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."
The month of October has been designated as Orthodox Awareness Month by Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) to foster an awareness of the richness of the Orthodox Faith on college campuses across North America through fellowship, education, worship, and service. Many students throughout the continent have little knowledge of the Orthodox faith, or that there is an active Orthodox group on campus. By devoting a month devoted to different activities and events, OCF serves the purpose of educating collegians about the beauty of the Orthodox faith and its presence on college campuses across the U.S.
In a new post on the blog Conversations on Orthodoxy, the tables are turned on the men behind the microphone, as Producer Mark Bradshaw interviews John and Bobby Maddex, Ancient Faith Radio's CEO and Operations Manager, respectively. As the Conversations Website notes, "John is the founder of Ancient Faith Radio, and now the CEO of Ancient Faith Ministries, which includes Ancient Faith Publishing (used to be Conciliar Press). We discuss how AFR got started, what it takes to run the network and produce the shows, new languages and podcasts, the live call in shows, and future plans and thoughts on video."
"Ancient Faith Radio is one of the most successful outreach tools we have," notes the host in his brief introduction. "I sat down with John and Bobby to get a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run Ancient Faith."
Listen to the interview at Conversations on Orthodoxy.
The official Website of the Department for External Relations, Russian Orthodox Church reported:
On 8 October 2013, the commemoration day of St. Sergius of Radonezh, after the Divine Liturgy and a thanksgiving celebrated in the Laura of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill met with the delegation of the Syrian hierarchs who attended the service.
The delegation includes Bishop Isaac of Apameia, vicar of the Damascus diocese (Patriarchate of Antioch); Archbishop Joseph Absi (Melkite Greek Catholic Church); Bishop Armash Nalbandian (Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin); Archbishop Mor Silwanos Butros (Peter) al-Ni'meh (Syriac Orthodox Church); and Archbishop Samir Nassar (Maronite Church).
Taking part in the meeting were also Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations; Archbishop Niphon of Philippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR vice-chairman; and hieromonk Stefan Igumnov, a staff member of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Orthodox Relations.
On November 11, 2013, at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC, the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration will sponsor a conference with the theme “On Earth as it is in Heaven: Putting Orthodox Theology and Ecology into Practice.”
The conference brings together Orthodox hierarchs, clergy, and informed laity to explore the many facets of this issue. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese will be the first keynote speaker. Dr. James Hansen, famed scientist and director emeritus of the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA), will open up the afternoon program with a second keynote address.
The title of the conference reflects a striving to align lifestyle and actions with Orthodox theology. Registration is a sliding scale of $20 to $200, and participants may contribute according to their ability. Scholarships are available for those who need assistance. For further information, visit the Website of the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration or contact the OFT office at (707) 573‑3161 during afternoon and evening hours.
Fr. Anthony Yagze, Chair of the Departments of College Ministry, and Camping, encourages all youth in the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate in the YouTube challenge. "It's an interesting opportunity for young people!" he notes.
Welcome to the 2013 Orthodox Church in America (OCA) YouTube Challenge!
Youth and Young Adult (Ages 14-28) should respond with an original video by midnight on November 15, 2013, to the following question: "What is the Gospel?" Participants may wish to reflect on:
- The essential message of Jesus Christ
- What his actions and words tell us about humanity and divinity
- How the Gospel message can be preached in your particular environment (school, work, family, etc..)
Participants may wish to use their video to deliver a traditional speech, or find ways of more creatively answering the challenge through visual imagery and poetic license.
His Eminence Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West is leading a diocesan delegation on a holy pilgrimage to Greece and Serbia, and a daily diary and photo galleries of the trip are being posted on the Diocese of Los Angeles Website. On September 20, 2013 at the Los Angeles International Airport, Sayidna Joseph invoked the intercessions of St. Nicholas, the patron and protector of his Holy Cathedral and the protector of travelers, before the group embarked on the journey of more than 8,000 miles to Thessaloniki, Greece. Archbishop Joseph also called upon the intercessions of the Theotokos, asking for a spiritually uplifting two weeks of visiting some of the holiest churches and monasteries in the Orthodox Christian world.
