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Diocese of Toledo News

Who Is Our Peace? + A Reflection on the State of the World Now

by Fr. George Shalhoub of the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan
A sermon delivered Sunday, November 15, 2015, in the wake of the terror attacks in Beirut and Paris


In the light of the constant atrocities, murder, suicide bombings, the war ravaging the world today, I wish to share with you the following:

As we enter the Holy Advent Season, we shall also gather, as families, to celebrate Thanksgiving in the midst of a world gone mad. We need to keep our eyes open through prayer to Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, for the salvation of the world.

Metropolitan Joseph Appoints Bishop Anthony as Sacred Music Dept. Overseer

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has appointed His Grace Bishop Anthony (Michaels) as the new hierarchical overseer of the Department of Sacred Music. Paul Jabara and the entire Department of Sacred Music welcome His Grace with open arms and look forward to many years under his tutelage. 

Watch Bishop Anthony's lectures on Pascha, presented at the 2014 Sacred Music Institute (SMI) 
Part I
Part II

Photo gallery of 2014 SMI with Bishop Anthony as Keynote Speaker, by Paul Jabara

Memory Eternal! + Nicholas Ramacciato

Nicholas Ramacciato reposed in the Lord on November 4, 2015. Nick and his beloved wife Francis had been married for over 52 years. They have a son, Nicholas Jr., a very successful businessman in Central Florida.

Originally from the Bronx in New York City, Nick and Francis had made Orlando home for the last thirty-five years. They had been in the restaurant business for many years, having owned and operated various Italian restaurants, before retiring to Orlando. 

Nick was one of the kindest, most gentle gentleman you could ever meet; at the same time he spoke his mind without any limits. That's how he came to become a part of the St. George family. Almost 25 years ago on a summer afternoon, Nick sparked up a conversation with St. George's pastor, the Very Reverend Fr. John Hamatie. Father John and Nick became friends and some years later Nick and Francis converted to the Holy Orthodox Christian faith.

St. Mary's Church in Goshen, IN to Celebrate the Feast of St. Raphael with Mother Gabriella

On Saturday, Nov. 7, Mother Gabriella, abbess of Holy Dormition Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan, will join St. Mary Antiochian Church in Goshen, Indiana, for the feast day of our beloved St. Raphael Hawaweeney.

Divine Liturgy begins at 8:30 am, and then Mother Gabriella will give two talks on the subject "Being Human."

Diocese of Toledo: St. George Church in Indy Hosts Successful Fall Gathering

This year's Clergy and Laity Fall Gathering, our diocese's annual Delegates' Meeting, was hosted by St. George Church of Indianapolis/Fishers, IN, under the leadership of Fr. Nabil Hanna and with the assistance of Dn. Joseph Hazar. The Fall Gathering (formerly Midwest Delegates Meeting) is an opportunity for our diocese's clergy, lay leaders, teens, and others to meet for spiritual fellowship and to work toward a common vision for the year. This was the best attended Delegates' Meeting in many years, with a total of 203 participants made up of 32 Clergy, 70 youth, 41 Ladies, 32 Young Adults, and 28 Men.

The aim of this gathering was to offer something to every group so that the members of this diocese could come together as a family. The meetings began on Thursday, October 15 and 16 for the Clergy. Sessions were offered on the subject of youth ministry by the Director of the Antiochian Village, Fr. Anthony Yazge, as well as a session by His Grace Bishop Anthony.

The theme for the weekend was "Village at Home," where the staff of the Antiochian Village brought aspects of summer camp to the parish.

Bishop Anthony is Keynote Speaker at Orthodox Family Camp in Minnesota

Photography by Nick Barakos

Where on earth would you find Bishop Anthony worshipping with Greek, Antiochian, Romanian, Serbian, Russian, and Chinese families in one place? At Family Camp, October 2-4, 2015, north of Minneapolis, Minnesota! For over a decade, members of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West St. Paul, MN, have helped organize a pan-Orthodox Family Camp that includes parishioners of over a dozen Orthodox churches in the Minnesota area.

This year, we were blessed to have Bishop Anthony of Toledo as our main speaker. Over 160 people spent the weekend in a beautiful retreat setting with our Orthodox friends from all different churches learning about how to live as Orthodox Christians in a secular world. Captivating, inspiring, and entertaining, Bishop Anthony recapped the change in American culture over the decades and spoke with passion about the world we live in. Not to leave us depressed, he offered solid instruction for survival in such a changing world.

Reflections on the Visit of Our Primate to St. George of Troy

by Fr. Joseph Antypas

The visit of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to St. George Church in Troy, Michigan was such a blessing that it brought parishioners together around their father in Christ, who wanted to get to know them and to enjoy the fellowship with his spiritual children whom God has given him. The theme of his visit was taken from Isaiah 8:16 which read: "Behold, I am the children whom God hath given me."

