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Archbishop Joseph Elected Metropolitan of All North America

His Eminence Archbishop Joseph has been elected Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America by the Holy Synod of Antioch, led by His Beatitude Patriarch John X, meeting in Balamand, Lebanon on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Axios!

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph was consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy on June 30, 1991 at the St. Mary Cathedral in Damascus, after many years of serving as a deacon and a priest. His Eminence was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1950. He was consecrated with the title, Bishop of Katana in Syria, and served as Patriarchal Assistant and Secretary of the Holy Synod of Antioch. In 1995, he was sent by Patriarch Ignatius IV of blessed memory to America. Here in our Archdiocese, Bishop Joseph was assigned to the West Coast Chancery by Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory. After self-rule status was awarded to our Archdiocese, Bishop Joseph was enthroned at St. Nicholas Cathedral by Metropolitan Philip as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West on September 12, 2004. On December 11, 2011, at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand in Lebanon, Patriarch Ignatius elevated Bishop Joseph to the rank of Archbishop, in honor of his many years of service as a bishop both in our Archdiocese and in the Patriarchate of Antioch.

Read A Message from Metropolitan Joseph today, with instructions for services.

Read Metropolitan Joseph's full biography here.

View photo galleries of Metropolitan Joseph from the Diocese of the West, including the ongoing 2014 Parish Life Conference.

Gallery Features Highlights from Unity Conference

From June 25–28, 2014, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East His Beatitude John X joined with the Fathers of the Holy Synod to call the faithful from around the world to the Hill of Balamand for a conference on Antiochian unity. Appropriately, the Conference concluded with the joyous celebration of the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Antiochian Church. (Read the text of Patriarch John's homily.) 

Antiochian.org has assembled a collection of photographs highlighting the Unity Conference. Additionally, the Patriarchate of Antioch's website has published photo galleries and written reports of the historic events in both Arabic and English, and galleries are also available on the Patriarchate's Facebook page. The sizable North American delegation, pictured here with Patriarch John X, was composed of bishops, priests, key department heads, and organization leaders. Members of the group will begin returning home on Monday, June 30.

Final Statement of the Antiochian Unity Conference: Dimensions and Exigencies

From the Patriarchate of Antioch website:

On June 25th through 28th, 2014, His Beatitude John X the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, together with the Fathers of the Holy Synod, called the faithful to the Hill of Balamand for a conference on the Antiochian unity. The Conference concentrated around the Antiochian Unity in its dimensions and exigencies. Participants in the conference included metropolitans and bishops, and Church delegations from all the dioceses of the Antiochian See in Syria, Lebanon and the whole Diaspora. Throughout the conference the kidnapped bishop Paul of Aleppo was present in our thoughts and prayers, and we asked God for his safe and quick return to his church and people.

During the opening ceremonies, we were overjoyed to welcome their Holinesses and Beatitudes the Patriarchs of the East, who addressed the conferees with words full of life, inspired from our common Antiochian heritage and the legacy of our saints. Furthermore, they stressed the importance of one witness of Christians to the Gospel in the lands of the Antiochian See, to which we all belong. The presence of their Holinesses and Beatitudes enhanced brotherly love, and assured the necessity of serving people in "All the East", where God has made them shepherds of His People. The Patriarchs' visions and words were very well received by all attendees. They comprehended the necessity of taking theological and pastoral initiatives, in the goal of demonstrating Christ's full presence in the one Antiochian family. This Antiochian togetherness in Christ would constitute the pattern of the Universal Christian Unity that we all hope for and aspire to.

Historic Patriarchal Divine Liturgy for Patronal Feast

A unique and historic Patriarchal Divine Liturgy will be streamed live on June 29, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. Lebanon time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time), by Noursat (Telelumeire). The Liturgy will take place in the outdoor stadium at the University of Balamand at the conclusion of the June 26-28 Antiochian Unity Conference. The event, titled  "Antiochian Unity: Its Dimensions and Exigencies," was convened by His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

Feast of the Holy, Glorious Apostles Peter and Paul + June 29

Verily, the all-solemn Feast of the two Apostles hath arrived, bringing us salvation. Wherefore, let us mystically exult, crying unto them: Rejoice, O ye who have become luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the Sun! Rejoice, O Peter and Paul, adamant pillars of the divine doctrines, ye friends of Christ and two honored vessels! Be ye present among us in an invisible manner, and grant immaterial gifts to those who extol your feast with songs.

--Doxasticon of the Feast, Tone 6

Our prayers for all of the parishes and faithful who celebrate their namesday with this Feast, the Patronal Feast of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

Sheet music for this Feast is available here courtesy of the Department of Sacred Music. Download "The Akathist Hymn to the Holy Apostles" here.