Some of the sites included in the itinerary are the Souroti Monastery, St. Demetrios Church, and the Catacombs of St. John the Baptist. Read more details about the trip in the pilgrimage diary.
St. Luke Church in Erie, Colorado was consecrated by His Grace Bishop Basil on Sept. 28 with 318 faithful present including neighboring clergy. A joyous reception in the church hall followed. It was a wonderful day of thanksgiving to God.
The new temple had its first Divine Liturgy on Pentecost 2010. Since that time, a wood carved iconostasis from Bulgaria was installed along with additional iconography that now covers most of the ceiling under the dome.
The church has grown in numbers since its beginning in 1991 with 17 households using a small rental space in the old mining town of Lafayette, Colorado (a small community 10 miles from Boulder and 30 miles north of Denver). His Grace Bishop Antoun ordained Fr. David Mustian and chrismated the original founders who were all converts to Holy Orthodoxy. The church continues to have many converts, along with a good mix of life- long Orthodox members from various ethnic backgrounds.
Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Dean of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY, was interviewed at length on September 14 on the situation in Syria by Archimandrite Eugene Pappas of Hellenic Public Radio. The interview is available for listening below in its entirety.
The clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas to our Patronal Feast of the Elevation of the Cross from September 13-15, 2013. Along with His Grace Bishop Melchizedek (Orthodox Church in America), over twenty visiting clergy and many other well-wishers joined us in commemorating both the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Cross as well as Sayedna Thomas' 25th year of ordination. The weekend also saw the ordinations of Lt. Col. Kelvin Gardner (chaplain, USAF). In total, four services and a banquet were held. Also included in the weekend was the annual retreat of the deacons of the Eastern dioceses with renowned scholar Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Hellenic College Holy Cross celebrated its 75th Anniversary name day feast with a four-day Jubilee September 12–15, 2013. The event focused on celebrating the history of the community while continuing to highlight the School's significance as, in the words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, "the heart and the mind of our Church in America." Over the course of the 75 years of the school's existence, many Antiochian students have prepared for the priesthood or lay ministry in the Church through their studies at Holy Cross.
His Eminence presided over festal services as crowds overflowing from the Holy Cross Chapel watched on high-definition video screens under a tent. In the Vespers service on Friday evening, second-year seminarians received their crosses and Masters of Divinity candidates entering their final year of studies received their rasso [cassocks] as families, trustees, and Jubilee visitors came together in prayer, thanksgiving, and celebration.
September 26th is the celebration of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist St. John the Theologian and the name's day of His Grace Bishop John. May God grant him many years!
Apolytikion of St. John, Tone 2
O Apostle John, speaker of divinity, the beloved of Christ God, hasten and deliver thy people powerless in argument; for He on Whose bosom thou didst lean accepteth thee as an intercessor. Beseech Him, therefore, to disperse the cloud of the stubborn nations, asking for us safety and the Great Mercy.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip was interviewed this week by Boston's NPR radio station for their Here and Now program concerning the plight of the ancient Orthodox Christian communities of Syria. The interview is available for listening, and as a written transcript, both available here.
His Eminence in particular highlighted his concern for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria. (Read an appeal for the monastery from the Patriarchate of Antioch here.) Metropolitan Philip said in part:
"My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus."
Antiochian scholar and author Dr. Bradley Nassif, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University, recently participated in an international meeting between Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Evangelical church leaders held in Albania during the first week in September, 2013. Convened at the invitation of Archbishop Anastasios Yannoulatos of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, the conference gathered 46 Eastern and Oriental Orthodox and Evangelical leaders from 20 different countries at St. Vlash Monastery in Albania for the first international consultation of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative.
