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Metropolitan Joseph Issues Letter in Support of March for Marriage

On April 25, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington D.C., people will be gathering from around the U.S. for the March for Marriage. This year's March will include an Orthodox Gathering, sponsored by the group Crown Them With Glory. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has released a letter encouraging the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate. (Download the PDF of His Eminence's letter.)

March 26, 2015

To our Beloved Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy and all of the Faithful of this God- Protected Archdiocese:

Blessings to you during this Holy Season of the Great Fast! On January 16th of this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex "marriage," and "rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex "marriages" and to refuse to recognize such "marriages" performed in another state." More details on the announcement can be found at the Supreme Court's website.

We are writing to communicate the newly established date for the third annual March for Marriage in Washington D.C. on Saturday, April 25, 2015. The march is a peaceful rally and quite comparable to the March for Life. We ask that you would make every effort to attend the rally, and encourage others to do likewise.

Photo Gallery: Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Pascha

Christ is Risen! 

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided over the services for Great and Holy Pascha at the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY. Assisting in this high point of the liturgical year, were Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Archdiocese and Dean of the Cathedral, and Fr. Adrian Budica.

View the photo gallery by St. Vladimir's seminarian Rami Dahdal.

Antiochian Parish Featured in Toledo Newspaper

The St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania, Ohio, was recently featured in a newspaper article in The Blade, a premier Toledo publication. Archpriest Ayman Kfouf spoke with Religion Editor TK Barger about the commemorations of Holy Week and Pascha, and queried him for his thoughts about the crisis in the Middle East.

St. Elias is not "an ethnic church that is closed upon itself and that tries to alienate itself from the world," Fr. Ayman said. "Rather, our mission is to unify ourselves with the world and serve the world, because that is the mission of the Orthodox church, and the community. That's what we're doing in Toledo."

Read the full interview.

2015 Paschal Letter from Bishop Basil

Pascha 2015

"When Thou hadst fallen asleep in the flesh, as one mortal, O King and Lord, Thou didst rise again on the third day, raising up Adam from corruption, and abolishing death: O Pascha of incorruption! O Salvation of the world!" (The Exaposteilarion of Pascha)

To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, the Christ-loving Monastics, and the Faithful Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:
I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of our Risen Saviour. Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Al-maseeh qaam! Христос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Cristo ha resucitado!

"Death was terrible to the human race before the death of Christ, but after Christ's Resurrection man became terrible to death, for One of us conquered death, did not remain in the grave, and did not see corruption. The former Pascha was the liberation of Israel from Egypt. Our Pascha is the liberation from the slavery of death and corruption. Christ is risen! I now know that my salvation has indeed been wrought. I know that God did indeed appear on earth. There have been great men, conquerors of the elements, conquerors of nature, but death equalized all and revealed our common nothingness. Who is this Who has passed through the gates of death? He can only be God. This means that God was indeed incarnate on earth, has indeed brought the healing medicine against that which consumes me and the corruption that tortures me. The Incarnation and the Resurrection are combined into one. The Incarnation gives the meaning of the Resurrection, and the Resurrection irrefutably confirms that the Incarnation is truth and reality, and not illusion or dream. Now death is not frightening to me, for I have seen the victory over corruption." (New Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky, 1886-1929)

2015 Paschal Letter from Bishop Anthony

Pastoral Letter for Great and Holy Pascha
Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest

April 12, 2015

Dear Fathers, Deacons, and Faithful of Toledo and the Midwest Diocese,

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
!المسيح قام! حقا قام

When Adam fell, he could, from then on, only see ahead of him. Close to the ground and on his knees, his spiritual vision was narrowed to seeing only horizontally. He couldn't see above him. But from his knees he could pray.

The long Lent is over. As Holy Week begins, and as the fast returns, we begin to get up off the ground. We are ready for a standing posture not a prostration. Easter and Pascha show us we were meant to look above us in a heavenly direction.

"Christ is Risen, and there is no one left in the tombs." The humiliation of the Cross is changed into the glorification of His Resurrection. Everything has changed for me too. The Resurrection of Christ has opened the door to eternity. The limits of time that stop us from discovering the possibilities of who we are have been overcome. I see only opportunities forever in Christ. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the likeness from one degree of glory to another." (2 Corinthians 3:18).

