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IOCC Assists Syrian Christians Traumatized in Deadly Attack

Exhausted and traumatized Christians from villages in northeastern Syria gather at an Orthodox Christian Church in Hasakah, seeking refuge after their small communities were terrorized this week. photo: IOCC/GOPAExhausted and traumatized Christians from villages in northeastern Syria gather at an Orthodox Christian Church in Hasakah, seeking refuge after their small communities were terrorized this week. photo: IOCC/GOPAFebruary 25, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Fleeing for their lives, more than 2,400 exhausted and traumatized Christians from northeastern Syria sought refuge in the towns of Hasakah and Qamishli after their small communities were terrorized this week. The attackers targeted a stretch of villages along the southern bank of the Khabour River, where they burned homes and churches, murdered a fleeing 16-year-old boy, and abducted 150 Assyrian Christian men, women and children from their homes.

For those who managed to escape the attack and seek shelter in Hasakah, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), with its church partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), is providing food, medical attention, and emergency aid. IOCC/GOPA, which has offices in both Hasakah and Qamishli, is responding to the immediate needs of more than 1,000 displaced Syrian families seeking shelter at the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church in the Al Nasreh neighborhood of Hasakah with the distribution of food parcels, bedding, infant clothing and shoes. More than 600 of the survivors who fled the onslaught are children.

IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is one of the few humanitarian organizations inside Syria providing immediate assistance to displaced families and elderly who have endured four years of a brutal war. Working in 28 offices across Syria, IOCC has provided relief to 2.5 million vulnerable people inside Syria since 2012.

Orthodox Institute 2015

Educate the adults and you won't need church schools!"

In Christian education circles, we have spoken of the need to educate adults for years with phrases like, "Christian education doesn't end with church school," "Total Parish Education," and most notably the name of our yearly event, "The Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education in the Faith." Converts from fundamental churches are pleased to find that Orthodoxy offers a treasure chest of resources for growth in the faith, from the church mothers and fathers, to icons, to hymnography. Yet, in many churches the focus is on educating the children with perhaps only one class, taught by the priest, for adults.

In Adult Education: Building on the Foundation of Faith, our aim is to encourage parishes to change their thinking. Kevin Allen, will open the conference with the address: Adult Education is Crucial to the Parish. As adult education coordinator at Saint Barnabas Antiochian Orthodox Church, Costa Mesa, California, Kevin developed his own catechism module for inquirers, in addition to providing a substantial adult education program with notable speakers. Kevin was formerly the host of two popular interview programs on Ancient Faith Radio, "The Illumined Heart" and "Ancient Faith Today."

Bishop Anthony's Lenten Message, 2015

Reverend Clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest,

Christ is in our midst!

Lent is the road; the Resurrection is the destination. Lent is revival; Pascha is our arrival.

Lent is demanding and rewarding. It is hard to change, to leave the comfort zones of daily routines. And yet, there is also a freshness and happiness when we leave old habits and strike out into the mystery of what waits for us, and of whom we might become through our journey to the empty tomb. There may be strength in us that we discover has always been a part of us. For if we can reverse course, and use our spiritual energy to gain virtue instead of satisfying desire, a youthfulness comes to us. Those many desires that we have waste our energy and exhaust God’s grace in us, and as the eighth prayer in our morning prayers addressed to the Mother of God says, “I am aged by senseless sins.”

Antiochians Encouraged to Participate in Assembly of Bishops Study on Orthodox Giving

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America has launched a national study, "Exploring Orthodox Generosity: Giving in US Orthodox Parishes." All Orthodox clergy and laity are invited to take part in this unique project, and we particularly encourage members of the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate by taking the survey online at this link.

The following are examples of questions that the study will explore:

• Why do people give (or not give) to their parishes?

• Are Church members satisfied with how financial matters are handled in their parishes?

• How do parishioners make decisions on how much, when and why to give?

• What causes boost people's generosity and encourage greater giving?

The study is being conducted as an online survey. For more details, visit the Assembly of Bishops website.

 

OCMC Mission Sunday is February 22, 2015

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) has announced that this coming Sunday, February 22, 2015, is Orthodox Mission Sunday. "Please pray for Orthodox missionaries, mission volunteers, and missions ministries this Sunday," noted the release. "There are many opportunities for you to answer the call to make disciples of all nations, and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center is here to help. Please visit us online at www.ocmc.org, e-mail us at missions@ocmc.org, or call us at 1-877-463-6784 to learn more!"