Addressing the topic "Tradition, Catholicity and the Mind of the Church," Dr. Nassif reminded his audience that when Orthodox Christians say one thing, evangelical Christians often hear something completely different. In frank discussion and a spirit of respect and hospitality, participants wrestled with the challenging issues of proselytism, canonical territory, salvation, justification, and theosis, resolving to continue to journey together with a second international gathering already being planned for the early autumn of 2014.
Speaking to the theme "The Mission of God," Archbishop Anastasios noted that “The Spirit ceaselessly gives life to the Church and to each of the Church’s members, transforming them into living cells of the mystical body of Christ, enabling it to partake in His continuing mission for the salvation of the entire cosmos.” Speakers reviewed recent developments in Evangelical missiology and mission practice and pointed out areas of difference and similarity between Orthodox and Evangelical understandings of "The Mission of God."
Antiochian Village reports that in an effort to stay connected to campers and introduce young people to the camp experience, the Village at Home program is running several programs this fall. In Village at Home, camp staff visit a church at the invitation of the priest, and run a modified day of camp in the parish. Hosting parishes often extend invitations to neighboring churches with hope of exposing as many young people to the Antiochian Village camping program. Former staff members to join in for the day to assist with the program, which replicates as much as possible the typical camper's day at the Village.
The following Village at Home days are scheduled:
- September 28 - St. Michael Orthodox Church - Louisville, KY
- October 5 - St. Raphael Orthodox Church - Chantilly, VA
- November 16 - St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church - West Roxbury, MA
- December 7 - Basilica of St .Mary - Livonia, MI
- March 22 - St. Philip Orthodox Church - Souderton, PA
Additionally, camp dates for the 2014 season have been posted. The season's earliest camp is Winter Camp in February, and the last camp to wrap up is the Special Olympics Sports Camp during the second week of August.
The Fall 2013 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the North American Board, and contains:
- The Antiochian Women and Martyrdom: A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
- A message from His Grace Bishop John
- A 40th Anniversary message from NAB President Violet Robbat
- An introduction to the 2013-2015 North American Board
...and more! Click here to download (PDF).
September 16, 2013
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) reports:
OCF's "Real Break" aims to prepare college students to be socially informed Orthodox Christian citizens of this world, while directing their focus on the world to come, the kingdom of heaven. Built on a foundation of fellowship, education, worship, and service, Real Break provides students the opportunity to understand the true meaning of seeing Christ in the other—traveling to all parts of the world deepening their faith, serving those in need, and cultivating relationships with like-minded peers.
His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:
There are few places in the United States where you can visit the grave and shrine of a saint of the Church. Did you know that the Antiochian Village is one of those places? Saint Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn, the Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep of America, is buried on the grounds of the Antiochian Village. This year we are expanding the focus of our Annual Pilgrimage to not only include our prayers for the intercession of St. Thekla, but also we will pray the Service of Supplication to St. Raphael that he may intercede on our behalf before the throne of God.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, and educated in Damascus Syria, Halki, Turkey, and Kiev, Russia, Raphael Hawaweeny found himself virtually exiled in Kazan, Russia. He was making himself of use on the faculty of a school, when he was summoned to the New World by the Syrian Orthodox Benevolent Committee in New York City.
Immigrating in 1895 and serving under the aegis of the Russian Orthodox Mission—then the only established Orthodox hierarchy—he was technically pastor of St. Nicholas Church (later Cathedral) in Brooklyn, NY, but was, in fact, the roving pastor of several dozen tiny, isolated communities spread thinly across the continent.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Throngs of displaced Syrians crowd before the gates of an Orthodox church in the coastal governorate of Tartous, awaiting their turns to register for humanitarian assistance at one of the four offices IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) have established in the governorate to assist with the influx of people needing aid. IOCC is responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of displaced families who have sought the relative safety of Tartous from areas of intense conflict in Homs, Aleppo and Idlib.
