Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Dean of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY, was interviewed at length on September 14 on the situation in Syria by Archimandrite Eugene Pappas of Hellenic Public Radio. The interview is available for listening below in its entirety.
The clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas to our Patronal Feast of the Elevation of the Cross from September 13-15, 2013. Along with His Grace Bishop Melchizedek (Orthodox Church in America), over twenty visiting clergy and many other well-wishers joined us in commemorating both the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Cross as well as Sayedna Thomas' 25th year of ordination. The weekend also saw the ordinations of Lt. Col. Kelvin Gardner (chaplain, USAF). In total, four services and a banquet were held. Also included in the weekend was the annual retreat of the deacons of the Eastern dioceses with renowned scholar Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Hellenic College Holy Cross celebrated its 75th Anniversary name day feast with a four-day Jubilee September 12–15, 2013. The event focused on celebrating the history of the community while continuing to highlight the School's significance as, in the words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, "the heart and the mind of our Church in America." Over the course of the 75 years of the school's existence, many Antiochian students have prepared for the priesthood or lay ministry in the Church through their studies at Holy Cross.
His Eminence presided over festal services as crowds overflowing from the Holy Cross Chapel watched on high-definition video screens under a tent. In the Vespers service on Friday evening, second-year seminarians received their crosses and Masters of Divinity candidates entering their final year of studies received their rasso [cassocks] as families, trustees, and Jubilee visitors came together in prayer, thanksgiving, and celebration.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip was interviewed this week by Boston's NPR radio station for their Here and Now program concerning the plight of the ancient Orthodox Christian communities of Syria. The interview is available for listening, and as a written transcript, both available here.
His Eminence in particular highlighted his concern for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria. (Read an appeal for the monastery from the Patriarchate of Antioch here.) Metropolitan Philip said in part:
"My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus."
Antiochian scholar and author Dr. Bradley Nassif, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University, recently participated in an international meeting between Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Evangelical church leaders held in Albania during the first week in September, 2013. Convened at the invitation of Archbishop Anastasios Yannoulatos of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, the conference gathered 46 Eastern and Oriental Orthodox and Evangelical leaders from 20 different countries at St. Vlash Monastery in Albania for the first international consultation of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative.
Addressing the topic "Tradition, Catholicity and the Mind of the Church," Dr. Nassif reminded his audience that when Orthodox Christians say one thing, evangelical Christians often hear something completely different. In frank discussion and a spirit of respect and hospitality, participants wrestled with the challenging issues of proselytism, canonical territory, salvation, justification, and theosis, resolving to continue to journey together with a second international gathering already being planned for the early autumn of 2014.
Speaking to the theme "The Mission of God," Archbishop Anastasios noted that “The Spirit ceaselessly gives life to the Church and to each of the Church’s members, transforming them into living cells of the mystical body of Christ, enabling it to partake in His continuing mission for the salvation of the entire cosmos.” Speakers reviewed recent developments in Evangelical missiology and mission practice and pointed out areas of difference and similarity between Orthodox and Evangelical understandings of "The Mission of God."
Antiochian Village reports that in an effort to stay connected to campers and introduce young people to the camp experience, the Village at Home program is running several programs this fall. In Village at Home, camp staff visit a church at the invitation of the priest, and run a modified day of camp in the parish. Hosting parishes often extend invitations to neighboring churches with hope of exposing as many young people to the Antiochian Village camping program. Former staff members to join in for the day to assist with the program, which replicates as much as possible the typical camper's day at the Village.
The following Village at Home days are scheduled:
- September 28 - St. Michael Orthodox Church - Louisville, KY
- October 5 - St. Raphael Orthodox Church - Chantilly, VA
- November 16 - St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church - West Roxbury, MA
- December 7 - Basilica of St .Mary - Livonia, MI
- March 22 - St. Philip Orthodox Church - Souderton, PA
Additionally, camp dates for the 2014 season have been posted. The season's earliest camp is Winter Camp in February, and the last camp to wrap up is the Special Olympics Sports Camp during the second week of August.