2015 Paschal Greetings from Bishop Thomas

His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:

GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA 2015

Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics, and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

There is nothing after Christ and nothing other than Christ. If you are not an extension of Him or an expression of Him, then you are nothing. At Pascha, I become Him or I am nothing. If I have loved Him, then I grow through Him and I grow in Him. I do not want anything in His place because He is everything. All the saints are in Him and unto Him, and if you look at their faces, do not look for them. Search for the face of Jesus traced upon them. How should I conduct myself at Pascha? My only affair with my soul is to bring it to the Lord. With Him it comes into existence. The Father is the beginning and the end and in Him the Christ of history pours forth. I am nothing if I do not become a person of Pascha, one who looks to the Father, the end point.
– Metropolitan Georges (Khodr) of Mount Lebanon, "Who Shall I Be at Pascha?"

As we celebrate Holy Pascha, we also each ask, "Who shall I be at Pascha?" This feast defines who we are, not just as a climax or triumph of the liturgical year, but as the very core of our life and, indeed, not just the core, but the whole of our life. Our task as Christians is to become an "extension" or "expression" of Christ, to become so like Him in communion with Him that the face of Jesus is also traced upon us.

Pascha: The Formula for Joy (2015 Reflection from Bishop John)

by Bishop John, The Word, April 2015

As I write this Paschal message, I sit before a seven-foot snow drift. It's not easy to imagine the Easter flowers pushing through the earth to greet the spring sun, when the earth is covered with such piles of snow. It's seven degrees now, but I know that, as Lent trudges on, even with another six inches of snow forecast for this week, Pascha is on the way. How do I know that spring is coming? Was it my mother who told me that spring follows winter during those long days inside the house, or was it something I learned in school? Perhaps it was many years living and noticing that each year Pascha followed Lent. In any case, we prepare for Pascha with great anticipation, especially after a record-breaking winter.

What I really want to talk about today is becoming comfortable with the seasons of our lives and recognizing God's presence and love in each of these seasons. Each has its own challenges and blessings. Let's rise to the challenges and rejoice in the blessings. After all, this is the day that the Lord has made for us. After all, we were born for Pascha, and all of life and all the gifts are to help us embrace this reality of union with God. is is true whether we are just learning to drive or are experiencing the aches of the rusty years.

Applications Being Accepted for Summer Music Institute for Youth: July 9-12

Chris Farha, the Diocesan Sacred Music Coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America writes:

This will be our fourth year for Youth Music Ministry at the Department of Sacred Music's summer Sacred Music Institute. Each year, the numbers grow but every year the students walk away changed, inspired and better equipped to serve their churches with a heightened awareness, more knowledge about the hymnography of the Church and a better skill set with which to vocally execute the music of the Church. They establish deep friendships with their peers who are of like mind and cultivate those friendships throughout the year. It is a wonderful program that I also feel blessed to participate in and hope that you might help promote it in your parishes.

Send us your Holy Week and Pascha Photos and Videos!

"Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" (Paschal Troparion)

The team at Antiochian.org is issuing a call for Holy Week, Pascha, and Bright Week photos! Send all photos to editor@antiochian.org as JPEG attachments. Please include a caption for each photo you send, and tell us the name of the parish and priest represented by the photo. We can post videos to our Antiochian.org Vimeo account too, so feel free to send us your videos. More questions? For general submission guidelines, read our checklist here.

View our 2014 gallery

April 2015 Edition of The Word Now Available

The April 2015 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:

Pascha: The Formula for Joy
by Bishop John

Journeying to Judgement - and Pascha
by Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi

The Purpose of Life? An Orthodox Christian Perspective
by Reader Daniel Manzuk

The Historicity and Potential of the Western-Rite Liturgy
by Fr. Kenneth M. DeVoie, M.Div.

Panegyric for St. Raphael
by Fr. John Fenton

...and more!

Patriarchal Special Tray Offering + Palm Sunday, 2015

Every year on Palm Sunday, a special Patriarchal tray offering is conducted in Antiochian parishes. The Palm Sunday special tray collection is for the benefit of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and is used at the discretion of the Patriarch to benefit people, churches, and programs of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the Middle East.

