Interviews from Antiochian.org


"For the Sake of Others:" Interview with Katrina Bitar

Katrina Bitar is the North America Program Director for YES, or Youth Equipped to Serve. A ministry of FOCUS North America, YES provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service in urban environments across the U.S. and Canada. A lifetime member of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Katrina began working with youth during her college years and eventually was tapped to head the YES program after graduating from St. Vladimir's Seminary in 2009. A look at her busy calendar for the first half of 2014 reveals that she will be involved with outreach efforts in Philadelphia, Montreal, Oklahoma City, Grand Rapids, Houston, Austin, and St. Louis. Antiochian.org asked her to introduce the work of YES and explain the impact it is having on the Church's youth.

What is your background, and how did you first get involved with YES?

I was born in Burbank, California, but spent most of my life in Little Falls, NJ. I discovered my youth ministry gifts while serving at the Antiochian Village as a counselor during my college years. In 2001, I took a job as a youth director for a parish in Phoenix, AZ that began my full-time youth ministry work. It was through my work as a parish youth director that I was introduced to the YES Program.

Interview with Dr. James Taylor of St. Raphael Orthodox Online School

A seasoned teacher and scholar, Dr. James Taylor is a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Topeka, Kansas. As founder of the St. Raphael Orthodox Online School, he has created a program of classical studies for elementary, middle, and high school students. In his career Dr. Taylor has taught in a variety of parochial schools and preparatory academies, including St. Marys Academy in Kansas, Wichita Collegiate School, and Topeka Collegiate School. For five years he was assistant then associate professor of the Education Department at Hillsdale College, Michigan, and later he served at the University of Tulsa, also in the department of education where his specialties were philosophy of education in the graduate school, and Children's Literature classes for elementary and middle school future teachers. Antiochian.org asked Dr. Taylor about his new enterprise and his thoughts on education in the context of his Orthodox faith.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to start this school.

While still in high school, I was drawn to the poetry of the past and the culture that informed the art, philosophy, religion and music of these eras, including the modern era. Once out of high school, I realized quite soon that to maintain these interests there was hardly any other place for me to fit in than as a high school or college teacher.

"Christ in Prison": Interview with OCPM Board Chair Kory Warr

In his professional life, Kory Warr is a commercial real estate developer. As an Antiochian Orthodox Christian, he has served terms as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and as a Board member for St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He is a member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, OK, and is currently the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry. Antiochian.org recently had the opportunity to ask him about his outreach to prisoners, and what motivates him to minister to the incarcerated.

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you first become interested in prison ministry?

I got involved in prison ministry in 2005. Prior to that, if I had made a list of things I might have wanted to do as a layman in the Church, prison ministry would have been at the very bottom—prison ministry was literally the last thing I wanted to do. However, my bishop, Bishop Basil of Wichita, asked me to participate in a working group whose task it was to begin to shape the prison ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America into the official prison ministry of SCOBA (now the Assembly of Bishops).

Interview with Fr. George Morelli: To Teach and To Heal

A seasoned psychologist, priest, Archdiocese department chair, and prolific author, Fr. George Morelli has shared his articles with Antiochian.org readers for over six years. The assistant pastor at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Diego, Fr. George has taught university and seminary courses in psychology and pastoral theology, supervised doctoral clinical psychology interns, and authored many articles in his field. He can also be heard on his weekly Ancient Faith Radio podcast, Healing: Orthodox Spirituality and Psychology

You have been a faithful columnist for Antiochian.org for a number of years. What motivates you to write and is there a common thread that runs through all your columns?

My motivation is that I see Christ as our ultimate Physician and Healer of our souls and ultimately our bodies following the brokenness (i.e. passions) that we have inherited from our ancestral parents. I am acutely aware that any of the gifts that I have been given are a gift from God and to be used to glorify His Name, to emulate as best I can the Trinitarian love the Persons of the Holy Trinity have for themselves and have extended to all creation and onto all mankind. I have an obligation to use these gifts as best I can to reflect this love.

Order Member and House of Studies Alum Launches Podcast

Bill Hinkle is a founding member of Prophet Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Ellensburg, WA, a member of the Order of St. Ignatius, and a graduate of the Antiochian House of Studies. Bill's varied history also includes a stint as the Minority Whip of the Washington State House of Representatives, a career as a firefighter paramedic, service as a county commissioner, civic involvement in boards and a leadership institute, and a career in health insurance. He recently launched a bi–monthly podcast with the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) called "Our Life in Christ and in America." Antiochian.org spoke with Bill about the many hats he wears. 

1. How long have you been Orthodox and how did you discover the Church? Tell us a little about your parish.

I told my wife on our first date that I wanted to know God, live a Christian life and find the Church, but wasn't sure how to do any of that. Almost 10 years later in 1999, we met Fr. George and Pres. Dianthe Livanos on a ferry dock in Port Angeles Washington the week before Thanksgiving. He had travelled from Canonsburg, PA and we were on vacation six hours from our house. We spent 45 minutes crossing the Strait of Juan De Fuca on a ferry talking about "the historic church" as Fr. George explained it to us.

Stewardship Interview: "Giving is Part of our Spiritual Life"

Ronald Nicola, Department of StewardshipRonald Nicola, Department of StewardshipThe Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Stewardship's Chair Ronald Nicola taught high school social studies and served as a vice-principal for many years. A California native, he grew up attending St. Nicholas Church in San Francisco. He and his family have been members of St. John the Evangelist Orthodox Church in Orinda, California since its founding in 1978.

