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New Interactive Exhibit at Antiochian Village: "Saint Raphael, Scholar and Shepherd"

From The Word, October 2015

In honor of this year's One Hundredth Anniversary of the Repose of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, the Antiochian Heritage Museum recently opened an all-new exhibit about Saint Raphael, which includes an interactive touchscreen presentation. With the support of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, the museum partnered with Wiant Design Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to create the updated display. The exhibit was unveiled during the meetings of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees held at the Antiochian Village in May.

Titled "Saint Raphael: Scholar and Shepherd," the museum's new touchscreen exhibit offers highlights from the theological thesis which St. Raphael wrote as a young seminarian, and which was recently translated from its original Greek into English by the Rev. Dr. Patrick Viscuso. In addition to excerpts from the thesis, the touchscreen also explores highlights from the life of St. Raphael – from his youth in Damascus through his ministry as a priest and bishop in the United States.

Lecture Highlights Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

On Tuesday September 29th, 2015 at the Museum of the City of New York, the former Director of the Department of Philanthropy of the Patriarchate of Antioch, Samer Laham, addressed a crowd of nearly 200 people regarding the devastating impact of the humanitarian crisis in Syria upon Orthodox Christians in the Middle East as well as Syrians of all faiths. His Eminence Archbiship Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America were in attendance and offered Archieratical responses to Mr. Laham's multimedia presentation. The lecture was sponsored by the Order of St. Andrew, the Order of Saint Ignatius of Antioch and the IOCC as the relief agency of the Assembly of Bishops.

View a gallery of photos from the event (Photos by J. Mindala)

October 2015: Archdiocese Youth Month

Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries, with Special Olympics coachesFr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries, with Special Olympics coachesOctober is the month when the Antiochian Archdiocese introduces teens to the many opportunities to minister in the Church. The youth "are encouraged to read the Epistle, chant and sing in the choir, assist in church school, and give sermons approved by the priest," explains Department of Youth Chairman The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura. 

Another way teens can get involved in their parishes is to participate in the Creative Arts, Bible Bowl, and Oratorical Festivals. This year’s theme, selected by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, is "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

Department of Sacred Music Welcomes Composer in Residence nazo zakkak

The Department of Sacred Music is thrilled to announce our first ever Composer in Residence, Mr. nazo zakkak. nazo stunned the attendees at last summer's Sacred Music Institute with his beautiful compositions of Antiochian Orthodox church music.

The first of nazo's commissions will be the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom which will be premiered at the 2016 Sacred Music Institute being held from July 13-18 at the Antiochian Village.

We wish nazo many years of health, happiness and music making! (Please note that nazo has asked that his name be spelled in lower casing.)

Biography of nazo zakkak

Born in San Francisco and raised in San Diego, Lebanese-American composer nazo zakkak began piano lessons at an early age. He graduated with a BM in Jazz Studies from San Diego State University in 2009 with a Music Student of the Year Award, and Summa cum Laude with an MFA from the innovative ICIT program at UC Irvine in 2011.

October Liturgical Texts Available for Download

His Grace Bishop Basil and the community of St. Luke Antiochian Orthodox Church of Erie, CO.His Grace Bishop Basil and the community of St. Luke Antiochian Orthodox Church of Erie, CO.The Liturgical Texts for October, blessed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

Every year, on the Sunday that falls from October 11-17, inclusive, the Orthodox Church celebrates the 350 Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, convened in Nicaea in 787. They refuted the Iconoclast heresy, whose camp believed that all depictions of Christ, His Mother and the saints should be destroyed. The council decreed that the veneration of icons was not idolatry because the honor shown to them is not directed to the wood or paint, but passes to the prototype depicted therein.

St. Elias Cathedral in Ottawa Celebrates the 85th Anniversary of the Parish and 15th Anniversary of the Cathedral

by Rev. Fr. Nektarios Najjar

The Most Reverend Metropolitan Joseph, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, blessed the Clergy and faithful of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Ottawa by presiding over the celebrations for the 85th anniversary of the parish and the 15th anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral that took place from September 9-13, 2015.

This historical visit was the first visit of His Eminence to Ottawa after his election as the new Metropolitan. His Eminence arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday, September 9th, 2015. The Very Rev. Fr. Ghattas Hajal, Pastor of the Cathedral, alongside Assistant Pastor Fr. Nektarios Najjar, the parish council, a representative of Ottawa's mayor and the organizing committee of the event welcomed our Father in Christ Metropolitan Joseph at the airport's V.I.P. Salon. 

St. Vladimir's Seminary Awards Honorary Doctorates to Metropolitan Joseph and Metropolitan Tikhon

Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor/CEO, drapes Metropolitan Joseph with the doctoral hood (Photo: Jasmine Yedigarian)Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor/CEO, drapes Metropolitan Joseph with the doctoral hood (Photo: Jasmine Yedigarian)[SVOTS Communications/Yonkers, NY] 

On Monday, September 14, 2015, the Board of Trustees and Faculty of St. Vladimir’s Seminary bestowed a Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, on His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. (View the photo gallery)

Additionally, His Beatitude the Most Blessed Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was awarded with an honorary doctorate as well.

