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An Unimaginable Experience

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 + Antiochian Village, December 10-12

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

Click here to download registration form (PDF)

Questions?  Call Barli Ross in Orthodox Programs
724-238-3677x425 or send an email

New Donations to Antiochian Heritage Museum

Carol and Paul Swydan present their donation to museum curator Julia Ritter; November 2010.Carol and Paul Swydan present their donation to museum curator Julia Ritter; November 2010.The Antiochian Heritage Museum expresses special thanks to three families who recently presented donations to the Museum’s permanent collection:

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!).

2010 Clergy Wives Weekend Inspires and Refreshes

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.)

2010 Fellowship of St. John the Divine Fall Retreat a Success

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).

Antiochian Village Hosts 5K Run to Benefit Special Olympics

Antiochian Village 5K Trail RunnerAntiochian Village 5K Trail RunnerOn October 2, the weather was perfect at Antiochian Village, where a 5K Trail Run through the trails at the Village raised funds for the Special Oympics of Pennsylvania. Barli Ross, the Program Coordinator and Paul Finley, the Director of the Antiochian Village Conference Center, welcomed the runners, who registered and warmed up before the start of the race. One lucky young "runner" was pushed along by his mom in a stroller, but the others kept up their own brisk pace through the Village paths just beginning to display fall colors. All of those who ran as a part of the Special Olympics team, have raced in other venues, and some on the team were even former gold medalists.

At the race's conclusion, door prizes were awarded, as well as medals, and refreshments were enjoyed by the participants. Watch the start of the race on YouTube, and view photos of the race on Antiochian Village's News page.  

Job Opportunity at the Antiochian Village

Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center

Outside Salesperson

Looking for a job opportunity in beautiful Western Pennsylvania?  The Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center is seeking a qualified and experienced individual in the lodging and tourism industry to generate new business for our God-protected ministry just six miles north of Ligonier, Pennsylvania.  This position is full time and compensation includes a base salary, commission, health and dental benefits.  If you already know what “SMERF” means and have had success in this market - this may be the job for you. 

Job Description   

TITLE:                         Outside Sales

REPORTS TO:             Executive Director

BASED AT:                  Antiochian Village Conference & Retreat Center

EDUCATION LEVEL:  College Graduate (preferred)

Antiochian Village Icons Exhibited at St. Vladimir's Seminary

Julia Ritter, Curator and Librarian for the Antiochian Heritage Museum and Library, reports that the Museum’s traveling exhibit was viewed by many at St. Vladimir Seminary's Education Day on Saturday, October 2, in Crestwood N.Y.  As the headline exhibitor, the Village's display of icons and rare books fit in well with this year’s theme of “Many Cultures, One Faith.” Enthusiastic viewers enjoyed browsing the attractive exhibit which was set up in the seminary's beautiful library space. St. Vladimir's website reported on the event here.

Deborah Finley accompanied Curator Ritter; both were able to talk with many visitors and families who appreciated the exhibit, and who were eager to learn more about both Antiochian Village and the unique resources of the Village Museum.

 

Annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage Focuses on Everyday Life

Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip

The annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage was held on September 24-26 at the Antiochian Village. Bishop Thomas was the presiding hierarch, and Mother Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla was the main speaker of the weekend. Both of them talked on the theme of “Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip."

The main emphasis of the pilgrimage’s theme was in learning how to live an average, workaday life in a holy, Orthodox manner. Along with the talks by His Grace and Mother Alexandra, four small group discussions were led by clergy from the area. The topics included “Confession: Setting and Resetting the Course," “The Eucharist: What’s In Your Lunchbox?," “Holy Unction: First Aid and Urgent Care” and “The Walk: A discussion of the New York Times Best-Seller by Richard Paul Evans."

Mid-Atlantic and New York Priests Gather for Clergy Retreat

The priests of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic and the Diocese of New York and Washington gathered together for their annual clergy retreat at the Antiochian Village from September 19 to 24, 2010. The special guest speaker was His Grace Bishop Michael, the bishop of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America. He spoke about evangelism in America. Evangelism, he said, involves three fronts: evangelism to ourselves and our community, evangelism to inactive members, and evangelism to the unchurched. Bishop Michael's lectures gave the priests in attendance excellent guidance on ways to minister in all three of those aspects with a view toward building a healthy and vital parish community.

