Dear Pastors and Church School Directors,
Ten years ago we surveyed our Church Schools to learn their needs, and the numbers of students and teachers we serve. Once again we are asking for a few minutes of your time so that we may determine the usefulness of the programs we offer, your needs, and the numbers we serve. We need only one survey per parish, preferably completed by the Church School Director, but in his or her absence, by the parish priest.
The survey results will be made known through our website, and also in our newsletters in The Word. I would like to call your attention to our newest endeavor, namely, a listserv, so that we can offer news updates via email. Thank you, as always, for your efforts in the Orthodox Christian Education of our children.
Your servant in Christ,
Carole A. Buleza, Director, Department of Christian Education
Bishop Mark writes:
Dear to God, Christ is in our midst! As our faithful continue to raise money to support the Missions of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, I want to forward you these notes of thanks and gratitude for the strong support our diocesan faithful have shown for missions. Our giving to missions has increased from a few thousand in 2004 to $40,000 for this year alone. Well done good and faithful servants. Well done!
Holy Apostles Mission in Bowling Green, Kentucky:
Greetings from Bowling Green, KY! As the southern-most community in the Diocese, autumn has not arrived here yet, but we hope you are all enjoying this beautiful time of year in good health.
We have just received the funds offered to our community by the Mission Endowment Fund, and words cannot express the appreciation our Mission family has for your love and support.
All Saints Orthodox Church, with the co-sponsorship of the Early Music Institute of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Department of Sacred Music of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, is presenting “The Musical Heritage of the Orthodox Church: Music, Liturgy, and Beauty in Orthodox Christianity” on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus on Saturday, 16 October 2010 from 8:30am until 2:30pm. This first-ever symposium on Orthodox sacred music at Indiana University will feature lecture recitals from the following:
-John Michael Boyer, protopsaltis of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, artistic director of the Koukouzelis Institute for Liturgical Arts, and principal singer for Cappella Romana
-Alexander Khalil, PhD, psaltis of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego, CA, postdoctoral fellow at University of California at Riverside, author of the dissertation “Echoes of Constantinople: Oral and Written Tradition of the Psaltes of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople”, singer for Cappella Romana and the Mt. Lebanon Choir
-Kurt Sander, DM, psalomchik and choir director at St. George Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, OH, Professor of Music and Department Chair at Northern Kentucky University, composer of many liturgical works in the Slavic style, author of the dissertation “The Musical Icon”
-Richard Toensing, DM, Professor Emeritus of Music at University of Colorado at Boulder, choir director emeritus of St. Luke’s Orthodox Church in Lafayette, CO, composer of Kontakion for the Nativity of Christ and other Orthodox liturgical works in English
SOUTH CANAAN, PA [OCA/STOTS] -- Archpriest Alexander Atty will be formally installed as Dean and Chief Operating Officer of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary here on Saturday, October 30, 2010.
The formal installation Service of Thanksgiving will be celebrated at Saint Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wilkes Barre, PA, at 11:00 a.m. A luncheon will follow at the parish center.
Father Alexander brings with him over 30 years of experience as a parish priest and chief administrator. For years, he served as pastor of one of the nation’s largest pan-Orthodox parishes, Saint Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church, Louisville, KY.
Father Alexander is joined at the seminary by his wife, Khouria Olga, and their two children, Katherine and Alexander. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Philadelphia, a Master of Divinity from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, and a Doctorate in Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
As reported on the OCA web site on March 25, 2010, STS Board of Trustees gave its approval to the recommendation of a search committee to engage Father Alexander on March 12, 2010. The Holy Synod of Bishops gave its blessing at its Spring Session March 16-18, 2010, along with a decision to permit Father Alexander to remain attached to the Antiochian Archdiocese while serving as the Dean of the Seminary, an institution of the Orthodox Church in America.
Father Alexander officially assumed duties on July 1, 2010.
JACKSONVILLE, FL [OCF/OCA] -- Orthodox Christian Fellowship honored its founder, His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, at a tribute dinner at the San Jose Country Club here on Friday, September 17, 2010.
As a recent seminary graduate in the 1960s, Bishop Dimitrios (James Couchell) was the driving force in establishing what has become the joint campus ministry arm of all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in North America.