IOCC/GOPA volunteers work diligently to register the thousands of weary and homeless Syrian people who gather daily seeking food, shelter and basic household items like bedding and blankets. More than 3,300 displaced families have been registered to receive assistance such as housing support, crisis counseling, and remedial classes at a makeshift school for 500 displaced children. In response to the needs of the growing number of Syrian families arriving to Tartous and other governorates, IOCC is working to expand the assistance it is providing.
In the meantime, the IOCC has also helped resettle families displaced from the historic town of Maaloula. Read about these efforts on IOCC's Website.
The Lord’s Day After the Exaltation of the Cross, September 15th/29th, 2013
“Behold now, what is so good or so pleasant as for brothers to dwell together in unity?” Psalm 132:1
Beloved Clergy, Godly Monastics, and Blessed Faithful,
On behalf of the members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, we greet you in the Joy of our Lord Jesus Christ as we commence the 2013-14 Academic School Year. The wonderful verse recounted above comes to us from the Psalmist David. Its brilliance and simplicity should inspire us all as Orthodox Christians to strive for active engagement, participation, connection and interaction with one another through all stages of life and development in the life of the Orthodox Christian.
Your Grace: Master, bless! News reports about the '100 year flood' in Colorado are very true. We ask for your prayers and those of our DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood. I heard this morning from a parishioner asking for special prayers for her elderly mother Batool in a downtown Boulder apartment who was recently referred to hospice. They cannot reach her due to the floods and evacuations. Fr. Lester Bundy told me yesterday that his daughter called saying their home was 'lost.' Some people have died, some are in isolated areas, some without utilities and without safe drinking water. Emergency workers are doing what they can, to get people to shelters. Weather reports call for more rain. Our church temples are so far not effected in any major way, just a few leaks. Some areas are fine as well. Thank you.
Yours in Christ,
His Eminence Philip (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, sent a message to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which reads, in particular: “We monitor with gratitude your tireless efforts in support of the Christians, and all the God-fearing people of Syria.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expresses his conviction that the forces responsible for stirring up the conflict in the country “have ulterior motives in mind, not the least of which is to expunge the area of Christians who have been living in that land peacefully with Muslims for many years under the secular government…”
The hierarch of the Church of Antioch thanked the Russian Church for carrying out the fund-raising campaign and sending the money collected “to help the needy, homeless and downtrodden people of Syria” who have been suffering from “the uncivil war that continues to rage.”
“Throughout history, Russia has protected the Orthodox of the Middle East in times of need and it seems history is repeating itself once again,” the letter reads. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expressed his gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for his support in this difficult time and asked him “to remember the victims of this barbarism” in his prayers.
The following videos feature the Dormition Patriarchal Divine Liturgy that His Grace Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas Zain of New York City, and Fr. Mousa Haddad of Chicago celebrated with His Holiness Kirill the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. See here for the full story of the pilgrimage, including a photo gallery.
From St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Coral Gables, FL:
St. George Cathedral is saddened to inform you of the passing into eternal life of Ramon Ghawali (Ghazaleh) at the age of 71.
The Clergy and Council of St. George Cathedral offer their sincerest condolences to his wife, Suhayla, his children and their families, Joudeh and Muna, Elias and Reem, Ghada and Sameer Al-Ghawali, Mary and Elia Sammour, and Roland, his brothers and sisters across the United States, and the Ghawali and Kattan families in Beit Jala, Palestine, on the loss of their beloved, Ramon.
May Christ, who is our life and resurrection, give rest to the soul of the servant of God, Ramon, with all the Saints and may He grant comfort, patience, and strength to his family.
The following arrangements have been made:
Sunday, September 8 - The Viewing will be held at St. George Cathedral from 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. The Funeral Service will be held during the Wake at 7:30 p.m. A Mercy Meal will be offered at St. George Cathedral Hall after the Funeral Service.
Monday, September 9 - The Final Viewing will be held at St. George Cathedral beginning at 10:00 a.m. followed by the Trisagion Service at 10:30 a.m. The Procession and Burial Service will be held after the service. A Mercy Meal will be offered at St. George Cathedral Hall after the Burial Service.
May his memory be eternal!