News and Articles
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has tasked the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America (AOWNA) with a new fundraising project for 2012-2013, “The Antiochian Village Tornado Relief Fund.” Between 2010 and 2012, the AOWNA women in chapters across the U.S. and Canada raised over $315,000 for the Convent of St. Thekla at the Village, and will now turn their attention towards another project to benefit the Archdiocese's "Holy Mountain."
In the late afternoon of June 1, 2012, a tornado with winds of 110 mph cut a wide swath through the Village grounds in Bolivar, PA, damaging over fifty acres. Thankfully, no camp counselors or staff received injuries, and no outside groups were using the Village at the time. However, the tornado damaged 600 trees and twenty-two buildings; four of the buildings were completely new cabins set to house sixteen girls each.
It’s a place we call home, a place where our youth gather every summer, a place where relationships are formed and strengthened, a place that is so difficult to leave, and a place where Christ is truly present. This special place is the Antiochian Village Camp, a family that has influenced our Archdiocese for many years in inexplicable ways. I have been involved with the Village for the past fifteen summers— nine as a camper and CIT, and the past six as a staff member. Every year I fall more in love with the Village, the ministry, and the Orthodox Church.
The influence the Camp has had on our youth is incredible! I have grown up at St. Mary’s Church in Johnstown, a small town in Western Pennsylvania. I have seen the effect the Village has had on our youth in my home parish, our diocese, as well as the youth from around the country.
The Antiochian Heritage Museum, housed in the Heritage and Learning Center on the grounds of Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA, is currently showcasing an exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of the luxury cruise ship Titanic's tragic maiden voyage. The display honors the memory of those who perished in the disaster, as well as the faith and perseverance of those who survived. Through the stories of a few lesser known passengers and one famous one, the exhibit explores several unusual "Titanic connections."
Museum Curator and Librarian Julia Ritter chose the featured stories because they connect both to the history and lives of earlier Americans, and also to the heritage and roots of Antiochian Christians, thus offering an particularly unique perspective on one of the most dramatic tragedies of the modern era.
"Oh your mark, get set, go!" Antiochian Village's annual 5K Trail Run will benefit the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, and many runners have registered to participate in the event, slated for Saturday, October 6, 2012. Special Olympics PA provides year-round training and competition in 23 Olympic-type sports, to more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. One hundred percent of the AV5K Trail Run registration fee goes to Special Olympics.
Antiochian Village is an ideal setting for this event. At this time of year, spectacular fall color will welcome runners and walkers of all ages on a moderately challenging wooded course. Prizes and refreshments will be awarded at the finish line.
The run comes just two weeks before Special Olympics Awareness Day, which is sponsored by SOYO and aimed at raising funds to underwrite the Village's summer Special Olympics program.
Registration will be open the day of the Run at 9 a.m. in the Village Conference Center.
Pilgrims gathered for the annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage at the Antiochian Village from September 21-23, 2012, joined by presiding hierarch His Grace Bishop Thomas, and the Abbess of the Convent of St. Thekla, Mother Alexandra. The Pilgrimage began on Friday evening with Great Vespers, followed by dinner, a showing of the Oscar nominated movie "The Help," and a discussion led by Fr. Anthony Yazge, Antiochian chair of the Department of Camping.
On Saturday, the Pilgrimage continued with a Hierarchical Liturgy at St. Ignatius Chapel at the Camp, followed by fellowship at brunch and an afternoon of activities which included workshops and discussion on "The Family and the Media" and "The Sacraments." Pilgrims also attended the Supplication Service to St. Thekla with anointing with oil from the Shrine in Maíaloula, Syria, and enjoyed a Chapel tour with Village Director Paul Finley. Afterwards, there was time for prayer, rest and reflection, and an opportunity to tour the Antiochian Heritage Museum.
The deacons of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic met with His Grace Bishop Thomas Joseph for their fourth annual retreat. This year, the retreat was held jointly with the annual Saint Thekla’s Pilgrimage at the Antiochian Village, September 21-23. For the first time, deacons from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and the Orthodox Church of America also participated in response to Sayedna Thomas’ invitation to deacons from all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions who had received a blessing from their hierarchs to attend.
It is with great joy that we announce the 4th Annual Clergy Wives Weekend at Antiochian Village, held on November 9-11 in memory of Khouria Joanne Abdalah.
Kh. Joanne served as an inspiration as a counselor to many. She understood the need for clergy wives to find strength in Christ and in each other, and she believed every clergy wife needed to discover and develop her vocation. This is the fourth annual retreat held in tribute to her life and her commitment to clergy wives.
