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SOYO Special Olympics Awareness Day is Sunday, October 15

On October 15, 2017, the North American Council of Teen SOYO sponsors the 37th Annual Special Olympics Awareness Day. Every August, Teen SOYO hosts and funds an annual week‐long camp for Special Olympics Athletes at the Antiochian Village. Over the past 36 years, Teen SOYO has fostered a camping experience like no other. Our camp demonstrates a unified environment where teen SOYO members from across the Archdiocese come together with coaches from Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) and enthusiastic athletes for an intense week of sports training and witness to Christ. All resources may be downloaded on SOYO's Special Olympics web page.

Through your generous donations, SOYO Special Olympics Sports Camp has grown immensely through the years. This year, we experienced a record number of athletes in attendance, and have accomplished an astounding 36 years of SOYO Special Olympics Camp. Over these 36 years, we have hosted more than 8,000 athletes and coaches, and over 1,150 of our teens have been blessed by working as SOYO Coaches or Volunteers. It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to serve, pray, and play with these Special Olympics Athletes, and we look forward, with your help, to continuing this important ministry.

"Voice of Grace" Newsletter, St. Mary, Hunt Valley, MD

St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, located in the Hunt Valley region near Baltimore, MD, is led by The Rev. Fr. Damaskinos Issa. The community publishes a monthly newsletter, "Voice of Grace," that features both parish and Archdiocese-wide stories, and spiritual encouragement for the faithful.

Liturgical Texts Posted for Canadian Thanksgiving, October 9

His Grace Bishop Alexander serves Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Church in Montreal, Quebec.His Grace Bishop Alexander serves Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Church in Montreal, Quebec.Each year, on the second Monday of October, Canada celebrates its Thanksgiving holiday as "a day of general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed." Its origin dates to 1578.

The Antiochian Archdiocese has 18 Canadian parishes. For the holiday, they are encouraged to open and offer worship and thanksgiving to God for all of His gifts. To that end, the Online Liturgical Guide has provided Liturgical Texts of Great Vespers with special hymnography for the holiday, as well as "Glory to God for All Things: An Akathist of Thanksgiving," composed in Russia under Communistic oppression as a reminder to the suffering clergy and faithful of God's blessings in this life and the life to come. Parishes can offer one or the other service on Sunday night, October 8.

On Monday morning, October 9, parishes can celebrate the Eucharist, which literally means "to give thanks," in the Divine Liturgy. The Variables contain Epistle and Gospel readings that are a call to thanksgiving, as well as the famous Thanksgiving Day sermon "Thank You, O Lord!" delivered by Fr. Alexander Schemann just weeks before his repose in 1983.

In the coming weeks, the Online Liturgical Guide will also post Liturgical Texts for American Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23.

Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest

     INFORMATION

L to R: Fr. Joe Abud (Spiritual Advisor), Kh. Jeanette Gallaway (President), Rudaina Swais (P.R.), Cynthia O'Connor (V.P.), Mary Polson (Treasurer), Not pictured is Janalyn Salhaney (Secretary)L to R: Fr. Joe Abud (Spiritual Advisor), Kh. Jeanette Gallaway (President), Rudaina Swais (P.R.), Cynthia O'Connor (V.P.), Mary Polson (Treasurer), Not pictured is Janalyn Salhaney (Secretary)

     NEWSLETTER

The Torch Newsletter is the official publication of the Antiochian Women, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. Catch up on all the news in the latest Torch!

Antiochian Women Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest Officers

L to R: Fr. Joe Abud (Spiritual Advisor), Kh. Jeanette Gallaway (President), Rudaina Swais (P.R.), Cynthia O'Connor (V.P.), Mary Polson (Treasurer), Not pictured is Janalyn Salhaney (Secretary)L to R: Fr. Joe Abud (Spiritual Advisor), Kh. Jeanette Gallaway (President), Rudaina Swais (P.R.), Cynthia O'Connor (V.P.), Mary Polson (Treasurer), Not pictured is Janalyn Salhaney (Secretary)Antiochian Women Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest Officers

Bishop Thomas Blesses St. Mary of Hunt Valley with Pastoral Visit

To mark the occasion of their patronal feast day, the Nativity of the Theotokos, St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church of Hunt Valley, Maryland had the honor of welcoming His Grace Bishop Thomas to their parish from Wednesday, September 6 to Friday, September 8, 2017. (View the photo gallery)

The commemoration and celebration began Wednesday evening with a Paraklesis service presided over by Bishop Thomas. Following Paraklesis, His Grace met with St. Mary's Young Adult Ministry to enjoy a meal and to answer their questions on the  Church's history, doctrine, and theology.

