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A New Civil Year: January Liturgical Texts Now Available

A double icon St. Basil the Great and the Circumcision of our LordA double icon St. Basil the Great and the Circumcision of our LordThe first day of the civil new year begins with the celebration of an important event in the life of our newborn Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, which leads to another celebration later in the week of His manifestation to the world. The liturgical texts for the month of January, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.
 
On January 1, eight days after His nativity (Christmas), our Lord consented to be circumcised in the flesh in order to become the only human to fulfill the Law of Moses. This act of humility and servitude shows that our Lord identifies with the low estate of His people in order to deliver them from sin and death by introducing God's grace that supersedes the ancient Law.

Seek First the Kingdom of God: A Reflection for the Nativity Season

St. JohnSt. JohnSt. SeraphimSt. SeraphimOn December 6, 2016, His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, presented this Nativity reflection to a group of parish council members. His timely words are equally applicable to any and all of the faithful during this holy season of the year.

It is my pleasure to be speaking here this evening.  I want to commend you all for your hard work and dedication to your parish. The spiritual health of any parish is a reflection of the spiritual health of its leadership, especially that which is provided by the parish council. 

As I begin my reflection, I thought I would offer a short story concerning St. John Maximovitch of San Francisco. On the evening before St. John was going to commemorate the solemn canonization of Fr. John of Kronstadt, he was celebrating the All Night Vigil in preparation for the Divine Liturgy the next day. It so happened that a group of parishioners had organized a Halloween Ball on the very same night of this vigil. Thus, when the All Night Vigil began many people were absent, to the great sorrow of St. John.

After the vigil service, St. John went to the place where the ball was being held. He entered the hall and the music stopped; in absolute silence, he glanced sorrowfully at the revelers. With his staff in hand, he slowly walked around the entire hall. He didn't speak, but the sight of the holy bishop brought general consternation to the party. Saint John then left the hall, but the next day in church he issued a call to all present, to seek the devout Christian life.

St. Ignatius of Antioch + December 20

Like a living monument and an animate image, thy yearly feast is come, O God-bearing Ignatius, proclaiming thy mystic teachings and thy heroic exploits, thy resistance for the Faith even unto blood, and those blessed and celebrated words of thine, which said: I am the wheat of God, and in the teeth of beasts shall I be ground up. Wherefore, as an imitator of the Passion of Christ, intercede that our souls be saved.

+Orthros of the Feast, Tone 1

Read more about St. Ignatius the God-Bearer
Learn about the Order of St. Ignatius
Resources for the Nativity Season

ORDO 2017 Western Rite Liturgical Guide Now Available

Ordo 2017 (the Liturgical Guide) for parishes in the Western Rite Vicariate is now available in three formats: perfect bound, spiral, and ebook (pdf). The Ordo contains rubrics for reciting the Divine Office and Celebrating the Mass according to the calendar and use of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. It contains rubrics for both the Rite of St. Gregory with the Monastic Diurnal, and the Rite of St. Tikhon with The English Office.

To purchase your copy, go to www.lulu.com/spotlight/frfenton.

Memory Eternal! + Joseph F. Ferguson

Memory Eternal! Joseph F. Ferguson, the father of the Very Rev. Timothy J. Ferguson (Protosyngellos of the Archdiocese and Pastor of St. George Church in Boston, MA), reposed in the Lord on December 10, 2016. Joseph was a beloved husband for 71 years of Agnes M. (Shaffer) Ferguson; devoted father of Rev. Timothy (Louise) Ferguson, Joseph Ferguson, Jr. (the late Noot), Daniel (Christine) Ferguson and Nancy (Michael) Kelly; brother of Maureen Scanlon, James (Loretta) Ferguson, the late John, Edward, Harry, and Patrick Ferguson; loving grandfather of Christina, Brendan, Shane, Jillian, Devin, Douglas, Meghan, Kevin, and Erik; great grandfather of Luke.

Joe was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland, immigrated to Pittsburgh in 1925 and was raised on the North Side. He worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps. prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1941, serving in North Africa, France and Germany. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserves as a Master Sergeant. Joe was a Past Commander of American Legion Post # 0156 - Mt. Lebanon, PA; he was a member of the Knights of Columbus; and was retired from Mellon Bank as a Real Estate Trust Officer. Joe was very involved at Saint Bernard Church serving in many capacities.

