News and Articles
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.
Come home to the Village for Alumni Weekend 2011 - November 4-6, 2011! Alumni Weekend is a time for all Village alumni (any former campers, CITs, counselors, staff, volunteers) to come back to the Village for a weekend of renewing old friendships and remembering old camp memories. This Alumni Weekend is very special for two reasons. Each year, the first Saturday in November is when we celebrate the feast of St. Raphael of Brooklyn who is buried at the Village. Secondly, we will celebrate the 10 year memorial of our first Camp Director, Fr. John Namie, of blessed memory (+November 5, 2001). Fr. John was the guiding force behind the development and guidance of the Village program, which is the foundation of the program still used today.
The Antiochian Village Camp is now much more than a summer camp! In the fall of 2010, an Environmental and Outdoor Education Program was founded. The Antiochian Village Camp has continually been improving facilities and practices in order to incorporate “green” practices and sustainability. The Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is another step that we are blessed to take in our commitment to stewardship. The mission of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is to increase understanding and awareness of our environment, stimulate critical and creative thinking, develop the ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues, and instill the confidence and the commitment to take responsible action on behalf of the environment. The program is available from September through May for any interested group.
The primary focus of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is, as our mission statement states, to ultimately increase participants’ knowledge and awareness surrounding our environment.
All men, single, married, and of all ages are welcome to join us for an Orthodox Men’s Retreat led by Fr. Meletios Webber. Antiochian Village will host this popular event, on the weekend of June 17-19.
Participants will enjoy a weekend of fellowship, learning, worship and relaxation (not to mention Chef Tim’s Fabulous Grilled Salmon cookout on Saturday evening!) with a schedule that is intentionally designed to provide a balance of all of these elements.
The atmosphere is casual and there will be free time to explore the woods, shoot some hoops, or even take in a round of golf at nearby Champion Lakes Golf Course.
Here’s what one of our guests had to say, “These retreats are a perfect mix of structure, content, connection, support, and enjoyment. They have a profound effect on participants; my personal experience included. Thank you for producing this and other retreats. They are life changing!!”
~ John, attendee at Men’s Retreat
Consider bringing your parish men’s group! Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
Contact Barli Ross at Antiochian Village:
Phone: 724.238.3677 x425
You wouldn’t think it would be possible to make the Antiochian Village even more beautiful than it already is, but the NAC Special Projects Committee is trying. Nestled just off of the main track visitors will now find a newly installed Prayer Garden, designed around a simple theme. A stone pathway encircling the central area leads to an icon shrine dedicated to St. John the Divine, patron saint of the NAC Fellowship. Inside the mulch-covered central area, a single dogwood tree stands. In the large mulch area outside the pathway are stone benches, a few plants, and room to expand!
This Prayer Garden sprang to life through a combination of Fellowship planning, a Boy Scout working hard to give something back to a place he loves through his Eagle Scout Project, a team of volunteers who offered up sweat and hard work, and the Grace of God.
A planting in this prayer garden is a lovely way to honor, remember, or pray for someone you care about. For a donation that will just cover the cost of materials, the NAC Fellowship will take care of all the details.
Zach Simons, Director of Marketing and Sales, reports, "Thursday night the Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center experienced a small fire in the first floor level industrial laundry room. Everyone was evacuated from the building, and the Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department came swiftly, followed by several other area fire departments.
There is no structural or water damage to the facility, and there were no injuries.
The fire started in a commercial dryer and remained contained to that room thanks to our safety systems operating properly and, by all accounts, the quick thinking and bravery of our Executive Director Paul Finley, who reportedly thrice entered the room with a fire extinguisher to deal with the problem.
All guests, residents, and employees were back in the building shortly after the incident, and business continues to operate normally.
The Village would like to thank the Fairfield VFD for their leadership and bravery in dealing with this incident... kudos to them!"
An important alert for prospective Antiochian Village Campers:
"Camp is filling up. If you haven't registered for Summer Camp and our Sacred Arts Camps don't wait because it may be too late (see this chart for space availability). Take a minute to check out the AV Video above. Watch it now! Then register for camp. Keep in mind that it is very important that you read the directions on our Registration page. Please note that a registration is not complete unless you complete a $100 deposit and you receive a confirmation email stating that your child is registered for camp."
