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Roberta Royhab writes:
Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery, in Rives Junction, MI, is “a place that serves the spiritual needs of the Orthodox Christian community in the United States,” their website reads.
Dormition was a perfect place—a holy place, a “retreat” from the stress of the secular world—for the Midwest Antiochian Women’s retreat that was held there the weekend of May 15-17. The monastery for women is located on 120 acres in a rural area of south central Michigan.
His Grace Bishop MARK of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest joined us on Friday and for a half day on Saturday. Fr. John Abdalah of Pittsburgh, PA, Spiritual Advisor for Antiochian Women-North American Board, served as Retreat Master.
by Lucy Hanna, NAB Dir. of Public Relations
The Antiochian Women of North America: Who are they? And what is their Focus and Purpose?
The answer to the first question is simple: Every Orthodox woman 18 years or older who is a member of a parish of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America-- regardless of ethnicity and whether or not her parish has an organized chapter—she belongs to Antiochian Woman!
The answer to the second question, while also simple, is a bit more lengthy. Women have a natural capacity to love and nurture. This is what His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP recognized when he founded the National Organization of Antiochian Women in 1973. Then, to help us in our ministries he established a focus and purpose for our organization as a roadmap to guide us in a spirit of Christian leadership, awareness and commitment, fostering love through charitable acts and creating a sense of fellowship and understanding of our heritage and traditions.
As Martin, my strawberry-blonde, two-and-a-half year-old bundle of energy, continued lining up little cars the length of the carpet, I watched intently, hoping that the kind lady who interviewed us would return to tell me that we had nothing to worry about: Martin would be just fine. I knew, though, that this interview would not likely end so well. Still, I could not have been less prepared for the news: “Your son is developmentally 12 to 18 months old.” I couldn’t breathe. I think I nodded, and I know someone gave me some tissues, but I do not remember anything that was said to me after that.
In that moment, 17 years ago, everything we thought our lives would be, changed. Today, Martin is a happy young man. At age 19 and a half, he is developmentally 10 to 12 years old. Yet he attends a job training school, from which he works as a janitor two hours a day at a police station. He has friends he sees at school, and he loves going to church. Sunday morning Liturgy is his favorite. Since he knows the service intimately, he chants along and gives himself over to the work of worship with joy. He is quite a blessing to us, and it is now difficult for me to think of my beautiful son apart from his autism. He is exactly as our Lord God intended him to be.
Martin is not unique, however. In our parishes, in our communities, in our dioceses, in our archdiocese, in our patriarchate, and in the world at large, children like Martin and their families suffer from the effects of their disabilities with few resources to help them. This year the Antiochian Women, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Phillip, have launched a new project, “Children with Special Needs.” Our son’s story may give you some idea of how such a project can help these special children.
By Lucy Hanna, Antiochian Women President of Diocese of Los Angeles and the West
The primary areas of focus of the Antiochian Women on all levels are religious programs, humanitarian work and the annual project. The NAB project committee has the responsibility of coordinating the raising of funds from women throughout the Archdiocese to benefit one specific project adopted each year by the Antiochian Women.
Over the last 35 years, the Antiochian Women have raised over two million dollars towards the funding and support of many worthwhile endeavors, some of which are the Antiochian Village, the Seminarians, Continuing Pastoral Education, Missions, Orphanages and for the last three years, the Retired Clergy Fund.