The dinner gathered clergy and laity from throughout North America to honor Bishop Dimitrios’ dedication and devotion to college students and to celebrate the ever-growing network that OCF has been able to build upon the foundation he laid years ago.
At the dinner, the OCF Board of Directors announced the establishment of the Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos Orthodox Christian Fellowship Ministry Endowment, which has been created to sustain and further the ministries of OCF. The fund was initiated with a $100,000.00 anonymous donation.
"Bishop Dimitrios has offered so much to Orthodox Christianity in North America and throughout the world in various capacities," said OCF Board of Directors Chairman and Interim Executive Director, Rev. Mark Leondis. Specifically, his efforts on behalf of college students are significant and this recognition of his work is long overdue."
In conjunction with the dinner, members of the OCF Board of Directors, the Regional Chaplains Network, and the Student Advisory Board met.
Those who are interested in participating in the Bishop Dimitrios Ministry Endowment are encouraged to contact OCF Development Director Presvytera Shyla Hadzellis at 800-919-1623.
On Saturday, October 30, 2010, Very Rev. Alexander Atty will be installed as the Seventh Dean of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA. The Installation Service will begin at 11:00 A.M. at St. Mary Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA, followed by a luncheon at the Church Hall, hosted by the Board of Trustees of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. An invitation is enclosed. Cost of a ticket will be $20.00 and your reservation can be made by contacting Leda Dzwonczyk, 3210 Rosalie Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21234, not later than October 15, 2010.
All are welcome to attend the installation, but attendees are asked to return the attached form to make reservations.
For more information, please download the invitation and reservation form (PDF).
"In Communion," the journal of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, announces that the Annual OPF North American Conference will take place soon in Irvine, CA, October 1 through 3, 2010. This year's theme, “Interfaith Dialogue,” will feature speakers from within the Orthodox Church, as well as Jewish, Muslim, and other lecturers. The program will be a mix of talks and discussions, music, comedy, award-winning films and one-on-one conversation.
Notes OPF, "Though differences exist and need to be acknowledged, we can learn from one another and create a more peaceful world in the process. Non-members are welcome — this conference is not to be missed!" Those interested in registering may go here for more information and downloadable forms.
Conciliar Press recently released a new title, A Book of Hours: Meditations on the Traditional Christian Hours of Prayer. The website description reads: "Eastern and Western Christians share a rich spiritual heritage in the Hours of Prayer—the brief services of praise and psalmody that mark the progress of each day, sanctifying the hours of our lives. In this gem of a book, Patricia Egan digs deeply into the meaning of each of the Hours, drawing on poetry, nature, experience, and theology to show how the services reflect the different aspects of our salvation and our lives. A Book of Hours is an excellent companion for anyone who wants to experience the blessing of praying through the Hours of each day." To order, go to Conciliar Press' website here. The book's retail price is $21.95.
[YONKERS, NY SVOTS COMMUNICATIONS] Prepare for a holy pilgrimage and expect a multi-cultural immersion experience at St. Vladimir’s Seminary during its annual Orthodox Education Day on Saturday, October 2, 2010.
Highlights of the day include the presence of an exact replica of the famed Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God, from Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY; an exquisite exhibit of 15th–19th century icons, Arabic Christian manuscripts, and Syrian artifacts from Antiochian Heritage Museum; and a keynote address by Fr. Michael Oleksa, an expert in Alaska Native history, in keeping with this year’s theme, “Many Cultures, One Faith.”
The seminary campus will be transformed into a global community filled with the sights, sounds, aromas, and tastes of many lands. Visitors will enjoy music and folk dance groups from the boroughs of New York City, ethnic dishes and delicacies, and workshops for all ages.
Colorful exhibits will introduce campus visitors to the religious traditions and cultural customs of peoples from the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches—representative of the student body at St. Vladimir’s. Faculty from both St. Vladimir’s and St. Nersess seminaries will participate in a panel “The Road to Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Unity,” which will explore the historic rift between the two church bodies.
Services include: Divine Liturgy, 7:30 a.m.; Hierarchical Akathist, noon; and a Memorial Service, 4:00 p.m., followed by Vespers, to conclude the day. Food booths, exhibits, and workshops will be open from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
For a full schedule of the day’s events, please view the “Upcoming Events” section on the seminary’s Home Page: www.svots.edu.