OCMC is the official missions agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. The organization supports numerous short and long term missionary efforts in the United States and overseas.

Download the Sunday bulletin insert for Mission Sunday

Spring 2015 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Spring 2015 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights The Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America! The issue contains:

  • Living the Christian Life in a Secular Age, by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph
  • The Springtime of the Soul, The Season of Repentance, by His Grace Bishop Basil
  • Introducing The 2013 - 2015 Board of Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America
  • I Am an Antiochian Woman, by Deana Bottei, Diocesan President
    Happenings Around the Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America

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

AFR Interview: "Holy Egyptian Martyrs, Pray For Us"

Fr. Nabil HannaFr. Nabil HannaFebruary 18, 2015

Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) has released an interview with Fr. Nabil Hanna, rector of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis, IN and a native of Alexandria, Egypt, regarding the recent beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians on a beach in Libya. AFR President John Maddex discusses the martyrdom of these faithful Christians with Fr. Nabil, noting the impact of the video titled "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross," released by the media arm of the Islamic State.

Father Nabil, recently returned from Egypt, describes in the podcast how the 21 men clearly had an opportunity to renounce their faith, yet chose death rather than do so. The interview closes with a prayer for the martyrs, their families, the perpetrators of these murders, and all of the faithful who live in the shadow of violence.

Listen to "Holy Egyptian Martyrs, Pray For Us"

New Lenten Evangelism Series, with Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

Starting with the first Sunday of the Triodion, Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick has been releasing weekly installments of a 10-part sermon series on evangelism and the Lenten Triodion. The meditations are available in audio form through his Roads from Emmaus podcast, or as posts on the blog of the same name.

Father Andrew, who serves in the Antiochian Archdiocese, says in his introduction, "For the next ten weeks, from today through Palm Sunday, we will be discussing evangelism. Each Sunday of the Triodion has a different theme to it, usually based in the Gospel reading, and all of them have something to say about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. The Gospel is like a great jewel with many facets, each sparkling with its own light, and each drawing us into the depths of the beauty of this most precious gift. So from now until Palm Sunday, we will be looking at different facets of this gem of evangelism."

The pastor of St. Paul Orthodox Church of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, Fr. Andrew is the author of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and An Introduction to God (available at Ancient Faith Publishing). He is also the host of the Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and Roads from Emmaus podcasts, both hosted on Ancient Faith Radio.

Read the text of the Lenten evangelism sermons, or listen to the podcast.

Metropolitan Joseph's Formative Years: A Reflection

November 2, 2008: Metropolitan Joseph stands with his lifelong mentor and spiritual father Patriarch Ignatius IV in Boston before the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy.November 2, 2008: Metropolitan Joseph stands with his lifelong mentor and spiritual father Patriarch Ignatius IV in Boston before the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy.His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph Reflects on Early Lessons Learned from His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East

by Subdeacon Peter Samore

All he knew was that he was going to Balamand. Everything else was in God's hands.

In 1964, a 13-year-old Joseph Al-Zehlaoui had been recruited by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East to study at a newly established secondary school next to the seminary and monastery at Balamand near Tripoli, Lebanon. His parents, Georgi and Matilda, had consented to send their fifth of six children at a tender age to a sacred place to know our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ; and to learn how to serve His Holy Church.

Nowadays, the automobile drive between Damascus, young Joseph's hometown, and Tripoli takes just a few hours. In 1964, the drive took several days. And it took several automobiles – taxicabs – to transport the future Metropolitan of North America to his educational and spiritual center. He had some company: boys who would grow up to become Metropolitan Damaskinos Mansour of Brazil; Metropolitan George Abu-Zakhem of Homs, Syria; and Archimandrite Elias Bitar, a legendary priest of the North American archdiocese.

OCF's Day of Prayer Begins on the Eve of Great Lent

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, has announced that its annual observance of a Day of Prayer will be held from February 22-23, 2015, from 6 p.m. on the Sunday of Forgiveness, to 6 p.m. on Clean Monday.

The Day of Prayer program unites the various chapters across North America in unceasing prayer at the start of Great Lent. Chapters on college and university campuses sign up for a time, with each school taking a one-hour slot to pray for themselves, their chapters, their fellow students, and loved ones. 