Archdiocese Delegation to the Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon

Update Tuesday June 24: The official Archdiocese delegation to the Antiochian Unity Conference has arrived safely in Lebanon, and has begun meeting in preparation for the beginning of the conference tomorrow. His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan met today with the delegation to encourage them and share his wisdom in the formation of their common witness on behalf of the Church in North America.

The Great Man and the Friend

On the eve of the Antiochian Unity Conference convened by Patriarch John X and meeting at Balamand Seminary in Lebanon on June 26, 2014, it is fitting to reflect on our North American Antiochian Orthodox journey. Honorary Member of the Archdiocese's Board of Trustees Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie offered this intimate portrait of friendship and honor in his recent tribute published in The Word, June 2014. 

Honorable hierarchs, beloved reverend Father, esteemed fellow members of the Board of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, brothers and sisters in Christ: I come to tell you a story of the journey of a great man and a friend. It is a story of work, service, determination, friendship, joy, love, and ultimately honor.

The great man was born in the hills of Lebanon. The friend was born in the hills of West Virginia.

Metropolitan Silouan Visits Archbishop Demetrios

June 19, 2014: His Eminence, Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina and Patriarchal Vicar of North America visited His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, before departing for Lebanon for the Antiochian Unity Conference and Holy Synod meeting. His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios welcomed Metropolitan Silouan and the Vicar-General, Fr. Thomas Zain, at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Manhattan.

After a brief tour by the Ecumenical Officer, Archimandrite Nathaniel Symeonides, the two Metropolitans discussed many issues including the two abducted bishops and the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Archbishop Demetrios thanked Metropolitan Silouan for the Holy Synod of Antioch's decision to resume participation in the Assembly of Bishops around the world.

Heritage Museum Exhibits Feature Women Artists

Exhibits highlighting the work of two remarkable women artists recently opened at the Antiochian Heritage Museum at Antiochian Village. In Women with Icons: Photographs, by Jocelyn Mathewes, the beauty and meaning of iconography is explored through a series of portraits of women posed with icons of their patron saints. (Selected portraits can be viewed online.) Vibrant, colorful paintings and textile work are showcased in Eternal Spring: The Art of Leila Chokheli, an exhibit that celebrates the abiding faith and joy of an artist who lived for decades under oppressive Communist rule in the Republic of Georgia. 

The two exhibits are open until February, 2015. Contact the Village's Director of Sales Barli Ross at 724-238-3677, ext. 426, to arrange an overnight package or a luncheon; view photographs and read more about the artists in the June 2014 edition of The Word magazine.

Apostles Fast Begins

From the second Monday after Pentecost until the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on June 29th, Orthodox Christians celebrate the Apostles Fast. This year, the fast commences on Monday, June 16, 2014.

To learn more about the Orthodox approach to fasting, visit the Feasts and Fasts page of Our Discover Orthodox Christianity section.

Read "Fast of the Holy Apostles" by Archpriest Ayman Kfouf 

Akathist to Saints Peter and Paul

Read a reflection about the two saints from The Word

Parish Life Conference Season Begins with a Splash

The first two Parish Life Conferences (or PLCs) for the Antiochian Archdiocese have kicked off the summer PLC season with a splash! From June 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas, host parish St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Church is overseeing a lineup of events for attendees from the Diocese of Wichita, including talks by Keynote Speaker Sister Vassa Larin, as well as excursions to local attractions such as the River Walk and Sea World San Antonio. Also enjoying water access are the faithful of the Diocese of Miami, who are being hosted on June 11-15 by the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando at the Crown Plaza Hotel, with its proximity to lakes and the Atlantic coast. 

"Building our Lives": Interview with Young Professionals Conference Co-Chairs

The Orthodox Young Professionals Conference slated for August 14-17, 2014 is a new initiative designed especially for career-bound and professional young adults. Hosted by the Antiochian Archdiocese organization Fellowship of St. John the Divine, the Conference will offer participants the opportunity to network with other Orthodox Christians from across the country. Antiochian.org asked dynamic Co-Chairs Kyra Pelachik and Fadi George Madanat to share their goals for the inaugural gathering. 

Tell us a little about how the idea for this conference originated. Who are the sponsoring groups?

Kyra – This conference originated as a plea from Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory and other bishops to the NAC Fellowship of St. John the Divine, to help bring young adults back to the church.

June 2014 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

June 19, 2014 update: A revised version of the June 2014 Word is now available. Please download the updated version.

The June 2014 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:

Our Time of Uncertainty - Editorial, pg. 3
by Bishop John

Preaching Christ Crucified on Palm Sunday, pg. 4
by V. Rev. Steven C. Salaris, M.Div., Ph.D.