September 16, 2010
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has expanded its distribution of emergency supplies to flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan. While water is receding in many areas of the country, the devastation caused to homes, infrastructure and farm land has left many people without adequate access to clean water, food and medical assistance. Aid provided by IOCC has focused on the medical needs, especially the threat of water-borne diseases, and immediate provision of food supplies through the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan.
In partnership with Medical Teams International, IOCC is providing two cholera kits to areas in the north of Pakistan. The kits will provide medical camps established in four of the hardest hit regions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. Each cholera kit contains basic pharmaceuticals and supplies to treat up to 700 severe and moderate cases of cholera, including those affected by dysentery. The shipment, valued at $265,000, has been made possible through support from the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society.
"It was with great sadness that we learned of the loss of life and devastating destruction in Pakistan," remarked National Philoptochos President Aphrodite Skeadas, "and this contribution, through IOCC, demonstrates the generosity and will of our chapters throughout the country to assist the flood victims there."
With the blessing of His Grace Bishop George, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Damascene Gallery, a supplier of fine antique icons, newly painted icons, and high quality mounted icons, opened on August 29 (the feast of the Translation of the Icon of the Savior "Not Made by Hands" from Edessa to Constantinople, Old Calendar). The web store features a wide selection of antique and new hand-painted icons, as well as a unique type of mounted icons consisting of high-quality canvas prints mounted to traditional solid-wood panels with support slats commonly found on antique icons. Concerning the rationale of such a design, the founders of Damascene Gallery explained that such panels combined with the canvas prints result in a mounted icon that looks and feels much like the antique icons also being offered in the store.
Currently, the web store features around 30 antique icons, ranging from the early 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Additionally, there are some 20 new painted icons in inventory, as well as numerous antique brass icons and crosses. Around 230 images, including many from the Holy Trinity Monastery collection, are available for ordering as mounted icons. The inventory of icons is expected to significantly increase within the next several weeks, and the selection of mounted icons is being continuously updated.
OCF has announced their annual event, College Student Sunday, which will take place Sunday Sept. 19, 2010.
Writes the OCF, "Over the past 50 years, campus ministry has made a presence in the Orthodox Church. We would like to ask all of you to make a presence this year for Orthodox college students at your parish. Now more than ever is the time to raise awareness.
Over the past few years the national average of young adults leaving the Church has been 6 out of 10. Recently the Pew Research Institute declared the average is quickly growing to 7 out of 10. We would like to encourage each of you to visit our website to find the resources you will need to conduct a presentation. If you are unable to make the presentation, please ask some to fill in for you. Thank you for your support of campus ministry!!!"
Endorsed by the Episcopal Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in North America, this observance is designed to draw attention to the importance of ministering to our college age Orthodox Christian Students. Parishes are reminded that young Orthodox Christians are attending college in their cities and towns, and the faithful are encouraged to connect with these college students in order to provide a parish home away from home. For more information, contact the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.
Bishop Basil writes:
This Saturday, September 11, is the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation which claimed the lives of over 3,000 innocent men, women and children. A prayer appropriate to the occasion (which is blessed for our DOWAMA clergy to say before the dismissal of all divine services this coming Saturday) is printed below.
A Prayer for September 11th
O Lord our God, Who art Thyself, the Hope of the hopeless, the Help of the helpless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick; be all things to our land which nine years ago on this date was devastated by the cowardly and hateful acts of false martyrs; who imitated wicked Herod in his slaughter of 14,000 innocents, whose only crime was to be born at the time of Thine incarnation. For those who lost loved ones, grant the comfort you imparted to the Mary and Martha before you raised Lazarus and care for them as Thou didst care for Thy Mother from the Cross, putting her in the care of the Apostle John.
"Icons: Windows to Heaven"
Getting To Know the Iconographers
Cheryl Ann Pituch and Niko Chocheli will be presenting workshops at Antiochian Village for the event, “Icons: Windows to Heaven,” November 4–7, 2010. Vasiliki Oldziey, Christian Education Coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita and the Midwest, interviewed them this summer. The Department of Christian Education sponsors the annual Orthodox Institute, and the theme of this year’s event is iconography. The Institute will include several courses on iconography and provide participants an opportunity to learn how to write icons (“Utilizing Crafts”). Teacher-training courses and the Church School Director Seminar are also scheduled for the Institute. Amateur or professional iconographers are encouraged to bring an icon for our “Festival of Orthodoxy” display. If you love icons, don’t miss this opportunity! For more information or a brochure, please e-mail the department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website.
