a Speakers Bureau Fund. To honor His Grace's Name Day, the group mailed pledge cards to each parish in the Diocese.

The parishes and individuals of the Diocese responded with typical generosity and over $5,000 was raised. "This will enable the Bishop to bring in national and international speakers and clerics to Parish Life Conferences, Spring and Fall Gatherings, and other meetings within the Diocese of the Midwest," said Cynthia O'Connor, President of the Antiochian Women of the Midwest. She further indicated that the women intend to mail out pledge cards every year, to ensure that His Grace has the funds necessary to reach this goal.

February 2016 Newsletter, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest SOYO

Christ is in Our Midst! He is and Ever Shall Be! The Midwest Diocese Teen SOYO Board hopes that you are all having a blessed winter season! 2016 has begun with a many blessings, and more to come! This past January, the 2016 Canton Basketball Tournament was a success with many great games played! Congratulations to all churches who participated and came out to Canton! If you have any pictures you want to be featured Midwest SOYO's social media pages, feel free to message any of the officers!

Download the full newsletter

Bishop Anthony Celebrates his 60th Birthday with a Liturgy and a New Set of Vestments

On Sunday, January 17, His Grace Bishop Anthony celebrated the feast of St. Anthony the Great, and his 60th birthday, at St. George Church in Canton, Ohio. The clergy and churches of the diocese also came together to purchase a new set of vestments for His Grace. May God grant our beloved bishop many, many more years!

Update Regarding the Flint, MI Water Crisis

Protestors object to unsafe water in Flint, MIProtestors object to unsafe water in Flint, MIDear Metropolitan Joseph, Bishop Anthony, beloved hierarchs, and Midwest Diocesan Clergy,

Masters Bless! Christ is in our Midst!

I want to thank everyone who has contacted me about the terrible situation the residents of Flint, MI are going through. As you may have learned, this has been going on for over one and a half years.

I wanted to let you know our parish of St. George (Flint Township) along with the 3 other Orthodox Churches in the Flint area (Assumption-GOA, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Nicholas, both Bulgarian-OCA) are located outside of the City of Flint and are not part of the crisis. Further, like most of our parishioners, all of our clergy families live in the suburbs of Flint which, again, is not affected. Unfortunately, our parish has 40 families who live in the City of Flint and will continue to live with this unbelievable problem for an undetermined period of time.

Parishes in Action: St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of Sylvania, OH

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

View the Facebook photo gallery by Rami Yazagi

On December 20, 2015, by the Grace of God and the blessings of Sayidna Anthony (Michaels), bishop of Toledo and the Midwest, the parish community of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Sylvania (Toledo), Ohio came together in a “Double Celebration” event: the consecration of the new holy utensils for the altar and the consecration of the newly constructed St. Elias Little Miracles Montessori School. Archpriest Ayman Kfouf inaugurated both projects shortly after being assigned to St. Elias as the new pastor in November, 2013. Sayidna Anthony's visit thus represented the successful culmination of over two years of hard work by the people and pastor of St. Elias’ Church. 

His Grace Bishop Anthony presided over a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The parishioners with friends and families joined the divine services in praises and thanksgiving. During the sermon, Sayidna Anthony affirmed that God took on our humanity out of love for us and to redeem the fallen nature of our humanity and to raise us to new and everlasting life with Him, in communion with His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and by His Holy Spirit.

Blessed Namesdays to Bishops Antoun and Anthony!

January 17th is the celebration of St. Anthony the Great and the namesdays 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.

Immediate Attention: Spring Gathering Information

TO: Reverend Clergy, Fellowship, SOYO, and Antiochian Women of the Midwest

Greetings on the Great Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Now that the "Holy Days" are behind us, the clergy and parishioners of St. Mary Church of Palos Heights, IL are excited to host the Midwest Spring Gathering of our Diocese and extend open arms to the entire Midwest family! The meetings are scheduled for the weekend of March 10-13, 2016. (Download the flyer)