The 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.
October is the month to introduce teens to the many opportunities to minister in the Church. Teens are encouraged to read the Epistle, chant and sing in the choir, assist in church school, and give sermons approved by the priest.
Additionally, there are several committees that the national leadership of SOYO is promoting in 2012-2013. Dana Zawahri, NAC SOYO Unity Committee Coordinator explained, "A major one is the Unity Committee, established at the last Leadership Training in Chicago. This committee focuses on uniting teens from different Orthodox Christian jurisdictions. Each diocese was given a specific task this year to encourage the teens there to take part. The idea of unity itself has become a very popular subject among our teens. Myriam Zakaib, Treasurer of the Diocese of Ottawa, remarked, 'I think Orthodox unity is important because we are all here to serve Christ. We are all brothers and sisters in His name and we should be working together to serve Him. It does not matter whether you are Russian or Greek, or anything else: you are first an Orthodox Christian.'"
As the autumn sets in each year, one annually thinks of a new ecclesiastical and school year, football season and changing leaves. For our Antiochian seminarians, another staple of the fall every year is their annual dinner with His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP. Each year Sayidna welcomes his spiritual children to the archdiocese where they pray, eat and talk together. Seminarians and their wives from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, St. Tikhon’s Seminary and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary were in attendance along with the archdiocesan clergy who teach them at the various seminaries.
Update: A revised version of the October issue has now been added.
The October 2012 issue includes these articles:
What Can We Do for God's Youth Today?, pg. 3
by Bishop John Abdalah
Raising Up a Generation of Leaders, pg. 4
by Dana Zawahri
Ten Years Later ... Reflections of a Youth Director, pg. 8
by Gigi Baba Shadid
A Journey in the Spirit, pg. 10
by Phillip Walker, M.D.
Reflection on Antony Bashir, pg. 17
St. John of Damascus, pg. 19
by Fr. Joseph Allen, Th.D.
On Being an Orthodox Mystery Writer, pg. 23
by Dan Stemasko
The Antiochian Heritage Museum, housed in the Heritage and Learning Center on the grounds of Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA, is currently showcasing an exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of the luxury cruise ship Titanic's tragic maiden voyage. The display honors the memory of those who perished in the disaster, as well as the faith and perseverance of those who survived. Through the stories of a few lesser known passengers and one famous one, the exhibit explores several unusual "Titanic connections."
Museum Curator and Librarian Julia Ritter chose the featured stories because they connect both to the history and lives of earlier Americans, and also to the heritage and roots of Antiochian Christians, thus offering an particularly unique perspective on one of the most dramatic tragedies of the modern era.
On Saturday, September 15, 2012, the community of St. George Antiochian Church of Montreal, Quebec, hosted a celebration of 50 years of holy priesthood for their pastor, Economos Antony Gabriel. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presided over an entire weekend of festivities which culminated in the banquet held at Le Westin in Montreal on Saturday evening.
The weekend began with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip’s arrival to the Montreal airport on Friday, September 14, 2012. Joining His Eminence were His Grace Bishop Antoun, His Grace Bishop Nicholas, and Archdeacon Hans Elhayek. His Grace Bishop Alexander and the priests of Montreal and Ottawa greeted the bishops upon their arrival in a special VIP room at the airport. After we sat, relaxed and enjoyed good conversation with our beloved bishops, the hierarchs were taken to the Westin Hotel via limousine, where they would stay while in Montreal.
September 26th, 2012
To our Esteemed Hierarchs, Clergy, Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, and Faithful of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:
Greetings and Blessings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
We wish to inform you that His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East will soon visit the United States. His Beatitude will arrive in New Jersey on Tuesday October 16th, 2012, and will reside at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey while he is here. On Thursday October 18th, His Beatitude will preside over a meeting of the executive staffs of the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology of the University of Balamand, and the Antiochian House of Studies. The goal is to finalize a plan by which a cooperative effort will offer the opportunity for students to earn advanced theological degrees. On Friday October 19th, 2012, His Beatitude will attend a ceremony in New York where he will bestow the honor of the Order of Saints Peter and Paul upon His Excellency Issam Fares, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon. This is the highest award granted by the Patriarchate of Antioch. He may be in attendance at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday October 21. Following his short stay in New Jersey he will depart for Houston Texas for his regular medical exam and then return home.