Cheryl Ann Pituch
Cheryl Ann has been married for thirty-eight years to Eugene Pituch and is the mother of four children and the grandmother of two. She currently resides in Davidsville, Pennsylvania, a small town in the Laurel Mountains, 92 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Her icons are featured in the current Icon Calendar from Conciliar Press.
1. Icons were not part of your early life. Tell us how icons have changed your life.
I grew up in the Presbyterian Church and was taught that any statues or “pictures” were never to be kissed or prayed before in any way. I struggled to understand icons, in order to embrace the faith. I have been an Orthodox Christian for 32 years and have been painting for about 26 years. Now, I can’t imagine life without icons. The most dramatic change in my life with icons is prayer. Icons open constant opportunities to pray. They have changed my life just by being visible and witnessing (in their silence) their love for God, and stirring my heart to do more.
The Antiochian Women Membership Handbook is now available online!
NAB President Cindy Nimey writes:
"This publication, produced by Khourieh Suzanne Murphy and her husband, Fr. Gregory Murphy, is a wonderful booklet that consists of many works from past membership coordinators, with some new additions that they felt would be helpful to our Antiochian Women groups. It is attractive, easy to read, and has valuable information that will surely aid our chapters in the growth of their ministry as Antiochian Women. Our hope is that you will use it and pass it along to your successors over the next years, remembering that we are always here for one another."
NAB Membership Coordinator Kh. Suzanne Murphy writes:
"My goal in undertaking this project was to make the information contained in the Handbook available to every woman in our Archdiocese. Some of the information may seem quite basic, but part of the purpose of this Handbook is to help those women who may be new to our Archdiocese -- and to our Antiochian Women organization -- to gain a basic understanding of who we are and what we do. This basic introduction is a way of assisting them to build a level of familiarity and comfort with us. There are also some sections like the Constitution, By-laws, and reimbursement policy that are more technical and intended for use by our chapter officers. In short, we want this Handbook to have a little something for everyone, to be interesting and appealing, and to help us in our goal of building a faithful, active, and caring sisterhood-in-Christ."
Have you made your “Bucket List”? Join us at Antiochian Village, Sunday, October 24th through Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 as we look at what God desires for us and from us as we journey into our later years in life. This retreat is geared for our faithful with more life experience (a.k.a. seniors) to join together in discussion about living a vibrant spiritual life in our twilight years, to worship in faith, and to enjoy each other’s fellowship.
Nov. 22, 1924 - Aug. 23, 2010
Charles G. Ofiesh, 85, of St. George Orthodox Church in Altoona, PA fell asleep in the Lord Monday, August 23, 2010. Charlie was a long time member of The Order of St. Ignatius and served many years on the parish council as a member and chair. He initiated an Endowment Fund and worked tirelessly for the good of the parish. In 2005 he was awarded the Antonian Silver Medal by Metropolitan Philip. He was for most of his life in the parish, “always there.” He will be greatly missed. His leadership in the parish, in Altoona and in Pennsylvania is established by the list of organizations and accomplishments of his life as well as his three children, three grand-children and six great grandchildren.
He was born in Albany, N.Y., son of George and Emily (Ofiesh) Ofiesh. He married Helen V. Ajay on Sept. 4, 1949, and she preceded him in death on May 14, 2009.
Charles was a 1942 graduate of Altoona High School. He was a U.S. Army veteran of WWII, serving in the Pacific theater, and the Korean conflict. He retired as a Command Sergeant Major after serving 41 years in the Pennsylvania Army Reserve. He received 26 awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service medals.
He retired as a general contractor and owner of Ofiesh Construction.
Charles was a member of the Altoona Zoning Board for more than 45 years, past president and life director of the Pennsylvania Builders Association, past commander of the local and Pennsylvania Disabled American Veterans, past commander of the American Legion, life member of the VFW, life member of Cooties and parade marshal in Altoona for more than 30 years.