Now, more than ever, this material support is crucial, as our brothers and sisters in Syria are suffering such great hardship because of the violence that has gripped the country.

A significant portion of the funding that is required by the Archdiocese comes from the assessments and Special Trays which are paid by each parish to the Archdiocese on an annual basis.

For more information go here.

Warming to our Calling: St. Philip Church, Souderton, PA

Father Noah Bushelli of St. Philip Church, Souderton, PA writes:

"Bless the Lord, you winter cold and summer heat, sing and exalt Him unto all ages!" (Song of the Three Holy Youths, Daniel 3:67)

As our diocese thaws from the brutally cold and snowy winter of 2015, the hearts of Orthodox Christians at St. Philip's, Souderton, PA are continuing to warm to the great calling of our life in Christ! "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works!" (Ephesians 2:10). Here's a little glimpse of the flowers opening up to bloom in God's garden in South Eastern Pennsylvania.

Antiochian Women Diocese of LA Spring 2015 Newsletter Now Available

The Spring 2015 Newsletter (PDF) from the Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West is now available for download. The issue contains articles including:

Slowing Things Down by Melody Bahu
A Miracle by Kh. Christine Rogers
Lenten Seasons by Heidi Blair
What I Never Knew I Kneaded by Destinie Winn
Experiencing Iconography by Mary Machnee

...and more!

Click here to download (PDF)

Department of College Ministry Alert: Sign up Collegians for OCF's First Forty Days Program

Father Anthony Yazge, Chair of the Department of College Ministry, reminds all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni about OCF's First Forty Days program.

Christina Andresen, OCF's manager of Chapter Relations, writes: "It is imperative that we personally contact every first-year Orthodox college student so that they know that an Orthodox family awaits them on campus. This initiative, called the First Forty Days, has our local OCF student leaders, spiritual advisors, and lay coordinators introducing themselves to all incoming students, making sure that they know about Orthodoxy on campus and nearby Orthodox parishes.

We are asking that each parish provide us with basic information about their high school graduates who will be attending college in the fall.

Food For Hungry People Appeal

“When you see a poor person, remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ by which He declared that it is He, Himself who is fed. For though that which appears be not Christ, yet in that person’s form, it is Christ Himself who receives and begs.”

--St. John Chrysostom, “Homilies on Mathew” #78.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

Beloved in the Lord:

Greetings and blessings to you as we enter this most holy season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

During this time of the Great Fast, we once again turn our attention to the Food for Hungry People Program of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine. For more than 40 years, this campaign has had a tremendous impact throughout the world to help alleviate hunger and the numberless tragedies caused by poverty. With the many tragic events in our own country and throughout the world that happen each day, we continue to have a great need for almsgiving every day. As such, this special program of our Archdiocese helps with both large catastrophes or when smaller needs arise in any given year.

Memory Eternal! + Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko

Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, 75, dean emeritus of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, New York, and noted Orthodox Christian priest, theologian, preacher, and speaker, fell asleep in the Lord on March 18, 2015.

Father Thomas was the beloved husband of Matushka Anne [Schmemann] Hopko. They were married on June 9, 1963. Together, Fr. Thomas and Anne are the parents of five children, sixteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

"Father Thomas was a good friend of the Archdiocese," reflected Vicar-General and St. Nicholas Cathedral Dean Fr. Thomas Zain. "He helped educate many of our clergy over the years, and often gave lectures and led retreats in our parishes throughout the country."

Department of Christian Education to Offer Free St. Raphael Posters

From Carole A. Buleza, Director of Department of Christian Education:

In the Old Testament, a jubilee year occurred at the conclusion of the seventh cycle of seven years—in other words, every 49 or 50 years. It was a year of mercy, holiness and celebration. For our Antiochian Archdiocese, this is a Jubilee Year in celebration of St. Raphael, and to add to the celebration the Department of Christian Education will give away our Holy Land Posters and the St. Raphael Posters at the Parish Life Conferences. Parishes will have carrying tubes reserved with their names for collecting the posters they desire. Let's make our classrooms holy places filled with art—take advantage of this opportunity!