- Mother Magdalena, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Ellwood City, PA: "The Peace that Passes Understanding"
- Khouria Janet Shadid, licensed social worker (LSW) and counselor: "Bullying: Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself"
One of the most beautiful aspects of our Orthodox worship is the hymnography that is sung by chanters and choirs to lead the congregation in prayer. Antiochian Village's Byzantine Chant Workshop is designed for beginner and intermediate levels. Time will be spent chanting exercises / melodic formulas and liturgical hymns from music and text. This emphasis on learning and practicing formulas provides a learning environment for people with basic knowledge or no knowledge of the Byzantine Tones. All music is presented in western notation and will focus on the following three components:
The Diatonic Tones: Heirmologic/Brief Melodies
In this workshop participants will study the Byzantine Diatonic Scale and the Heirmologic / Brief melodies for Tone 4, Tone 8 (Plagal Four), Tone 1 and Tone 5 (Plagal One). Emphasis will be placed on learning to sight read western notation using the Greek scale (Ni, Pa, Vou, Gha, Dhi, Ke, Zo, Ni), chanting liturgical text appropriately and changing between Tones.
With Session Three in full swing at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, the camp's website asks, "Have you ever thought about what happens at the Antiochian Village during summer camp? Are you wondering what your children, grandchildren or siblings do while they are at here? Well, we have a way to give you a glimpse. This year we have our own staff photographer, Nicole, who is taking photos every day and night. We typically get the photos and a brief description of the day posted to our Summer Memories page by midnight. So check it out each day and see the Village come to life."
Bishops and clergy from across the Archdiocese have gathered this week at Antiochian Village for the 17th Biennial Clergy Symposium, a time of reflection, fellowship, and learning. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian House of Studies are the hosts for a full week of speakers, sessions and events. The Archdiocese is honored also to have in attendance His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Argentina.
The theme of this year's gathering is Ministry to the Youth: "Let no one despise your youth" (1 Timothy 4:14). Highlights include keynote addresses on such topics as "Issues of Spiritual Development and Youth", "Issues of Sexuality", and "Issues of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse"; an evening Camp Program presented by Village Camp youth; a grand dinner with Metropolitan Philip; and more.
Ancient Faith Radio will be providing recordings of selected presentations and sessions. See AFR's special section on the Symposium here.
A wonderful event that will be taking place at Antiochian Village this autumn! As you may know, Antiochian Village is the burial place of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. Many people each year come to visit his burial place as they also attend the St. Thekla Pilgrimage. The 2012 pilgrimage will take place during the weekend of September 21-23. This pilgrimage is sponsored by our Convent of St. Thekla, with the assistance of the Convent's abbess Mother Alexandra, and will be overseen by His Grace Bishop Thomas.
In addition to the usual events of the pilgrimage, this year we will also have a deacon's retreat in conjunction with the pilgrimage. For information about this retreat, please contact Dn. Gregory Roeber (email@example.com).
As Orthodox Christians, our lives are a type of pilgrimage, so why set time aside to attend the St Thekla Pilgrimage? The key is in "setting aside." We invite you "to set aside all earthly cares" and to join us in refocusing and refreshing ourselves in our Orthodox life. Like St Thekla, Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles, together we will pray at the Divine Liturgy and services, obtain guidance and direction from the Gospels for our lives at home, and enjoy fellowship with other pilgrims.
Through the intercession of Saint Thekla, may this Pilgrimage be blessed!
Questions? Please call 724-238-3677 x425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Finley, the Executive Director of Antiochian Village, recently spoke with Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) about an icon workshop that will be held at the Village from August 4th through the 12th, 2012. The course is "Icons: Creation Through Prayer," and the instructor will be Cheryl Ann Pituch, an iconographer who previously taught at the Department of Christian Education's 2010 Orthodox Institute.
Participants will stay at the Village the week of the class, and by its conclusion will have completed an icon of the Archangel Michael.
In the AFR interview, Paul Finley explained the background for the workshop. "We're reinstituting this program after years of not having this at the Village," he noted.
Fourth Annual Deacons' Retreat
September 21-23, 2012 + Antiochian Village
His Grace, The Right Reverend Bishop Thomas Joseph of The Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic announces The Fourth Annual Deacons’ Retreat at the Conference Center, Antiochian Village, Friday to Sunday, September 21-23. (The retreat will be held simultaneously with the St. Thekla Pilgrimage and priests and laity are invited and urged to attend those sessions.)
“For the Son of man also came not to be served, but to serve. . . .” (Mark: 10:45)
The featured speaker and retreat master will be the Reverend Dn. Paul Zaharas, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Metropolis of Denver (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America).
Amy Stiffler, Director of Event Services and Inside Sales for Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, announces that the information about the Seventeenth Biennial Clergy Symposium is available for download.
