Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — In the second half of the month of June, 2014, rivers across the Midwest surged over their banks, flooding cities and sweeping away summer crops as they failed to contain record summer rains that fell during the early summer. Floodwaters engulfed much of Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, in some of the worst flooding in decades. The state's governor declared a state of emergency as homes and businesses as well as vast stretches of farmland across 35 counties were submerged under several feet of water.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) mobilized to respond to the emergency needs of flood survivors in the region. IOCC Emergency Response Network volunteers as well as the local Orthodox Christian community sprang into action, with more than a dozen teens and adults from St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis traveling to Rock Rapids to roll up their sleeves and help clear out waterlogged debris from flooded homes.
The IOCC is on the scene, helping the victims of disasters in the United States, like the Midwest floods. The United States Emergency Response Fund provides immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need.
Read more at IOCC's website.
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Diocese of Worcester and New England held its 76th annual Parish Life Conference (PLC) from June 19-22 at the Radisson Hotel in Plymouth Harbor. The conference was organized and hosted by the parish of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Boston. The theme of the PLC was taken from the Gospel according to St. Luke; "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself." With over 300 people in attendance throughout the four days, the PLC proved to be a tremendous success.
Some highlights included lively question and answer sessions led by His Grace Bishop John (Abdalah) as well as daily Bible studies, divine services and inspirational homilies led by our beloved Diocesan clergy. The teens of our Diocese showcased their knowledge and talents at the annual Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals.
A letter from His Grace Bishop Gregory of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, liaison from the Assembly of Bishops of the U.S.A. to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), concerning the Church's joint ministry to our Orthodox college students:
Dear Reverend Fathers:
As many of you know, the loss of our Christian youth is a staggering problem today in our country. Statistics show us that more than 80% of our young people are graduating high school, going to college and never returnlng to their faith group. l do not mean their parish or community, but their faith. In other words, more than 6 out of 10 Orthodox young adults will abandon Orthodoxy. This is a huge challenge for all of us.
As the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) works on behalf of all Orthodox to connect students to Christ and His Church during college. Through its campus-based chapters, regional events and programs such as College Conference and Real Break, OCF engages Orthodox college students across the continent in fellowship, education, worship, and service.
The Ancient Church on New Shores: Antioch in North America, authored by Economos Antony Gabriel, is a comprehensive history of the Antiochian Archdiocese that emphasizes the virtues of perseverance, struggle, and determination. The book, presented to the Archdiocese by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory and offered by the Department of Publications, is a lucid recounting that relates the struggles of the Antiochian Archdiocese's founders in North America to the strivings of Saints Peter and Paul, the founders of the Holy See of Antioch.
Department of Publications phone: 201-871-1355 or Fax: 201-871-1709
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
Memory Eternal! Angela Nasr of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, fell asleep in Christ late last evening, June 27th, 2014. She was the daughter of the late Fr. Zacharia and Kh. Nasra Nasr; and sister of Kh. Nawall Elias of Jacksonville, Florida; Fr. Constantine Nasr of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Kh. Ellen Antypas of Troy, Michigan; and Fr. Elias Nasr of Syracuse, New York. The funeral will be served on Tuesday, July 1st at St. Philip Church in Fort Lauderdale.
May she be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.
This year's Diocese of Wichita and Mid America's (DOWAMA) Parish Life Conference was held in San Antonio, Texas. The host church was the tiny St. Ephraim the Syrian, with host pastor The Rev. John Mefrige. Not only was there great weather, but the 412 people who attended conference found old friends, met new ones, and were both physically and spiritually encouraged.
There was something happening for everyone. The younger kids went to a children's Whitte Museum one day and did some interesting craft projects the next. Teens were busy going to Six Flags/Fiesta Texas as well as making blankets to be donated to a community home for unwed mothers.
[SVOTS Communications/Yonkers, NY] St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY, has chosen as its theme for Orthodox Education Day 2014, "Do Books Still Matter? A Celebration of Orthodox Christian Publications." This year’s traditional open house will be held Saturday, October 4, and will pay tribute to the importance of Orthodox Christian authors, illustrators, and publishing houses throughout the world.
The dean of the seminary, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, author of academic, popular, and spiritual works, will be the keynote speaker. The seminary’s own publishing house, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press (SVS Press), will receive special recognition on reaching its 50th Anniversary and will invite many other Orthodox Christian publishers onto campus to help it mark the occasion.
Ancient Faith Publishing, the publishing arm of the Antiochian Archdiocese department Ancient Faith Ministries, announced on June 25, 2014 that their 2013 release A Patristic Treasury has won the prestigious Word Guild award for the "Inspirational/Devotional" category. Authored by patristic scholar James Payton, the book discusses patristic passages that are "devotionally stimulating, doctrinally thought-provoking, or epigrammatically striking...." Payton is professor of History at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, where he teaches Eastern European History, Orthodoxy, and Patristics.
