"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.
Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) for the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, issued a July report outlining the extent of the Syrian humanitarian crisis due to regional unrest. An estimated 1.5 million people, according to the United Nations, have been directly impacted by the upheaval and DERD has responded with rent assistance, remedial classes, distribution of clothing and hygeine kits, and other humanitarian measures.
Explains Director Lahem, "We serve without any discrimination and this service is based on loving our neighbor as ourselves." 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.
The 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.
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press (SVS Press) recently released a third volume in its Orthodox Profiles Series titled Antony Bashir: Metropolitan and Missionary. The biography, written by noted Antiochian pastor and lecturer Very Rev. Economos Constantine Nasr, "is a fascinating look behind the scenes at an important period of history in the establishment of the Orthodox faith in America," notes SVS Press.
Fr. Constantine is the ninth generation of his family to be ordained to the priesthood, and he knew Metropolitan Antony personally, so he writes as an eyewitness. Explains the Press, "The complex personality of Antony Bashir and the events that surrounded his episcopacy reveal his frailty, humanity, and his ability to lead with strength and love." Metropolitan Philip is quoted in the book as remembering his predecessor's "brilliance, his oratory gift, and his sense of humor. This man was really a master of the word. He knew how to express himself. When he delivered a speech, he could make you cry and he could make you laugh at the same time. He spoke in very, very penetrating words."
A countless number of Christians and Muslims are victims of the violence; the hospitals are full with injuries and the pain is endless. Syrians, in spite of their religious backgrounds, have the right to live in their country with pride and dignity. During the past fifteen months, we have lost many people and a large number of Syrians were forced to evacuate from their homes. Christians had to flee their towns, cities and everything they own, and our beloved priests had to leave their churches.
We call all Syrians, in the name of God, to accept each other and live as one nation in our beloved Syria, the cradle of prophets and religions. We urge the United Nations and all Arab organizations to understand and respect our beloved country and to work together in order to achieve peace and stability in Syria.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
The biennial conference of the Western Rite Vicariate will be held Monday, August 7 through Friday, August 10 at St. Gregory’s University and Abbey in Shawnee, OK.
The theme for this year’s conference will be based on St. Paul’s words to the Philippians:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.” (Phil 4.8-9)
Presentations will focus on the attraction of personal holiness.
Bishop John (Abdalah), Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester and New England and newly appointed Auxiliary Bishop to oversee the Western Rite Vicariate, will attend and will be one of the featured speakers at the conference.
With Session Three in full swing at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, the camp's website asks, "Have you ever thought about what happens at the Antiochian Village during summer camp? Are you wondering what your children, grandchildren or siblings do while they are at here? Well, we have a way to give you a glimpse. This year we have our own staff photographer, Nicole, who is taking photos every day and night. We typically get the photos and a brief description of the day posted to our Summer Memories page by midnight. So check it out each day and see the Village come to life."
By keeping His commandments and laws, holy Mary Magdalene,
you followed Christ, Who for our sake was born of the Virgin,
and in celebrating your most holy memory today,
we receive forgiveness of sins by your prayers.
On the banks of Lake Genesareth (Galilee), between the cities of Capharnum and Tiberias, was the small city of Magdala. Only the small village of Mejhdel stands on the site.
A woman whose name has entered forever into the Gospel account was born and grew up in Magdala. The Gospel tells us nothing of Mary’s younger years, but Tradition informs us that Mary of Magdala was young and pretty, and led a sinful life. It says in the Gospels that the Lord expelled seven devils from Mary (Luke. 8:2). From the moment of her healing, Mary led a new life, and became a true disciple of the Savior.
Bishops and clergy from across the Archdiocese have gathered this week at Antiochian Village for the 17th Biennial Clergy Symposium, a time of reflection, fellowship, and learning. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian House of Studies are the hosts for a full week of speakers, sessions and events. The Archdiocese is honored also to have in attendance His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Argentina.
The theme of this year's gathering is Ministry to the Youth: "Let no one despise your youth" (1 Timothy 4:14). Highlights include keynote addresses on such topics as "Issues of Spiritual Development and Youth", "Issues of Sexuality", and "Issues of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse"; an evening Camp Program presented by Village Camp youth; a grand dinner with Metropolitan Philip; and more.
Ancient Faith Radio will be providing recordings of selected presentations and sessions. See AFR's special section on the Symposium here.
An eventful Parish Life Conference season has come to a close throughout the Archdiocese. In the gathering that Antiochians often describe as our extended family reunion, people from Maine to California gathered for worship, youth activities and meetings. The following reports are available:
- The Diocese of Toledo
- The Diocese of Miami
- The Diocese of Ottawa
- The Diocese of Los Angeles and the West
- The Diocese of Wichita
- The Diocese of Worcester
The summer schedule continues, as clergy prepare to travel to Antiochian Village for the start of the Clergy Symposium on July 16. Symposium registration and schedule details are available here.