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Parish Life Conference Season Begins June 5

There is still time for you to register for your diocese's "family reunion" this summer, your regional Parish Life Conference (PLC)! The theme for this year, "The End of History...The Last Judgment," will be the focus of the Creative Festivals, a highlight of the conferences. Youth and organizational meetings, spiritually edifying speakers and services, and social events for kids and adults alike, all make the PLCs one of the Archdiocese's most established and popular traditions. Visit the Conventions and Conference Planning page for full information.

First up is the Diocese of Wichita PLC, kicking off on June 5 in Kansas City. St. Basil Orthodox Church hosts the PLC at the Westin Kansas City Hotel in downtown Kansas City, "one of America's Best downtowns" according to Forbes magazine.

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

O almighty Savior, Who didst pour forth water for the Hebrews from a solid rock, Thou didst come to the land of Samaria, and addressed a woman, seeking of her water to drink, whom Thou didst attract to faith in Thee, and who hath now attained life in the heavens everlastingly.

--Exaposteilarion of the Feast, Tone 2

On this day, the fifth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the Samaritan Woman.

When thou camest to obtain corruptible water, O woman,
Thou didst draw forth living water that washeth away the soul’s stains.

New Cohort Begins Doctorate of Ministry in Eastern Christian Studies

L to R: Fr. Jim King (MI), Fr. Scott Lill ( PA), Fr. David Bleam (FL), Fr. James Coles (AZ), His Grace Bishop Nicholas (NJ), Fr. Joe Allen (NJ), Fr. Paul Matar (IN), Fr. Samer Youssef  (CA), Fr. Kamal Al-Rahil (FL) and Fr. Boksy Harlan (PA)L to R: Fr. Jim King (MI), Fr. Scott Lill ( PA), Fr. David Bleam (FL), Fr. James Coles (AZ), His Grace Bishop Nicholas (NJ), Fr. Joe Allen (NJ), Fr. Paul Matar (IN), Fr. Samer Youssef (CA), Fr. Kamal Al-Rahil (FL) and Fr. Boksy Harlan (PA)By Fr. James Coles, St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, Mesa, AZ

A new, and lively, cohort of doctoral students gathered May 19-24, 2013 at the Antiochian Village to begin a three-year journey toward, as St. Gregory The Theologian put it, "hieratiki syneithesis" (priestly consciousness) in the D. Min. program through the Antiochian House of Studies. Under the tutelage of Director The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Allen, and with the wonderful opportunity of the participation of The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn as a fellow student, we spent five days delving deep into the knowledge and love of God the Father.

Summer's Almost Here: Sign Up Your Kids for Camp!

Calling all parents! June is just around the corner, and for schoolchildren, the long awaited season of summer is about to begin. Throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese, the counselors, cooks, and clergy of our church camps are preparing for another busy season. You are urged to sign up your child now since some of the camps fill up quickly, and Antiochian Village sessions are nearly full. If sending a child off to camp is new to you, refer to these Resources for Parents from Antiochian Village's website. More details are also available from the Department of Camping.

Mid-Pentecost

In the midst of this Feast, O Savior, give Thou my thirsty soul to drink of the waters of true worship; for Thou didst call out to all, saying: Whosoever is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Wherefore, O Christ our God, Fountain of life, glory to Thee.

+ Apolytikion of the Feast, Tone 8

On the Wednesday of the Paralytic, we celebrate the Feast of Mid-Pentecost.

Standing in the midst of the teachers, Christ the Messiah teacheth at Mid-Feast.

Mid-Pentecost is the midpoint of the fifty days between the Feasts of Pascha and Pentecost. In the Divine Liturgy Gospel passage, we read that “in the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the Temple, and taught” (John 7:14).

Christ is Risen! The Antiochian Archdiocese Celebrates Pascha, 2013

Paschal procession, St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Riverside, CAPaschal procession, St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Riverside, CAChrist is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! ~Paschal Troparion

With spring in full bloom at the close of Great Lent, 2013, the solemn Holy Week services commenced and then gave way to joyful Paschal celebrations over the weekend of May 4 - 5. In fledgling small town mission parishes and established communities in the heart of big cities, the faithful participated in daily services leading up to the climactic days of Holy Saturday and Pascha. Visit our photo gallery of services and celebrations from Alaska to New York! If your parish isn't represented in our photo gallery yet, send us your photos and we can add your church to the gallery.

Christ is Risen!

Indeed, He is Risen!

Sunday of the Paralytic

O Thou Who holdest the ends of the earth in the palm of Thy hand, O Jesus our God, Who art co-beginningless with the Father, and Who, together with the Holy Spirit dost rule over all things: Thou didst appear in the flesh, healing infirmities, driving away passions, and giving sight to the blind. And, by a divine word, Thou didst raise up the paralytic, commanding him to walk straightway and to take up upon his shoulders his bed, which had carried him. Wherefore, together with him we all praise Thee and cry: O Compassionate Christ, glory to Thy dominion and might.