"We invite anyone to submit prayer requests for family members and friends," notes the OCF's website. "Your submissions will be forwarded to each chapter participating in the Day of Prayer to be included in their prayers."

View the resources for the Day of Prayer

 

Report on U.S. Monasteries Released by Assembly of Bishops

The Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PAThe Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PAIn late January, 2015, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America published a new report, written by the Assembly's Research Coordinator Alexei Krindatch, on monastic communities within the United States. There are more than 70 such communities, with significant differences in size, liturgical practices, openness to outside visitors, and educational programs.

The report was issued by the Assembly's Committee for Monastic Communities, which is tasked with studying and comparing Orthodox monastic communities in the United States.. Accordingly, this study was designed as a first step toward that goal. The report's findings are based on a survey that was conducted of all Orthodox monastic communities in the United States in late 2013 and early 2014.

Read the full report.

Archdiocese Launches New Website Design

The Archdiocese unveiled a new website design for www.antiochian.org on February 1, 2015, as part of a series of planned major improvements to her online ministry. The improvements introduced with the launch of the new design represent the cumulative work of a multi-year project of the Archdiocese Department of Internet Ministry.

Work on a new visual presentation for the website began in earnest in late 2012, under the leadership of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory. After a pause with his repose and the past eventful year in the life of the Archdiocese, the design has been concluded under the leadership of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, and the hierarchical overseer of the department, His Grace Bishop Nicholas.

The Archdiocese website has been in continual operation for twenty years, and since 2008 has been the primary responsibility of the Department of Internet Ministry. The website is one of the most popular English-language Orthodox Christian resources available, with an audience that has grown to 100,000 unique visitors each month, resulting in over a quarter million monthly pageviews. Included on the site are over 20,000 distinct pages, and extensive collections of graphics and documents.

The core team at the Department of Internet Ministry has been in place since 2008, and consists of director Douglas Cramer, and editors Virginia Nieuwsma and Andrew Frishman. Technical support has been provided since 2013 by SNP Technologies of Hamden, Connecticut, and their project lead Michael Brooks. Graphic design concepts and consulting for the new design were provided by Fr. Joel Wilson (OCA) of Rolla Creative of Rolla, Missouri.

Bishop Nicholas Delivers Schmemann Lecture on the Ministry of St. Raphael

On January 30, 2015, His Grace Bishop Nicholas engaged his audience in a fascinating historical look at "The Life and Ministry of St. Raphael of Brooklyn" during the 32nd Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture, held in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium at St. Vladimir's Seminary. Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), attended the evening lecture.

Bishop Nicholas holds several engineering degrees as well as a Master of Divinity degree awarded with Highest Distinction from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He speaks Arabic and English fluently and has a working knowledge of French, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, New Testament Greek, and Modern Greek. His Grace administers the Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C. and also serves as the assistant to His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph.

Memory Eternal! + Rev. Dn. David Daumit

Deacon David Daumit of St. George Church in Phoenix, Arizona, fell asleep in the Lord on Wednesday, January 28, 2015. His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph has asked the parishes to remember him in your prayers for the departed for the next 40 days, to hold a special Trisagion for his eternal life, and to remember his loved ones in your prayers for the living.

Ordained to the Holy Diaconate on March 21, 2010, Dn. David had been serving at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, AZ, with The Very Rev. Christopher Salamy.

In addition to holding his M.Div. and M.A. in Religious Education from St. Vladimir's Seminary, Dn. David also earned an M.S. degree in Gerontology. He specialized on caring for the aged and infirm throughout his professional career, and was the Founder and CEO of New Dawn Memory Care in Scottsdale, AZ, a firm that provides residential care for seniors living with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The New Dawn website says that he "was elected to the National Board of the Alzheimer's Association. In 1990 in conjunction with the greater Washington chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, he developed the first specialized activities program for Alzheimer's residents."

The schedule of services is as follows:

Sunday, Feb 1, 2015--Trisagion Prayers following Divine Liturgy
Thursday, Feb 5, 2015--Viewing from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. and Trisagion at 6:30 p.m., St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church
Friday, Feb 6, 2015--Funeral 10 a.m., followed by the Interment at Paradise Memorial Gardens
A Meal of Mercy will be offered in memory of Dn. David in The Legacy Ballroom following the interment.May God receive him in His Heavenly Kingdom and may his memory be eternal.