“We have the great honor today of being able to bestow the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, not upon one, but two worthy recipients—two leading hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in this country—the President and Vice President of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary,” noted the Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, Dean. “Both hierarchs, although only appointed to their positions in recent years, have distinguished themselves through many years of ministry. Your Beatitude and Your Eminence, you truly honor us today by your presence and acceptance of the degree to be awarded.”

Introduction to the 2015-16 Church School Year

Dear Directors and Teachers,

Greetings and blessings as you begin the 2015 Church School year!

We have a few new resources for you. As you can see above, if you are thinking of using the GOA texts as well as those of the OCEC, there is a document that compares text by text. Don't press print before reading it as it is 23 pages. In years past, we have had the request for the 100 educational standards from the 8th grade text, The Way, The Truth, and The Life; these questions and answers have been prepared according to the order in which they appear in the text. In addition, we have prepared flashcards of these same questions. These can be used with high school classes for brief reviews of the material. They can be used in a jeopardy-style game, or as simple flash-cards. Another new item is found under Resources, the listing, "Online Resources for Parents and Teachers" compiled by Kristina Wenger who does the AODCE Social Networking Ministry. All of our social network ministry sites are listed in the Convention Report, see below.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Elevation of the Precious and Life Giving Cross

Pastoral Message for the Elevation of the Precious and Life Giving Cross
September 14, 2015

"As the Cross is lifted up, it urgeth all of creation to praise the immaculate Passion of the One Who was lifted up thereon. For by means of the Cross, He slew him that slew us; and He made the dead to live again, making them beautiful, granting them the Heavens as dwelling-place, because He is compassionate, in the unsurpassed and unspeakable excess of His goodness. With joy, then, let us all exalt His Name, while magnifying His infinite condescension toward our race."

(From The Vesperal Stichera for the Elevation of the Cross)

We greet you with love and joy on this Feast of the Elevation of the Precious and Life Giving Cross. The Sticherion from the Vespers of the feast which is quoted above transmits to us the essence of this feast. The lifting up of the Cross upon which our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ was crucified draws us near to His passion, and reminds us that He has defeated Satan and all his power once and for all. By His Passion He brought life to those who were in the tombs, restoring them to the beauty with which they had when God created them and opening up the heavens as their dwelling place. Lastly, He did this not only for those who were in the tombs, but for all of us who place our hope in Him.

September Liturgical Texts Available for Download

Bishop Thomas presides over the Procession of the Holy Cross on the Feast of the Exaltation (Elevation) at St. George in Allentown, PABishop Thomas presides over the Procession of the Holy Cross on the Feast of the Exaltation (Elevation) at St. George in Allentown, PAThe Liturgical Texts for September, blessed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the the Online Liturgical Guide.

September 1 begins the Ecclesiastical New Year because, for the ancient Hebrews, it was the beginning of the civil year, the month of gathering the harvest and of the offering of thanks to God. On September 6, the Orthodox Church commemorates the Archangel Michael delivering from destruction a church and a holy, miraculous spring named for him in Colossae of Phrygia (modern-day west-central Turkey).

Like August, September features two of the twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church: the Nativity of the Theotokos on September 8, and the Exaltation (Elevation) of the Holy Cross on September 14.

A Veteran’s Journey of Faith: The Life of Archdeacon Basil Rives

The following article inaugurates a new series on In "Antiochian Profiles," we will feature some of the many eminent Christians of past and present who have found a spiritual home in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. This story, written by Michael Price and published by the Conciliar Press (now Ancient Faith Publishing) magazine AGAIN in 2004, describes the remarkable life of the newly reposed Archdeacon Basil Rives of Santa Fe, NM.

Deacon Basil Rives of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a man of many names. He began his life under the name of Harold, “although for some reason I was always called Bill as a child, even though that is nowhere in my name,” he said. Other monikers include Hal and Slim. Nowadays, his fellow parishioners know him affectionately as Fr. Basil.

Like many veterans, no matter from which war, his military experiences have affected and solidified his spiritual beliefs.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of The Nativity of the Theotokos

Pastoral Message for the Feast of The Nativity of the Theotokos
September 8, 2015 

“The joy of the whole world hath shone forth to us from the two righteous ones, Joachim and Anna, the all-extolled Virgin, who because of her surpassing purity became a living temple of God, and alone is known as truly Theotokos. Wherefore, by her intercessions, O Christ God, send forth safety to the world, and to our souls the Great Mercy”.  

+The Aposticha for the Nativity of the Theotokos in Tone 4

We greet you with love and joy on this Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.  The Aposticha from the Vespers of the feast which is quoted above transmits to us the essence of this feast.  We are first joyful for the birth of Mary, since the birth of a child is a great gift granted by God.

Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos + September 8

This is the day of the Lord; wherefore, rejoice ye nations; for behold the chamber of Light, the scroll of the Word of life hath come forth from the womb; the gate facing the east hath been born. Wherefore, she awaiteth the entrance of the High Priest. And she alone admitted Christ into the universe for salvation of our souls.