St. Ignatius teaches: "Where the bishop is there is the church". This does not mean that the church is the bishop alone. Rather, it means that there is no bishop without his people. The bishop is the bishop of a certain geographical region (diocese, archdiocese, or patriarchate). There is no such thing as 'bishop at large'. So where the bishop is there you have all fabrics of the whole church; men, women, the youth, and the children, all forming one symphony, with cooperation and synergy, with Christ as the corner stone of the structure, and to the effect that there is one shepherd, and the logical sheep, that together are given the full understanding of spiritual life and church membership.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph endeared himself to all parishioners who listened to him during the past weekend. Throughout his meetings with the members of the parish council, the ladies of St. George, and our teens, he brought them the message of hope and love. With humility, he told us not to give up on our priorities of keeping silent and serene before God in a true and genuine prayer. He appealed to us to be attached to our spiritual roots and identity as Orthodox Christian believers, and he encouraged us to be one in Christ, so we may be led into full unity in Christ.

Diocese of Toledo SOYO Newsletter, October 2015

Christ is in Our Midst! He is and Ever Shall Be! The Midwest Board hopes that you are having a great start to the 2015 school year! If you couldn't already tell, the year is flying by! Not only is October the beginning of Fall, but October marks the beginning of Youth Month!

Throughout the month, SOYOs all across the Archdiocese take on a lot of responsibility, but most importantly, grow closer to their faith during this month. Like last year, we will have a Youth Month Challenge for your SOYO to send us pictures! Your pictures will put you in a drawing to win the package of a gift card to your favorite pizza place, prayer ropes, and an icon! Some examples your SOYO can do is Epistle readings, help out with candles, ushering, collecting trays, and raise money on SOYO Special Olympic Awareness Day October 18th!

Read the full newsletter

Memory Eternal! + Edward S. Khouri

Fr. John Ojaimi writes:

EDWARD S. KHOURI, age 83, passed away peacefully and has returned to his heavenly home on September 18, 2015 at home in Parma, Ohio surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Aramoun, Lebanon, and immigrated to the United States in the year 1955. In 1962, shortly after his arrival to Cleveland, Edward founded the iconic Middle East Restaurant in Cleveland, which he owned for over four decades. His warmth, generosity and love for all will be greatly missed.

Edward became a close friend to our beloved Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory, since he was the priest at St. George of Cleveland. Their friendship continued and strengthened until the day when His Eminence joined the community of the saints.

Midwest Clergy and Laity Fall Gathering + October 16-18, 2015

The 2015 Midwest Clergy and Laity Fall Gathering will be held on the weekend of October 16-18, 2015 and hosted by St. George of Fishers, Indiana. There will be a 'Village at home' theme providing a similar schedule of events as those held at the Antiochian Village camp. Register early before October 1st for $35 and after for $40. There will be fun for all ages!

A flyer, registration form and a parental consent/teen code of conduct form are attached below to fill out and send. Please register soon! 

Bishop Anthony's Pastoral Greetings for the Church New Year

September 1, 2015
Church New Year or Indiction

Our own family circle is stronger and closer and as in a family, our lives revolve around and are involved with the cycle of feasts and fasts of the church. The beginning of the Liturgical year, September 1st, puts us into this rhythm of worship.

The church has established twelve great feasts, including Pascha (Easter), called the "Feast of Feasts". There are eight Feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ and four great Feasts of the Holy Mother of God, the Theotokos. There are also many important secondary feasts, such as the feast day for St. Nicholas on December 6th and St. Elias on July 20th. There are special Saints days for local churches like St. Herman of Alaska on December 13th, or St. Raphael of Brooklyn (1st Saturday of November) or St. John of San Francisco on July 2nd.

Diocese of Toledo SOYO Newsletter, September 2015

2015-2016 Midwest SOYO Board with His Grace Bishop Anthony2015-2016 Midwest SOYO Board with His Grace Bishop AnthonyThe Diocesan SOYO Board for the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest has released their September 2015 newsletter. They write:

"Christ is in Our Midst! He is and Ever Shall Be! The summer is now coming to a close, and most of us are returning back to school, and preparing for an amazing year of "Living the Orthodox Faith in Christ!" This summer was very busy for many as the 52nd Archdiocese Convention took place in Boston!

During the convention, we participated in Leadership Training to better serve you and your SOYO. Feel free to contact us and ask questions! We can help! It was a very successful meeting, as we discussed meeting etiquette and past, present and future events. We were very blessed to meet His Beatitude Patriarch John X and had a chance to ask questions! What a blessing!"

Read the full newsletter.

Assembly of Bishops to Convene Sixth Annual Meeting in September

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America will hold its sixth annual meeting September 15-17, 2015 at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel.

