TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT AND PRINTED IN THE BULLETIN
Beloved Hierarchs, esteemed members of the Board of Trustees, members of our Archdiocesan Organizations and all faithful of our God Protected Archdiocese,
Greetings and blessings to you in the spirit of this Holy and Great Lent. I am certain that you have been following the tragic events in Syria from where many of us have originated. Besides our cultural and historical roots which are planted in Syria, Syria has a great spiritual significance to all of us and all Christians. Damascus is considered the most ancient city in the world. Syria and the entire Fertile Crescent gave the world its first known civilization.
Damascus is a holy city for us. It has been the center of our Patriarchate since the Patriarchate moved from Antioch. Our venerable Patriarch lives on the Straight Street where St. Paul walked to be baptized after his conversion to Christianity. (Acts 9:11)
The Assembly of Bishops Research Coordinator Alexei Krindatch has released a new 40-page report titled, "Five Interesting Facts About Orthodox Church Geography and Demography in the United States." The report provides fascinating insight into the life and practice of Orthodox communities today.
In "Fact 1: About Orthodox Church Membership in America" the report notes that "nationwide, and for all jurisdictions of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops combined, the total number of persons attending Orthodox parishes on a regular weekly basis is 209,000."
The report goes on to explain, however, that the total number of adherents (people who are at least loosely associated with a parish) is 797,600. Of those, 476,000 are associated with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The next two populous jurisdictions are the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Archdiocese, respectively.
Family Activities for the Lenten Journey details one family's successful use of the kitchen refrigerator as a message and teaching board. In the Department's Featured Program section, a plethora of resources from various jurisdictions and publishers are listed, from board games to classroom handouts to teen "zines."
In A Lenten Message for All Orthodox Teens, kids are encouraged to reflect on Lent's meaning and embrace the journey to Pascha. The Sundays of Lent and the days of Holy Week are explained simply and briefly, and then many "Practical Suggestions for a Change" are outlined.
Visit the Department of Christian Education's site for these Lenten resources and more.
On February 10-12, 2012, The Basilica of St. Mary, in Livonia, Michigan hosted their annual Marriage and Family Encounter weekend, led by Father Constantine Nasr, pastor emeritus of St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City. This was Fr. Constantine’s second visit to the Basilica for this retreat, and he once again shared with the participants his extensive research on what he’s learned over the years as a priest, regarding what it takes to maintain a successful and faithful marriage. Fr. Constantine is the author of the Conciliar Press book entitled, Mastering the Art of Marriage: Staying Together When the World Pulls You Apart, and much of his research is documented within the pages of this spiritually enlightening and engaging book.
The 9th Annual Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) College Conferences concluded as they always do – with college students longing for more spiritual nourishment and opportunities to be part of an Orthodox community. Thanks to the generous scholarships provided by The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, over one hundred Antiochian Orthodox college students attended College Conference, along with their peers from other jurisdictions. One student explained, “I go to school in Arkansas and cannot tell you how grateful I am, both for College Conference, and for the scholarship The Order provided. There are not many Orthodox students at my school, and being here helps me to remember who I am and why my faith is so important to me.”
OCF is host to three separate conferences. One is held in the south at the Diakonia Center, one in the west at St. Nicholas Ranch, and the largest and most established is held in the east at the Antiochian Village.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC)--When long-time Oklahoma City attorney and former judge Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey was named as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), one of his top priorities was to see firsthand the impact of IOCC’’s humanitarian relief and development work around the world. On January 22, 2012, Homsey fulfilled this wish as he embarked on a one-week tour of IOCC programs in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, accompanied by his wife and by IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou.
Syria held particular interest for Homsey because of its recent visibility in the world media and IOCC’s response to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrian families internally displaced by conflict in the region. Since its founding in 1992 and as an expression of solidarity with the church to continue its witness in the cradle of Christianity, IOCC has collaborated with the Patriarchate of Antioch, supporting education and distributing equipment to diaconal institutions.
Fr. Anthony Yazge is going to be honored as the Al Senavitis Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient for the service that he has offered to Special Olympics athletes through the Special Olympics training camp which he oversees at Antiochian Village every summer.
The Hall of Fame Dinner and Auction is set for May 16 in Philadelphia, and is one of the Olympics' largest and most formal fundraising events of the year.
The Special Olympics of Pennsylvania website explains that the Hall of Fame program "honors athletes and volunteers who have made outstanding contributions both on and off the field of competition. The dual purpose of this prestigious event is to raise public awareness about the talents of our athletes and raise the funds necessary to sustain the incredible growth of the Special Olympics movement....We have thousands of success stories of individuals who have benefited from participating in SOPA. But each year we choose only four athletes and two volunteers who have demonstrated positive integrity and continued loyalty to the Special Olympics program, thereby upholding the honor of the organization."
The event raises about $200,000 each year for the Special Olympics.
WICHITA, Kansas. --“This will affect our children for eternity. It is for eternity,” His Grace Bishop Basil told the Orthodox community as they prepared to investigate the formation of an Orthodox classical school in Wichita.
Now, two years later, the school is on track to open its doors in the fall of 2012. Enrollment has begun, and the board of directors for Christ the Savior Academy, Inc., is accepting applications for the headmaster and teacher positions. The board plans to start the school small with Prekindergarten through second grade. With God as its guide, the school hopes to grow a grade a year until it reaches fifth grade. (For more information, visit the website.)
Preparation for an Orthodox parochial school was initiated when St. George Cathedral approved construction of an educational wing addition to the Cathedral facilities. The addition was designed with a school in mind.
"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.