+ Doxastikon of the Feast, Tone 6

Metropolitan Joseph's 2015 Pastoral Message for the Nativity of the Theotokos

Read Fr. Andrew Damick's reflection on the Theotokos, the Ark of the New Covenant.

Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko speak on the Nativity of the Theotokos on Ancient Faith Radio.

Greetings From New Antiochian Women President, Dianne O'Regan

August 2015

I send you greetings on behalf of the new officers and coordinators of the North American Board (“NAB”) of the Antiochian Women.  We were blessed to have been sworn in by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 during the Archdiocese Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

Earlier that same day at the Antiochian Women’s brunch, we were honored to present a check for $142,724.42 to Metropolitan Joseph – in the presence of His Beatitude John X – for our 2014-15 Project:  “Nurturing the Seeds of Orthodoxy Across North America: Regional Camps and Learning Centers and Monastic Communities.”  We also presented His Eminence with a check for additional contributions to our 2013-14 Project to “Help the Orphans of War in Syria,” for a combined total of $300,095.00.  God bless each of you for your magnificent efforts. 

Knowing that we will not allow ourselves rest, Metropolitan Joseph tasked us with a NEW Project: “Hungry Children At Home and Abroad.”  Read information about this very worthy cause from our Vice-President/NAB Project Coordinator, Kh. Suzanne Murphy.

Ecclesiastical New Year + September 1

"O Word of the Father from before the ages, Who, being in the form of God, broughtest creation into being out of nothing; Thou Who hast put the times and seasons in Thine own power: Bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness; give peace unto Thy churches, victory unto Thy faithful hierarchs, fruitfulness unto the earth, and Great Mercy unto us."

--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 3

Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko speak about the New Year on Ancient Faith Radio.
Read about the Orthodox New Year on Ancient Faith Blogs.

September 2015 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

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

Patriarch John X and the God Who is With Us
by His Grace Bishop John

His Beatitude John X Addresses the Archdiocese Convention

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Addresses the General Assembly

Archdiocese Convention Homily
by Archpriest Paul O'Callaghan

New Vision for Sacred Music Includes Deeper Collaboration with Internet Ministry

Plans are underway to refresh and expand the online resources available to musicians in the Antiochian Archdiocese. In May, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph appointed Paul Jabara of Montreal, Quebec to be the new Chairman of the Archdiocese's Department of Sacred Music. Mr. Jabara will be working closely with the Department of Internet Ministry to update the architecture and design of the Sacred Music website, with the goal of significantly improving the music library through a revamped site map and the addition of new resources.

In a presentation at the 2015 Archdiocese Convention in Boston, Mr. Jabara articulated an expanded vision for the Department of Sacred Music. In addition to upgrading the online Sacred Music Library, the Department plans to build up the youth music ministry program, create a choir outreach ministry, develop a virtual choir, and increase the amount of scholarship money for the Sacred Music Institute (SMI).

Beloved "Little Red Prayer Book" Content is Now Online

A new prayer section was recently launched on The section is linked on the Archdiocese website's homepage "Worship & Devotion" sidebar and in the footer navigation, and is available across all devices. This means that the most popular sections of A Pocket Prayer Book, the well-loved Antiochian Archdiocese spiritual resource affectionately known as "The Little Red Prayer Book," are now readily available to's many weekly visitors.

So far, the collection of online prayers includes: Morning Prayers, Midday Prayers, Evening Prayers, Occasional Prayers, Prayers in Preparation for Holy Communion, Prayers of Thanksgiving After Holy Communion, Self Examination Before Confession, and Prayers After Confession. Other prayers may be added as appropriate.

The original prayer book, containing Daily and Occasional Prayers as well as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, was first published in 1956 and is in its thirteenth printing.

Order a hard copy from the Antiochian Village Bookstore.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Dormition

Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Dormition
August 15, 2015

 In thy birth-giving, O Theotokos, thou didst keep and preserve virginity; and in thy falling-asleep thou hast not forsaken the world; for thou wast translated into life, being the Mother of Life. Wherefore, by thine intercessions, deliver our souls from death. (Apolytikion of the Dormition)

We greet you with love and joy on this Feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos!

The Apolytikion quoted above transmits to us the essence of this feast.  The Most Holy Lady Theotokos, in her falling asleep, has shown us the true meaning of the term “falling asleep in Christ”.  We do not focus on her death, but rather her translation from her earthly life to her eternal life in heaven.

A Synaxis of the Antiochian World: A Report on the 52nd Convention

A Synaxis of the Antiochian World:
A Report on the 52nd Convention of the
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Boston, Massachusetts, July 20-26, 2015
By Subdeacon Peter Samore

“O Antioch: lift up your eyes and look around, for your sons came like the pearls shining with the light of God from the West, and the North; from the sea, and the East, glorifying Jesus Christ in you to the ages of ages.” – St. John of Damascus

These words best describe the communion of the apostolic Orthodox Church of Antioch that can never be broken, even if oceans keep her children at a distance from one another. Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ is at the center of the Antiochian communion, manifest by the apostles and their spiritual descendants who proclaimed Christ’s gospel in all corners of the world throughout all ages.