On Friday, September 8, Bishop Thomas presided over a Vigil for the Nativity of the Theotokos, starting with Great Vespers and Festal Orthos. Before the Divine Hierarchal Liturgy began, His Grace ordained Zade Jabaji as Subdeacon Hilarion. Previous to his Ordination, Subdeacon Hilarion had served the St. Mary's community faithfully as an altar boy and Teen SOYO advisor.

Interview with Church School Director Rebekah Yergo: My Overwhelming "Yes!"

Rebekah Yergo is entering her fifth year as the Church School Director at St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church in York, PA. The church school enrolls an average of 80 students, with classes organized by groups of 2-3 grade levels and high school students together in one class. Many thanks to Rebekah for being willing to share her experience with other directors. 

How were you called to this role/what led you to this role?

An opening became available and our parish priest approached me and asked me if I would serve. There are moments in time that you just know it’s a ‘God moment’. This was one of them for me because I said yes, just as he completed the initial question and without any elaborating. I felt this bubbling up, overwhelming yes come out of my mouth before it even registered in my brain what the question was. There are only a couple of other times I’ve felt this way about a path I’ve followed, and I’ve got to say, I like it when God makes it that obvious. It has been a fantastic journey so far.

Which curricula do you use for Sunday classes?

We have an eclectic mix; a couple of our seasoned teachers have created their own that best fits their classroom needs. We have a couple of classes that use the Greek courses and some that use varying OCEC offerings. Every third year we offer The Way, The Truth, The Life for grades 7-9. We have not found a consistent plan that works for all our teachers and all our students.

Real Break Registration Opens for College Students

During the 2018 Spring Break, college students have the opportunity to make a real change for those less fortunate through Orthodox Christian Fellowship's Real Break program.

Real Break is an alternative spring break service-learning program designed to provide college students with life-transforming experiences that strengthen their faith and broaden their Christian world-view. OCF offers several trips to locations all around the globe where students have the opportunity to serve and minister to the poor with compassion and humility.

Register today!

Memory Eternal! + Lorraine Husson-Ferris

Memory Eternal! + Lorraine Husson-Ferris, daughter of the late Fr. Nicholas and Kh. Mary Husson, quietly fell asleep at the age of 95 early this morning in Wichita, KS. She was preceded in death by her husband George and her three sisters: Beulah Farha of Wichita, KS, Vivian Coury of Garden Grove, CA, and Virginia Farah of El Paso, TX (whose Virginia H. Farah Foundation has supported numerous Antiochian Orthodox projects for many years).

Lorraine is survived by five children and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. The funeral will be served this Saturday, September 30, 2017 at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Wichita, KS. Condolences may be sent to the family at contact@farahfoundation.org.

Christian Education Department Kicks off Sunday School Year with New Resources

The Christian Education team of the Antiochian Archdiocese, headed by Director Carole Buleza, is passionate about transmitting the faith to the next generation, and the resource-rich Christian Education section on antiochian.org reflects this. An extensive upgrade to the Christian Education pages launched to coincide with the start of the Sunday School year includes an entirely new Creative Festivals 2018 section for 2017-2018.

Highlights of the new material available are:

In the main Christian Education section, the latest teacher training events are featured. 

Midwest Clergy and Laity Fall Gathering + October 12-15, 2017

Download the flyer

Bishop Anthony proudly announces the Diocese of Toledo's upcoming Clergy Retreat and Fall Gathering, hosted by Fr. John Winfrey and the faithful of St. George Church in Grand Rapids, MI.

This event is for all of our clergy, and members of our Antiochian Women, Teen SOYO, and Young Adult ministries.

Please see the flyer for details.