In addition to the presentations by Bishop Michael, Fr. John Nosal and Fr. Joseph Butts led a discussion of the short story, “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy. The priests also gathered for a service of supplication to St. Raphael of Brooklyn at his grave site. They also had a question and answer session with Bishop Michael and Bishop Thomas, and had a discussion based on a movie. The retreat culminated with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Friday morning. 

The Bucket List: Orthodox Seniors' Retreat + October 24-26, 2010

The Bucket List
Orthodox Seniors' Retreat
October 24-26, 2010
Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center
Download Flyer (PDF)

Have you made your “Bucket List”? Join us at Antiochian Village, Sunday, October 24th through Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 as we look at what God desires for us and from us as we journey into our later years in life. This retreat is geared for our faithful with more life experience (a.k.a. seniors) to join together in discussion about living a vibrant spiritual life in our twilight years, to worship in faith, and to enjoy each other’s fellowship.

For more information, including complete schedule and registration form, please download the event flyer (PDF), or contact Antiochian Village.

Clergy Wives Weekend 2010 + October 29-31 at Antiochian Village

A pan-Orthodox gathering of spiritual refreshment and fellowship in memory of Kh. Joanne Abdalah

Kh. Joanne Abdalah served as an inspiration in her life as the wife of a priest and as a counselor to many. She understood the joys and trials of this life, and the need for finding strength in Christ and each other. She believed that every clergy wife needs to discover and develop her own Christian vocation. In her memory, her family and several clergy wife friends planned the first Clergy Wives Weekend in 2009 as a fitting tribute and way to carry on her work and commitment to clergy wives.

Last November more than 70 Orthodox clergy wives from jurisdictions across the United States enjoyed the inaugural Clergy Wives Weekend at the Antiochian Village. The schedule reflected Joanne’s holy and holistic approach to life – we need to pray; we need to play. We need to enjoy the fellowship for this short time without parish responsibilities, family responsibilities or other cares of this world. The Weekend was a tremendous success, and so we announce the 2010 Clergy Wives Weekend!

  • Date: October 29-31
  • Theme: Everywhere present and filling all things: The Holy Spirit or the Clergy Wife?

The Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth, is everywhere filling all things. But do clergy wives with the best of intentions get caught trying to do that, too, juggling marriage, family, parish, education and job beyond realistic expectations? How do we listen to hear what the Spirit is leading us to do in life? How can we nurture our relationship with God? What do the gifts and fruit of the Spirit look like in our lives and situations? How do we discern? And what do we do with all our life includes?

Archdiocese Clergy Symposium Convenes at Antiochian Village

Bishops, priests and deacons from across North America, led by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, are gathering the week of July 19 at Antiochian Village for the Sixteenth Biennial Clergy Symposium. The time of communal worship, fellowship and education brings great renewal to our clergy. Fr. Joseph Allen, Symposium Chairman, opened the gathering with an introduction to the meeting's theme: "The Priesthood: Diakonos, Presbyteros, Episcopos."

In addition to a range of electives, the clergy will hear from three featured speakers over the course of the week: Fr. Dn. John Chryssavgis, on the Diaconate; Fr. Nicholas Apostola, on the Presbyter; and His Grace Bishop Michael Dahulich, on the Bishop. Also giving a special presentation is His Eminence Metropolitan Ephraim Kyriakos, on The Mission of the Church Today: The Priest and His Service.

Recordings of all the major presentations are available on Ancient Faith Radio.

A Symposium photo gallery is available for viewing here.

Antiochian House of Studies to Host 30th Anniversary Festivities

On Thursday evening, September 2, the Antiochian House of Studies will be kicking off their First Inaugural Alumni Reunion with a banquet and keynote address by His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip. The educational program in applied theology is gratefully celebrating thirty years of offering a unique long-distance forum for all the theological and pastoral education activities of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

Reunion attendees will also be able to participate in a variety of events over the course of the weekend of September 3-5, including liturgical worship, tours, golfing, and fellowship. The weekend keynote speaker will be the renowned sociologist and author Kyriacos C. Markides, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at the University of Maine, and author of many books including The Mountain of Silence and Gifts of the Desert. 

The Antiochian Village, site of the ongoing House of Studies classes, will host the reunion, and will announce further details on their site soon. For more information or to make reservations, contact them at 724-238-3677,  or email the village at: events@AntiochianVillage.org.