The Fall 2013 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the North American Board, and contains:
- The Antiochian Women and Martyrdom: A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
- A message from His Grace Bishop John
- A 40th Anniversary message from NAB President Violet Robbat
- An introduction to the 2013-2015 North American Board
...and more! Click here to download (PDF).
September 16, 2013
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) reports:
OCF's "Real Break" aims to prepare college students to be socially informed Orthodox Christian citizens of this world, while directing their focus on the world to come, the kingdom of heaven. Built on a foundation of fellowship, education, worship, and service, Real Break provides students the opportunity to understand the true meaning of seeing Christ in the other—traveling to all parts of the world deepening their faith, serving those in need, and cultivating relationships with like-minded peers.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Throngs of displaced Syrians crowd before the gates of an Orthodox church in the coastal governorate of Tartous, awaiting their turns to register for humanitarian assistance at one of the four offices IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) have established in the governorate to assist with the influx of people needing aid. IOCC is responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of displaced families who have sought the relative safety of Tartous from areas of intense conflict in Homs, Aleppo and Idlib.
IOCC/GOPA volunteers work diligently to register the thousands of weary and homeless Syrian people who gather daily seeking food, shelter and basic household items like bedding and blankets. More than 3,300 displaced families have been registered to receive assistance such as housing support, crisis counseling, and remedial classes at a makeshift school for 500 displaced children. In response to the needs of the growing number of Syrian families arriving to Tartous and other governorates, IOCC is working to expand the assistance it is providing.
In the meantime, the IOCC has also helped resettle families displaced from the historic town of Maaloula. Read about these efforts on IOCC's Website.
The Lord’s Day After the Exaltation of the Cross, September 15th/29th, 2013
“Behold now, what is so good or so pleasant as for brothers to dwell together in unity?” Psalm 132:1
Beloved Clergy, Godly Monastics, and Blessed Faithful,
On behalf of the members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, we greet you in the Joy of our Lord Jesus Christ as we commence the 2013-14 Academic School Year. The wonderful verse recounted above comes to us from the Psalmist David. Its brilliance and simplicity should inspire us all as Orthodox Christians to strive for active engagement, participation, connection and interaction with one another through all stages of life and development in the life of the Orthodox Christian.
Your Grace: Master, bless! News reports about the '100 year flood' in Colorado are very true. We ask for your prayers and those of our DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood. I heard this morning from a parishioner asking for special prayers for her elderly mother Batool in a downtown Boulder apartment who was recently referred to hospice. They cannot reach her due to the floods and evacuations. Fr. Lester Bundy told me yesterday that his daughter called saying their home was 'lost.' Some people have died, some are in isolated areas, some without utilities and without safe drinking water. Emergency workers are doing what they can, to get people to shelters. Weather reports call for more rain. Our church temples are so far not effected in any major way, just a few leaks. Some areas are fine as well. Thank you.
Yours in Christ,
His Eminence Philip (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, sent a message to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which reads, in particular: “We monitor with gratitude your tireless efforts in support of the Christians, and all the God-fearing people of Syria.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expresses his conviction that the forces responsible for stirring up the conflict in the country “have ulterior motives in mind, not the least of which is to expunge the area of Christians who have been living in that land peacefully with Muslims for many years under the secular government…”
The hierarch of the Church of Antioch thanked the Russian Church for carrying out the fund-raising campaign and sending the money collected “to help the needy, homeless and downtrodden people of Syria” who have been suffering from “the uncivil war that continues to rage.”
“Throughout history, Russia has protected the Orthodox of the Middle East in times of need and it seems history is repeating itself once again,” the letter reads. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expressed his gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for his support in this difficult time and asked him “to remember the victims of this barbarism” in his prayers.
The following videos feature the Dormition Patriarchal Divine Liturgy that His Grace Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas Zain of New York City, and Fr. Mousa Haddad of Chicago celebrated with His Holiness Kirill the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. See here for the full story of the pilgrimage, including a photo gallery.