The Mission Statement of the Antiochian Village states: “The mission of the Antiochian Village is to present to young people a living experience of the Holy Orthodox Faith, in their relationship with God and other campers in an uncluttered, natural environment.”
For those of you who were blessed to have known Fr. John Namie, of blessed memory, you can’t help but remember him as that “living experience.” If you didn’t know Fr. John personally, but you are a “Villager” undoubtedly your Village experience was rooted in the lessons of love of God & each other that Fr. John’s leadership taught and exemplified.
At its inception, His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip saw the Village as “a new spiritual dimension to our lives.” Certainly this is true! From our time together at the Village, we have been blessed with a more personal experience of God’s love through unforgettable memories & lifelong friendships and also with indelible life lessons.
Fr. John imparted to us all, through his own actions, valuable tools to aid us in our quest to live the Christian life. We learned about unconditional love, sense of community and how our actions impact others. We learned the value of humility and to be well aware of the dangers of vain glory.
Antiochian Village Museum Curator Julia Ritter invites you to glimpse the architectural beauty of ancient Christian Syria through the latest exhibit at the Antiochian Heritage Museum.
From the lofty arches of a fifth-century church, to an elaborately carved palace doorway, the stone churches and homes of ancient Christian Syria were built from large, hand-carved blocks of stone, with often graceful results. Remarkably preserved for over a thousand years, these buildings of early Christian life and worship are presented in a series of photographs from the Princeton University archives, taken during American archaeological expeditions to Syria between 1899 and 1909.
The goal of the Syrian expeditions was to study, measure, draw, and photograph the ancient buildings, inscriptions and monuments of Syria, many of which had been abandoned for over a thousand years. Expedition leader Howard Crosby Butler was a Professor of Art and Archaeology, and founder of the School of Architecture, at Princeton University. Braving extreme desert conditions, travelling on horseback, and accompanied by a donkey caravan carrying limited supplies, Butler and his team eventually documented over two hundred ancient sites. Butler recognized the rare and extraordinary opportunity that lay before him: though in a state of partial ruin, these were original buildings, dating to the first centuries after Christ (and earlier), many of them untouched by the renovations of subsequent generations.
Registration is still open for the Third Annual St. Emmelia Homeschooling Conference at Antiochian Village. The packed schedule from March 31st through April 3rd, includes side by side sessions for kids and parents, complimented by daily liturgies, akathists, and evening programs. Experienced home educators will tackle a range of workshop topics from the practical ("Drawing with Children") to the sublime ("Building Community").
On the weekend of April 8-10, Fr. Michael Ellias will lead the Antiochian Women of the East through their Lenten retreat with the theme, "Diligence in our Spiritual Life." A few weekends later on April 29-May 1, Dr. Vigen Guroian will head up the Village's "Weed and Feed" service weekend. Dr. Guroian is an Orthodox author and professor of religious studies in Orthodox Christianity at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. His most recent release, The Melody of Faith: Theology in an Orthodox Key, has been well received by Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.
Antiochian Village announces a "Weed and Feed Weekend" with guest speaker and author Vigen Guroian, April 29-May 1, during Bright Week.
Bring your gardening gloves, tools, and friends for a great weekend getaway that promises to feed your body and soul while you provide much needed help sprucing up our gardens. It's a $50 PER PERSON WEEKEND PACKAGE which includes 5 meals, 2 nights of lodging, speaker sessions, a day of gardening work, liturgical services, and great fellowship!
Wrapping up a busy schedule of winter events, Antiochian Village served as the host for the "Men in Black" Clergy Appreciation Luncheon on February 22. The Village's first event was the January winter camp session. These two events bookmarked several key conferences and meetings which took place in the very busy month of February.
During the first weekend in February, the traditional mid-winter meetings were held for SOYO's leadership. Reports Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department for Youth Ministry, "The February 4-6, 2011 Midwinter Meetings of SOYO brought over thirty teens and advisors from across the archdiocese. SOYO continued its work begun at the 2010 SOYO Leadership Conference. The SOYO Diocesan officers reported on their progress and shared ideas with one another. SOYO Officers continued the development of their leadership skills, as Fr. Fouad Saba explored the scripture and its relationship to leadership. Elizabeth Mamey, a past NAC SOYO Officer, came back to SOYO to share with our current group of officers the skills she learned through her SOYO and Leadership training experiences. It was a weekend rich in fellowship, spirituality and accomplishments for SOYO."