Antiochian Village Bookstore and Giftshop Goes Online

Mother Alexandra and Paul Finley, Director, at the the Antiochian Village Bookstore and GiftshopMother Alexandra and Paul Finley, Director, at the the Antiochian Village Bookstore and GiftshopWe are pleased to announce that on June 19th the Antiochian Village Bookstore and Gift Shop went “live” with its new online store.  Our ability to offer this has been made possible in large part by the efforts of Mother Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla, and fulfills a vision for our store which has been discussed for the past few years.  Through her efforts, and with the help of Adam Henderson (a parishioner at St. Mary Church in Johnstown, PA), our store has entered the 21st century.  Applying their computer expertise and hard work, all the product in the “brick and mortar” store at the Heritage and Learning Center is being managed and maintained by a retail management software program thus making the launch of the online component possible.  Many hours went in to writing descriptions, photographing and weighing product for display on the store website.

Antiochian Village Hosts Pan Orthodox Men's Retreat

Certified counselor, businessman, active layman and father of three Paul Karos, was the featured speaker at this year's Antiochian Village Men's Retreat, themed "Exploring the Passions that Drive us and the Virtues that can Save us." Mr. Karos drew from both his professional life as a financial analyst and investment banker, as well as his life as an active Orthodox Christian at St. Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, to lead discussions about the role and impact of the passions, and the meaning of spiritual discipline and repentance. Attendees participated in a liturgical cycle of services, enjoyed a barbecue cookout at the Pavilion, and enjoyed three separate sessions presented by Paul Karos. 

Men's Retreat at Antiochian Village + June 11-13, 2010

Pan-Orthodox Men's Retreat

Exploring the Passions that Drive Us and the Virtues that Can Save Us

With Guest Speaker Paul Karos
June 11-13, 2010 + Antiochian Village

All men, single, married, and of all ages are welcome to attend this Pan-Orthodox Retreat. Group discount available for groups of 10 or more. Bring your parish men’s group!

Questions? Call 724.238.3677 x425 Or e-mail barli@antiochianvillage.org.

For more information, schedule or to register, please download the event brochure (PDF).

Guest speaker Paul Karos led a wonderful Men’s Retreat for us in 2009, “Man of the House”, and is returning again by popular demand! Paul is an Orthodox Christian husband and father of three children residing with his family in the Minneapolis area.

Art of Niko Chocheli On Display at Antiochian Village

Niko Chocheli, a native of the Republic of Georgia, is so highly regarded as an artist that, in 1997, he was granted permanent resident status by the U.S. government because of his "extraordinary ability in the arts." It's a recognition shared by the likes of cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The exhibition "Spirit and Whimsy," at the Antiochian Heritage Museum, Ligonier, focuses on his illustrations for children's books. The 75 paintings exhibited were selected from those made for seven books and are being shown together for the first time.

Read more from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For more information on the exhibit, please contact Antiochian Village.

Visit Niko Chocheli's web site to learn about the artist and see more of his work.

Register for Antiochian Village Summer Camp 2010

Give your child a memorable experience this summer at Antiochian Village Camp under the leadership of our Head Counselors - Chris Shadid and Johanna Said! Register your children for camp for the summer of 2010 and let them build life-long friendships that are rooted in the Orthodox Faith and Jesus Christ. The summer of 2010 promises to be an unforgettable one at the Antiochian Village.

For more information on camping opportunities across the Archdiocese, visit the Department of Camping.

Antiochian Village Seeking a Camp Program Director

Antiochian Village is seeking a full time Camp Program Director, who will report to the Village Director. He or she will be responsible for a year round program which includes the development and oversight of the summer camp program staff (i.e. morning program, evening program, arts and crafts, etc).