Notice has been received this morning from the Patriarchal Office in Damascus of the falling asleep in Christ of His Grace Bishop Dimitri Ilyan Al-Hosni following a long illness. As a priest His Grace had served at the Patriarchate in Damascus and as a bishop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
May his memory be eternal!
Bishop Thomas writes:
The Antiochian House of Studies has begun to form an Alumni Association. This association will include all those people who have attended or participated in the St. Stephen Course of Study, the Doctor of Ministry program, the Masters degree program, and also the residency program for seminarians at the AHOS. All those people who have been part of these disciplines are encouraged to investigate the good work that will be done by this alumni association. Please e-mail Martie Johnson at MartiePTS@aol.com.
Come join us for a Retreat with Fr. Meletios Webber on the themes of Orthodox Spirituality and Prayer
“Stop listening to your thoughts – not the thoughts you have, but the thoughts that have you. They have nothing beneficial to offer you, and besides you have heard them all before. Brush them aside, and gently continue to brush them aside. Beyond their clamor and din there is available to you a level of greater awareness – a place of love, joy, peace and compassion. At first, it is difficult to “hear” it (since it is expressed in silence) but with practice you will start to recognize its voice, and a deeper state of presence will be yours.” ‐ Fr. Meletios
Matthew Namee, at OrthodoxHistory.org, has posted an alert to a recent New York Times article about an early Syrian American presence in Manhattan, not far from what became the site for the World Trade Center. While it was eventually displaced by the construction of entrance ramps to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the once thriving community called little Syria, hosted three churches. Notes Namee, "...while the article doesn’t directly discuss Orthodoxy, it talks about the very same community into which St. Raphael came in 1895, and which included the first Antiochian parish on the continent."
The Summer 2010 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue features the Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, and contains:
A Message from His Grace Bishop Antoun
A Message from Lisa Phillips, President of Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast
A Report from the July NAB Meeting
Did Someone Send a Card? by Khouria Dannie Moore
The Order has published their Statement of Budgeted Project Contributions, for the fiscal years ending January 31, 2011 and 2012. The document is available as a PDF file at Projects Supported by the Order. The Statement from the Order budgets for total project contributions of $1,419,000 in 2011 and $1,233,000 in 2012.
August 25, 2010
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) began providing emergency supplies this week to people affected by fires in the Ryazan region of Central Russia. The response was made possible through a $5,000 gift from the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and a $25,000 matching grant from the John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation.
Aid to the region southeast of Moscow will reach 640 people and includes personal hygiene kits, blankets, towels and bed linens. The relief is being provided in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Round Table, an ecumenical forum for social service in Russia.
The grant from the John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation will support IOCC's aid projects in Russia by creating a matching gift program. The Foundation will match every dollar contributed to IOCC for relief projects in Russia up to $25,000. Rangos, a founder of IOCC, was instrumental in one of IOCC's first humanitarian missions – an airlift of relief supplies and medicines to Russia in 1992.
In addition to the gift from the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah called upon parishes to provide support for the relief efforts. "I am also asking that members of the Orthodox Church in America offer financial assistance through IOCC, which will convey our donations to the appropriate Church partners and Church programs in Russia."
"We are grateful for the generous response of the Orthodox Church in America and John Rangos in response to the current urgent needs in Russia," said Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC Executive Director. "Their steadfast support for our work with the Russian Orthodox Church since the earliest days of IOCC continues to make a difference for those who are suffering."
FISHERS, IN. - August 18, 2010
The OCF Board of Directors will be honoring His Grace Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos for his tremendous contributions in establishing Orthodox Christian Fellowship with a celebratory dinner in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 17, 2010.
Beginning in 1960 as a recent seminary graduate, Bishop Dimitrios (James Couchell) was the driving force in establishing what has become the all-important campus ministry arm of the Orthodox Church. Inspired by his dedication and devotion to college students, OCF has been able to build upon the foundation he laid 50 years ago.
In the year 2000, OCF experienced a renewal, which included the strong and continuing support of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. Recognizing these two milestones, this fall marks the 50th anniversary of OCF's creation and the 10th anniversary of its current efforts.
In addition to the dinner, OCF will be holding its annual Board of Directors, Chaplain's Network and Student Advisory Board meetings throughout the weekend. These planning meetings will lead into OCF's annual College Student Sunday on September 19.