Diocese of Toledo News
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.
In 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.'"
This reflection was written by Fr. John Chagnon of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in St. Paul, MN, about a missions trip in which he and Fr. George Dahdouh of St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, TX travelled to Africa to minister to the Ugandan Orthodox Church. The article was originally published on November 25, 2014, in the Orthodox Christian Mission Center News.
Uganda is an Oregon-sized country in East Africa, 20 hours away by air and nine time zones ahead of us, and yet, by Faith we are family. Since just after World War II, canonical Orthodoxy has been part of the life of Uganda, spread not by missionaries but rather by Ugandans themselves who sought out and found the apostolic Christian Faith they were seeking, a Faith they chose rather than accept the faiths of the colonial powers that ruled them until the early 1960's.
The Ugandan Orthodox Church is led by His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah, himself the son of the leader of those who discovered Orthodoxy and brought it to Uganda. It is a young church, vital, and working in a culture where old and new are intertwined and some traditional brick houses have solar panels to make sure the cell phones are charged every night.
When you have your wedding photo framed and hung in your home, you put that picture in the most expensive and elaborate frame you can afford. You do not think of the cost so much as the event it preserves and the feelings experienced. In this way, and with all family pictures, something more than paper and ink and color prints are present for us. It is the sacrament of the moment that counts. Material things become the conveyer or vehicle for an invisible and spiritual reality which is far more precious to us than the expense demanded to express it. Yet, if these special times in our lives are not adorned with the beauty and expense of frames and colors we would cheapen them, turn something that for us was wonderful into a common, forgotten and ordinary thing. The beauty of the material package attracts us to the lasting value of the experience which that package holds.
The icons we see in Church are material things: wood, paint, lamination, etc. But in them is the presence of the wonder-working saint.
The Winter 2014-15 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights The Diocese of Toledo & the Midwest! The issue contains:
- Trusting in the Lord, by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph
- The Beauty of the Church: Its Place and Purpose, by His Grace Bishop Anthony
- Do We Need the Church? by V. Rev. Daniel Daly, Spiritual Advisor
- Who Will Mind Our Children, by Sheryl Vander Wagen, Diocesan President
- Introducing The 2013 - 2015 Board of Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest
- The Diocese of Toledo & the Midwest Parish Life Conference in Pictures
- Happenings Around The Diocese Of Toledo and the Midwest
...and more! Download (PDF) here.
Come enjoy a weekend of spiritual retreat and fellowship with other Orthodox Christian college students. We will have discussions, daily services, and conclude the weekend by celebrating Sunday of Orthodoxy together! Registration is now open!
- Please register online at www.avcamp.org
- Cost is $95, including all meals, lodging, and activities, to be held at the Camp (bring own bed linens/sleeping bag, pillow, towels, and toiletries)
- If you have questions, please e-mail Chris Shadid at email@example.com or call the camp office at 724-238-9565, ext. 505
- Download the flyer
St. Willibrord Mission in Holland, Michigan, celebrated their patronal feast with a beautiful Vigil service on the evening of November 6 and the Divine Liturgy on the morning of November 7, 2014. Fr. Steve Van Bronkhorst, the Mission’s pastor, shared the life story of this great saint, who spread the Orthodox Faith throughout the Netherlands in the 7th-8th centuries. Members of Holland’s predominantly Dutch community enjoyed learning about the man who first introduced Christ to their ancestors, and the Mission’s members thanked their patron saint for his faithful intercessions.
There are special moments in the lives of men and women that leave an everlasting impression. If we are Orthodox Christians, these moments are those that serve to aid and empower us in our journey towards Christ. This past weekend (October 31- November 2nd) was such a moment in the life of The Basilica of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Livonia, Michigan.
In the presence of our beloved and newly-elected Metropolitan Joseph, our local Bishop Anthony, scores of clergy, and Teen SOYO from around the diocese who were present for the 2014 Fall Gathering, we witnessed with our own eyes the consecration of our holy icons in the dome of our church by His Eminence Joseph's holy hand. This moment will remain forever etched in the minds, hearts, and souls, of the faithful of our parish.
Sarah Metry Najjar, 43, passed away Wednesday morning, August 20, 2014. A lifelong member of St. Michael's Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY, Sarah was very involved in the Fellowship of St. John the Divine on the local, diocesan and national levels.
Sarah attended Sacred Heart Model School and Collegiate High School. Her love of the theatre was nursed at Walden Theatre from the age of 6, and blossomed at New York University at the Tisch School of Arts. After graduating from NYU, Sarah returned to Louisville to work for Walden and eventually as a corporate fund raiser for Fund for the Arts. After a presentation for Fund for the Arts, she was offered a position at U.S. Bank. She completed her MBA at Bellarmine University, and worked as a branch manager until marriage.