From St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Coral Gables, FL:
St. George Cathedral is saddened to inform you of the passing into eternal life of Ramon Ghawali (Ghazaleh) at the age of 71.
The Clergy and Council of St. George Cathedral offer their sincerest condolences to his wife, Suhayla, his children and their families, Joudeh and Muna, Elias and Reem, Ghada and Sameer Al-Ghawali, Mary and Elia Sammour, and Roland, his brothers and sisters across the United States, and the Ghawali and Kattan families in Beit Jala, Palestine, on the loss of their beloved, Ramon.
May Christ, who is our life and resurrection, give rest to the soul of the servant of God, Ramon, with all the Saints and may He grant comfort, patience, and strength to his family.
The following arrangements have been made:
Sunday, September 8 - The Viewing will be held at St. George Cathedral from 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. The Funeral Service will be held during the Wake at 7:30 p.m. A Mercy Meal will be offered at St. George Cathedral Hall after the Funeral Service.
Monday, September 9 - The Final Viewing will be held at St. George Cathedral beginning at 10:00 a.m. followed by the Trisagion Service at 10:30 a.m. The Procession and Burial Service will be held after the service. A Mercy Meal will be offered at St. George Cathedral Hall after the Burial Service.
May his memory be eternal!
His Grace Bishop Basil, Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, writes: This is an important Encyclical from Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, chair of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, concerning Assembly IV which will be held later this month in Chicago. The encyclical is to be published and/or read to our people on "Assembly Sunday," September 15th, and the prayer which appears in the encyclical is to be said at the end of Divine Liturgy that Lord's Day in all church temples.
September 15, 2013
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Chairs and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family in North and Central America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America will convene for its fourth meeting on September 17 – 19, 2013. On this day, marked as "Assembly Sunday," we ask all clergy and faithful throughout the lands of which the Assembly is composed to offer prayers for safe travel, fraternal dialogue, and furtherance of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church. The Assembly represents the hopes, aspirations and vision for the future of Orthodoxy for all Orthodox Christian faithful in North and Central America.
[SVOTS Communications / Yonkers, NY] "More than a third of our alumni are in jurisdictions that use Byzantine music," noted The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. "In order to serve the Church and our students preparing for service in these ecclesial settings, we are fortifying our Byzantine music course offerings and chapel music repertoire for the 2013–2014 Academic Year.
"We are particularly blessed that Mr. Rassem El Massih has joined our faculty as Lecturer in Liturgical Music," continued Fr. Chad. "Instructor El Massih of the Antiochian Archdiocese is a renowned church musician who will be teaching 'Introduction to Byzantine Chant.'"
From the Antiochian Diocese of Los Angeles and the West Website:
Memory Eternal! The Very Reverend Father Demetri Moamar
It is with extreme sadness that we inform you that Fr. Demetri Moamar, who was attached to St. Joseph the Damascene Church in New Westminster, BC, Canada, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday, August 22, 2013. His Eminence Archbishop Joseph has requested the parishes to remember him in the prayers for the departed for the next 40 days and to hold a special Trisagion for his eternal life.
May God receive him in His Heavenly Kingdom and may his memory be eternal. The funeral arrangements will be posted when they become available.
In August, 2013, over 600 children living in motels with their families were given backpacks filled with school supplies at the West Anaheim Youth Center in Southern California. The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) partnered with 30 other organizations in Orange County to spearhead the effort.
Additionally, FOCUS volunteers have continued to distribute shoes to homeless children who are enrolled in public schools in the FOCUS program Operation Lace Up. This back-to-school program brings much-needed shoes to thousands of children from homeless and working poor families in cities across America. Volunteers gather at a shoe storage location and then help organize and prepare the shoes for delivery to needy children. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved, or visit the FOCUS Website.
