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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.

IOCC Provides Vital Winter Relief For War-Weary Syria

January 9, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Freezing temperatures, heavy snow and chilling winds sweeping across Syria are putting thousands of young lives in jeopardy as displaced mothers struggle helplessly to keep their small children warm and sheltered from the harsh winter conditions. Many live in shelled out buildings with no doors or windows to keep frigid weather out, or in temporary shelters with no heat. The need for warm clothing is great.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding with the distribution of handmade sweater sets for 600 children crafted last summer by 34 displaced Syrian women taught to knit through a cash-for-work program. IOCC and its church partner in Syria, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), offered the one-month training as a way to help Syria's most vulnerable families achieve some financial independence. The new skills help provide vital income for the women and their families while displaced Syrian children benefit by receiving warm clothes to protect them against bitter cold.

Endowment Established to Honor Dr. George J. Farha

Students from Christ the Savior AcademyStudents from Christ the Savior AcademyDr. George J. Farha didn't like big events. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, people listened. So, when the idea of forming the first Orthodox day school in Kansas was presented to Dr. George and a group of his peers in 2009, he listened quietly, looked around the room and then proclaimed, "This school must happen. I'm going to support it, and I want each of you to support it too."

It is fitting, then, that five years later, the Dr. George J. Farha Endowment for Christ the Savior Academy is being established on the one-year anniversary of his passing on January 7 a year ago. The goal of the endowment is to raise $1 million, and the Trustees of the endowment board are asking Dr. George's friends and colleagues to join the family in raising the funds.

"It is my desire to secure his dream long-term for the Academy," said Brenda Farha, Dr. George's wife. "I believe with all of my heart that my husband would be so pleased, you see, this school was his dream."

Noted Antiochian Scholar Fr. Paul Tarazi Honored at Retirement Dinner

The Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, in whose honor former students founded the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies, recently retired from teaching this year after forty-four years of service at St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary, Holy Cross School of Theology, and the St. John of Damascus Theological Institute in Balamand, Lebanon. As many as thirty former students gathered from around the world to attend Fr. Paul's final class at St. Vladimir's Seminary, and to honor him at a special retirement dinner. They were joined by his brother Nouhad, who traveled from Lebanon, his daughter Reem, and his youngest son, Bassam. 

Even into the final years of his illustrious career, Fr. Paul remained extremely active, having published during that time no fewer than ten books and a two-volume set of audio commentaries covering the entire Bible. Father Paul's unparalleled zeal for the Bible continues unabated in his retirement. He is translating his comprehensive audio commentaries on the Bible into Arabic, in a labor of love for the sake of his mother church in Antioch, offered in the hope of bringing solace to Christians in the Middle East during these difficult times. He is also currently completing work on the Chrysostom Bible Commentary series, with forthcoming books on Ephesians, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude. 

Father Paul's retirement is a great loss for students of the Bible; however, his growing collection of writings and the continued work of OCABS will remain to serve future generations seeking the light of God's instruction.

Vicar General Interviewed Regarding Plight of Middle Eastern Christians

Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Dean of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY, was interviewed by Jeanine Pirro of Fox News recently, about the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The interview was part of an ongoing series, "Christians Under Attack: A Justice Investigation." Noted Fr. Thomas, "Extremism is affecting all of the minorities in Syria, not just Christians."

Many Years to His Grace Bishop Basil!

Many years, master! January 1st is the celebration of St. Basil the Great and the name's day of His Grace Bishop Basil. May God grant him many years!

Apolytikion of St. Basil, Tone 1

In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.

St. Panteleimon Fellowship: A Society for the Practice of Orthodox Christian Healthcare

Christ healing the Paralytic (6th C. Mosaic)Christ healing the Paralytic (6th C. Mosaic)Greetings, Orthodox healthcare professionals!

With the approval of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and His Grace Bishop Basil (Antiochian Archdiocese of North America), the St. Panteleimon Fellowship has been launched for the benefit of all Orthodox health care professionals. This new organization has emerged from the coordinated efforts of Deacon Luke Stauffer, MD of St. Thomas Orthodox Mission in Frederickburg, TX and Father Symeon Kees of St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, TX.

The Great Martyr Panteleimon, a physician counted among the Unmercenary Healers of the Church, is our patron. Orthodox physicians, nurses, and all others who work in health care are invited into the Fellowship. Since the Church has always held the healing of the soul and body together, Orthodox clergy are certainly welcome. While our organization is currently rooted in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, all Orthodox Christians from our sister canonical jurisdictions are welcome. Indeed, the founders hope that the efforts of the Fellowship will create opportunities for health care professionals to share the Orthodox Way to non-Orthodox workers as well.

