December 6th is the celebration of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and the name's day of His Grace Bishop Nicholas. May God grant him many years!
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.
The following report was issued by the National News Agency of Lebanon on Dec. 3:
Orthodox Patriarch Yuhanna Yazegi on Monday leveled a heartfelt cry for the world to mobilize to free a dozen of Lebanese Syrian nuns that were evacuated in the historic Christian town of Maaloula in war-torn Syria.
"Our cry is addressed to the international community and the world's government to release Saint Taqla's nuns and orphans detained since yesterday," the Patriarch said.
"Detaining the nuns is a blatant offensive to people's dignity and the voice of peace throughout Syria and the entire Levant," he indicated.
Update: See also this report from the Associated Press.
David Alexander Tait, beloved father, husband, son, professor, friend, and devoted member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Oklahoma City, died tragically on November 19, 2013, while he was ministering to a community of friends in Chandler, Oklahoma. David was born on March 13, 1951, in Washington, D.C., and was the oldest of five children born to Charles and Katharine Tait. He spent his childhood between the United States and England, as well as Uganda, where his parents were missionaries.
He completed high school at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, before earning a Bachelor's degree in Public Relations at Boston University. It was there that he met his future wife, Laura Hubbs Tait, while she was a graduate student. They were married in Boston on June 26, 1976 and shared 37 wonderful years together.
It was a weekend like no other! For months we prepared for this special event, the highlight of this year, and our entire existence as a parish. Between September 27-29th, 2013, we were about to celebrate our 50th Anniversary as St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero!
Excitement built up when we knew that our beloved Metropolitan, His Eminence Sayidna Philip, would be presiding over the weekend's activities. We were also blessed with the presence of His Grace Bishop Antoun, Bishop of Miami and the Southwest, as well as His Grace Bishop Anthony of our diocese. We were also honored to have Subdeacon Rassem Massih, who accompanied the Metropolitan on this visit. Everyone from all ages were thrilled to be part of this historic celebration; a celebration of a parish that has faced obstacles in its history, but overcame them with faith and hard work!
The Winter 2013-14 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights Diocese of New York and the Archdiocesan District, and the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, and contains:
- A message from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
- A Nativity message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
- Sanctified Schooling: Working Out Salvation within Education, by His Grace Bishop Thomas
- The Church at Home by His Grace Bishop Nicholas
- A message from Diocesan President Fadia Juzdan
- A message from spiritual advisor Fr. Don Shadid
...and more! Click here to download (PDF).
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — This young displaced Syrian mother of two now living in the southern city of Dara'a carries away new thick blankets and bedding provided to her by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in cooperation with church partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA). As Syria's night time temperatures dip closer to freezing, displaced Syrian mothers forced to flee their homes empty-handed are struggling to keep their children warm and sheltered from the impending harsh weather.
This will be the third winter that the people of Syria have had to face since the conflict began, and resources to protect against the cold are dwindling as the civil war drags on. IOCC/GOPA is responding to the urgent needs of 255,000 of Syria's most vulnerable with the distribution of winter protection – heavy blankets, bedding kits, children's winter clothing, and shoes.
The first weekend in November was more than a normal weekend for the congregation of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Monessen, PA. The parish began the celebration of their 100th anniversary, first celebrating Great Vespers on Saturday evening. Bishop Thomas, Auxiliary Bishop of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, spoke after the service, encouraging us to honor our forefathers' and mothers' memories by working to keep the parish a healthy Orthodox presence in Monessen. On Sunday, Orthros and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Bishop Thomas and Bishop Basil, Auxiliary Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America. Following the Liturgy a 100th anniversary luncheon and program was held at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Hellenic Center.
St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church was founded in 1913 by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants as a place where Orthodox Christians were able to worship and seek salvation. The church was one of many that owes its organization to then Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny (St. Raphael).
On Thursday, December 12th, 2013 at 7:00 P.M., Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson and the clergy and congregation of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas (near Austin) will host a presentation by one of the world's premier Orthodox iconographers and craftsman, Aidan Hart. Hailing from England, Aidan Hart's work is displayed online at aidanharticons.com. The event is free and open to the public. A brief reception will be follow, and refreshments will be served, but we ask that you please make your own arrangements for child-care. For further information, please contact Father Aidan Wilcoxson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join with us this Sunday, November 24, 2013, to mark IOCC Sunday – A Day of Sharing, as we remember those who are in need by sharing our blessings. Please share with your family and friends about IOCC's life-changing humanitarian mission and make a donation to help us deliver your expressions of love to God's children all over the world.
