Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip
The annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage was held on September 24-26 at the Antiochian Village. Bishop Thomas was the presiding hierarch, and Mother Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla was the main speaker of the weekend. Both of them talked on the theme of “Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip."
The main emphasis of the pilgrimage’s theme was in learning how to live an average, workaday life in a holy, Orthodox manner. Along with the talks by His Grace and Mother Alexandra, four small group discussions were led by clergy from the area. The topics included “Confession: Setting and Resetting the Course," “The Eucharist: What’s In Your Lunchbox?," “Holy Unction: First Aid and Urgent Care” and “The Walk: A discussion of the New York Times Best-Seller by Richard Paul Evans."
On Tuesday, September 21st His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received the Officers of the Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. His All Holiness had invited the Officers through the cooperation of Archbishop Demetrios of America, the Chairman of the Assembly, who also led the delegation to the Phanar for the substantive and detailed meeting. The other Officers included Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk (Moscow Patriarchate, Vice-Chairman), Archbishop Antony of Hierapolis, (Ecumenical Patriarchate-UOCUSA, Treasurer) and Bishop Basil of Wichita and Mid-America (Patriarchate of Antioch–Antiochian Archdiocese, Secretary). Also in attendance at the meeting were Archimandrite Bartholomew Samaras, Deputy Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archpriest Igor Vyzhanov of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Frs. Mark Arey and John Chryssavgis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
The Children's Relief Fund, a ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese, has launched a website enabling online donations via PayPal, and allowing potential sponsors to apply directly for sponsorship online. Since 1983, the Fund has served as a non-profit charitable and humanitarian organization dedicated to providing education scholarships to needy children in Lebanon and Palestine. Fr. George M. Rados, National Director, reports that currently CRF is sponsoring 341 children in Lebanon and 34 in Palestine. A helpful FAQ section of the website explains all aspects of sponsorship, including how to communicate with the child, and how the funds from sponsors are distributed.
Heartwarming testimonials on the new site tell the Fund's story:
“We thank God that there are people like you who believe in helping others. God bless you.”
“I highly appreciate your financial aid to my daughter. In fact, without your financial support to my daughter, my daughter will not be able to proceed with her studies.”
“Your sponsorship and donation of $300 made me work harder to achieve my goals. Thank you.”
“I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for the schooling of my son. Your help gives us hope that someone like you is feeling for you. So my family and I pray for your well being, may God bless you.”
On August 18, 2010, 43 pilgrims including His Grace Bishop Basil, joined pilgrimage organizer Fr. Joseph Abud (St. George Church, Flint, Michigan) for a journey which would later be described as "life changing" by Kh. Cindy Baize (Holy Transfiguration Mission, Hillsboro, Kansas). At one of the holiest seasons of the year which included the Feasts of the Transfiguration and the Dormition on the Old Calendar, the American faithful joined pilgrims from all over the world as they venerated the relics of saints and visited sites that even Orthodox tours pass over. "Our guide said he had never seen a group received as well as our group and he heard and saw things which he never had access to before." enthuses Bishop Basil. The packed schedule included a nightly Bible study and debriefing session, and some of the travelers even attended the midnight liturgies served daily at the tomb of Christ. Readers can browse the gallery of photos taken by Fr. David Moretti of St. George, Terre Haute, Indiana.
"I prayed for you all facing the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee," writes Bishop Basil on August 21. Read on for the rest of his pilgrimage diary.
Wednesday, 18 Aug. 2010
Visited St Peter Church (Orth) over house of St Tabitha house of Simon the Tanner, St Michael Monastery (Orth) with its church of St Tabitha. On to Lydda.
Pilgrim groups are here from Greece, Romania, Russia, and us (and probably others we haven't seen yet).
Some of the busiest people in Antiochian parishes currently, are teachers and church school directors preparing to kick off the 2010/2011 Sunday School year. Supporting all of this activity is the Department of Christian Education, headed by experienced educator Carole Buleza. Antiochian.org was able to catch up with Carole and find out about how her department is making a difference in the lives of teachers and children in parishes all across the country. Last summer in a groundbreaking presentation at the Clergy Symposium at Antiochian Village, Carole outlined "a new way thinking about Orthodox catechesis."
1. Can you articulate for us your philosophy of Orthodox Christian Education, as it has developed over your years of experience?