If you would like to be added to our email list, contact Alexandra Funchess (cafunchess@gmail.com). For more information, please download the St. Panteleimon Fellowships inaugural newsletter (PDF).

Let us confess the presence of Him who is both King and Physician. For Jesus the King when about to become our Physician, girded Himself with the linen of humanity, and healed that which was sick.

- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Nativity Outreach to the Homeless Hosted by St. George in Orlando

By Archpriest John Hamatie, St. George Orthodox Church, Orlando

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a man of traditions. All of us have fond memories and traditions of the Nativity of Our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus—also known as Christmas. I remember that as a child, I would not allow myself to be at home when the Christmas tree was taken down. In fact, I keep two trees up throughout the year-one Orthodox (decorated with small paper icons), and one secular. We also invite those who are alone to join us at Christmas dinner.

One tradition is the annual Christmas party for the homeless held at our Church of St. George in Orlando every December. On Friday, December 19, 2014, we had the joy and privilege to gather with over 400 homeless men, women and children and 111 volunteers to rejoice in the Lord. We hosted a band and set up tables with linens in our parking lot. The whole event was Christ-centered, as are all the feedings of the homeless at St. George's.

Memory Eternal! + Archdeacon Elias Hamaty

We regret to announce the repose of the soul of the servant of God and Archdeacon Elias 'Ely' Hamaty. Fr. Ely fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday afternoon 28 December at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton MA, surrounded by his devoted family.

Fr. Ely was born in 1934 and raised in the 'Syrian Colony' of Boston's South End. His parents, Mousa and Nour Hamaty were among the early members of St. George Orthodox Church of Boston. The Hamaty family emigrated from the village of Aafsdiq, Al-Koura near the Balamand Monastery where Mousa attended school and later worked as a cook. Fr. Ely's grandparents, Simon and Mariana, also worked at the Balamand Monastery. After arriving in Boston, his parents operated a successful family owned restaurant in the South End. Fr. Ely entered the family business and operated the restaurant before opening his own electronics firm. ELCO Electronics specialized in marine electronics and communications. Fr. Ely was an avid yachtsman and sports angler who fished the waters from Alaska to the Caribbean.

West Coast Enthronement Gala Celebration + Saturday January 31, 2015

By the grace of God we invite you to prayerfully participate in the

Diocese of Los Angeles and the West
Enthronement Gala Celebration

of

HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN JOSEPH
Archbishop of New York and
Metropolitan of North America
Saturday January 31, 2015

Sheraton Universal Hotel ≈ Universal City, California
Benefitting St. Nicholas Camp and Youth Education Programs

 

View the full schedule. Note: the Program Book deadline for ad submissions has been extended to December 28th.

Nativity and Theophany Message from the Assembly of Bishops

Be glad, you just, heavens rejoice, mountains leap for joy; Christ is born and the Virgin sits like the Cherubim throne carrying in her bosom God the Word made flesh. Shepherds glorify the one that is born; Magi offer gifts to the Master; Angels sing praises, saying: Lord beyond understanding, glory to you! (Lauds of Christmas Matins)

To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family of the United States of America.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we gather in our communities to celebrate the Great Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany, we offer praise, honor and worship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who has rendered us worthy once again to rejoice with the Shepherds, pay homage with the Magi, and to exclaim with the Angelic Powers, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all!

During this time, each of us looks forward to experiencing our local customs and traditions, which we have received from our ancestors. We adorn our homes and our churches with lights, garland and tinsel; we sing carols together and exchange gifts with each other; and we crown our celebration by receiving the Holy Eucharist.

New Site, Resources from Orthodox Christian Prison Ministries

Ministering to those behind bars, Orthodox Christian Prison Ministries (OCPM) was founded in 1991 by Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory, who asked highly experienced prison minister Fr. Duane Pederson to coordinate the effort. Now headed by Fr. Stephen Powley, OCPM is an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, and it continues to build on Father Duane's vision of ministering to prisoners and their families by mobilizing the Church.

Recently, OCPM launched a revamped website, theocpm.org. A recent post in the new "Latest News" column, for instance, shares a letter received by OCPM by a prisoner serving a life sentence.

Other features include:

Bidding Deadline for 2019 Archdiocesan Convention

The Department of Conventions and Conference Planning would like to inform parishes of the deadline for submitting bids to host the 2019 Archdiocese Convention is February 1, 2015. Parishes interested in bidding or obtaining information about the bidding process can contact the DCCP co-chairs, Carol Jazzar or Raed O. Sweiss. Please visit www.antiochian.org/conventions for contact and bid information.

OCCHY Offers Videos on Substance Abuse Prevention

The Antiochian Archdiocese's Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) is a unique national alliance founded and supported by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Archdiocese. The ministry focuses on establishing, training and leading substance abuse prevention and intervention coalitions across America.