Sarah married in 2002, and in the same year, fulfilled an enduring desire to become a teacher.
By Christopher Holwey, Chair of the Department of Sacred Music
The Sacred Music Institute (SMI), held this year from July 23-27 at Antiochian Village, has been getting better each year. I'm not being biased simply in my role as the Department Chair. Rather, looking at the SMI's progression from year to year, I see the quality of our instructors, speakers, and program, improving on an academic and spiritual level.
More than ever, this year our speakers were educated and trained musically and theologically, coming from many of our Orthodox jurisdictions. They helped our participants grow in the same way, musically, technically, vocally, and theologically, in their understanding of Orthodoxy and the sacred music of our Church. We learned the hymns of our Church with regard to our theme, "Pascha," and then we presented this music in a concert, utilizing the talents of our Sacred Music Chorale and our newly formed Byzantine Choir.
Representing the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest this year at the annual NAC Bible Bowl was St. Mary Church of Palos Heights, Illinois, located in Chicago's South Side. Team St. Mary, composed of members Salena Ibrahim, Marlena Sweiss, Sandra Khouri, and Elizabeth Khouri, achieved a near perfect score of 104 points (out of 105). Under the leadership of their coach, Kh. Delia Haddad, and their clergy, Fr. Mousa Haddad and Fr. Malek Rihani, team St. Mary won first place. Afterwards, the team was congratulated by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — In the second half of the month of June, 2014, rivers across the Midwest surged over their banks, flooding cities and sweeping away summer crops as they failed to contain record summer rains that fell during the early summer. Floodwaters engulfed much of Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, in some of the worst flooding in decades. The state's governor declared a state of emergency as homes and businesses as well as vast stretches of farmland across 35 counties were submerged under several feet of water.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) mobilized to respond to the emergency needs of flood survivors in the region. IOCC Emergency Response Network volunteers as well as the local Orthodox Christian community sprang into action, with more than a dozen teens and adults from St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis traveling to Rock Rapids to roll up their sleeves and help clear out waterlogged debris from flooded homes.
The IOCC is on the scene, helping the victims of disasters in the United States, like the Midwest floods. The United States Emergency Response Fund provides immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need.
Read more at IOCC's website.
From June 25–28, 2014, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East His Beatitude John X joined with the Fathers of the Holy Synod to call the faithful from around the world to the Hill of Balamand for a conference on Antiochian unity. Appropriately, the Conference concluded with the joyous celebration of the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Antiochian Church. (Read the text of Patriarch John's homily.)
Antiochian.org has assembled a collection of photographs highlighting the Unity Conference. Additionally, the Patriarchate of Antioch's website has published photo galleries and written reports of the historic events in both Arabic and English, and galleries are also available on the Patriarchate's Facebook page. The sizable North American delegation, pictured here with Patriarch John X, was composed of bishops, priests, key department heads, and organization leaders. Members of the group will begin returning home on Monday, June 30.
The first two Parish Life Conferences (or PLCs) for the Antiochian Archdiocese have kicked off the summer PLC season with a splash! From June 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas, host parish St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Church is overseeing a lineup of events for attendees from the Diocese of Wichita, including talks by Keynote Speaker Sister Vassa Larin, as well as excursions to local attractions such as the River Walk and Sea World San Antonio. Also enjoying water access are the faithful of the Diocese of Miami, who are being hosted on June 11-15 by the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando at the Crown Plaza Hotel, with its proximity to lakes and the Atlantic coast.
The St. George Orthodox Christian Church of Fishers, Indiana, celebrated the Opening of the Doors at their beautiful new church temple on Saturday, May 10, 2014. The ceremony was followed by Vespers, with His Grace Bishop Anthony presiding. The 22,000 square foot building project began in the fall of 2012; the architect patterned the design after Hagia Sophia, as well as churches in Palestine and Syria.
"We built for the ages," the Rev. Nabil L. Hanna said of the temple, which is crowned with a gold dome fifty feet above the sanctuary.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) ministers in the United States with emergency response, community development, and supporting literacy and education. Two recent stories are a reminder of this.
Religious leaders gathered at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Chicago to dedicate more than 10,000 new books provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The trove of colorful, age-appropriate reading materials will benefit thousands of schoolchildren participating in after-school enrichment opportunities, mentoring and summer learning programs in the Chicago area. The leaders were joined by wide-eyed youngsters from some of the city's most impoverished Southside neighborhoods who were grateful beneficiaries.
This year's conferences are spread out across five weekends in June and July. On June 11-15, the Diocese of Wichita and the Diocese of Miami will kick off the PLC season in San Antonio, TX and Orlando, FL. Shortly thereafter on June 19-22, the Diocese of Worcester will convene in Boston, MA. Fort Wayne, IN, will be the site for the final June conference with the Diocese of Toledo's PLC on June 25-29. Finally, the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Eagle River, Charleston and New York, and Ottawa, will all meet from July 2-6, combining Fourth of July celebrations with Parish Life Conferences.