This year's meeting will include two sessions devoted to canonical regional planning. In the first of these sessions, the Assembly's 12 jurisdictional first hierarchs will have an opportunity to offer their comments on a proposal that has been prepared by the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning for submission to the Great and Holy Council in 2016. In the second session, the Assembly's hierarchs will engage in a facilitated discussion about the proposal. This year's meeting also includes a working session on pastoral practices of marriage and divorce.

On Tuesday evening, September 15, the Assembly will sponsor a pan-Orthodox youth gathering for high school and college students in the Chicago area. The event will provide an opportunity for dialogue between the youth and a panel of hierarchs. The hierarchs of the Assembly request the prayers of all clergy, monastics, and laity for a spiritually fruitful meeting.

View the agenda for Assembly VI
Download a flyer for the youth gathering

Memory Eternal! + Archpriest Louis Mahshie

Memory Eternal! Archpriest Louis Mahshie, longtime proistamenos at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Akron, OH, reposed early this morning, August 27, 2015. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time. Father Louis is survived by his wife Khouria Corinne and their children and grandchildren. Condolences may be sent to
Funeral arrangements are as follows:
His Grace Bishop Anthony will preside at all services, which will take place at St. George Orthodox Church, 3204 Ridgewood Road, Akron, OH 44333, or call (330) 666-7116.

Monday, August 31st
Visitation 3-8pm
Funeral for Clergy at 7pm

Tuesday, September 1st
Visitation 9-10am
Divine Liturgy followed by the Funeral Service 10am
A Meal of Mercy follows (a private, family interment takes place after the meal)

Overnight accommodations can be made at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn; call 330-867-5000.
For more information or questions, please contact assistant Pastor Fr. John Al-Assaf,

The Visit of Our Father in Christ, His Beatitude John X

By Fr. Joseph Antypas

During the recent visit of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, who was accompanied by a group of hierarchs and clergymen, it became clear to many people that the Patriarch is compassionate, serene, and that when he addressed audiences, he spoke from the heart. He addressed the faithful of our Archdiocese, whether individually or collectively, with warmth and compassion. He emphasized the bond of unity that holds all Antiochian clergy and laity who live in all parts of the earth. His appeals for Syria and the Arab world come from his heart. "We want peace; we do not want to be toys in the hands of the super powers. Leave us alone and we shall find a solution for our problems." His Beatitude repeatedly emphasized that Christians and Muslims have lived together for hundreds of years, in peace and tranquility. He stressed the fact that all assistance that is provided only to the Christians in Syria and denied to the Muslim population is not acceptable. "I am in peace only when my Muslim neighbor is in peace." He prayed fervently for establishing peace and harmony in the homeland.

Assembly of Bishops to Host September Youth Gathering in Conjunction with Chicago Meeting

His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland & the Mid-Atlantic, writes:

A Youth Gathering will take place on Tuesday September 15, 2015, during the Assembly of Bishops Meeting in Chicago. Please pass the word – All young people are invited.

When: Tuesday evening, September 15, 2015
Where: Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral - 5701 North Redwood Drive - Chicago, IL 60631
Who:  High school and college students from the Greater Chicago area with the bishops of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox bishops of the United States
What:  A dialogue between our Orthodox youth and the bishops of the Assembly

As of now I believe there will be:

1. A service – led by the Assembly of Bishops
2. Perhaps a discussion with the youth prior to the service to gather questions and prepare them for the event and help them to get to know each other
3. A Question and Answer period with a panel of bishops and the high school and college students
4. Food to follow

Please get this news out, and bring your young people to this event.

2016 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference

The 2016 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference will be hosted by the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan. Dates are Wednesday to Sunday, June 22-26, 2016.

Please check back for more information.

Midwest Diocese PLC Award Winners

The 2015 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference was held from June 24-28 and hosted by St. Nicholas Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Photos from the 2015 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference

Award winners from the 2015 Midwest Diocese Parish Life Conference:


1st Grade

  • 1st Place: Emma Stahlbert, St. George, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • 2nd Place: Moe McArthur, St. George, Toledo, Ohio
  • 3rd Place: Gianni Khoury, St. George, West St. Paul, MN

2nd Grade

  • 1st Place: Grant Johnson, St. Matthews, N. Royalton, OH
  • 2nd Place: Elay Maalouf (2), St. George, Cicero, IL
  • 2nd Place: Phillip Haddad (2), St. Mary, Palos Heights, IL
  • 3rd Place: Marky George, St. George, Akron, Ohio

Available on YouTube: Watch the Speech of Oratorical Festival Winner Salena Ibrahim

Fr. Mousa Haddad of St. Mary Orthodox Church, Palos Heights, IL writes:

In the Oratorical Festival of the 52nd Convention of the Antiochian Archdiocese, held in Boston, MA, Salena Ibrahim of St. Mary Orthodox Church competed against all the winners from the other dioceses and impressed the judges once again with her amazing speech, winning first place!