Your continued support and compassion through IOCC will extend God's presence through projects that provide sustainable sources of food for impoverished families, a warm blanket for refugees, or the opportunity for a young child to learn and grow.
Together, we can achieve our vision of responding to those in need, to enable them to continue to improve their own lives and communities.
Please donate today at our Website. Your gift will make a difference in the world.
Yours in Christ,
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
On November 16, 2013, the Department of Convention and Conference Planning (DCCP) held its department meeting in Oakbrook, IL. The meeting was attended by the department co-chairs, representatives from Antiochian Events (Online Registration), the Diocese Conference Coordinators, the Department of Youth Chair, and the NAC Fellowship of St. John the Divine President.
During the meeting a presentation was made by Marriott International to discuss ways the hotel chain can best work with the department and it's Coordinators in order to receive the best possible prices for conferences and conventions. Other items on the agenda were a review of the new Conference Planning Manual, and presentations by each Diocese Conference Coordinator, as well as discussions with the Department of Youth and the NAC Fellowship on finding ways to increase attendance at Antiochian Archdiocese conferences and conventions.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Just four days after the most powerful tropical storm ever to make landfall blasted across the Philippines with wind speeds up to 195 miles per hour, the country is faced with the devastating loss of thousands of lives and millions of survivors across 41 provinces in a desperate search for food, water and shelter.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) emergency response personnel are assessing the urgent humanitarian needs for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has left a trail of destruction affecting an estimated 9.8 million people in the Philippines. IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is in communication with the Orthodox Christian Churches and ecumenical partners of the ACT Alliance member agencies on the ground to identify the most effective and appropriate responses to the catastrophe. Supported relief activities include shelter repair and cleaning up of debris through cash for work programs in the country, as well as the distribution of relief items such as clothing and hygiene kits. The need for emergency hygiene kits is especially great. Instructions on organizing a kit assembly drive can be found on the IOCC Website.
St. George Church in Troy, Michigan recently celebrated both its 100th anniversary and the burning of its mortgage. The weekend began at the Troy Marriott on Friday, October 18th, 2013 with meetings of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board and the Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius, which continued through Saturday morning.
Saturday Evening Great Vespers took place at St. George's at 6:00p.m. followed by a Grand Banquet and the Burning of the Mortgage. The parish was honored to have six hierarchs present: His Eminence Metropolitan Philip; Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West; Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and the Southwest; Bishop Nicholas, Bishop of Brooklyn and assistant to the Metropolitan; Bishop Anthony Michael, Bishop of Toledo and the Midwest; and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Diocese of North America. All of these hierarchs' presence was welcomed with great joy.
On November 7, 2013, His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita and Mid-America addressed the 430 guests gathered for St. Vladimir's Seminary's 75th Anniversary Gala, a black tie dinner hosted by the Board of Trustees at Glen Island Harbour Club, New Rochelle, NY. A 1973 alumnus of the Seminary, Bishop Basil noted that in speaking for the event, he had come home to "the place that made me all that I am."
The Seminary, he continued, has had a "sustained impact in Orthodoxy throughout the world." Most of the Archdiocese's hierarchs are alumni of St. Vladimir's Seminary, and the current student body numbers many Antiochian students as well.
St. Vladimir's launched the "Bishop Basil Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music" in 2010, when the Board of Trustees presented His Grace with an honorary doctorate and announced the creation of the program in his name. The Seminary's Alumni Association Board Chair Gregory Abdalah (Class of '08) has noted that, "Bishop Basil has had a great influence on the development of Byzantine Music in English.
Music Learn is proud to announce the release of Kh. Gigi Baba Shadid's latest Orthodox Christian music CD, Fight the Good Fight. Teacher, Antiochian youth worker, and songwriter, Gigi's passion is teaching with music; this is Gigi's fifth music CD, and the first one written primarily for teens and adults. Her other projects include: Fruits of the Spirit (2004), Celebrate the Feasts (2007), Middle School Math Music (2008), and The ABC's of Orthodoxy (2011).