Friends will be welcomed at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 222 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA, on Thursday, December 14 from 2:00 until 8:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Saint Bernard Church, Friday morning, December 15, at 11:30 a.m. Interment is at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

Antiochian Village Bookstore Christmas Flyer Available

Here’s the AV Bookstore 2016 Christmas flyer, to help you in your holiday shopping! Find gifts for the people on your list – from kids to grandparents, and friends of all ages!  There are new books this year, including a newly released revised edition of Helen Corey’s classic cookbook Foods from Biblical Lands. And there is a selection of beautiful ornaments featuring the Nativity scene, as well as St. Nicholas and St. Basil.  

The images in the flyer are linked to the Bookstore, so click and shop!  Major credit cards accepted.

Many Years to His Grace Bishop Nicholas!

Apolytikion of St. Nicholas, Tone 4

The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of temperance. Therefore thou hast won the heights by humility, riches by poverty. Holy Father Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

December 6th is the celebration of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and the namesday of His Grace Bishop Nicholas. May God grant him many years!

New Music CD Released by SOYO and the Department of Sacred Music: Digital Download Available

A beautiful new music CD, Grace Shining Forth, has just been released in time for holiday gift giving! The CD is a collaborative effort of SOYO, the Department of Sacred Music, and the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. Discounts are available for quantities of five or more. Shop now, and receive your order in time for Christmas. More information is available on the Teen SOYO website.

 
Download digital version
Order your Grace Shining Forth Music CD

 

Vendor Registration for 2017 Archdiocese Convention Now Open

 

 

The 2017 Archdiocese Convention Committee announces with excitement that Vendor Registration is NOW OPEN! The commitment to raise Convention standards is proven once again with the efforts to make vendors proud of being a part of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Convention to be held in July 2017 in Miami, Florida. Vendors will have the opportunity to choose the space of their liking from a convenient layout published alongside the Vendor Registration Form on the 2017 Archdiocese Convention Website. In addition, online Registration also available.

Great exposure awaits all vendors, who will be signed up on a "First come, first serve" basis. With over 2000 attendees expected, this Convention promises to help all the faithful benefit from the great work of the Orthodox vendors in this country and abroad. See you in July 2017, God willing!

Metropolitan Joseph Presents Posthumous Award to Trustee Sondra Murr Love

On Wednesday, November 23, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presented Marcia Terry, sister of the late Archdiocesan Trustee Sondra Murr Love, and Sondra's sister-in-law Charlotte Murr, with the Cross of the Gold Order of St. Raphael. The Cross was given as a posthumous honor in recognition of Sondra's "distinguished service of exceptional merit, rendered with generous and unselfish dedication" on behalf of and to the Archdiocese. Sondra reposed in the Lord in September of this year. 

The Cross commemorates the 100th year of the repose of St. Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn (1915–2015), whose life exemplified tireless labor for the Church's mission in North America. While presenting the award, Metropolitan Joseph also visited with Marcia and Charlotte at the West Coast Chancery. The two sisers were accompanied by their pastor, the Very Rev. Timothy Baclig of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church of Van Nuys, California. Marcia, Charlotte, and Fr. Timothy were grateful for Sayidna Joseph's tribute to their beloved sister.

Bishop Anthony Visits University of Michigan's OCF

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
by Mark Sultani, President of University of Michigan OCF
November, 2016
 
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor was recently blessed to be visited by His Grace Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest.  A group of approximately 30 college students attended the event where His Grace, a University alumnus, spoke on the topic, "God's Plan of Action for My Purpose in Life."
 
His Grace presented his talk in his usual joyous and intelligent manner. The topic was especially pertinent to us as college students, since our schedules have little routine and our futures seem both impossibly distant and frighteningly close. The words of His Grace brought peace to our minds as he spoke of the relationship we can have with a Creator who cares more that we are people of mercy, compassion, and love, than He cares whether we are lawyers, engineers, or doctors.  We learned our vocation is to recognize and experience that relationship with God, reflecting His glory on the earth. 
 