On May 22, 2014,  OCCHY's active Cicero, Illinois Coalition hosted a Town Hall Meeting for parents and teens, titled "Underage Alcohol & Substance Prevention." Sponsored by the federal government's Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration, the meeting featured law enforcement and mental health professionals, who presented talks about how to ensure safety and sobriety for teens. The presentations are available on YouTube and may be viewed on OCCHY's website.

Metropolitan Joseph Elected Vice Chairman of St. Vladimir's Seminary Board

Metropolitan Joseph with St. Vladimir's Dean The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr (L) and The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield (R)Metropolitan Joseph with St. Vladimir's Dean The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr (L) and The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield (R)At its annual meeting on November 13–14, 2014, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, NY elected His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph as Vice Chairman of the Board, to be effective immediately. His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) serves as the Board Chairman. 

The Seminary's Dean, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, and Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, recognized Metropolitan Joseph's new position by presenting him with an icon of St. Vladimir during their visit to the Archdiocese Chancery in Englewood, NJ, on December 5. During that same meeting, the St. Vladimir's leaders also presented Patriarch John X with a check for $8000.00 designated for Syrian's suffering Christians. The gift was a tithe from the seminary's December 2 "Giving Tuesday" fund raising campaign.

Since its founding in 1938, St. Vladimir's has enjoyed a fruitful and reciprocal relationship with the Antiochian Archdiocese. About 16% of all of the seminary's alumni have gone on to serve in the Archdiocese, and most of today's North American Antiochian bishops are seminary alumns.

 

 

Patriarch and Metropolitan Visit St. George, Little Falls, NJ

Photo: Michael KarasPhoto: Michael KarasHis Beatitude Patriarch John X and His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided at Vespers Service on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Little Falls, NJ. The service was followed by an open reception. NorthJersey.com reported that the evening "was a night of simple joy in the church's North Jersey community."

Staff writer Jeff Green noted that His Beatitude "John X spoke for about 20 minutes about building unity between the church in the U.S. and abroad, as well as about peace in the Middle East, notably war-devastated Syria.

“'We are one church, we are one community and the distances do not divide us, do not separate us,'" said the Patriarch. 

Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday: December 14, 2014

Metropolitan Joseph's letter for Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday

Enthronement choir, with Dept. of Sacred Music Chair Chris HolweyEnthronement choir, with Dept. of Sacred Music Chair Chris HolweyThis Sunday is Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday in the Antiochian Archdiocese, which we observe every year on the second Sunday of December. It is a wonderful time to celebrate the ministry and commitment of our choir members and chanters, for all the time and devotion they give to our liturgical services throughout the year. As they sing and chant the hymns of our services, they help us in the worship of our God, and guide us as we all sing praises of joy to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The music is the means by which we pray, whether it be the quicker hymns of the Troparia and Kontakia, or the slower hymns of the Cherubic Hymn in Liturgy and Praises in Matins. Each set of music helps to set the tone for what we are praying and celebrating.

May God continue to bless each of our choir members and chanters in their ministry of love, and grant them many years of continued service to God's Holy Church for the lifting up of our hearts and minds to the heavenly places!

December is Order of St. Ignatius Month

The month of December every year is designated as Order of St. Ignatius month, in conjunction with the feast day of St. Ignatius on December 20. The Order is the philanthropic arm of the Antiochian Archdiocese and one of its most vital lay ministries, under the guidance of Metropolitan Joseph and the Archdiocese Board of Trustees. Currently, there are nearly 3,000 active members supporting approximately 38% of the Archdiocese's budget, as well as a host of other worthy causes including: camping and college conference scholarships, married seminarian assistance, Antiochian Village, Teen SOYO Special Olympics, theological and religious education, clergy retirement, Project Mexico, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), The Treehouse Family Ministry, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF).

Dr. Elias K. Hebeka, the North America Vice-Chair for the Order, wrote in December 2012's The Word magazine that the Order's Governing Council "is a group of volunteers, elected or appointed members of our Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, that has the responsibility to make many of the important decisions for the Order. 

Committee Reports from 2014 Assembly of Bishops Meeting Now Available

Metropolitan Joseph and Archbishop Demetrios (center) and fellow bishops at 2014 meeting (photo: GANP/Dimitrios Panagos)Metropolitan Joseph and Archbishop Demetrios (center) and fellow bishops at 2014 meeting (photo: GANP/Dimitrios Panagos)The annual reports of the committees of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, held from September 15-18, 2014 in Dallas, TX, are now available on the Assembly's website. The committee reports provide an overview of each committee's activities between September 2013 and August 2014. The reports were presented to the full Assembly at the annual meeting in Dallas.

Also available on the Assembly's website are official photos from Assembly V.