Church school teachers and parents throughout the United States, Canada, and many parts of the world have been enjoying her music for the past ten years. It has proven to be an effective tool for teaching and reinforcing the eternal truths of Christ and His holy Church. "This new CD is filled with essential questions for our salvation," noted Gigi.
Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) is pleased to announce the addition of video podcasts to our audio programming. AFR started as an audio resource with a single streaming radio station. We then began featuring audio podcasts, as well as a second streaming station for our talk programming. Today we are the leading provider of Orthodox audio podcasts in the world. As of this week, we now also offer video podcasts, recognizing the portability of mobile devices and the demand for video content. We have plans for this area to grow in the same way that our audio podcasts have grown as we develop partnerships with more and more content providers.
The first of our video offerings is "Coffee with Sister Vassa." This is a ten-minute weekly program hosted by Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin, a nun of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) and liturgiologist at the University of Vienna in Austria. Presented with a light dose of humor, the program offers engaging reflections on the Orthodox Church calendar of the current week, the lives of the saints, scriptural passages, and Orthodox tradition.
Coming soon is our second video podcast "Be the Bee."A joint production of Ancient Faith Radio and the GOARCH Department of Youth and Young Adult ministries, this brief weekly video podcast will focus on the various ways in which God has infused all of creation with goodness and beauty. The title refers to the metaphor of the bee and the flies that was used by Elder Paisios to describe how Christians should approach life. The host of the program is Steven Christoforou, the GOARCH Youth Protection / Parish Ministries Coordinator.
In September 2013, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America launched an extensive back-to-school program in 28 cities across the country, providing new shoes, backpacks, and school supplies to 193,000 children from homeless and working poor families. One aspect of this program, "Operation Lace Up," provides shoes for needy kids, and recently San Diego's Channel 6 reported on the NFL San Diego Charger players as they participated in the FOCUS-sponsored program at a local distribution center.
"We are equipping and preparing the poorest children in the country at a time when they are the most vulnerable—on their first day of school," says program manager and FOCUS Orange County Center Director Jacob Lee. "FOCUS' distributions will insure that children have the basic provisions they need to attend and participate in school."
In the meantime, St. Herman's Orthodox House of Hospitality (FOCUS, Cleveland) hosted "An Evening with Fr. Thomas Hopko" on November 4, 2013. One of the highlights of the evening was a video introducing the ministry, featuring Director Paul Finley and several of the men served by the House of Hospitality.
On Friday evening, November 1, 2013, the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York commemorated our father among the Saints, Raphael (Hawaweeny) the Bishop of Brooklyn, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America. A series of services for his feast day included Great Vespers with Artoklasia, the Festal Matins, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn.
Deacon George Nashawati of St. Ephraim Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas, announces a fundraiser concert benefiting the people of Syria. "Hope, Humanity, Healing - A Benefit Concert for Syria" will be held on Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at 7:00 in the evening at St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston. The admission cost is $15 per person, and all concert proceeds will be distributed to the suffering people of Syria through the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, and the St. Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus.
For questions regarding the concert, please visit St. Joseph's website, contact the church's office at (713) 973-7001, or send an email to email@example.com. Artists at the benefit concert will include: Lama Nashawati DeVries (my sister) and Tracey Parker: Duo Piano; Bassam (Deacon George) Nashawati: Violin; Mariam Haddad and Christine Yacoub: Voice; The St. Romanos Pan-Orthodox Chorale; and Osama Raad: drums. The program will include classical and liturgical music in addition to some Arabic songs made popular by Fairuz.
On October 19, 2013, the 19th Annual Synergy Symposium titled "The Book of Revelation" was hosted by St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois and its rector, Archpriest Nicholas Dahdal, Economos. Orthodox Christian Synergy sponsored the event, which featured speaker Fr. George Dragas, Professor of Patristics at Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Orthodox Christian Synergy is a pan-Orthodox organization of clergy and lay representatives from greater Chicago's Orthodox Christian parishes seeking to spread the Orthodox Christian faith. Synergy works together with its parent organization, the Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Greater Chicago, with the blessings of the Chicago-area Orthodox hierarchs. The audio of the Symposium is available on Ancient Faith Radio.