The Symposium is being held at the Village's Heritage and Learning Center from July 16-20, and is sponsored by the Department of Theological and Pastoral Education. Registration begins at 2:00 PM on Monday afternoon, July 16, 2012.
This year's theme is "Let No One Despise Your Youth," from I Timothy 4:14. The morning addresses will focus on youth related topics and concerns, and will be offered by noted speakers. Fr. Meletios Webber, a monastery abbot, family therapist and author, will address the issues of alcoholism and substance abuse. Bishop Anthony will speak on youth and sexuality, and Metropolitan Savas will speak on spiritual development in youth.
The Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black recently held their Annual Ancient Christianity Conference at Antiochian Village, from May 25-May 27. His Grace Bishop Thomas was a featured guest; audio of the Opening Addresses and Sessions is available on Ancient Faith Radio.
The Brotherhood posted the following letter of thanks from Vice-President Carla Thomas:
Greetings in Christ,
Dear Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Thomas,
How refreshing it is to have the Lord's shepherds to be so supportive of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black.
The 2012 BSMB Annual Ancient Christianity Conference was held at the Antiochian Village 5/25-5/27. The conference is supported by a grant from Christ the Saviour Brotherhood. 75 men, women and children attended the conference. The lectures are available on Ancient Faith Radio.
The staff at Antiochian Village writes:
You may have heard that a tornado hit the Antiochian Village Camp and St Thekla Monastery on Friday, June 1st at approximately 5:20 PM. Thanks to our gracious and loving God, the members of our staff were in St Ignatius Church at the time praying the Paraklesis to the Mother of God when the tornado struck. No one was hurt. However there is extensive damage at the camp. We have hundreds of trees down and eighteen of our buildings were impacted by the tornado and tree debris. We have already started the clean up process. We have much work to do to get the camp back in shape. Please keep us in your prayers. We will provide updates as we have more information.
The staff update from June 3 reads:
Thank you for your love and support as we bounce back from the tornado. We have received many offers of help in the clean-up process. Under the advice of our insurance company, at the present time we are NOT accepting volunteer help. We are using professional services as much of the initial work can be quite hazardous. If we get to a point where we can use volunteer help, we will put a call for your assistance. Thank you again for your outpouring of love. We are so thankful to God for our safety and all of the wonderful people who are ready to pitch in.
The staff update from June 10 reads:
Antiochian Village's annual St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschool Conference began on Thursday evening, March 8th with an Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children. The next two and half days offered a very full schedule which included Lenten liturgical services, delicious Lenten meals prepared by our kitchen, lots of fun and fellowship, over 15 workshops for parents to choose from, and enriching workshops for children ages 3-18.
Generally, the people who attend the conference bring their children with them, so we work hard at trying to make this a very family-friendly experience. This year's attendance was approximately 85 adults and children (over the age of 3 yrs. - we don't count all the babies/toddlers!). Not only did we offer the workshops for children during the day, we also provided evening programming for children so that parents could attend the keynote sessions together.
Antiochian Village's website reports, "Unbelievable! We are quickly closing in on 1,000 campers and CITs registered for this summer's camping season! That's unheard of, or at least surprising this early in the spring. You must have heard about the terrific staff we are hiring.
In a few weeks, we will be introducing our staff to the world. In the meantime, if you have not registered, you might be able to find a space or two in a few sessions--check availability here. Also in the works is a brand new cabin 11 & 12 located between cabins 5 & 6 and the Health Center. If all goes well it should be ready by the first session and possibly even in time for Family Camp. This summer is going to be unbelievable."
Don't miss out, register today!
Fr. Anthony Yazge is going to be honored as the Al Senavitis Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient for the service that he has offered to Special Olympics athletes through the Special Olympics training camp which he oversees at Antiochian Village every summer.
The Hall of Fame Dinner and Auction is set for May 16 in Philadelphia, and is one of the Olympics' largest and most formal fundraising events of the year.
The Special Olympics of Pennsylvania website explains that the Hall of Fame program "honors athletes and volunteers who have made outstanding contributions both on and off the field of competition. The dual purpose of this prestigious event is to raise public awareness about the talents of our athletes and raise the funds necessary to sustain the incredible growth of the Special Olympics movement....We have thousands of success stories of individuals who have benefited from participating in SOPA. But each year we choose only four athletes and two volunteers who have demonstrated positive integrity and continued loyalty to the Special Olympics program, thereby upholding the honor of the organization."
The event raises about $200,000 each year for the Special Olympics.
The retreat is billed as a way for couples to attend to their marriages through small group discussions, marital assessment instruments, and inspiring lectures all set within the context of the liturgical life of the Church. In addition to participating in these more serious activities, couples will also enjoy a wine and cheese night, a candlelight dinner and dance, and a movie night.