Celebrate St. Raphael! Posters Depict His Legacy

Saint Raphael left a legacy of 30 churches to the Antiochian Archdiocese. These beautiful small posters have been prepared so our children may learn about Saint Raphael. The posters show the parishes, and with vintage photos offer some clues as to how Bishop Raphael made his way around in the early 20th century. Some photographs of his parish visits still exist and were also included.

The posters are free—online only at www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf/posters-2015. Download the files (file name in quotes) onto a USB drive and take them to Staples or Office Max. (Some print centers will download from a website.) Each poster is available in two sizes, 8.5 x 14 (legal size) and 11 x 17 (ledger size). There are also posters with the troparion and logo.

Youth Workers Meet at Antiochian Village, Announce New Events

Youth workers representing Orthodox jurisdictions from across the country met at Antiochian Village on January 22, 2015, and are excited to announce a new series of unprecedented, inter-jurisdictional "Be the Bee" themed events. "Be the Bee" is a popular weekly video podcast hosted by Steven Christoforou, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Youth Protection/Parish Ministries Coordinator.

Orthodox youth and young adults are invited to a series of monthly, day-long retreats. Each month, from August 2015 to May 2016, "Be the Bee" will be visiting a different city across the United States, offering Orthodox youth an opportunity to worship, learn, and have fun together. Retreats will also offer programs for young adults, parents, and youth workers. For more information, please contact the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese at y2am@goarch.org.

Additionally, Orthodox teens and parents are also invited to a "Be the Bee" retreat Veteran's Day weekend next year, November 11-13, 2016. It will be held at Camp Nazareth, in the Pittsburgh area, and will offer a unique, multi-day "Be the Bee" experience. For more information, please contact campnazareth@acrod.org.

Youth workers are also invited to next year's Orthodox Youth Workers and Camp Conference, to be held January 28-30, 2016. For more information, please contact the Orthodox Church in America's Chair for the Department of Youth, Youth Adult, and Campus Ministry, Andrew Boyd, at aboyd@oca.org.

February 8 is National Scout Sunday

The Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting, an endorsed agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, released the following letter announcing this year's annual recognition of Scouting programs.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

On Sunday, February 8, 2015, Scouts all over the United States will celebrate National Scout Sunday. Scout Sunday is an annual event among all faiths which recognize the good work that is done by Scouts in our religious communities. The observance of Scout Sunday tradition was started years ago to make people in the church aware of Scouting, and to allow Scouts to live out of what is pledged each week, The Scout Law says that a "Scout is Reverent" and the Scouts of all ages promise to do their "Duty to God". These values strengthen youth character in their family, community and faith. That is why this Sunday is set aside to honor God and to remind us that we are all His Creatures and made in His Image or more precisely - to image (reflect) Him to the world.

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishop of the Americas has designated this also as Orthodox Scout Sunday. Through the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting [EOCS], the Assembly and its predecessor, SCOBA, have been actively supporting both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the USA since the 1960's.

Assembly Delegation to Participate in March for Life

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America will send a delegation to the annual March for Life, Thursday, January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. The date marks the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Metropolitan Methodios will lead the delegation. He will be joined by Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop Michael, and Bishop Demetrios Mokissos. Metropolitan Tikhon will deliver the invocation at the annual Rose Dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington DC on the evening of the 22nd. On the evening before the March, Metropolitan Methodios will attend the National Prayer Vigil for Life at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

The rally begins at noon on the National Mall at 12th Street. Orthodox Christian marchers will gather to the right of the stage under the "Orthodox Christians for Life" banner and signs. The march begins at 1 PM and processes down Constitution Avenue to the US Supreme Court, where prayers for the victims of abortion will be offered.

Theophany Water Blessings Make Local News

Dn. John Mahfouz, Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church, Salt Lake City (Chelsey Allder/Deseret News)Dn. John Mahfouz, Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church, Salt Lake City (Chelsey Allder/Deseret News)On the feast of the Theophany of Our Lord or Epiphany on January 6, 2015, our Antiochian clergy and parishes journeyed to nearby bodies of water for The Great Blessing of the Waters. Several media outlets published articles and photographs from these services; excerpts and links are included below.