Father Athanasios Emmert, fell asleep in Christ this past Wednesday, October 23rd at the age of 78. While a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese he served parishes in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Canada, Connecticut, Massachusetts. From 1975 to 1985 he served at St. George Church in Chicago-Cicero, Illinois. In his last years, Father Athanasios served in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver.
The schedule of services for Father Athanasios are as follows:
Monday, October 28th
6:00PM Visitation at St. George/Cicero, IL
7:00PM Trisagion Prayers of Mercy
Tuesday, October 29th
9:30AM Divine Liturgy at St. George/Cicero, IL, followed by the Funeral Service
Interment at Elmwood Cemetery/River Grove, IL
May his memory be eternal!
Ancient Faith Publishing has posted their 2013 Christmas catalog, featuring a variety of new products, including customizable greeting cards, handpainted keepsake ornaments and ornaments from Russia and Greece, and an array of new icons. A recent release, Meditations for Advent: Preparing for Christ's Birth by Vassilios Papavassiliou, takes the reader through the hymnography, scripture readings, and iconography of the forty days leading up to the Nativity of Christ.
Traditionally one of the most popular Ancient Faith offerings for the Advent season, the Icon Calendar for 2014 features the parables and miracles of Christ and the iconography of Dmitry Shkolnik. The 11" X 12" full-color calendar displays large calendar boxes for recording important reminders. Major saint and feast days traditionally celebrated in Orthodox countries around the world are listed, according to the New Calendar.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center's 2014 mission team opportunities are now available! All Orthodox Christians seeking to share in a journey of faith and fulfill the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ are invited to participate on teams, which will focus on:
Offer a living witness of Orthodoxy through evangelism, religious education, seminars, Bible studies, and retreats. Share the Orthodox Faith with youth, adults, catechumens, clergy, ministry leaders, and the faithful. Clergy, students, teachers, seminarians, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and Bible study leaders are urged to apply.
Preach the Gospel of Christ through evangelism in cross-cultural environments, offering the opportunity to hear and embrace the Good News. Live as Orthodox witnesses so others may come to know the saving love of Christ.
University of Florida Professor Emeritus Dr. Kevin McCarthy recently published Antioch on the Orontes: An Illustrated History, the story of the namesake city of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. The 280-page book contains over 200 illustrations of the city that was so vitally important in the history of Christianity. Many of the photos were taken by the author when he lived in the city during the period when he was researching the book.
"Archpriest Thomas Zain of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn and the Vicar General of the Antiochian Archdiocese, helped me with the book," notes Dr. McCarthy. "I wrote it to let more people know about the importance of a great city, ancient and modern Antioch, that many Americans are not aware of."
Over the course of his academic career, the professor of English lived in the Middle East in various locations. For one year he taught at the Lebanese National University in Beirut as a Fulbright Professor of English in the 70s, and for two years in the 1980s at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a Fulbright Professor of English.
A ministry supported by the Order of St. Ignatius and many individual Antiochian parishes, Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage have opened registration for their popular summer Home Building Work Trips. The Website explains, "We host two types of home building groups each summer: small groups and Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) groups. During our small group weeks, teams from one, two, or three parishes construct a single home for a needy family, spend the afternoons interacting with the boys of St. Innocent's, and experience the local culture with a trip into Rosarito. During OBT weeks, we host larger groups who construct between four to seven homes in one week, we have speakers each evening who present on a variety of topics, and on Sunday we have a day of fellowship and fun at St. Innocent's."
On October 14, 2013, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), in its program "Ancient Faith Presents," released a podcast interview with IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian in which the Director discusses the difficulties faced by Syria's swelling refugee population. IOCC is supporting one of the largest established efforts to provide aid to Syrians torn by civil war, and is one of the only international operations on the ground in Syria, working closely with His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch. There are 1.8 million refugees who now live in the countries surrounding Syria.
"I was in the region about 2 weeks ago," notes Mr. Ohanian in the interview. "The most obvious thing I saw is that the needs are growing and becoming greater. This is a kind of conflict where there is no end in sight, and there's a constant flow of people who are avoiding conflict areas, migrating within Syria to safer areas, or leaving to a neighboring country.
"This humanitarian catastrophe and the need for resources are far, far greater than what we at IOCC have in place," he continues. "It is stretching everyone's capacities and the needs are unimaginable. We have not seen a scale of this kind of need since...arguably, the Second World War. Almost one third of the Syrian population is in need of assistance."