My philosophy of successful Orthodox Christian Education developed first of all from my childhood. I was raised in a home where Sunday was for church and visiting, the holy days meant going to church, and the very special holy days involved special meals. I saw my mother pray the Divine Liturgy when she could not make it to church, and my dad read the Bible.
Ancient Faith Radio has released the completed "Foundations" series recorded by Antiochian priest Fr. Andrew Damick for his podcast, "Roads From Emmaus." "This series represents an attempt at a sort of catechism—approaching the faith from four foundational angles: the revelation of God to man, authority in the spiritual life, worship, and morality," explains Fr. Andrew. "As with most of my work, I attempted to keep these talks fairly free of religious jargon, approaching the subjects with only a minimum of assumptions shared with the listeners. My hope is that these will be digestible not only to Orthodox Christians, but to other Christians, members of other religions, those who are 'spiritual but not religious,' and even unbelievers."
Fr. Damick begins the series with a conversation about the person of Christ, then builds on that with subsequent talks about Scripture and Tradition, and Worship. He concludes the four part discussion with a two part presentation, "Christian Life in the World."
The September 2010 issue contains the following articles:
Metropolitan Philip Addresses historic Episcopal Assembly, pg. 5
Message from the Episcopal Assembly, pg. 8
Completed Meetings: Working Committees, Archdiocesan Synod, and Board of Trustees, pg. 11
His Grace, Bishop Joseph Addresses Graduates at St. Tikhon's, pg. 15
CD Review: "Thy Resurrection, pg. 28
by Fr. Nicholas M. Kastanas
Vision for Life, pg. 30
by Chris Humphrey
...plus reports from the Dept. of Christian Education, the Antiochian Village Bookstore, Communities in Action and more!
The Holy Synod of Antioch in its 46 Synodal session, after long and careful deliberation and following the careful investigation of canonical studies submitted to the Holy Synod, including the study of Metropolitan Basil of Arcadia (Akar) who was commissioned by the Holy Synod of Antioch, with regard to the historicity of bishops, hereby affirms that the bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, chosen to dioceses and delegated to these dioceses by the Metropolitan, are Auxiliary bishops under the direction of the Metropolitan, who has the full jurisdiction over the Archdiocese. Furthermore, the Metropolitan, possesses the right and the authority to transfer a bishop from one diocese to another, as he deems necessary for the benefit of the Archdiocese, and after deliberating with the Archdiocesan Synod. The Dioceses within the Archdiocese are not considered, by any means, independent, but rather shall always remain under the direct authority and control of the Metropolitan. Further, the Holy Synod confirms and reaffirms that the Holy Synod, under the Chairmanship of the Patriarch, is the final and supreme authority in all matters related to all Archdioceses of the Patriarchate of Antioch. The Holy Synod affirms that the Arabic Test [sic] is considered as the only reference.
This synodal resolution is issued at St. Christopher Covenant on the 19th of August 2010
The NEW EDITION of THE LITURGIKON is NOW AVAILABLE from Antakya Press at the Archdiocese Bookstore:
P.O. Box 5238
Englewood, NJ 07631-5238
The binding and paper qualities are far superior to those of the old edition. Price will be the same: $50.00 U.S. + Shipping and Handling. Shipping & Handling is 12% of total ($6.00 per book) within the contiguous United States.
The new edition is:
- UPDATED by His Grace Bishop Basil
- THINNER - Approximately 1/2 the thickness of the old edition
- LIGHTER in WEIGHT (23.7 ounces vs. 35 ounces of the old edition)
- Contains 4 PAGE-MARKER RIBBONS
- DIFFERENT FONT (Easier to Read)
- MORE ELEGANT COVER
- GOLD EMBOSSED EDGES
- STITCHED BINDING (NOT glued)
Saturday, September 18, 2010
St. Michael Church + Van Nuys, CA
Carole Buleza, Archdiocese Director of Christian Education, writes:
Dear Pastor and Church School Director,
I am writing to give you early notice of a not-to-miss opportunity! The parish of St. Michael’s in Van Nuys will be hosting an educational day very soon after the new Church School year begins--the Orthodox Institute Southern California. The Institute is a pan-Orthodox continuing-education event sponsored by the Antiochian Department of Christian Education, and the Orthodox Christian Education Commission. “Sharing Our Faith,” the theme of the upcoming event, will be presented by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick who originates the Ancient Faith Radio podcasts, “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy,” and “Roads From Emmaus.” Fr. Andrew is a priest of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic. We are inviting all who are interested in the faith, and especially those involved in church school ministry to join us for the day--
Saturday, September 18, 2010, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Readers of antiochian.org are encouraged to remember that each week, His Grace Bishop Thomas posts a new article to edify and exhort the faithful of the Archdiocese. As Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, His Grace has long provided his flock with appropriate weekly teachings selected from his treasured collection of essays, articles, homilies and more, including many rare pieces from earlier decades of The Word. This week's essay, for example, was first published in 1966, and yet its message of the need for parents to put "First Things First" as they nurture their children, is as timely today as it was when it first appeared in The Word. Read this piece and many others, published and archived here.