Then on February 8-12, about two dozen OCF chaplains gathered for their three day conference to discuss the theme "Following Christ through Crisis."
"Following Christ through Crisis" is the theme of the 2011 Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Chaplain Conference, which will be held at Antiochian Village on February 8-10, 2011. This yearly conference, composed of clergy and lay leaders of local OCF chapters, will feature Antiochian priest Fr. John Abdalah in the keynote sessions. Fr. John, a licensed counselor, is a seasoned OCF chaplain who has worked at the University of Pittsburgh. Fr. John is also a founder of the Orthodox Pastoral Counseling Institute in Pittsburgh.
A variety of mini-clinics will be available, featuring topics such as "The First Two Weeks of the Semester," and "Developing Continuity in Student Leadership."
Twenty scholarships covering all travel and registration costs are going to be awarded to qualified applicants, thanks to a matching grant offered by The Lilly Endowment for the Theological Exploration of Vocations. Current OCF chaplains as well as those interested in the chaplaincy are eligible and encouraged to apply.
Antiochian priest Fr. Michael Nasser, OCF's North American Chaplain notes, "It's simply the way things are: the great majority of college students today will face multiple crises during their college years. Most students do well until a crisis hits, and that's when many lose their way. We hope we can better equip our chaplains to help our students get through these challenging times, holding fast to Christ and His Church as their anchor." Click here for more information and here to register.
For all interested applicants, the Antiochian Village deadline for summer camp staff is fast approaching. All applications need to be postmarked by February 1, 2011. Explains the website summer staff page, "Members of the Summer Camp Staff are responsible for carrying out the Mission of the Antiochian Village, which is to present to young people a living experience of the Holy Orthodox Faith in their relationship with God and other campers in an uncluttered, natural environment. They must help strengthen the Camper's grasp of the basics of the Christian life: participation in the liturgical, sacramental, and ascetical life of the Church and living in community with fellow members of the Body of Christ with peace towards all of God's creation. But being a counselor isn't just another job where you are required to do certain tasks and never end up seeing your efforts come to fruition, it can and most likely will be, one of the most spiritually fulfilling experiences of your life."
Click HERE to download a staff application.
The Antiochian Village Camp now offers a Sacred Arts Program that includes Byzantine Chant and Iconography camps for teens 14-18, parish workshops on Byzantine Chant and a Byzantine Notation Workshop for adults 18 and up. For more information visit our website http://antiochianvillage.org/camp.
Fishers, IN – December 27, 2010
The North American Office of Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) announced today the details of its 2011 Chaplains Conference, to be held at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA, on February 8-10, 2011. The annual gathering of clergy and lay leaders of local OCF chapters will focus on the theme of “Following Christ through Crisis,” with the goal of equipping chaplains and lay leaders to help students remain strong in their faith and in the pursuit of their calling even in the midst of crises, be they personal or interpersonal, emotional, physical or spiritual.
Designed to offer practical learning in the field of campus ministry, the keynote sessions will be offered by Fr. John Abdalah, a veteran OCF Chaplain at the University of Pittsburgh and licensed counselor. A variety of mini-clinics will be offered as options, with focused topics ranging from “The First Two Weeks of the Semester,” to “Developing Continuity in Student Leadership.”
Twenty scholarships covering all travel and registration costs will be awarded to applicants, with majority funding coming through a grant from The Lilly Endowment for the Theological Exploration of Vocations. Current OCF Chaplains as well as those interested in this rewarding ministry are encouraged to apply. Scholars will in turn submit written reflections on their own vocations as campus ministers.
Fr. Michael Nasser, OCF’s North American Chaplain and one of the organizers of the Conference, said this about the focus of this year’s conference: “It’s simply the way things are: the great majority of college students today will face multiple crises during their college years. Most students do well until a crisis hits, and that’s when many lose their way. We hope we can better equip our chaplains to help our students get through these challenging times, holding fast to Christ and His Church as their anchor.”
By Mary Salim, Antiochian Village Camper
St. George Church, Little Falls, New Jersey
“Just thirteen insigniﬁcant days at camp, out of the seventy-ﬁve days of the carefree summer, will ﬂy by with hardly any memories,” was what I said to myself the entire time before I reached the Antiochian Village, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I dreaded the mere thought of having to go, and the activities that I eventually would do with absolute strangers. You need to know this if you’re going to see how beautifully I was surprised.