 

Children and the Divine Liturgy

From St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Rossford, OH
By Fr. Paul Gassios

There are different practices and viewpoints regarding child attendance at the Divine Liturgy. During my childhood I was used to attending half of the service and spending half of it in Sunday School. Young kids spent the first half in church, and then went to Sunday school after the sermon. The older kids began Sunday school when the Liturgy began, and then came to church for the last half of the liturgy. This practice continues today in some Orthodox parishes. In other Orthodox parishes, children attend the entire liturgy and go to Sunday school either before or after the service. It does seem as if the trend is moving more towards children being in church for most of the liturgy and not half of it. For some this idea may be hard to accept because one might believe that children can't handle being in church for an hour and twenty minutes. Kids get antsy, bored, and restless. They complain that church is too long and might even cause a scene. This is not an easy issue for parents to deal with. It is not uncommon to see parents remove kids from church because they have become too disruptive. Parents may consciously come late to church so the kids don't have to be there as long. They may also bring toys with them to church for kids to play with to keep them quiet. The problem with these approaches is they do nothing to help the child connect with worship and to pay attention to what is going on. Some might conclude our worship is irrelevant and too abstract for children to embrace. I would like to speak some on this issue and talk about some things parents can do to help their children in this area.

Ten Ways to Get Your Children Interested in the Divine Liturgy

From the blog, Fresh and Faithful

If you have children, you will know that they have relatively short attentions spans. No parent wants to be the one with kids that were obviously dragged there or with kids that are goofing off during Divine Liturgy. Hopefully these tips will help you from being parents of bored, uninterested, or misbehaving children.

1. Have your children follow along with the service book
It is hard for a child to pay attention if he or she has no idea what is going on.

2. Let your children sing in the choir if it is allowed
In one parish we went to, children were free to go back and forth between the choir and their parents. Even if they cannot carry a tune, nobody cares about pitch quality when they see a child eager to serve the Lord with their voice.

3. Teach your children about the saints
If your children are familiar with the lives of at least a few saints, they will have more people to look up to besides just you. Children also love to point out their patron saint in the icons on the walls and like to impress you by knowing facts about different saints. If your children are familiar with many of the saints then they are more likely to feel at home in a church whose walls are covered in icons.

4. Teach your children to reverence icons
This is especially helpful for the children that are one to two years old. My 18 month old loves to kiss the icons and point out Mary and Jesus. If they are too young and cannot possibly pay attention to the Liturgy, at least you can teach them to like icons and to recognize Mary, Jesus and possibly a few saints.

Time to Go to Church… A Time to Fear and Dread?

Author’s note: The Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education is blessed to be able to share the wisdom of others. Parents, find out how others are keeping their kids engaged in the service by exploring this compilation of advice shared by Fr. John Peck on his website Journey to Orthodoxy. You can explore the original article and also view our handout on church behavior.

Let the Little Children Come
by Presbytera Marilisse I. Mars

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14

It's Sunday morning. The church bulletin says that church starts at 10:00am. It's now 10:30am. You're walking to the car to take yourself and the kids to church. You're arriving at communion. You're embarrassed to come in that late, but you're less embarrassed (after all, half the parish comes to church late) than you would be by your children's behavior if you stayed for the whole service. You walk in during the Lord's Prayer. A few minutes later, thank God, communion. Now you can go. Lunchtime!   Read More...

Helping Children Worship
From St. Luke the Evangelist Orthodox Church

Dear St. Luke Family,
We are on a quest to train our children to love the Lord's Day! We want them to love the Divine Liturgy, to actively engage in it, and to understand it.

Helping Children Worship

From St. Luke the Evangelist Orthodox Church, Palos Hills, IL

Dear St. Luke Family,
We are on a quest to train our children to love the Lord's Day! We want them to love the Divine Liturgy, to actively engage in it, and to understand it. We want our children to love the Church, and we desire to prepare them for a lifetime of worship and service in the Orthodox Church. We realize that the goal of training children to worship God falls largely on the shoulders of parents. To assist you in helping your children learn to worship, the Church School has put together this booklet packed with practical tips. We hope this booklet will be a great source of encouragement and help for you. This is just a resource for your use. None of us are "super-parents," and we all understand the challenge parents face in teaching their children to worship God. For most of us, just getting the family to church feels like a huge victory! Most of the information found in this booklet is information we have adapted from many different sources. We consider this material to be a work in progress, and we would love your input and suggestions for making it more helpful for parents.

As you join our quest to train your children to love the Liturgy and joyfully engage in corporate worship, begin by creating a culture in your home that Sunday is a day of joy and celebration. Try to create special Sunday traditions and activities that your children will look forward to all week long. Encourage a sense of excitement that Sunday is coming!