Ron has been active in many ministries of the Archdiocese, from SOYO to parish council to a twenty-year period of service on the Board of Trustees. Through these experiences, he developed an interest in Christian stewardship and the Scriptural teachings that guide the faithful in their offerings of time, talents, and treasure. Recently, the Department of Stewardship added two substantial resources to the web: The Fifty-Two Week Parish Giving Campaign, and the Parish Council Guidebook. The department is also responsible for the upcoming Parish Council Symposium in November.

Antiochian.org spoke with Ron about the ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Department of Stewardship.

1. What is the Department of Stewardship—when was it founded, and why?

Metropolitan Philip established the Department of Stewardship in 1975 and he appointed the late Ernest Saykaly of Montreal, Quebec, as its first chairperson.  

Fr. Joseph Purpura Reflects on Eventful Summer

The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, V. Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura has been creating and implementing youth training programs across the United States and Canada since the late 1980's. He has held numerous appointments over the years and is currently overseeing a number of programs, both established and new. Over the summer he coordinated SOYO Diocesan General Assemblies, elections, the Leadership Conference, Bible Bowl Festival, Oratorical Contest and Special Olympics Sports Camp. Antiochian.org asked him for an update as he looks to the Archdiocese's fall youth schedule.

1. What is the Healthy Youth Initiative? In general, can you update us on the progress of OCCHY (Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth)?

The Healthy Youth Initiative offers Orthodox Christian communities the opportunity to heighten awareness of substance abuse issues and to recognize and respect the sanctity of the human body. By developing local community networks, parish leaders are able to establish healthier living conditions for our youth. Local coalitions promote substance abuse solutions through policy change, environmental design modification and substance abuse prevention strategies.

"It Was My Duty:" Interview with The Order of St. Ignatius Chair, Mary Winstanley-O'Connor

Mary Winstanley-O'Connor, Chair of The Order of St. IgnatiusMary Winstanley-O'Connor, Chair of The Order of St. IgnatiusThe Order of St. Ignatius Chair Mary Winstanley-O'Connor is a lifelong member of the Antiochian Archdiocese. A Boston attorney, Mary joined the Order in the early 1990's after visiting Antiochian Village, where she was deeply moved by listening to the campers pray and sing. She assumed the role of the Governing Council Chair in 2011, following in the footsteps of Daniel Abraham. Recently Antiochian.org asked Mary to reflect on her first year of leadership.

1.  Mary, can you tell us how you became involved in the Order of St. Ignatius?

I have been a life-long member of St. Mary Orthodox Church of Cambridge, Massachusetts. I am an attorney with offices in Boston and have lived in the greater Boston area throughout my life. Like many in our Archdiocese, I was a member of Teen SOYO, a member of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Parish Council President and a Sunday School teacher.

AFR and Kevin Allen to Launch Live Call-in Show

"Ancient Faith Today With Kevin Allen," AFR's new flagship national program, is slated to launch at the end of Bright Week on April 22, 2012.

Allen, the host of the award-winning interview podcast, "The Illumined Heart," will draw on his background in Orthodox media to discuss a wide variety of issues with knowledgeable guests, all through the lens of the Orthodox faith and tradition. "Ancient Faith Today" will stream live and allow for call-ins from around the globe, twice a month on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.

Antiochian.org asked host Kevin Allen to share his hopes and plans for this new venture.

1. Kevin, tell us about your history with Orthodox internet radio.

I hosted an interview program called “The Illumined Heart” on Ancient Faith Radio from 2007 through April 2011 with a few hiatuses in between. We logged 5, 251 minutes and 49 seconds in 176 programs with Orthodox and non-Orthodox laity, clergy, monastics, theologians, writers and Episcopal leaders on a wide range of subjects with the common theme of “spirituality” and “church life." The program began as a parish media project and Ancient Faith Radio produced it on its Talk Radio line-up as a regular program as a downloadable podcast. In addition, I have been a listener of many of the other fine podcasts on AFR myself through the years.

Youth Month Interview: Fr. Anthony Yazge

Since October is Youth Month in the Antiochian Archdiocese, the editors at antiochian.org caught up with Fr. Anthony Yazge, who heads up the College Department for the Archdiocese, as well as the camping program at Antiochian Village. (Read this 2006 Word interview with Fr. Anthony and browse his Ask Abouna column.)

Fr. Anthony has been serving teens, college students and campers since 1981, and after thirty years he still approaches his ministry with dedication and enthusiasm.

1.  How many years have you been working in youth ministries, and what kind of roles have you filled?

I basically went from my teenage years to being involved in youth ministry. As a seminarian I was involved in planning and leading teen retreats. A few years after ordination, I was appointed as the Midwest Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor and served in that position for fourteen years before being appointed as the NAC Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor for the last six years. As the Spiritual Advisor of Teen SOYO, I participated with our teens in many outreach projects over twenty years. In 2001 I was assigned to be priest in charge of Teen SOYO’s Special Olympics Camp and am currently still part of this ministry.

In addition to serving as a Spiritual Advisor for Teen SOYO the past twenty years, I have served the Antiochian Village for many years. I was a camp counselor in 1981 and was a session priest for thirteen years prior to my current assignment as Camp Director in 2006. I have also led a team of teens on a short term mission trip to Project Mexico.