We welcome him with joy, and pray that God will grant him many years!
Your father in Christ,
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America
Registrations will be accepted until October 30, but PLEASE HELP US OUT BY REGISTERING TODAY!
Please download and send in your form so we can make class handouts. See you soon!
Now is the time to register for the Orthodox Institute 2012: Culture. Morality. Spirituality. Held at Antiochian Village, Ligonier, PA, on November 1–4, this year's conference will survey current cultural views, beliefs of the church, and the challenges facing young people. Registration is open until October 14. Keynote Speaker Dr. Peter Bouteneff of St. Vladimir's Seminary will be joined by Featured Presenters Dr. Vigen Guroian (University of Virginia) and Dr. Philip Mamalakis (Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology). The conference offers panel discussions, lectures, and fellowship for Orthodox educators, parents and clergy.
The St. Romanos the Melodist Choir from the Archdiocese of Beirut completed their two week tour at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY before a capacity crowd of over 450, on Saturday, September 22, 2012. Six hierarchs, numerous priests and deacons, and two counsels general from Lebanon and Cyprus, filled the cathedral for a night to remember.
To begin the concert, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP offered words of welcome, and then the choir of twelve men, led by Father Romanos Joubran, mesmerized the crowd with their beautiful music for a hour. After a short break, Part Two began with a special guest appearance by the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Then, to top the evening off, both choirs performed several hymns—first antiphonally, and then in unison.
Following the program, His Eminence Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America presented Fr. Romanos and the group with a beautiful icon of St. Romanos the Melodist on a large polished stone. Metropolitan PHILIP then thanked both choirs, and all present gave the choirs a standing ovation.
"The Bible 'enchants our ears with birdsong.' It enchants us and delights us. It brings us peace, but it also instills awe. The Bible is filled with great deeds and acts of love. What is most delightful, however, is the fact that all these great deeds involve human beings, not superheroes. Whether through Noah building an ark or Moses leading a whole nation out of slavery, God is acting through people like us, people who have as great a potential to love as to sin."
These and other well-chosen words prompted this year's Oratorical Festival judges to award Peter Somi the 2012 Festival Judges' Choice Award. Peter hails from St. George Cathedral in Worcester (Diocese of Worcester and New England) and his full speech can be read here.
Esther Simbol, Bible Bowl Coordinator, writes that this year's Fellowship of St. John the Divine North American Council (NAC) Bible Bowl at Antiochian Village received rousing support from 300 campers, who cheered for their favorite teams. The Topic this year was St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, and all seven Dioceses were represented. This year’s winner was the team from St. Elias Cathedral, Ottawa, Ontario, representing the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upper State New York. The team consisted of Amanda Salibi, Maria Fakhouri and Milad Hamwi. Read about the theme and the participants in September's The Word.
Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) for the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, has issued a late summer report detailing the Patriarchate's assistance to those who have impacted by the internal strife in Syria. The United Nations recently estimated that an estimated 2.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 1.2 million people are internally displaced.
Mr. Laham writes, "DERD has been coordinating activities with Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), local and regional municipalities, as well as local NGOs, to determine the areas and public buildings that are housing the most vulnerable displaced Syrians who are in need of immediate assistance. Working with local city governments and NGOs helps to ensure that beneficiaries receive aid with minimal overlapping in efforts. DERD also coordinates food distribution activities with World Food Programme and SARC, to identify the locations of people in most in need of food and to avoid duplication."
Since its inception in 1999, DERD has partnered with organizations from all over the world, which has strengthened its effectiveness and ability to meet the needs of the communities it serves. Download the full report.
The September 2012 issue contains the following articles:
Elder's Reflection, pg. 4
by Fr. Antony Gabriel
The Tale of Two Men, pg. 7
by V. Rev. Joseph Antypas
Will We Be Ready for the "Coming Evangelical Collapse"?, pg. 8
by Kevin Allen
Are Your Ears Burning?, pg. 12
by Fr. Andrew Harmon
Real Spring Break, pg. 20
by John Mahfouz
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held its third annual meeting for all member hierarchs, that is, all active canonical bishops in its region. The meeting was held from September 10-12, 2012, at the Chicago O'Hare Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. Forty-three bishops were in attendance.