Founding pastor of the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, The Very Rev. George Shalhoub, has released a book titled The Mystery of Love and Marriage. An associate professor at Madonna University as well as a priest of many years, Fr. George draws from more than 40 years of experience in counseling, teaching and educating the community on the foundations of a healthy relationship. His book provides practical advice about healthy living in a complicated and fast paced world, and about how to live a balanced way of life.
"This book is a roadmap for anyone looking to be in a relationship,' said Fr. George Shalhoub. "The Mystery of Love and Marriage exposes the truths to communication, forgiveness and unconditional love, all the scariest and most important pieces of being in a partnership."
The summer is an especially busy season for the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), as short-term mission teams are trained and then sent out to minister in other parts of the world. In 2013, teams journeyed to Alaska, Tanzania, Kenya, Guatemala and Albania, and several of the participants shared their stories on the OCMC's Website and Facebook page.
Jamil Samara, director of Internet Ministries for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, served on the Albania Mission Team in the early summer. On Day five of his blog diary, he wrote:
Thursday, May 30, 2013
My head popped off the pillow about 4 am, even before my alarm went off! I intended on waking up early, as today was a big day, and I needed to prepare for it. Andrew Otto and I were tasked with giving a presentation today in front of 100 teenagers in Berat, a nearby city. I'm not used to public speaking, so I like having what I'm going to say clearly written out and rehearsed.
[SVOTS Communications/Yonkers, NY] "This fall, as we conclude our 75th Anniversary year, we will bring some innovative events to our campus," remarked The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY. "Our fall schedule is quite full, and it will hold some surprises, in honor of our Jubilee.
"Most notably," he continued, "Father John Erickson, former dean of our school and professor emeritus of history, will present our inaugural Father John Meyendorff Annual Memorial Lecture in September; and in October, we will host a college conference with the theme 'For the Life of the World,' titled after the phenomenal book by Father Alexander Schmemann.
"With these two events," he concluded, "we plan to give special honor to two former deans who had immeasurable impact upon our seminary during their tenures."
The Diocese of New York & New Jersey for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) recently sponsored the 2013 Parish Council Conference for the Diocese. At the invitation of His Grace Bishop Michael, the conference facilitator was Antiochian speaker and author The Very Rev. Constantine Nasr. Father Constantine oversaw the growth of a modestly sized parish in Oklahoma City, OK to a truly thriving community of over 1,000 souls during his three decades of pastoral ministry. With enthusiasm, clarity, and wit, Father Constantine shared his years of expertise and highly practical methods for making the faith contagious and parishes inviting to both new visitors and to those who have fallen out of regular participation in parish life.
Blake Keller (Parish Council Warden, Saint John the Baptist Church, Rochester NY) said: “Father Constantine Nasr immediately got the attention of the conference participants by reminding us that in the Gospel of Mathew we are told to ‘Go ye therefore...!’ He repeatedly inspired us that this requires energy and effort, not sitting frozen.
Color and black and white versions of the official logo for 2014 Parish Life Conferences are now available online:
August is "Vice Month" for The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) flagship podcast, "Come Receive the Light. The August theme is introduced in the video "Overcoming Habits and Addictions" with Fr. Christopher Metropulos, OCN's executive director. To kick off the discussion, Fr. George Aquaro of St. Matthew Antiochian Orthodox Church in Torrance, CA tackles the topic "Substance Addiction: A Spiritual Illness." Author of the blog Orthodoxy and Recovery, Fr. George seeks to aid individuals struggling with addiction through the 12-Step program and the tools available through the Orthodox Faith.
Chapter Sponsorship Kits will include:
1 full-color 2'x4' icon banner with image above
10 "Timeline of Church History" brochures
10 "What on Earth is the Orthodox Church" brochures
10 "The 4 Elements of OCF Life" flyers
20 OCF prayer cards
10 OCF pens
Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, OCF has the means to send out 40 Chapter Sponsorship Kits, in order that the nearly 200 OCF chapters might bring a strong Orthodox presence to their welcome week activities and student activity fairs.
More information on sponsoring a chapter is available on the OCF Website.