The evening of August 12th, 2010 will go down in history as another leap forward in the journey towards Orthodox unity in North America. Over a hundred clergy and lay people from seven Orthodox Churches in the greater Oklahoma City area came together to pray the Paraklesis service to the Mother of God, which was chanted by the teens of St. Elijah Church, followed by a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the future of Orthodoxy unity in America. This was the first such Town Hall Meeting to take place since the historic Episcopal Assembly.
The first part of the Town Hall Meeting was dedicated to watching the video of His Grace, Bishop BASIL’s address at the 2010 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference, hosted by St. Elijah, Oklahoma City. His Grace, who was elected at the Episcopal Assembly as Secretary, explained to all of the clergy and laity some of the progress that the fifty-five Hierarchs who met had accomplished, and the next steps in preparing North America to be united administratively.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip will depart today, August 9, for the Middle East, where he will attend the upcoming meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch which is scheduled to begin on August 17th, 2010.
We ask all of the faithful to pray that His Eminence will have a safe and productive journey. We also ask for prayers for all of our beloved hierarchs of the See of Antioch as they gather together in brotherly love to do the work of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit.
A selection of more than 30 recorded homilies by V. Rev. Fr. Jon Braun have been made available on the website Prudence True. Fr. Braun is Pastor Emeritus of St. Anthony the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church of La Jolla, CA. He also serves as dean of the Southern California Deanery of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West.
Click here for Fr. Braun's homilies. We particularly recommend the sermon, "Today's Meaning of Antioch," which highlights the Church of Antioch's roots as a mission-minded, multicultural Church born from persecution.
FOCUS North America volunteers, through local affiliates, have been busy this summer! In Orange County, southern California Orthodox Christians bagged food for some of the 20,000 children that are homeless county-wide. In the meantime, thirty volunteers from the Kansas City area drove nearly one thousand miles to North Carolina to work for needy families in the Bakersville region. In San Diego, in the shadows of the wealthy community of Coronado at the Coronado Island Bridge, twenty eight people from six parishes served meals to the homeless in an effort that will be ongoing on Wednesday nights. In a sweltering midwestern heat wave, FOCUS Minnesota served a meal at the end of July as they looked forward to the launch of their new center on Lake Street in Minneapolis; their doors are slated for opening on August 14, the day before the Feast of the Dormition.
Click here to read all the news from FOCUS.
The evening was chaired by Economos Antony Gabriel. Following are his remarks. There was also a slide presentation by Rt. Rev. John Abdalah and remarks by both Very Rev. Joe Shaheen and Very Rev. George Rados.
Metropolitan Philip and Metropolitan Ephraim
Hierarchs of the God-protected Archdiocese
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
This evening I was tempted to recall all the humorous episodes in our life that we shared with you.
However, it is “serious” business to salute you on the occasion of your 50 consecrated years in God’s holy Priesthood. Few among this audience know of the Antoun we met in 1959 and the suffering you endured in your early years in North America, miles away from family and friends in a different culture and attending St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York City with professors who at times were difficult to understand with their various accents, living with complete strangers who barely spoke English.
Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of Archpriest Matthew MacKay, 54, proistamenos of St. Joseph Church in Houston, TX, Dean of East Texas and member of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America Council of Presbyters, who fell asleep in Christ yesterday morning, July 26th. Fr. Matthew is survived by his wife Khouriya Lynn and their sons Patrick and Sean.