Let the Little Children Come

by Presbytera Marilisse I. Mars

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14

It's Sunday morning. The church bulletin says that church starts at 10:00am. It's now 10:30am. You're walking to the car to take yourself and the kids to church. You're arriving at communion. You're embarrassed to come in that late, but you're less embarrassed (after all, half the parish comes to church late) than you would be by your children's behavior if you stayed for the whole service. You walk in during the Lord's Prayer. A few minutes later, thank God, communion. Now you can go. Lunchtime!

Calling All Parishes: Archdiocese Rewards Program Benefits Retired Clergy and Your Community!

The Antiochian Archdiocese Rewards Program team is encouraging all parishes to commit to this Archdiocese-wide initiative that supports the Clergy Retirement Fund as well as each local parish. Endorsed by Metropolitan Joseph and the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, this program generates income "painlessly," as parishioners register and make online purchases at participating retailers. A percentage of each online purchase is allotted to the Clergy Retirement Fund with the remaining percentage being allotted to the parish of each consumer's choice.

Over 4,000 retailers now participate in the awards program, including hotels, Best Buy, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Neiman Marcus, gas stations, The Gap, grocery stores, and many, many more. To register, log on to the web site, indicate your Diocese and parish, and insert your email and a password. It's that easy!

Additionally, the simple instructive video enables individuals and parish webmasters to install the "Support" button via one of three browsers: Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

Metropolitan Joseph Requests Prayers and "Earthquake Appeal" Gifts for Mexico

Leave-taking of the Elevation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross

Beloved in Christ,

With Archpastoral love, I embrace all of you – my brother hierarchs, reverend clergy, and Christloving faithful. Once again, I write to you in the midst of tragedy, witnessing the results of the devastating earthquake that struck our brothers and sisters in Mexico. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, when "one member suffers, all the members suffer with it."

When I reflect on the heartrending disasters of the last several weeks, I take heart that we have been commemorating the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross. As we raise on high the Cross, we remember the sacrificial love of our Lord Jesus Christ. We remember how He transfigured that instrument of cruel torture and death into a "weapon of peace and trophy invincible." We remember that the tears of mourning shed by the Ointment Bearing Women were transformed into inexpressible joy on the morning of Pascha.

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Fr. George Shalhoub Addresses Suicide Prevention Awareness in University of Michigan Panel

In August 2017, Fr. George Shalhoub, pastor of The Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI participated in a panel discussion at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, on the pastoral issue of suicide prevention. After his presentation at the University, "Preventing Suicide in Middle Eastern Communities," Fr. George answered questions and said there is "the need to speak of this spiritual darkness that can affect all of us."


Q: Father George, what were you doing at the University of Michigan-Dearborn today?

A: The Middle Eastern Law Enforcement Officers Association invited me, along with religious leaders Rabbi Daniel Syme of Bethel Temple and Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni of the Islamic Center of America, for an interfaith perspective panel which addressed addiction and suicide in our communities. A panel discussion discussed the topic of suicide prevention and substance abuse in the Arab American community.

Q: How did you contribute to this discussion?

A: The Arab American community in this country suffers from drug abuse and faces cases of suicide and suicide attempts, just as many other communities do. The number one difficulty is to break the stigma or taboo associated with suicide. Most immigrants in the Arab American community do not realize that these crises do exist within one’s own church, mosque, or temple. This goes beyond ethnicity, economic status and religious background. Families, in particular, do not want to hear that they have children who are less than perfect or that their children are capable of taking drugs or contemplating suicide.

2017 Creative Festivals Media Winners from the Diocese of New York & Washington, D.C.

Here are the winning entries that tied for First Place in the Media category from the 2017 Diocese of New York & Washington, D.C. Creative Arts Festivals.