Great job​. We are very proud of you!!! It takes a lot of hard work and determination to prepare for these competitions, and to compete at the diocesan and archdiocesan level. May God bless you and be with you always​. Mabrouk!!!

View Salena's speech on YouTube.

Memory Eternal! + Marie Ansara

Marie Ansara, 89, has returned to her heavenly home on July 28, 2015 in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She was born on November 22, 2015 in the town of Aita El-Fokhar, Lebanon where she grew up in a loving family with 6 siblings. For the past 38 years she made Michigan her home where she was surrounded by wonderful family and friends. She is survived by her brother Andrew Ansara and her two sisters Violette Matta and Nazek Kehdy. She was a tremendously devoted and loving aunt as well as great-aunt to many nieces and nephews. After a long battle with illness she is finally reunited with her beloved parents, brother and sisters who preceded her in death and whom she served with immense care and passion.

Marie was a lifelong member of St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Livonia Michigan where she will be laid to rest. The viewing will be held at the church on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 from 5-6 pm for immediate family. Visitation will follow from 6-8 pm.

The funeral will be held on Thursday July 30, 2015, at St. Mary's Church with final viewing from 10-11 am and funeral services will begin at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request that donations in her memory be made to "St. Mary's Building Fund".

May she rest in peace and may her memory be eternal!

St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle

His Grace Bishop Anthony has initiated a series of spiritual meditations on the Holy Apostles. The reflection by Fr. Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL, is the second in the series.

Few saints are as prominent in our Eastern Orthodox tradition as St. Andrew the Apostle. Various early traditions recount his missionary travels throughout Eastern Europe: what is now Greece, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia. Our "first among equals," the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, is known as the successor of St. Andrew. Indeed, St. Andrew is dear to the hearts and minds of many Orthodox Christians worldwide.

But before he became the patron saint of some of the most prominent Orthodox nations and sees, who was he? He appears in all four Gospels as one of the Twelve Disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel of St. John informs us that he was the first of the Lord's disciples, hence St. Andrew's title in Greek, "Protokletos" (First-Called). He is not as prominent a personality in the Gospels as some of the others, particularly his more boisterous brother Simon Peter. But St. Andrew is always there, just below the surface. And by observing the few times he rises to the surface of the Gospels, we can discern something about his personality, his close relationship with his Master, and his role as a guide and intercessor for the Holy Church today.

Michigan SOYO Teens Participate in Pan-Orthodox Mission Outreach

The young members of our parish—the SOYO of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Livonia, MI—just returned from a trip that made history. We were all so blessed to participate, support, and watch this holy work take place!

On July 18, our twelve teens: Ibrahem Alrabady, Melissa Ansara, Celine Barghout, Pascal Barghout, Hani Kandalaft, Marisa Khamis, Joseph Nicolas, Michael Nicolas, Elena Saliba, Natalie Samaan, Katerena Sirhan, and Kaila Ziadeh, and two trip leaders, Christina Stavros and Michael Ansara, traveled four hours north on the first ever, 2015 SOYO Summer Mission Trip, to help "build up" the first Orthodox church in Traverse City, MI, the Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church. To our knowledge, this is the first mission trip, ever, in the history of our parish and, perhaps, the first time one mission parish has offered to help a mission parish in another Orthodox jurisdiction build their church.

Diocese of the Midwest Concludes PLC in Grand Rapids, MI

Concelebrating PLC clergy at St. Nicholas Church, Sunday, June 28Concelebrating PLC clergy at St. Nicholas Church, Sunday, June 28Father Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL reports:

Our 2015 Midwest Diocese Parish Life Conference took place June 24 to 28, at the Beautiful Amway Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Thank you to Fr. Daniel Daly and the people of St. Nicholas Church in Grand Rapids for hosting us!

Read about the winning Bible Bowl team.

Congratulations, Team St. Mary!

Father Mousa Haddad of St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, IL writes:

It's a "Clean Sweep" at the Parish Life Conference in Grand Rapids, MI! We brought home the Bible Bowl and the Oratorical Trophies!

Team St. Mary had an incredible performance in Grand Rapids, MI, during the Midwest Diocese Parish Life Conference held from June 24-28, 2015.

On Thursday, St. Mary's Teen team won first place in the Bible Bowl Competition. Congratulations to the members of the team: Marlena Sweiss, Salena Ibrahim, and Matthew Ibrahim. Our team will represent the Midwest Diocese at the National Bible Bowl competition that will take place during the Archdiocesan Convention next month in Boston.

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.