View and learn more about the St. Raphael posters and the Holy Land posters

Annual Orthodox Homeschooling Conference at the Village is April 23-26

Homeschool conference attendees from a previous yearHomeschool conference attendees from a previous yearAnother year has rolled on by and it's time, once again, for the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling Conference, hosted by Antiochian Village. The 2015 conference dates are set for April 23–26, and registration materials are available on the Village's website.

The evening Keynote Speaker is Fr. Andrew Steven Damick, pastor of St. Paul Orthodox Church of Emmaus, PA, author of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and An Introduction to God, and host of the "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" and "Roads from Emmaus" podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio. Other distinguished speakers and workshop leaders are: Lori Peterson Branch, professor of English at the University of Iowa; Theodore (Ted) Federoff, homeschooling dad and a board certified emergency medicine physician currently working in Jersey Shore, PA; Shell Keim, experienced homeschool mom and the Director of Education at All Saints Orthodox Church in Raleigh, NC; Andrew Kern, founder and president of the CiRCE Institute; Charlotte Riggle, of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, Tacoma, WA and seasoned home educator; Dr. Christopher and Anna Veniamin from St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary and Mount Thabor Publishing; and Barbara Shukin, art professor and gallery director.

View the list of topics and download the reservation form.

Memory Eternal! + Archpriest Thomas Williams

Archpriest Thomas Williams, 73, of St John the Theologian/Rapid City, SD reposed early on the morning of March 12, 2015 following a long and valiant battle with cancer. Father Thomas is survived by his wife Khouriya Josephine ("Jody"), their son Christopher and daughter-in-law Hillary, and grandson Shephard.

Ten priests from throughout the Diocese of Wichita joined  His Grace Bisho Basil and Hierodeacon Benedict for the Funeral Service for Departed Priest on Friday evening, March 13th, and for the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the General Funeral Service on Saturday morning. Fr. Michael Fulton of Holy Resurrection Church in Gillette, WY oversaw the vesting of Fr. Thomas and all aspects of the gospel vigil, divine services, interment and meal of mercy.

Read Fr. Thomas' obituary from the Rapid City Journal (PDF)

May his memory be eternal!

On the New Martyrs of the Middle East: An Orthodox Christian View

“The Decent into Hades” or, “The Harrowing of Hades”. The artist is unknown. Tempera on wood, from the Novgorod School of Russia and thought to be painted in the 13th century. The Icon is provided by Uncut Mountain Supply www.uncutmountainsupply.com“The Decent into Hades” or, “The Harrowing of Hades”. The artist is unknown. Tempera on wood, from the Novgorod School of Russia and thought to be painted in the 13th century. The Icon is provided by Uncut Mountain Supply www.uncutmountainsupply.comby His Grace Bishop Thomas (Joseph), Ed.D., The Word, May 2015

In recent months, images and stories of Christians being killed for their faith in the Middle East have flooded our news sources and dominated our social media. We see beheadings and shootings, sometimes available as gruesome videos on the Internet that are intended by their makers to inspire some to join their cause and others to cower in fear. We have seen bishops kidnapped, priests shot in the street as they ministered to the suffering, and innocents lined up and had their heads sawn off with knives.

Christians are not the only ones suffering in the Middle East—Muslims, Druze, Yazidis and others are also being targeted by the armies of takfirism. They are also dying for their faith, and even though we Christians do not share their religion with them, we still suffer with them in solidarity, because Christ still died and rose from the dead for them, even if they do not believe it.

We ask God, "Why?" We ask each other, "What can be done?" We wonder what kind of response there can be to this horrifying new reality, the spirit of takfirism, the mindset that makes religious accusation of others into a way of life, enforced by death and suffering for those who do not measure up to the ideology of these armies that sweep across that ancient, sanctified land.

How are we to understand what is happening? There is no shortage of analysis in the news and debate among our political leaders. But their answers do not satisfy, do they?

Christians who belong to the Orthodox Church are well acquainted with martyrdom, even if we ourselves do not live in places where our family and friends are being killed for Christ. Martyrdom forms the whole narrative shape of our history. Our calendar of saints is filled with thousands of martyrs' names, and there are millions more whose names we do not know. It was martyrdom itself which gave rise to our whole concept of having publicly venerated saints.