--Oikos of the Feast

On this, the fourth Sunday of Pascha, we make commemoration of the Paralytic and, as is meet, we celebrate the miracle wrought for him.

The word of Christ was strength for the paralytic;
And thus this word alone was his healing.

Bishop Nicholas Participates in Historic Ecumenical Gathering

Bp. Nicholas with other participants in CCT eventBp. Nicholas with other participants in CCT eventOn Monday, April 15, 2013, leaders of member churches and organizations of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. (CCT) gathered in Birmingham, AL to attend a symposium on racism. The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn represented the Antiochian Archdiocese, and was joined by other Orthodox dignitaries, including His Beatitude The Most Blessed Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

The meeting date coincided with the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic Letter from Birmingham Jail. Dr. King’s letter was written in 1963 in response to eight Alabama clergyman who cautioned restraint regarding the civil rights demonstrations.  

2013 Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday Encyclical

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has announced Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday:

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me...only Luke is with me. 2 Timothy 4:9-11

To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Laity of the Orthodox Churches in North and Central America:

Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Christ is Risen!

We greet you in the surpassing joy of the Risen Christ. By the grace of God, we are blessed to observe the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, which this year falls on June 9, as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday. We embrace the diakonia of prison ministry in keeping with the example of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Physician of our souls, who did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; who ate in the houses of thieves and forgave the sins of harlots; and who said that, when we visit those in prison, we are in truth visiting Him, the Lord of Glory.

Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women

Hear the voice of gladness, O women; for I have trodden down rebellious Hades, and raised the world from corruption. Wherefore, hasten ye and proclaim the glad tidings to My beloved; for I desire that joy shall break forth thence upon My creation, whence first came forth sorrow.

--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 2

On this day, the third Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the holy Myrrh-bearing women. And we also make commemoration of Joseph of Arimathea, who was a secret disciple, and Nicodemus, who was a disciple by night.

The women disciples bring myrrh unto Christ;
And I bring a hymn as it were myrrh unto them.

US Congress Prepares Letter to Prioritize Release of Abducted Archbishops

Charles Ajalat writes on May 13:

The following needs just a minute or two of your time to help obtain the release of the two bishops who were kidnapped three weeks ago in Syria while on a humanitarian mission. One of the bishops is Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi), brother of our Antiochian Patriarch, John X. The other is the Syriac Archbishop Youhanna (Ibrahim). Six prominent members of Congress are already spearheading this effort, and yesterday sent a Dear Colleague letter to their remaining 429 colleagues to join as co-signers of the letter they are sending to the Secretary of State later this week (with a copy to Ambassador Ford), asking the Representatives to commit to their signing by this Friday noon. I have been working with the Congressional Representatives and they have asked me to contact you for needed help.

Metropolitan Tikhon Visits Antiochian Archdiocese Headquarters

l. to r.  Metropolitan Philip, Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop Nicholasl. to r. Metropolitan Philip, Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop NicholasFor the first time since his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America in November 2012, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was the guest of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip at the offices of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in Englewood, New Jersey on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Metropolitan Tikhon was accompanied by Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations; and Subdeacon Roman Ostash. Joining Metropolitan Philip in welcoming the OCA delegation was His Grace Bishop Nicholas, Auxiliary-Brooklyn and Resident Assistant to Metropolitan Philip; Archpriest Thomas Zain, AOCA Vicar General; and Archpriest George Kevorkian, AOCA Assistant to the Metropolitan. A warm atmosphere provided the context for substantive conversations about the current plight of Christians in the Middle East and specifically the situation of the two Syrian hierarchs who remain in captivity as well as the OCA’s recent history, the ongoing work of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, and hope for a united autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America.

Thomas Sunday

Today the fragrance of spring is shed forth, and the new creation shall rejoice. Today the locks shall be lifted from the doors with the faithlessness of the beloved Thomas, as he shouteth out, Thou art my Lord and my God.

-Orthros of the Feast

On the second Sunday of Pascha, we inaugurate the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, and the occasion whereon the Holy Apostle Thomas touched the Savior’s side.

If the seals of the Virgin’s womb and of the grave did not hinder Thee,
How could the seals of the doors hinder Thy might, O Savior?

This day is called New Sunday, Thomas Sunday or Anti-Pascha. The last term means “in place of Pascha”, because Thomas did not hear of Christ’s Resurrection and disbelieved it. We remember his doubt but do not repeat it. After this Sunday, the Church dedicates Sunday to the Resurrection.

Support for Abducted Syrian Hierarchs

Republished May 10: The Archdiocese encourages all of her members to show their continuing support for kidnapped archbishops Paul and John of Aleppo, first and foremost through heartfelt prayer. We also encourage people to sign and promote the online petition available here at the website of the White House, calling for United States government action on behalf of the abducted metropolitans. Please use the petition at this link.