As always, this year's theme, love for God and neighbor, will be the focus of the Creative Festivals, a highlight of the conferences. Youth and organizational meetings, spiritually edifying speakers and services, and social events for kids and adults alike, all make the PLCs one of the Archdiocese's most established and popular traditions.
To facilitate your parish participation in the Creative Arts, Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals, all resources are available in the Festivals 2014 section of Antiochian.org. Additionally, ads for the souvenir journals can be purchased and registrations can be submitted through the Department of Conventions and Conference Planning's Antiochian Events pages.
"April 4–5, 2014, we welcomed 55 teens from the Antiochian Michigan Deanery as well as the Flint Pan Orthodox Churches to a Lenten Retreat at Saint George Orthodox Church in Flint, MI, focused on the topic of Holy Communion. We were thrilled to have teens from seven different churches in attendance, and pray that future retreats will continue to grow in size as we grow together in Christ.
"With Fr. Michael Nasser from Holy Apostles Mission in Bowling Green, KY as our amazing speaker, our teens learned about what it means to be in communion with God, with the Church, and with each other. Father Michael discussed how preparing for communion has changed over time, and how we must work to be prepared to partake today."
Registration is officially opened for the Fellowship of St. John the Divine's Spring Young Adult Retreat! Registration includes meals, lodging at the Cenacle Retreat Center, activities, and a service project. Please register before April 15!
As we continue to mourn the loss of Metropolitan Philip, your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God, the beloved Archpriest Alexander Atty. The V. Rev. Fr. Alexander, former Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary and before that priest at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY, fell asleep in the Lord early Sunday morning March 23. May his memory be eternal! Read this tribute to Fr. Alexander.
Services for Fr. Alexander are listed below.
Listen to an interview with Dr. Matthew Stiffler, researcher at the Arab American National Museum
In cooperation with The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, the Arab American National Museum of Dearborn is presenting works by the world-renowned artist Vlasios Tsotsonis from March 1-June 1, 2014. Tsotsonis' artwork is found in churches around the globe, including one of Christianity's preeminent pilgrimage sites, Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This special exhibit is titled "Sacred Scenes: Icons of the Orthodox Church" and is available for viewing in the Main Floor Gallery of the Michigan museum.
In addition to original, large-scale pieces by the artist, the exhibition explores the establishment and growth of Arab American Orthodox communities. Also included are studies for work Tsotsonis is completing during the run of the exhibition at St. Mary in Livonia, home to the artist's first U.S. pieces.
Visit the Museum's Website for gallery hours and details.
Abe Abraham, age 101, fell peacefully asleep in the Lord at his home on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. He is preceded in death by his parents, Sleyman and Zahia Abraham, brother, James and wife, Georgette, sister-in-law, Margaret, and brother-in-law, Dr. Thomas Bander.
Abe was an officer in the United States Army serving as a lieutenant in India during World War II. He was an active member of the Variety Club of Grand Rapids and a life member of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, Grand Rapids, MI, serving in several leadership roles. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America since 1955, its longest serving member. Metropolitan Philip presented him with the Antonian Gold Medal for this dedication and leadership to the church. He is also a life member of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
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.
Prayers, memories, and laughter echoed throughout St. Matthew the Evangelist Antiochian Orthodox Church and its social hall during a wonderful celebration of its 25th anniversary. Father Andrew Harmon and the parish welcomed Bishop Anthony to town to preside over the weekend celebration November 15-17, 2013. It was a doubly important weekend as November 16 is both St. Matthew's Day and the actual founding date of the parish as a mission 25 years ago.
St. Matthew traces its history back to its founding as a mission extension of St. George Church in Akron, Ohio back in 1988. With the blessing of Metropolitan Philip and the leadership and guidance of Fr. Lou Mahshie, Fr. James Meena (Memory Eternal), Father Fr. Gillquist (Memory Eternal), and the work of the mission founders and many friends, the first Divine Liturgy was on December 17, 1988. Our beloved pastor, Fr. Andrew Harmon, was assigned to St. Matthew's in January, 1990, arriving with his wife Bonnie and their four sons (one more son and a daughter have come along since then!).
On Friday November 15, Bishop Anthony began the celebration weekend by having a dinner and discussion with our deacons and sub-deacons, Parish Council, members of the Order of St. Ignatius, heads of our various ministries, and the 25th Anniversary Committee. The bishop answered many questions and focused particularly on our special responsibility as Orthodox believers to share the words and promises of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to serve those in need, and to demonstrate good will to all.