The essential Duties and Responsibilities include the following (in no particular order) listed below. Other duties may be assigned as well:

o Planning, execution and development of VillEdge Adventures (Road Trip and Extreme VillEdge) and Sacred Arts (Iconography and Byzantine Chanting) programs.

o Training, mentoring and supervision of summer program staff

o Database entry, basic bookkeeping, general correspondence

o Facilitate program registration

o Development and Marketing of new Village-sponsored programs: Specialized Family Camps (Daddy/Daughter, Single Parent, Home School Families, etc.), Adventure Weekends (Whitewater rafting, caving, backpacking, skiing), Youth Leadership Retreats, Altar Boy Retreat, etc.

o Customized programs for Parishes, Youth Groups, Clergy Brotherhoods, Seminarians, etc.

o Marketing of the Antiochian Village Camp for rental to youth groups, sports groups and family programs.

o Forming alliances with school districts and youth programs for grant-funded Adventure programs and Environmental Education.

o Marketing and programming of Challenge Course

o Attending regional and/or national conferences (2-3 times/year)

o Promotional visitations to parishes (4-10 times/year)

For more information, or to send a résumé, please contact:

V. Rev. Anthony G. Yazge 

Antiochian Village Camp

201 St. Ignatius Trail

Bolivar, PA 15923

franthony@antiochianvillage.org

Beginning Byzantine Chant Workshop Hosted by Antiochian Village

"Have you ever met a stichera you didn’t like?" reads the brochure. "Do you know your eison from your apichema?" In conjunction with the St. Romanos Chanting Course, Antiochian Village is sponsoring a beginner's chant class from April 21-24. Taught by noted liturgical expert V. Fr. David Barr, Pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Church in Austin, Texas, the class promises to give new learners a foundation that will enable them to chant hymns in tones by the second day of the course. No prior knowledge of chant or of reading a musical score is required since the course emphasizes singing from text. Registration begins on Wednesday afternoon and classes wrap up by midday Saturday. Click here for registration information.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Publishes Iconography Article with Mother Alexandra

The icon illustrates an ancient understanding of Jesus' resurrection as the gift he offers to all humanity on a renewed Earth. While all Orthodox churches are filled with icons, the Resurrection icon in the camp chapel at Antiochian Village retreat and conference center is one of the largest in Pennsylvania and possibly the United States.

"An icon is theology in color," said Mother Alexandra, founder of the Convent of St. Thekla, which also is on the grounds of Antiochian Village in Bolivar, Westmoreland County. The center, which also houses a museum and bookstore, is a ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

On Pascha Sunday the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published Orthodox Icons Are Seen As "Theology in Color", with extensive comments from Antiochian monastic Mother Alexandra. Click here to enjoy the article in full.

Antiochian Village Hosts Homeschoolers and Antiochian Women

The past several weekends, Antiochian Village has been a beehive of activity. From March 11-14, over 160 participants from several states traveled to the Village for the Homeschooling Conference. Attendees enjoyed workshops, crafts and creative activities for the kids, corporate worship, and visits by His Grace Bishop Thomas with both the youth and adults. Thanks to the hard work of the Teen SOYO Chapters of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Johnstown, PA, and St. Michael Orthodox Church in Greensburg, PA, children attending the conference participated in a lively carnival complete with activities such as a hula hoop contest, a butterfly hunt, and most memorable of all, visits with "The Bible Guy." 

The following weekend, March 19-21, four Christian groups used the conference center; one of these groups was the Antiochian Women of the East, who came for their annual Lenten retreat and Spring delegates meeting.

An Unusual Visitor to Antiochian Village

On March 3, 2010, an unexpected and out of the ordinary visitor arrived at the edge of the Antiochian Village property. A small black bear was sighted in a tree. A Game Comissioner was called in. He sedated the bear and gave it a mask to protect its eyes and mouth while being moved.

The Game Comissioner confirmed that this is out of the ordinary. After examination, it is clear that this young bear is ill and thin. He came out of hibernation early, and finding no food, he tried to locate some in the neighbor's garbage.

The Game Commission assured Mother Alexandra that sleeping beauty will be medicated, fed, and released somewhere good for bears.

Antiochian Heritage Museum Opens "Spirit and Whimsy" Chocheli Exhibit

On March 15, the Antiochian Heritage Museum at Antiochian Village is opening a one-of-a-kind exhibit featuring the art of Niko Chocheli. "Spirit and Whimsy" marks the first time that a comprehensive exhibit of Chocheli's work, with examples from each of the books that he has illustrated, has ever been presented.

Niko Chocheli is one of the foremost artists to emerge from the Republic of Georgia, a nation rich in early Christian history. An acclaimed iconographer, illustrator, and award-winning artist, Chocheli draws upon the artistic traditions of both East and West, as well as his Orthodox Christian heritage, creating colorful and expressive paintings which have been shown throughout the world and which are held in many prestigious collections.