Deseretnews.com: "Epiphany: priests bless water, 'essence of life'"

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Orthodox Christians gathered at Sugarhouse Park Tuesday to be blessed during a service of sanctification and commemoration of Jesus' baptism.

More than 60 members of the Orthodox Christian community lined up as the Rev. Justin Havens of Sts. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Salt Lake dipped a bundle of branches into holy water and sprinkled it on parishioners' heads.

Memory Eternal! + Fr. N. Constantine Masood

Memory Eternal! Father N. Constantine Masood of Duxbury, Massachusetts fell asleep in Christ on January 16, 2015 at age 75. Prior to his retirement, Fr. Constantine served parishes in Danbury, Connecticut; Beckley, West Virginia; New Kensington, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Beaumont, Texas; South Glens Falls, New York; and Omaha, Nebraska. He is survived by his wife Khouriya Diana, their six children, seventeen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements may be found here. Memorial donations in his memory may be made to St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Church, 261 Main St., Kingston, MA. 02364 

Blessed Name's Days to Bishops Antoun and Anthony!

January 17th is the celebration of St. Anthony the Great and the name's days of His Grace Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and of His Grace Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo. May God grant them many years!

APOLYTIKION OF ST. ANTHONY THE GREAT, TONE 4 

Thou didst become like the zealous Elijah in his condition, and followed John the Baptist in his upright ways, becoming a dweller in the wilderness and an establisher of the universe by thy prayer, O Father Anthony. Wherefore, intercede thou with Christ God to save our souls.

Dr. Maria Khoury to Visit Miami and Boston Areas

Dr. Maria C. Khoury, author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land, will be in the Miami and Boston areas and available for book signings and/or discussions about the Christian community in the Holy Land. Dr. Khoury will be be in Miami from March 19 to March 31 and in the Boston area from approximately April 23 to May 27, 2015.

If your church is interested in hosting a program, please contact Dr. Khoury directly at khourymaria@hotmail.com.

Description of Holy Land Presentation:

Maria Khoury uses her personal life experiences living in the West Bank, the Palestinian Occupied Territories, to bring greater awareness of how conditions are on the ground for Christians specifically, and Palestinians in general, who suffer day to day under Israeli military occupation trying to do simple things like going to work, school, etc. She speaks from the perspective of being a woman, mother, an Orthodox Christian and community activist. A sample of her opinions can been viewed on one of the interviews on the multimedia page www.saintgeorgetaybeh.org.

OCABS Symposium: January 22-25, Phoenix, AZ

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Phoenix, AZSt. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Phoenix, AZThe 2015 Symposium of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS), will be held January 22-25, 2015, at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Phoenix, AZ. (Download a detailed schedule.)

Building upon the success of OCABS's inaugural symposium, papers presented at the 2015 Symposium will be published in the Journal of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies.

OCABS is committed to empowering current and future generations of teachers and scholars already possessing a love for Scripture. This dynamic collaborative enterprise cannot help but benefit the lives of students and parishioners in a world in need of hearing the divine Word.

Memory Eternal! + Ann Kafoure Freije

Fr. Nabil Hanna of St. George Church in Fishers, IN writes:

Beloved in Christ,

I regret to inform you that Ann Kafoure Freije left us for the heavenly mansions on Friday, January 9th, 2015. A lifelong member and tireless worker here at St. George's, we will miss Ann as much as we rejoice in her well-deserved rest. As a testament to her faithful service, she was a recipient of the Midwest Antiochian Women's Metropolitan Philip Award as well as of our parish's St. George Award.

Climacus Conference To Discuss the Theme of Beauty

The fifth Climacus Conference, featuring the theme "BEAUTY, Truth, and Goodness Will Save Us," is scheduled for February 13-14, 2015, at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY. The conference is a pan-Orthodox intellectual and spiritual event featuring scholars and voices across the fields of Theology, Philosophy, Patristics, Classical Education, Literature, History and Politics. It is unique in that it provides an opportunity for people to be enriched by thinking well across disciplines. It furthers the life of the mind through scholarly engagement with the classic liberal arts, but approaches such an endeavor through the spiritual nous, the mind of the heart, enabling our ascension "of the ladder" (κλίμακος), as inspired by St. John Climacus and his Ladder of Divine Ascent.