                                                                By Victoria Ayoub, Grade 12, St. George, Little Falls, NJ


By Maria Pantagis, Grade 12; George Pantagis, Grade 7; Althea DeBenedetto, Grade 9, and John James Nola, Grade 7 - St. Anthony, Bergenfield, NJ

Honor Wall Project: Update From Economos Antony Gabriel

September 1, 2017

Dear Beloved in Christ,

I listened carefully to Metropolitan Joseph's State of the Archdiocese message at the recent Archdiocesan bi-annual Convention in which he cited the work of his predecessors, Metropolitan's Antony and Philip, citing also the mission of St. Raphael, the first bishop consecrated on American soil and the first bishop to serve the spiritual needs of the Antiochians in North America. Sayidna quite poignantly noted that he is building on the great work of those who came before him and God has appointed him to save "souls" as his most important ministry as the Chief Shepherd of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. This indeed is an awesome task in the context of the secularism of our society. All our prayers are with His Eminence as he presses forward with the Staff entrusted to him by His Beatitude, John X, guiding the spiritual ship of the Archdiocese, in the model of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians.

With the guiding principles of His Eminence, building on the sacred work of all those who came before, It is of utmost importance that we not forget our forefathers in the faith who layer the foundation of Antiochian Orthodoxy on New shores. During the years that I conducted the research for the book: Ancient Church on New Shores: Antioch in North America, I discovered so many heroes who served the faithful regardless of the vicissitudes of language, climate, material resources and dislocation from their native lands. Many came seeking a better life and because of their love, faith and knowledge of the liturgical services, were ordained to minister in the emerging Church in North America. Saint Raphael utilized all the resources available to him at the time as he crisscrossed the Continent seeking the " lost sheep of Antioch." Just think for a few minutes how arduous was his task, and how easy it is for us with the social media to maintain contact with our friends from all over the globe, let alone here in North America.

Bishop Thomas 2017 Elevation of the Cross Greeting

September 14, 2017
Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross

Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics,
and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:

I greet you on this most joyous feast, the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. It is through this sign that we Christians conquer the passions and the evil in the world. Love conquers all. Saint Gregory Palamas reminds us,

This is the wisdom and power of God: to be victorious through weakness, exalted through humility, rich through poverty. Not only the word and the mystery of the Cross are divine and to be reverenced, but so also is its sign. For it is a holy, saving, and venerable seal, able to hallow and perfect all the good, marvelous and indescribable things which God has done for the human race. It can take away the curse and condemnation, destroy corruption and death, bestow eternal life and blessing. It is the wood of salvation, the regal scepter, the divine trophy of victory over visible and invisible enemies, even though the heretics' followers are insanely displeased. They have not attained to the apostle's prayer that "they might be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth" (Eph. 3:18). They have not understood that the Lord's Cross discloses the entire dispensation of His coming in the flesh, and contains within it the whole mystery of this dispensation. Extending in all directions, it embraces everything above, below, around and between. The heretics abhor the sign of the King of Glory (Ps. 24:7–10), putting forward an excuse, in accordance with which, if they were reasonable, they ought to reverence the Cross along with us. The Lord Himself, when He was going to ascend the Cross, openly referred to it as His lifting up and His glory (John 3:14–15). And He announced that when He came again and manifested Himself, this sign of the Son of man would come with power and great glory (Matt. 24:30). ...

A Prayer for September 11

September 11, 2017 is the sixteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon our nation in New York, NY, Washington, DC and Shanksville, PA.

A service appropriate to the day is the Akathist to the Mother of God 'Softener of Evil Hearts'
We Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

A Prayer for September 11

O Lord our God, Who art Thyself, the Hope of the hopeless, the Help of the helpless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick; be all things to our land which fifteen years ago on this date was devastated by the cowardly and hateful acts of false martyrs; who imitated wicked Herod in his slaughter of the 14,000 innocents. To those who lost loved ones, grant the comfort thou didst impart to Mary and Martha before Thou didst raise their brother Lazarus from the dead, and care for them as Thou didst care for Thy Mother from the Cross, putting her in the care of the Apostle John. To the survivors, grant healing in every sense, as thou didst strengthen and heal the confessors.

September 2017 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Washed — Cleansed — Healed, by His Grace: In Remembrance of His Waters of the Jordan River

Our last letters focused on the story of Lazarus bringing special attention to Jesus, the I AM, being: 1) Resurrection and Life - His own words, 2) the Anointed Son of His eternal Father, confirmed by Martha, 3) our One hope over the fear of death and empty powers of Satan, confirmed by Lazarus, while 4) recognizing Jesus to be the Son of Man, confirmed when Mary – sister to Lazarus and Martha – anointed Him. In Him, we are liberated from bondage, to freely choose Him as our Father.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

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