New Podcast with Antiochian Priest Discusses the Church's Life Today

Ancient Faith Radio's newest podcast, The Life of the Church Today, debuted on February 16, 2015. Host Fr. Steven Ritter, priest of St. James Orthodox Church in Buford, GA, is planning to use the podcast to consider a wide range of issues that arise in the Orthodox Church: current events, theological opinions, and esoteric topics that many people ask about and which are infrequently or inadequately addressed. It is meant to further discussion and bring to light the multifaceted human face of life in the Orthodox Church today.

Father Steven is the author of the book That Your Joy May Be Full - Learning from the Authentic Orthodox Theology of the Spiritpublished by Regina Press. A veteran writer for Fanfare Magazine, American Record Guide, and Audiophile Audition.com, he is also a church music composer. His Buford parish, a mission of the Archdiocese, is possibly the last mission established by Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory, in the fall of 2013. 

2015 SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarship is Available

Presenting the check for the Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker ScholarshipPresenting the check for the Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker ScholarshipWith the blessing of Metropolitan Joseph, NAC SOYO announces that the application for the 2015 SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarship is now available.

Download 2015 Application Form (PDF)
Due Date: July 31st, 2015

Requirements for Eligibility

The following are the requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for the Youth Worker Scholarship.

  • The applicant must have been an active member of an Antiochian parish for at least the last five years.
  • The applicant must be active in youth work.
  • The applicant agrees to enroll in a recognized Orthodox Christian program with a youth ministry focus or component; programs such as the St. Stephen's Youth Ministry Concentration of the Antiochian House of Studies.
  • The recipient will seek direction from the Chairman of the Archdiocese Department of Youth as to which institution is available for training.
  • The applicant is willing to make a minimum three year commitment to parish youth work in the Antiochian Archdiocese either as a volunteer or on a paid basis, but only following completion of the program [EC1] .

Solicitations on Social Media and Through Email

From time to time, the Antiochian Archdiocese receives reports of solicitations and offers on Social Media and through email, that claim to be officially sanctioned by the Archdiocese. Please be aware that any officially sanctioned solicitation or offer from the Archdiocese will either be posted on the Archdiocese website, or will be sent by a sanctioned email message from an Archdiocesan email address.

If you are in doubt, you may send an email to archdiocese@antiochian.org to ask about the message in question. 

View the Antiochian Archdiocese's official Facebook page.

March 29: Syrian Relief Fund Raising Dinner in Pittsburgh, PA

On Sunday, March 29, 2015 the IOCC Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee plans to hold a prayer service and fund raising dinner that will benefit our Syrian brothers and sisters in Christ. This Syrian Relief gathering will be held at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, PA. We would like to cordially invite your parish to attend, and support IOCC's aid efforts in Syria.

The recent conflict has been devastating. It has resulted in the displacement of numerous Orthodox Christians that are now hungry, homeless, and lacking essential items.

Last year Archbishop Melchisedek, Metropolitan Silouan, Metropolitan Savas, Bishop Thomas, and (former) Archbishop Theodosius led our Syrian Relief gathering. This year we are hoping to more fully engage all of the Orthodox jurisdictions and faithful in this Orthodox offering of love, prayer, and mercy. Please join us!

Midwest Fellowship Spring Gathering + March 27-29, 2015

From Julia Shaheen, president of the Midwest Fellowship:

It is time once again for the Fellowship's Spring Gathering, scheduled for March 27-29 in Cicero. Bishop Anthony is scheduled to attend as well. We would like to see a delegates from every parish for the teens, fellowship/young adults, and ladies. The flyer and schedule are attached to this email. I've posted the registration information for the hotel and the meetings on this website: https://dotamregistration.wordpress.com/

Also, we are going to do a sock drive (something easy and fun!). Everyone who attends is asked to bring one pair of socks (or more) with his/her registration. We are hoping that organizations within each parish might do a sock drive...they are going to the nuns at the Fraternite Notre Dame. So please help get the word out on this.

Thank you!