The February 2012 issue contains the following articles:
A Personal Tribute to Kathy Meyer, pg. 4
by Economos Antony Gabriel
Visit to Al-Kafaat, pg. 6
by V. Rev. Fr. George Alberts
Book Review: A Second Round of Soul Searching, pg. 8
by Carole Buleza
Works of the Order in Action, pg. 13
by V. Rev. Michael Ellias
Let Us Pray, pg. 14
by John Truslow
The Armor of God: Putting on Christ!, pg. 18
by Rammy I. Zanayed
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Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has announced its appointment of Melinda Johnson to the post of blog chief for "The Sounding," and the addition of new writers and topics to the blog. Ms. Johnson is the author of Letters to Saint Lydia (Conciliar Press, 2010) and founder of the popular “Orthodox Writers, Readers, and Artists” series.
Notes Fr. Chris Metropulos, Executive Director of OCN, "Our new writers come to us from many places and perspectives. They're travelers, artists, parents, authors, teachers, and priests. Some of them are well known, and others have just been discovered. But all of them are eager to begin with you, a wonderful conversation. Let us start our worldwide conversation of the issues today."
The content of “The Sounding” has been significantly expanded to address a wide range of topics such as popular culture, education, spiritual journeys, children’s literature, adoption and infertility, Biblical commentary, health and nutrition, and Orthodox poetry. Writers range from well known theological authors such as Fr. Lawrence Farley, to seasoned bloggers such as Sylvia Leontaritis.
The recently released issue of the DIAKONIA, the quarterly newsletter of the Antiochian Christian Women of North America, features profiles of all of the women serving as officers on the North American Board, as well as their Hierarchical Overseer, the Most Reverend Archbishop Joseph, and their Advisor, the Right Reverend Bishop John.
Violet Robbat - President
"I was born in Boston, MA and am a former member of St. John of Damascus Church, Dedham, MA, where I was active as a Sunday School teacher, Teen SOYO Advisor and President of Senior SOYO (known today as St. John the Divine). I graduated from Northeastern University with a Degree in Cytology, and became a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. Cytology is the study of cells, and my job at Massachusetts General Hospital entailed diagnosing Cancer. In 1973, I married my husband Richard (38 years) and we are members of St. Mary Orthodox Church, Cambridge, MA."
The Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held its semi-annual meeting on January 24th and 25th, 2012. The meeting convened at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center, Bolivar, PA, in conjunction with the Committee for Youth’s Consultants Meeting and was followed by the annual Camp and Youth Worker Conference (January 25-28, 2012).
On February 24 and 25, St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky will host the 2012 Climacus Conference, titled "Byzantium, You Are Not Forgotten." Authors, academics and broadcasters will speak to the enduring legacy of Byzantium and its continuing impact on the Church today.
The conference is billed as "a pan-Orthodox event featuring scholars and voices across the fields of Theology, Philosophy, Patristics, Classical Education, Literature, and History/Politics." The flyer explains, "It is unique in that it provides an opportunity for people to be enriched by thinking well across disciplines. It furthers the life of the mind through scholarly engagement with the classic liberal arts, but achieves such by placing the mind in the noetic heart, where freedom, knowledge, and vision exist, enabling our ascension 'of the ladder'."
The retreat is billed as a way for couples to attend to their marriages through small group discussions, marital assessment instruments, and inspiring lectures all set within the context of the liturgical life of the Church. In addition to participating in these more serious activities, couples will also enjoy a wine and cheese night, a candlelight dinner and dance, and a movie night.
This year’s speakers are: Drs. David and Mary Ford, Associate Professors at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and co-authors of the book, Marriage as a Path to Holiness: Lives of Married Saints; Fr. John Mefridge, a marriage and family therapist and founding priest of St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Antonio, TX; and Dr. David Weaver-Zercher, professor at Messiah College in Grantham, PA.
On Sunday, February 5, 2012, Scouts all over the United States will celebrate Scout Sunday, and as such, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has simultaneously designated the day as Orthodox Scout Sunday. Scouts will wear their uniforms to their local parishes, as a visible sign of their membership both to the Scouting program and to the Orthodox Church.
Through the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting, the Assembly and its predecessor, SCOBA, have actively supported Boy and Girl Scouts of the USA since the 1960's.
Orthodox Scouts can earn one of three age-appropriate awards: St. George for the youngest children, Chi-Rho for the middle years, and Alpha Omega for the oldest Scouts.
How do we communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to those around us? On January 20-22, 2012, the Dallas/Fort Worth area hosted a Missions and Evangelism Conference that examined how the historical Church approached evangelism, and discussed how to put ancient proven methods into modern practice locally.
The lineup of speakers included author and missions expert Fr. Peter Gillquist, Antiochian author and speaker Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, and Fr. Evan Armatas, a Greek Orthodox mission priest from northern Colorado.
The West Coast Sacred Music Institute will be held from January 19-22, 2012 at the La Casa de Maria Conference and Retreat Center in Santa Barbara. The theme "The Theotokos and Mother of Light, Let Us Magnify in Song!" will be carried out over the course of the full weekend of workshops. Topics include the role of the Theotokos, hymns to the Theotokos, beginner’s theory and sight-reading courses, Byzantine chant, conducting, choral rehearsal techniques and vocal techniques.
The lovely grounds of the Catholic retreat center, the La Casa de Maria in Santa Barbara, California, boast fountains and rare shrubs, organic vegetable gardens and woodland paths. For more information, contact MaryFaith Woods at email@example.com, or (831)331-8323.
On Sunday, December 11, 2011, three new auxiliary bishops were consecrated for the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand, in Balamand, Lebanon. Their Graces John (Abdalah), Anthony (Michaels) and Nicholas (Ozone) were consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop for Worcester and New England, Auxiliary Bishop for Toledo and the Midwest, and Auxiliary Bishop for Brooklyn and Assistant to the Metropolitan in Englewood, New Jersey, respectively.