The impact His Grace left on our OCF has had us talking about his visit for weeks! We were grateful to be visited by His Grace and looks forward to his next visit.

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Online Shopping Rewards Program

The Archdiocese Board with the support of the Bishops and endorsement from Metropolitan Joseph are extremely excited to announce the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Rewards Program. This is an online shopping rewards program connecting individuals and their businesses to their favorite retailers. It also provides the ability to order gift cards from a large selection through the Gift Card Mall including Visa, American Express, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Itunes, restaurants, department stores and more.

Program Overview

  • What is it? A free Antiochian Orthodox online shopping rewards program connecting you to your favorite retailers, as well as the ability to order from the Gift Card Mall which includes vendors such as Visa, American Express, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Itunes, restaurants, department stores, and many more.
  • Why join? Program creates an automatic monetary contribution back to the church which will help fund your individual parish and contribute to the clergy retirement fund.

How Do I Sign Up?

  • Go online to antiochian.org/rewardsprogram and register with your email. Remember to visit the site prior to making online purchases to enable a contribution to your ministry, and discover savings offers.
  • .....and optionally.... Install the "Support Button" on your Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer browser to automatically support our ministry every time you shop on an approved site you will see this small cross appear.

St. James the Apostle Orthodox Church of Westminster, Maryland Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

O holy James
As a disciple of the Lord you received the Gospel
As a martyr, you displayed an unyielding will
As a brother of the Lord you have special power with Him
As a hierarch you have the right of intercession
Intercede therefore with Christ our God
That He may save our souls!

With these words, the faithful of St. James the Apostle Orthodox Church celebrated the tenth anniversary of their founding as the first canonical Orthodox Church in Carroll County, Maryland. Sayidna Thomas, joined by Fr. Gregory Mathewes-Green and clergy and faithful of local parishes of many jurisdictions, entreated our Holy God to look down with favor on His Church in our locality.

AFR Posts Audio of Bishop Anthony Series on Second Coming

Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest spoke on November 11–12, 2016 at St. Matthew the Evangelist Antiochian Orthodox Church in North Royalton, OH. Thank you, Fr. Andrew Harmon, for allowing Ancient Faith Radio to record this enlightening series by His Grace!

Listen now

Memory Eternal! + Sadie Shaheen

Sadie Shaheen passed away November 14, 2016 at the age of 86, from pancreatic cancer.

Affectionately known as "Dooda," Sadie was the daughter of Fr. George and Khouria Mary Shaheen. Born in Canton, Ohio, she spent the early years of her life growing up in Katana, Syria. She returned to Canton at the age of 16 and graduated from Lehman High School, barely speaking English. She married Carl Shaheen on September 4, 1949 and a new chapter began. Sadie was a warm and welcoming hostess and a wonderful cook, especially of mid-eastern food – her home and her heart always open to family, friends and soon-to-be friends from near and far. Her Sunday brunches, Monday girls' nights, and Thursday morning breakfasts were regular weekly features! She especially loved children and was passionate about supporting three orphanages in Syria through the Crusaders Organization, inspired by her brother, Archbishop Michael Shaheen, 50 years ago. On October 23, 2016, she was awarded the Antiochian Archdiocese Meritorious Service Award for her charitable works. Besides the Crusaders, she was a member of the Ladies of St. George and the Phoenician Auxiliary.

Brooklyn, NY Newspaper Features Festal Services for St. Raphael

(Photo by Denise Alexander)(Photo by Denise Alexander)On November 14, 2016, reporter John Alexander of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle featured St. Nicholas Cathedral's services for St. Raphael, in his article "Brooklyn's own St. Raphael venerated at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral." 

The article recounts the story of St. Raphael's life, and explains the significance of the beloved saint to the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the greater Orthodox community. "St. Raphael was the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in America from any ethnic background," Cathedral Dean the Very Reverend Thomas Zain is quoted as saying in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle article.