The Word Guild is a professional association consisting of some 325 Canadian Christian writers, editors, speakers, publishers, booksellers, librarians and other interested individuals. The Guild's focus is on "strengthening the Canadian Christian writing and publishing community; encouraging excellence in writing; and impacting the Canadian culture through the words of writers, editors and speakers with a Christian worldview."
His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, encourages the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to explore the possibilities of the educational opportunities that exist at the Balamand Seminary and the University of Balamand. "This is a multi-purpose institution," notes His Grace. "Here are some links that you and your high school and college students might want to take a look at. I was very impressed when I visited the University. In addition to Theology, there are a number of areas that can be studied the Balamand. The links that are provided here will familiarize you with everything the University has to offer.
Fr. Robert James Bethony, retired and attached to St. George Church in El Paso, Texas, fell asleep in Christ on June 17th, 2014 at the age of 73. He is survived by his wife Khouriya Elizabeth and their married daughter Alexis. The Funeral Service will be served at St. George in El Paso on Friday, June 20 at 10:00AM.
Beginning Sunday, June 15, 2014, Antiochian Village Summer Camp in Bolivar, Pennsylvania begins its summer-long camping program for kids age 9-18. Since 1978, the mission of the Camp has been to promote the faith of the Orthodox Church through ministry to the youth. The Village has been a "holy mountain" wherein campers form lifelong friendships and grow stronger as Christians.
Is your child going to Antiochian Village this summer? Are you an alumnus longing to vicariously enter into this year's camping season? Visit the Village's Facebook page for introductions to counselors, highlights of each session, and other features, or view all the new photos as they are uploaded to the Village's photo site. A complete list of camps within the Antiochian Archdiocese is available on the Department of Camping page.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, the patriarchal vicar of New York and all North America, the 2014 Archdiocese Summer Meetings will be hosted at the Antiochian Village, July 18-20, 2014. The Archdiocese and diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO, will gather for their annual summer meetings to conduct the business of the Archdiocese organizations.
In addition, the Archdiocese Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals will be held during the weekend with participants from each diocese. Please contact your NAC/NAB President if you have any questions.
Information for the Summer Meetings is as follows:
On June 5, 2014, hierarchs, clergy, and laity delegates convened in Chicago, IL at the Hyatt Regency Hotel to participate in the historic Archdiocese Special Convention, with the purpose of selecting three candidates whose names will be submitted to the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch for the office of Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America and Canada.
Vicar General for the Antiochian Archdiocese The Very Rev. Thomas Zain was interviewed by Ancient Faith Radio immediately following the vote, announcing that the Special Convention has nominated the following (in alphabetical order): The Right Rev. Bishop Basil, Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America; The Right Rev. Bishop John, Diocese of Worcester and New England; and The Most Rev. Archbishop Joseph, Diocese of Los Angeles and the West and Locum Tenens for the Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest.
In the interview, Fr. Thomas also thanked His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, who has served as the Patriarchal Vicar of New York and all North America since the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory on March 19, 2014.
The Antiochian clergy of the Capital Deanery (the Greater Washington, D.C. / Baltimore area) were invited by the Franciscans of Washington D.C. to offer Orthodox Vespers on Sunday, May 18, 2014, at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, as part of the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagorus in Jerusalem in 1964. The 50th anniversary was also marked in Jerusalem this year by the meeting of Pope Francis I and Patriarch Bartholomew on May 25, 2014, where they prayed together for peace in the Middle East.
Prior to his repose, Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory received a request from the Franciscans asking for his blessing for this service, emphasizing the need to join together in support of the suffering Christians of the Middle East.
The Summer 2014 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights The Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, and contains:
- A Tribute to His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory
- Reflections on the services for Metropolitan Philip by Antiochian Women President Violet Robbat
- A greeting from Bishop Antoun
- Reflections from Diocesan Spiritual Advisor Fr. Stephen Rogers
- A message from Diocesan President Dorothy Tampary
- A moving diary by Kh. Kyra Lewis of her husband Archpriest Michael's last earthly days
- Introductions to the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast's Board
...and more! Download (PDF) here.
The Department of Conventions and Conference Planning has released the following details regarding the Archdiocese Special Nominating Convention being held June 5th in Chicago, IL. (See here for introductory information on upcoming May and June leadership meetings and the convention.)
June 3 Update from Raed Sweiss, Department of Conventions and Conference Planning
Rev. Fathers, Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Delegates,
We look forward to seeing you in Chicago on Wednesday, June 4th and Thursday, June 5th, 2014 for the Special Convention. Below are a few items to note for your upcoming meeting:
1) Registration will be open from 6 pm – 9 pm on Wednesday, June 4th and from 7 am – 10 am on Thursday, June 5th. We encourage everyone to pick up their badges on Wednesday night to elevate any rush on Thursday morning.
2) A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PHOTO ID is required to pick up your badge and needs to be shown whenever you enter the General Assembly along with your badge.
3) A continental breakfast will be provided on Thursday morning at 8 am as part of your registration.
Wishing you safe travels to Chicago!