It was with great shock and with sadness that I heard of the passing of Fr. Matthew. Fr. Matthew and I have been good friends since he was assigned to St. Joseph’s. For a good period of time, he heard my confession. He shared the altar with me at St. Joseph’s for many Fridays during Great Lent as we celebrated the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. We renewed this practice during this past Great Lenten period when I visited Houston and once again celebrated the Presanctified Liturgy with him on Friday morning.
Fr. Matthew was a priest who loved the holy Orthodox Church with his whole body and his whole soul. He celebrated the divine services diligently and with great joy. He loved God, and he loved the parishioners God gave him to minister to. I can remember many times when we visited together he talked about the concern that he had for the salvation of the parishioners of St. Joseph.
He was a man of great courage. He was not afraid to speak the truth, even if it meant that he would personally suffer because of it. The most important thing to him was that he did what God wanted him to do. In my humble opinion, he ministered faithfully and diligently, always seeking to do God’s will.
Ah, sweet summer! Another eventful, fun-filled camping season is winding down in some dioceses, while the August Session is still to come in several camps.
Due to the generosity of the Order of St. Ignatius, $175,000.00 filled camp scholarship coffers, enabling children of all backgrounds and ages to attend sessions at Antiochian Village, Camp St. Nicholas in California, Camp St. Thekla in South Carolina, St. John Summer Camp in Alaska, St. Mary of Egypt Camp in Washington, Camp Transfiguration in Quebec, Canada, Camp St. George in Iowa, and Camp St. Raphael in Oklahoma.
At Camp St. Nicholas, August campers will enjoy this dance: "Week 3: Out Of This World--Get ready to reach for the stars and LAUNCH into a dance that is out-of-this-world. Dress up as your favorite outer space characters from Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. Or come dressed as an astronaut, star, or planet! The possibilities are endless - just like outer space!" Meantime, in Quebec, Canadian Antiochian children will enjoy "...the Afternoon program, which includes sports, waterfront activities, carpentry, rock climbing, archery, riflery, and more....After dinner, the camp community comes together again for daily Vespers. Each night there is a different program such as a hafli, scavenger hunt, serenade night, campfire, or some activity that the whole camp participates in together."
To view a photo gallery of camper fun and fellowship, click here.
In May of this year, Greek Orthodox priest Fr. John Peck, with the help of Antiochian priest and American Orthodox Institute Director Fr. Hans Jacobse, launched the outreach website Journey to Orthodoxy. Knowing how difficult the inquirer's search for historic Christianity can be, Fr. John and Fr. Hans also premiered the "Welcome Home" network, which connects web readers in real time to other Orthodox who at one time traveled the same journey of discovery and struggle. In its short existence, the website has already run the gamut of stories; a quick glance at the home page reveals stories from former Amish, Catholic, evangelical, and Episcopalian converts who hail from Tanzania, Illinois, Australia, and points in between. Antiochian.org interviewed Fr. John Peck about the website and its impact.
1. What was the inspiration for your new website, Journey to Orthodoxy?
There is a large gap (several actually) in the outreach and evangelism of the Orthodox Church in the United States, and indeed, around the world.
Fr. Joseph Purpura and the Department of Youth MInistry have announced a major new initiative to help teens and their families. The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) plans to form groups in each diocese to deal with the risky behaviors that threaten the health and safety of youth. A 2007-2008 Archdiocesan study revealed, for instance, that in the previous year, nearly half of the high school teens and even a quarter of the 13-15 year olds surveyed, had used alcohol.
The seven page action plan explains the approach: "The purpose of the coalition is to help educate pre-teens, teens, young adults and parents towards living healthy Orthodox Christian Lives and enabling our youth to live drug free. We will also include education and other eﬀorts towards delaying the onset of sexual activity in youth with the intent of preparing young people for marriage or monasticism and work to assist parents in this endeavor. We seek to do this work in an Orthodox Christian manner and to develop an Orthodox model to be used by other Orthodox parishes and jurisdictions."
In some cases, federal funding may be available to help further the efforts of coalitions. To date, four parishes in three dioceses have come forward as coalition hosts. Fr. Joseph hopes to establish a group in each diocese. For more information, email: FrJoseph@orthodoxyouth.com, or read the action plan here.