Read the full story in the Daily Eagle

The Light and Joy of the Lord: Dn. Paul Abernathy is Ordained to the Holy Priesthood

The ordination of Deacon Paul Abernathy to the Holy Priesthood: Saturday, August 27,  2016: St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Bridgeville, PA, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and His Grace Bishop Thomas, ordaining hierarch

By The Very Rev. Dr. Jason DelVitto, Pastor of St. George Church, Bridgeville, PA

If one could express in words the spirit of a very special weekend in the life of our Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, and in particular among the members of St. George Church, Bridgeville, PA and of St. Moses the Black Mission located in Hill District of Pittsburgh, I believe that we would describe this as a “weekend of joy, thanksgiving, peace and gladness in the Lord.” I am referring to the celebration of the ordination of Deacon Paul Abernathy to the Holy Priesthood of the Orthodox Church.  By the grace of the Holy Spirit and with blessing of our father in Christ, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, and through the hands of His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and Mid-Atlantic, faithful and dedicated parishioner Deacon Paul Abernathy was ordained to the Holy Priesthood during the Hierarchical Liturgy on Saturday, August 27, 2016 at St. George Church.  The Very Rev. Joshua Makoul of St. George Cathedral in Oakland and I served as Fr. Paul’s sponsors.

St. Raphael of Brooklyn + First Saturday in November

Several themes emerge as the story of St. Raphael's life unfolds. The first is the mysterious way in which God led him from his native homeland to the shores of the American continent. The second is his submissive attitude to the providence of God. And the third is his love for the people of God. Though during his lifetime he was neither a wonder-worker nor a clairvoyant elder, St. Raphael embraced a life of total abandonment of self for the service of God and his fellow man: a life of true spiritual asceticism.

(from The Life of Our Father among the Saints Raphael Hawaweeny)

Our Father among the Saints, Raphael (Hawaweeny), Bishop of  Brooklyn, was the first Orthodox Christian bishop consecrated on American soil. Traveling throughout the continent in the first years of the 20th century, he founded thirty parishes in North America. His feast day is celebrated in the Antiochian Archdiocese on the first Saturday of November. St. Raphael, a man of angelic name and apostolic fervor, was influenced by many cultures. He was born and raised in the Middle East, educated by Greeks at Halki and by Russians at Kiev, and he spent the last nineteen years of his life as a missionary in North America.

In 2015, the Antiochian Archdiocese celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of St. Raphael. 

Diocese of Toledo Fall Meeting Hosted by St. Ignatius

From October 20–23, 2016, St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Madison, Wisconsin hosted the Diocese of Toledo’s 2016 Fall Meeting. 

Sayedna Anthony opened the weekend with a two-day clergy retreat, where he offered a beautiful and well-researched history and meaning of the Sacrament of Confession.  Sayedna taught through the early church era, when the practice of confession was less formalized but Christians sought out for counsel and guidance those holy men and women who had suffered for the faith as confessors.  Later on, the Church developed a distinction between “spiritual fatherhood” (holy monastic elders) and the ordained priesthood.  Sayedna based much of his teaching on St. Cyprian’s Treatise to the Lapsed, and especially urged the gathered clergy to keep in mind that the sacramental grace of God comes first and foremost through the ordained priesthood: “You are essential for the Second Coming… We are the agents preparing for the Advent of Christ!”  He continued to advise the clergy of the Diocese on specific and practical issues that arise in ministry.

Fall 2016 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Fall 2016 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada & Upstate New York. The issue contains:

  • Holding onto the Truth by His Grace Bishop Alexander
  • Be Heavenly as Your Father is Heavenly by Fr. Maximos Saikaly, DOECUNY-AW Spiritual Advisor
  • A message from the Diocesan President Géhane Ephtimios Zahran
  • Profiles of diocesan officers
  • Chapter reports, photos and happenings

...and more! Download (PDF) here.

Memory Eternal! + The Reverend Deacon Benjamin Mann, Jr.

The Reverend Deacon Benjamin Mann, Jr., 72, husband of Karen Gabriel Mann, fell asleep in the Lord Sunday, October 23, 2016 at his home.

Born June 9, 1944 in Boston, MA, Deacon Ben served in the U. S. Coast Guard from 1966-70 with two tours of duty in Antarctica with Operation Deep Freeze. He received his B.S. and Master's degrees from the University of KY. Deacon Ben and Karen were one of the founding members of St. Andrew Orthodox Church where he was ordained a deacon after completing the St. Stephen's House of Studies in 1995. His love for the Church was evident in the mentoring of the youth as well as caring for the Church grounds.