Bishop John Answers Some Frequently Asked Questions, pg. 7

From High School to College: The First Forty Days, pg. 10
by Christina Andersen

The Divine Liturgy: The Sacrament of Thanksgiving, pg. 12
by Metropolitan Ephrem (Kyriakos)

The Great Man and the Friend, pg. 14
by Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D.

Project Roots, pg. 36
by Nada Salem Abisamra

...and more!

The Great Feast of Pentecost

The spring of the Spirit hath come to those on earth, dividing noetically into fire-bearing rivers, moistening the Apostles and illuminating them. The fire hath become to them a dewy cloud, lighting, and raining flames upon them, from whom we received grace by the fire and the water. Verily the fire of the Comforter hath come and lighted the world. + Orthros of the Feast  

Pastoral Letter of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan at the Conclusion of the Special Convention in Chicago

Very Esteemed Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Honorable Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Beloved Faithful Of this God-protected Archdiocese

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

As the Special Convention is over, I would like to share with you my gratefulness to our Lord and to each of you for the atmosphere in which everything took place. Indeed, comprehension and sense of responsibility dominated the Convention, with a kind of acceptance of our "imperfectness", accompanied with the commitment to continue implementing best practices at all levels while serving our Church.

In addition, I would like to congratulate you for such a blessed conclusion of the nomination process and I thank the Hierarchs and the members of the Board of Trustees for their valuable contribution in this regard, because their approval of the procedures guaranteed that transparency and professionalism be the cornerstone in such an important event in the life of this Archdiocese.

Statement of the Synod of Bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

June 5, 2014

Certification of the Results of the Voting that Occurred at the Special Convention for the Purpose of Nominating Three Candidates for the Office of Metropolitan of this Archdiocese

On June 5th, 2014, the Special Convention of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America was duly convened in Chicago, Illinois, and voted to nominate three candidates who will be eligible for election as the metropolitan of this Archdiocese.

The list of eligible candidates was the one approved pursuant to the Archdiocese Constitution, Section 5, paragraph [D. (1)] by the “Local Synod in agreement with the Board of Trustees” as a result of the meetings of the Local Synod and Board of Trustees that occurred from May 13-14 in Chicago, Illinois.

The delegates attending this convention, pursuant to the Archdiocese Constitution Section 5, paragraph [D. (2)], “did select, by secret ballot, three candidates from the list of eligible candidates”.  The specific procedures that were followed were according to the Procedures for Voting, Counting of Votes and the Announcement of the Results of Voting, as approved by the Board of Trustees at its meeting of May 14th, 2014 and which is completely consistent with the Archdiocese Constitution.

Prayers for the Archdiocese Special Convention

Your prayers are requested for the clergy and laity preparing to convene in Chicago as delegates for the Archdiocese Special Convention on Thursday, June 5. This sacred occasion will nominate three clergymen to be submitted to the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch for the election of our new Metropolitan. 

Announcement of Special Convention

Report on the May 2014 Meetings of the Local Synod and Board of Trustees, including names of Eligible Candidates for the office of Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America

Special Convention Hotel and Registration Information

Patriarch John X Announces Antiochian Unity Conference June 26-28

Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar-General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, has announced that His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, has called for a conference on June 26-28, 2014 entitled: "Antiochian Unity: Its Dimensions and Exigencies."

Hierarchs and delegates representing the various Antiochian Archdioceses throughout the world have been invited by the Patriarch to participate in this conference to be held at the Balamand in North Lebanon. Each archdiocese is allotted five delegates; however the North American archdiocese is allotted ten because of its size. The delegations of each archdiocese will participate in one of five major areas of concentration:

Metropolitan Silouan Receives Metropolitan Tikhon of the OCA

On Wednesday May 28, 2014, His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan received His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Joined by Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, the OCA's Director of External Affairs, and Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, the two hierarchs discussed various issues related to the transition of the Archdiocese and current topics of interest in the Orthodox world. They shared lunch together and continued their discussion.

The visit ended with the singing of "Christ is Risen" for the final time of the Paschal season in the archdiocesan chapel of St. John Chrysostom. Metropolitan Tikhon assured His Eminence and the whole Archdiocese of his prayers and those of the entire OCA during the period of transition. Along with Metropolitan Silouan, also present from the Antiochian Archdiocese were Vicar General Archpriest Thomas Zain, and Archpriest George Kevorkian, Episcopal Assistant.

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

As the angels, O Savior, wondered at Thy strange elevation, and the Disciples were amazed at Thy dread rising, Thou didst ascend in glory, being God, and the gates were lifted up for Thee. Wherefore, the heavenly powers were surprised, shouting, Glory to Thy condescension, O Savior; glory to Thy reign; glory to Thine Ascension, O Thou Who alone art the Lover of mankind.

--Orthros of the Feast

On the fortieth day after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He was taken up into the heavens in a cloud.