Melinda Bentz, President of the Antiochian Women Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Diocese of Eagle River, reminds the faithful that this is the time of year to remember the Orthodox students who have settled into their studies at colleges all around the country. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) observes College Student Sunday on September 16, and this year the faithful in parishes are encouraged to make an extra effort to reach out to their collegians in their first forty days of school.
Melinda writes, "As mothers, sisters, wives, and God-mothers, we have been asked to help the OCF personally reach our incoming college freshmen. While at the summer meeting, we as Antiochian Women were presented with a request to help the OCF reach out to each Orthodox college freshman and invite them to their local parish, connect with the local OCF priest and solidify their commitment to their Orthodox faith during their college years."
It is with great joy that we announce the 4th Annual Clergy Wives Weekend at Antiochian Village, held on November 9-11 in memory of Khouria Joanne Abdalah.
Kh. Joanne served as an inspiration as a counselor to many. She understood the need for clergy wives to find strength in Christ and in each other, and she believed every clergy wife needed to discover and develop her vocation. This is the fourth annual retreat held in tribute to her life and her commitment to clergy wives.
- Mother Magdalena, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Ellwood City, PA: "The Peace that Passes Understanding"
- Khouria Janet Shadid, licensed social worker (LSW) and counselor: "Bullying: Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself"
At the start of the 2012-2013 Church School Year, the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education offers a variety of accessible, virtual resources for teachers and students.
On the Curriculum page, instructors will find curriculum lists from various publishers, a comprehensive curriculum guide for teachers working with teens, and downloadable PDFs for classroom use for grades K-5. Teachers who need a creativity boost will find helpful craft suggestions for younger kids as well as teens. The "Featured Event" section highlights the respected and unique Orthodox Institute, scheduled this year for November 1-4 at the Antiochian Village. Registration forms, posters, and background information on the Institutes and speakers can all be downloaded, and a full description of courses is listed. A description of the 2012-2013 theme is available here.
The Department of Stewardship highlights two new online sections dedicated to strengthening our parish communities.
52-Week Giving Campaign: The Campaign is a program led by the Parish Council, based on scriptural and church teachings, and not focused on the parish’s financial condition. Councils can study this Fifty-Two Week model, and then either implement the full program as outlined (a year-long teaching process) or adapt portions of the program to local parish realities. Includes a range of supporting articles.
Parish Council Guidebook: A guide to conducting the work of the Parish Council in a manner consistent with Orthodox Christian teachings and traditions. This manual is a resource for instructing Parish Councils on their lay ministry, and training new Parish Council Members. Includes supporting articles from Metropolitan Philip and Archbishop Joseph.
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.
With the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and His Eminence Metropolitan Elias of Beirut, the Antiochian Archdiocese will be welcoming the Ecclesiastical Choir of St. Romanos the Melodist from the Antiochian Archdiocese of Beirut, Lebanon, on a Fall 2012 Tour of the USA.
Led by Fr. Romanos Joubran, Dean of the Cathedral in Beirut and instructor of Byzantine Music, the choir will conduct its first tour of the United States from September 10-24, 2012. They have performed throughout Lebanon and Europe, and produced several professional recordings such as this YouTube rendition of "Osoi Eis Xriston." The tour is being funded through the generosity of the Order of St. Ignatius; the schedule lists appearances in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. Listen here to Ancient Faith Radio's interview with Fr. Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, about the upcoming concerts.
The 2012 Annual Meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America will be convened Monday through Wednesday, September 10 – 12 at the O’Hare Airport Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. This is the third Annual Meeting of the Assembly, which consists of the sixty-six active hierarchs serving the Church in this geographic region: eleven residing in Canada, five in Mexico and fifty in the USA. The first annual meeting was convened in New York City in 2010 and the second in Chicago in 2011. The prayers of all clergy, monastics, and laity are requested by and for the bishops.
By way of background, delegates from the fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches participated in the historic Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, which met at the Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy-Geneva, Switzerland on June 6-12, 2009. The Conference was a direct result of the Synaxis of the Heads of all the Orthodox Churches, convened by His All Holiness Bartholomew I at the Ecumenical Patriarchate October 10-12, 2008.