Struggling with health issues he was unable to continue to serve but with his thirst for knowledge he was always found with a book open.

Besides his wife, survivors include a son, Sean Mann; a daughter, Nicole Mann (Joseph) Highland; two grandchildren, Gabrielle and Sylvey Highland Visitation will be from 4-7:30pm Tuesday at St. Andrew Orthodox Church with the Trisagion Prayers at 7:30pm. Funeral services will be 10am Wednesday, Oct 26, by the V. Rev. Thomas Gallaway with burial to follow in the Lexington Cemetery.

SOYO Launches New Website

SOYO, the youth movement of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, has launched a new and redesigned website at https://TeenSOYO.org.

Check out the new offerings under:
Programs
Resources
Shop for SOYO apparel, key chains, and other items
"Ask Abouna"
Instagram and news feeds

Visit today!

Episcopal Visit and Elevation at St. Paul Church + Emmaus, PA

The parishioners of St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania had the supreme joy of combining their annual visit from their beloved father and chief-pastor His Grace Bishop Thomas with the elevation of their pastor Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick to the rank of Archpriest over the weekend of October 1st and 2nd, 2016 in recognition of his service to the parish and the Church as a whole. The pastoral visit began with Bishop Thomas' meeting with the men of the parish for breakfast on Saturday morning, and then with the women for lunch at midday. That evening, Fr. Andrew celebrated Great Vespers as Bishop Thomas presided from the throne.

The next morning Orthros was chanted and Bishop Thomas served Hierarchical Liturgy. Concelebrating were Fr. Andrew; the V. Rev. Archpriest Olof Scott, dean emeritus of St. George Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, where Fr. Andrew served his first two years as a priest; as well as Rev. Dn. David Keim of All Saints Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Fr. Andrew was received as a convert to Orthodoxy in 1998. Also assisting were seminarians Marshall Goodge and Joseph Clark. Shortly before the final dismissal, Bishop Thomas prayed over Fr. Andrew before giving him a pectoral cross, accompanied by shouts of "Axios! Mustahiq! He is worthy!" from the assembled congregation and visiting family. In his address following, Bishop Thomas stressed that archpriests are meant to serve as exemplars to other clergy, and their parishes as exemplars to other parishioners throughout the archdiocese.

Refugee Charity Dinner to be Hosted by Holy Trinity in Pottstown, PA

A charity dinner to benefit refugees is being hosted by Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Pottstown, PA.

"Refugee Aid: How the Orthodox Church Can Help"
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
Pottstown, PA
Saturday, November 12, 2016 
3:45 p.m.

Presentation and Vespers to follow

 

"Beyond the Image" Sacred Art Conference Hosted by St. Nicholas in Grand Rapids

St. Nicholas in Grand Rapids, MISt. Nicholas in Grand Rapids, MIIcons in the Orthodox Church are called "windows to Heaven." Saint Nicholas Church, Grand Rapids, MI, is opening those windows to the public in a special iconography conference on Saturday, October 15th, from 1–6 p.m. Admission is free, all are welcome!

"Beyond the Image" is an afternoon that will explore sacred art as a means of drawing near to God. Doors open at 1 p.m. A number of exhibits will be on display all afternoon, and Iconographer Brian Whirledge will demonstrate the ancient art of iconography.

A wide variety of icons from all over the world representing numerous artistic approaches have been loaned to the exhibit from the private collections of St Nicholas parishioners. In addition, there is a great line up of speakers: Mother Gabriella, the Abbess of Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan will speak at 1:30 on the role art plays in worship. After a break, Mother Olympia, the iconographer at Holy Dormition Monastery, will talk about what is involved in creating sacred art, from choosing subjects to portray: events, saints or groups of saints, to the step by step process and materials used. Mother Olympia will share how she created an indescribable masterpiece of sacred art at the monastery. Finally at 4:30 p.m., Dr. Charles Makhoul, an instructor of religious education at St. Nicholas Church, will explain the icons chosen for inclusion in St. Nicholas Church and the religious symbolism contained in those works of art.

Refreshments will be available.