Special commendation to the following graduates, who have completed their course of study at an Orthodox seminary this spring:
Fr. Joseph Landino, St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary
Dn. Scott Miller, George Katrib, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, with Metropolitan Silouan and Bishop Nicholas in attendance
Peter Kavanaugh, Majd Akkawi, Christopher Kies, and Nicholas Mamey, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, with Bishop John in attendance
On May 29, 2014, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) released a podcast in their "Ancient Faith Presents" series titled "Tragedy in Isla Vista, California." The program features Antiochian priest Fr. John Finley in an interview he conducted with fellow clergy member Archpriest Jon-Stephen Hedges. Father Jon directs the St. Brigid Fellowship, a ministry started by St. Athanasius Orthodox Church, an Antiochian parish in Santa Barbara, CA. He is also a chaplain with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, and in the interview Fr. Jon discusses with Fr. John Finley his role on the scene at the sites of the recent string of murders in Isla Vista, California.
"We Christians are amphibians-that is, we live in two kingdoms," notes Fr. Jon. "Sometimes we would like to stay in the altar...but when we go forth, we go forth with the scent of heaven. We don't go forth for the privileged or for those who are strong and well. We go forth for those who are broken."
On Sunday, May 25, 2014, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis will convene at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem to commemorate a meeting in the Holy Land held fifty years ago by their predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America's Website published a joint statement issued by Assembly Chairman Archbishop Demetrios and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We not only express our appreciation of the work of our North American dialogue, but also our joy that our Churches have increasingly been able to speak with one voice on the pressing issues that our society faces today ... we call our people to pray for the success of the upcoming meeting between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem for the glory of God and the promotion of Christianity in our wounded world."
The Apostolic Pilgrimage to Jerusalem Website offers further resources, including photo and video galleries, archival and biographical information for the Pope and Patriarch, and access to a live broadcast of the Prayer Service of Thanksgiving to be offered on May 25.
May 16, 2014
Watch the full report on This Week in Orthodoxy, Orthodox Christian Network (OCN)
A broad array of American Christian leaders joined together on Capitol Hill on May 7 to issue a "pledge of solidarity and call to action" on behalf of the suffering churches of Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.
OCN's Executive Director, Fr. Christopher Metropulos, was among the more than 180 Christian leaders who signed the call to action and attended the event. Other Orthodox signatories included Fr. Nathanael Symeonides, Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; Martin Ritsi of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC); and Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at Boston University, among others.
The statement and press conference were organized by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), co-chairs of the bipartisan Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) announces that there are still openings available for its 2014 Mission Teams. Two teams will be traveling to Lokichar, Kenya this summer to assist with the construction of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. When completed, this will be the third permanent church in the Turkana region of Kenya that the faithful of North America have sponsored through the OCMC. The first 2014 team will serve from June 17th to July 1st and the second from June 24th to July 11th.
In another opportunity, the OCMC Orthodox Mission Team to Mexico will be laboring at the Mission of San Esteban the first Martyr, outside of Mexico City. This team has been invited to offer youth and adult catechism, and to be part of the life of the Church in Mexico. This is a unique opportunity to engage the faithful of Mexico, share your Faith and be a part of a Christian witness. The dates are July 5 to July 12, 2014. Participants with experience in youth ministry and catechism are urged to apply. Conversational Spanish-speaking ability is recommended.
The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (or OCCHY) is a unique national alliance founded and supported by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Antiochian Archdiocese, involved in establishing, training and leading substance abuse prevention and intervention coalitions across America. The Healthy Youth initiative, sponsored by OCCHY, offers communities an opportunity to heighten awareness of how to combat substance abuse, prevent bullying, encourage sexual abstinence outside of marriage, and encourage respect for the sanctity of the human body. Recent updates on the Hookah Prevention initiative, the Healthy Youth ministry of Tucson, AZ, and the Cicero/Chicago based group, are available on OCCHY's Website.
OCCHY is developing local community networks to address substance abuse prevention and healthy living in parishes of each diocese. Each local chapter is trained in coalition building in their community. Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries Fr. Joseph Purpura, and Kh. Kathleen Purpura, Youth Consultant and Executive Director of OCCHY, work with the White House Director of the Drug Free Communities Program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the staff of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and local coalition leaders to establish substance prevention coalitions across America.
June 20-21, 2014
Given by Honored Guest
His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
"Divine Compassion and the Ministry of Women"
This conference seeks to cultivate a deeper theological appreciation regarding ways Divine Compassion, the eleos of God, affects the participation of women and men in the life of the Church today. The conference builds upon the work of last year’s inaugural conference, "Divine Compassion: Orthodox Christians in Service of Perfect Love."
More information and registration details are available on the St. Catherine's Vision Website.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) ministers in the United States with emergency response, community development, and supporting literacy and education. Two recent stories are a reminder of this.
Religious leaders gathered at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Chicago to dedicate more than 10,000 new books provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The trove of colorful, age-appropriate reading materials will benefit thousands of schoolchildren participating in after-school enrichment opportunities, mentoring and summer learning programs in the Chicago area. The leaders were joined by wide-eyed youngsters from some of the city's most impoverished Southside neighborhoods who were grateful beneficiaries.