I was presented with many joys to the eyes: the countless trees wavering in the winds, ﬂowers blooming, shaking shrubs in which little animals lived, different-colored stones in the earth, the hills screening the horizon, and singular birds soaring through enormous blue skies. Being in the midst of God’s wonderful creations moved me; I felt blessed and in harmony on God’s good earth, as if I were in His beautiful Garden of Eden. This peaceful scene struck me as a preview of heaven, a foresight of our ultimate destination, to be one with God in Paradise.
St. Herman Middle School Retreat
For Students in grades 5-8
Antiochian Village Conference & Retreat Center
December 10-12, 2010
“Walking In The Footsteps of St. Herman”
Retreat Leader: “Uncle Paul” Finley
Questions? Call Barli Ross in Orthodox Programs
724-238-3677x425 or send an email
Carol and Paul Swydan of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts visited the Antiochian Village this past weekend, bringing with them two wooden trays of Arabic lead type, and framed pages from a 1935 issue of the weekly newspaper “Al-Hurriat/The Liberty,” which was published in both English and Arabic by Paul’s grandfather, Shokri Swydan, in Worcester, Massachusetts. The title of the featured newspaper article reads, “The History of the Church of Antioch – Chapter 3.” (See photo.)
This summer, Patricia and Stephan Rudawski of Pflugerville, Texas organized a donation for the museum - a treasure trove of items from the Nahas family heritage, such as books, vestments, photographs and liturgical items which belonged to Patricia’s grandfather, V. Rev. Nicholas A. Nahas. The donation includes a beautiful framed Epitaphios, its edges hand-embroidered by his wife, Kh. Anna Nahas circa 1940.
Corgette and John Troutman of Newcastle, Pennsylvania recently brought to the museum items that belonged to Corgette’s father, Albert Joseph, of Newcastle, PA, including two sets of elegant Middle Eastern clothing which had been presented to Mr. Joseph by the King of Saudi Arabia, and a small travelling case full of sample Arabic records which he would bring to church picnics so that people could listen to the music, and order their favorite records from him (before the days of the digital download!).
By Valerie Zahirsky
“Everywhere Present and Filling All Things”: The Holy Spirit or the Clergy Wife? was the theme of the second annual Clergy Wives Weekend, held at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA from October 29-31. Over 70 wives of priests, deacons, and wives of seminarians headed for ordination from all across the country – including Alaska! - came together for this pan-Orthodox weekend of prayer, reflection and informal, enjoyable fellowship.
The program included a welcome on Friday night by Maria Abdalah, daughter of Kh. Joanne Abdalah – in whose memory the Weekend is dedicated. Presenting a short overview of the Weekend’s focus, and how we have experienced the Holy Spirit since the dawn of creation, Kh. Stefanie Yazge set the stage for the Weekend’s speakers. The evening concluded with Little Compline. (Click HERE to view a photo gallery of the weekend.)
The Fellowship of St. John the Divine
2010 FSJD Fall Retreat
Friday-Sunday, October 8-10, 2010
Full retreat Recap (PDF)
For the 2nd Annual Fellowship Spiritual Retreat to the Antiochian Village, a luxury motor coach transported over forty of our Christian parishioners to Pennsylvania for a spiritual journey. We thank all the committee (Eddy Shaheen, Nicole Dahdal, Laura Mraibie, Abdo Imseeh). We thank Fr. Fouad Saba for his guidance and applaud Dn. Jim King for his invigorating sessions. We thank all of the volunteers, donors and registrants. Each aspect of the trip was well-organized and prepared much in advance. The committee set up a weekend full of worship services, sessions with Dn. Jim King of St. Mary's Livonia, MI, meals, team building exercises, fun, education and fellowship. Every person who came on the trip, whether a returnee from last year or a first time participant gave something dear to the overall wonder that this Retreat provided us.
We received, as one body in Christ, far greater than we gave individually. This Fellowship tradition has quickly become something truly unforgettable. A time to reawaken what may lie hidden underneath, to search for a more Christ-like mission in life, and a renewal of "every good and precious gift that comes from above." Our theme was "Fork in the Road: Choosing God's Way." After this trip, we are all on the same page as to what road we shall take, that of Christ Jesus.
To read reflections from participants and see more photos from the retreat, please download the retreat recap (PDF).