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"Pastoring the People of God:" Interview with Fr. Alexander Atty

Fr. Alexander Atty is the Dean and Chief Operating Officer of St. Tikhon's Seminary (Orthodox Church in America). Prior to this assignment, Father served for over 30 years as an Antiochian parish priest, most recently as pastor of the large and thriving Louisville, Kentucky parish, St. Michael Orthodox Church. When the OCA's Holy Synod of Bishops approved Fr. Alexander's appointment as St. Tikhon's Dean in 2010, they also permitted him to remain attached to the Antiochian Archdiocese.

During Lent, Father took a break from his busy travel schedule to answer a few questions for the editors of

1.  Fr. Alexander, these last few years have presented you with daunting health challenges. How are you doing these days?

It depends on who you ask. For my own peace of mind I’ve limited myself to only the opinions of my doctors. My most recent scan indicated remarkable improvement. The doctors were pleased but determined to keep at this thing until they were satisfied that they had this thing beat. I have some of the best doctors in country working on this but that’s only half the job. Many, many people have my situation in mind when they sit down at home to do their prayers or when they are commemorating the names of the sick before the Holy Chalice. I believe that it is because of their prayers and faithfulness that I am showing signs of improvement.

Appeal for Syria from His Beatitude Ignatius IV

April 5, 2012

Beloved faithful of our Archdiocese,

Two days ago we received a very important message from the head of our Antiochian Patriarchate throughout the world, our father in Christ, His Beatitude, Ignatius, IV, Patriarch of Antioch and of all the East. Due to the importance of His Beatitude's message our office has translated it from Arabic into English. We are sending it to you to be read from the pulpit and printed in your church bulletin.

Wishing you a most blessed Holy Week and a glorious Pascha.

Metropolitan PHILIP

March 14, 2012, Damascus

To all our Antiochian children in the Archdioceses overseas:

We greet you first as we begin the Holy and Great Lent, asking God to help lead us in our journey and in our spiritual struggle to deserve the participation in His saving suffering and rejoice in His triumphant resurrection crying, “Christ is risen, Truly He is risen."

Second, while we write to you, we feel overwhelmed with pain due to the tragic events which are happening in Syria.

Holy Week and Pascha Resources on

In preparation for Holy Week and the Paschal season, a number of updated devotional and liturgical resources are available on 

In the Lenten Readings section, Patristic and contemporary writers explore the meaning of Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week. 

In the Department of Sacred Music's Library, a wide range of choral selections for Holy Week are available for church musicians.

Teachers and youth leaders can find useful tools for ministry on the Department of Christian Education's Summary of Lenten Offerings page. Additionally, information and promotional materials about the SOYO's Great Friday Vigil for teens, are posted here.

Finally,, a joint project of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America, offers articles, a photo gallery, video and audio features, and links to Pascha gifts and music--all centered on the theme of the Orthodox Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

April 2012 Edition of The Word Now Available

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The April 2012 issue contains the following articles:

On Forgiveness, pg. 4
by Chris Humphrey, Ph.D.

A Mother's Letter to Her Children on Marriage, pg. 8

Antiochian Heritage Foundation, pg. 10
by Dan Abraham and David Ghiz

Christian Churches Together Meet in Memphis, pg. 12

Antiochian Orthodoxy in the Philippines, pg. 16

Works of the Order in Action: Learning Christian Living through the Orthodox Camping Experience, pg. 20
by Khalil Samara

Leaders See IOCC Work Firsthand in Damascus, pg. 26

...and more!

"Healthy Marriage, Vibrant Ministry:" Clergy Couple Retreat is April 23-25

"Who else is going to take care of your marriage if you don't?" the brochure for the annual clergy couple retreat at Antiochian Village asks.

The popular weekend event, held this year on April 23-25, sets out the following goals for clergy couples:

  • to enjoy time together
  • to attend to your marriage away from the distractions and “busyness” of daily life
  • to draw closer to Christ and each other
  • to meet and share with other Clergy Couples
  • to be refreshed by the beauty of spring in the peaceful surroundings at the Village

This year's retreat speaker is Presbytera Kerry Pappas, a certified Prepare-Enrich facilitator and trainer, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who works for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese as the Coordinator for Clergy Couple Care.  The schedule of the weekend allows for group time and quiet reflection. Prior to the retreat, couples will complete a "Couple Checkup," an online assessment.

Download the PDF of the retreat brochure.

Metropolitan Philip Appeals for Syria

March, 2012

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)

"Five Interesting Facts" Report Released by Noted Researcher

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.

Department of Christian Education Offers Lenten Resources

Lenten refrigerator projectLenten refrigerator projectThe Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education is offering a variety of creative and helpful resources for families and Church schools this Lenten season.

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. 

Fr. Constantine Nasr Leads Marriage and Family Encounter Weekend

Marriage retreat participantsMarriage retreat participantsOn 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.

Works of the Order in Action: OCF Conferences

College students at 2011 OCF conference, CaliforniaCollege students at 2011 OCF conference, CaliforniaBy Jennifer Nahas, OCF Executive Director

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.

March 2012 Edition of The Word Now Available

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The March 2012 issue contains the following articles:

The Essence of St. Basil's Social Vision, pg. 5, by Troy and Theodora Polamalu & Charles Ajalat

The Cedars of Lebanon and Our New Bishops, pg. 8, by Fr. Michael Ellias

IOCC Leaders Meet With His Beatitude Ignatius IV

His Beatitude Ignatius IV with IOCC Chair Michael HomseyHis Beatitude Ignatius IV with IOCC Chair Michael HomseyBaltimore, 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 to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Fr. Anthony Yazge and his son Mark, a Special Olympics athleteFr. Anthony Yazge and his son Mark, a Special Olympics athleteFr. 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 Orthodox Community Set to Open Christ the Savior Academy

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.

AFR and Kevin Allen to Launch Live Call-in Show

"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. 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.

February 2012 Edition of The Word Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

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

...and more!

We are experimenting with a different, double-page spread format for The Word Magazine PDF files. We hope that this change will provide a better view of the layout and design of the magazine. We welcome reader feedback regarding the readability and usability of this format! Please send comments to

OCN Announces New Blog Chief and Writers

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.

Antiochian Women Leadership Profiled in DIAKONIA

Incoming and outgoing NAB officers at Chicago convention, 2011Incoming and outgoing NAB officers at Chicago convention, 2011The 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."

Read more about Violet and all the officers in DIAKONIA. (PDF)

Antiochian Village Hosts Assembly of Bishops Youth Committee

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).

Climacus Conference to Examine the Legacy of Byzantium

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'."