Support and attention for Archbishop Paul and Archbishop John continues to grow. The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has published their joint letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry here. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has published Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's call for the release of the archbishops. The Russian Orthodox Church has published several statements, including the patriarchal message from Patriarch Kirill to Patriarch John X available here, along with the list of documents available below. Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church prayed for the release of the metropolitans, as announced here. The Archdiocese is grateful for these and all other ongoing efforts for the sake of Archbishop Paul and Archbishop John, and all our brothers and sisters suffering in the region.

Metropolitan Philip Presides at Paschal Liturgy, St. Nicholas Cathedral

His Eminence at St. Nicholas Cathedral on PaschaHis Eminence at St. Nicholas Cathedral on PaschaThe Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Dean of the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York reports:

"Christ is Risen!" "Indeed He is Risen!" This joyous refrain could be heard in St. Nicholas Cathedral in the early morning hours of May 5. After waiting for spring in the Northeast this year, the dark and short days of the season have given way to "the day that knows no night" and the celebration of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. Once again, our father in Christ, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, returned home to celebrate the Feast of Feasts and the season of seasons in his cathedral, the mother church of the North American Archdiocese.

View the photo gallery

Listen as the chanters of St. Nicholas, led by Protopsaltis Rasem El Massih, sing "Today is the Day of Resurrection." 

Paschal Letter of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

His Beatitude Patriarch John X, Pascha 2013His Beatitude Patriarch John X, Pascha 2013The Patriarchate of Antioch has released the following Paschal Letter in a range of languages. Please see the attached PDF files at the end of the letter for the greeting in other languages. Christ is risen!

Paschal Letter 2013 

With the Mercy of God John Xth Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

To all our beloved in the Lord the children of the Antiochian See, clergy and laypersons,

On the great day of Resurrection, on which Christ rose and raised us with Him, it pleases me to remember with you the meanings of Resurrection and to explain some of its aspects.

The resurrection of the Lord is the resurrection of each one of us. In the resurrection the power of the devil, our enemy, was brought to naught. Although death terrifies human beings, yet the Lord Jesus has defeated it with his life-giving resurrection. He descended in His death to the abode of death, that is, to Hades, and exploded it from within, abolishing its effects. It is true that death is still there, however it has become a mere passage to true life, a complete liberation from temporal things and a way to eternity. Resurrection gave us grace instead of sin, immortality instead of corruption, life instead of death. The rule of the evil one is gone and the kingdom of God has appeared. Darkness gives way to light.

Great and Holy Saturday

Epitaphion

Today hell groans and cries aloud: "My power has been destroyed. I accepted a mortal man as one of the dead; yet I cannot keep Him prisoner, and with Him I shall lose all those over whom I ruled. I held in my power the dead from all the ages; but see, He is raising them all." Glory to Thy Cross, O Lord, and to Thy Resurrection.

Read about Great and Holy Saturday, "The Forgotten Feast"

For more reflections and resources, please visit our Holy Week section. And for more material dedicated to the pinnacle of the liturgical year, visit FeastOfFeasts.org.

Great and Holy Friday

On Great and Holy Friday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the sufferings of Christ: the mockery, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nails, the thirst, the vinegar and gall, the cry of desolation, and all the Savior endured on the Cross. "Today He Who hung the earth on the waters is hung on the tree," sing the solemn worshippers. Beginning with the Orthros of Holy Friday on Thursday evening, and ending with Vespers on Friday afternoon, the day is one of solemn observation and strict fasting. The richness of the liturgical actions and hymnography on this day, are unsurpassed.

We worship Your passion and Your burial,
for by them, You have saved us from death!

For more reflections and resources, please visit our Holy Week section. And for more material dedicated to the pinnacle of the liturgical year, visit FeastOfFeasts.org.

May 2013 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The May 2013 issue includes the following articles:

What Language is This?, pg. 4
by R. Leo Olson

How to Think About Evil, Until You Can't, pg. 8
by Christopher Humphrey, Ph.D. 

The Role of Women in the Orthodox Church, pg. 16
by Bishop Nicholas 

Strengthening the Voice of Young Arab-Americans, pg. 20
by Laila Mokhiber

Works of the Order in Action: Project Mexico, pg. 22

Interview with Father George Shalhoub, pg. 24
by Elizabeth Ajluni

...and more!

Holy Week Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Patriarch John X

The following Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Patriarch John X was released in a range of languages by the Patriarchate of Antioch on Lazarus Saturday via their Facebook page. The original letter is available in PDF format, here for English and here for Arabic.

Pastoral Letter

With God’s mercy

JOHN X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

To my brethren, the Shepherds of the Holy Church of Antioch, And my children throughout the Holy and Apostolic See

I address you today, at the end of Great Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, and at a time when we are being surrounded by much pain and suffering. Throughout our Antiochian lands, dangers threaten our homes, and political conflicts storm our countries. As a result, man’s livelihood, dwelling, and even life are at risk. We are tried every day by death or abduction, and our latest plight is the recent kidnapping of our beloved brothers, Bishop Paul Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Iskenderun and dependencies, and Bishop John Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, and the killing of the Deacon who was accompanying them.