This year’s speakers are: Drs. David and Mary Ford, Associate Professors at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and co-authors of the book, Marriage as a Path to Holiness: Lives of Married Saints; Fr. John Mefridge, a marriage and family therapist and founding priest of St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Antonio, TX; and Dr. David Weaver-Zercher, professor at Messiah College in Grantham, PA.
A historic January 2012 Orthodox Christian Youth Worker Conference, endorsed by the Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, is planned for all Youth Workers, Camp Directors and Staff, and OCF Chaplains. The conference runs from Wednesday January 25 to Saturday January 28, 2012 at the Antiochian Village Conference Center and will be hosted by the Departments of Youth Ministry and of Camping of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
This 3rd Annual Fellowship Spiritual Retreat to the Antiochian Village was another memorable weekend for its 54 participants, a new Retreat record. The coach rides to and from, informative sessions led by Dn. Saed, and the Antiochian Village as the backdrop, provided the opportunity for renewed and heightened fellowship in Christ. This year marked the joining together of two Fellowships, from St. George, Cicero and St. Mary's, Alsip. It was uplifting and inspiring to see different parishes share in fellowship in one faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All in attendance were filled with such positivity, a feeling of togetherness and renewed awareness of their faith.
We thank the Retreat committee (Rammy Zanayed, Eddy Shaheen, Angela Sweis, Elaine Riadi, Nicole Dahdal, Khalil Haddad, Laura Mraibie, Dn. Saed Rihani and Fr. Fouad Saba) for their tireless efforts in planning and ensuring this retreat's success. We thank our generous sponsors, volunteers, any well-wishers, and especially all 54 registered participants. We were honored and blessed to have the amazing Dn. Saed Rihani serve as our main speaker. A debt of gratitude goes as always to Fr. Fouad Saba for his unrecognized efforts. From worship services, sessions, nature walks, travels, bonfires, singing, team building exercises and meals, the Fellowship worked, ate, bonded, grew, laughed, learned, celebrated, and worshipped together.
The weekend of November 4-6, 2011 was indeed a very special weekend at the Antiochian Village. Coming together with old and new friends and reminiscing about our memories of camp would have been quite enough to make it a full weekend, but there was even more. Alumni Weekend coincided with St. Raphael of Brooklyn’s feast day, so we were able to celebrate the Great Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgy at St. Ignatius Church, praying at the site of his holy relics. November 5, 2011 marked the 10 year memorial of our first Camp Director, the Rt. Rev. Archmandrite John Namie of blessed memory. Campers and staff that have been influenced by Fr. John’s guidance and love, both directly and indirectly, came together for Alumni Weekend to remember his ministry at the Village, to pray for him, and to still learn from him through videos of him.
“Clergy Wife: Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend” was the theme of the third annual Clergy Wives Weekend, held at Antiochian Village, from October 28-30. This year’s Weekend was not only successful, but will probably go down in history as unique, thanks to Saturday’s snow storm! (See a snow photo in the photo gallery here.) Fifty one wives of priests, deacons and seminarians, from as far away as Texas and Colorado, came together for this pan-Orthodox weekend of prayer, reflection and informal fellowship. However, five of our “commuters” did not make it because of the unseasonal storm that dumped 6-8 inches of snow at the Village.
Saturday morning’s speaker was Mother Christophora, abbess of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City. Her encouraging words began with reminding us that we are first and foremost daughters of God our father and the Church our mother. In that relationship we find our true selves, and our salvation.
Under the direction of His Grace Bishop Thomas, twenty-four priests from the Antiochian Dioceses of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic and of New York and Washington gathered together for their annual clergy retreat at the Antiochian Village from September 20th to 23rd, 2011. The priests from last year's retreat selected the V. Rev. Fr. Alexander Atty, Dean of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, as the guest keynote speaker for the week.
Fr. Alexander gave a series of lectures pertaining to “The Priestly Life.” He spoke of the priest as as a spiritual architect, a good shepherd, a confessor, and a husband and father. The priests were very edified by his words that come from many years of experience as a pastor laboring in the vineyard to the glory of God.
In addition to these lectures, several priests gave intimate reflections on their personal experiences in the life in Christ as pastors. Kicking off the retreat, Fr. John Nosal, led a discussion on selected portions of the biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose. Fr. John Dixon, spoke of the priest's rule of prayer as a foundation for his ministry. Fr. Gregory Long, spoke of how to get through the priest's terror of being speechless when he is needed. Fr. Joel Gillam, noted how humbling and edifying it is to meet with fellow priests, while observing how the Lord has manifested Himself in their lives. Fr. Charles Baz, gave a beautiful word on St. Joseph of Damascus, the patron saint of this annual clergy retreat.