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Report from the Holy Synod of Antioch's October Meeting

The Patriarchate of Antioch reports:

The Holy Synod of Antioch held its second session from October 15th through 17th, 2013. His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X presided over the meeting, with the participation of Their Eminences, the Metropolitans and Fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch: Spiridon of Zahleh and its dependencies; Georges of Jbeil, Batroun and their dependencies; Yuhanna of Lattakia and its dependencies; Elias of Beirut and its dependencies; Iliya of Hama and its dependencies; Elias of Tyre, Sidon; and their dependencies, Damaskinos of Sao Paulo and Brazil, Saba of Hawran and all Jebel al-Arab; George of Homs and its dependencies; Antonio of Mexico and Venezuela and their dependencies; Sergio of Chile; Silouan of Argentina; Basilios of Akkar and its dependencies; and Ephrem of Tripoli, al-Koura, and their dependencies. His Grace Bishop Ephrem (Maalouli), Patriarchal Vicar and Secretary of the Holy Synod, and Economos Georges Dimas, Record-keeper of the Synod, also participated in the meeting.

Their Eminences Metropolitans: Philip of New York and North America; Paul of Australia and New Zealand; and Constantine of Baghdad and Kuwait and their dependencies gave their regrets for not being able to attend. Metropolitan Boulos (Yazigi) of Aleppo and Alexandretta and their dependencies was present in the prayers and invocations of the Synod Fathers, despite his absence caused by his captivity.

After prayer and calling upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, His Beatitude opened the meeting by hoping that the Lord God may shower His blessings upon all the participants, so that they may rightly divide the Word of God's Truth to the believers and to all those who are thirsting for hope.

Residency Program for House of Studies Hosts International Students

Each year, the Antiochian House of Studies (AHOS), which focuses on applied theology via a distance-directed reading approach, hosts two residency weeks for students who are in the Pastoral Care, Doctor of Ministry, and St. Stephen's Certificate and Masters programs. Archdeacon Peter Boukulos, registrar for the House of Studies, reports that a successful Residency Program recently concluded at the Antiochian Village in September. "After completing each year of study in the St. Stephen's Course of Studies in Applied Orthodox Theology program, students are required to attend the Residency Program for one week," explains Archdeacon Peter. The full and rigorous program begins on Monday morning with Matins, breakfast, classes, lunch, classes, Vespers, dinner, and finally more classes that continue until about ten in the evening.

"In the recent session, we hosted an international group," he explains. "Fr. Maximos Nnachette of Nigeria, Fr. Konstantin Lautillo of the Philippines, Mr. Miladin Tripic from Australia, and Pelagia Chuan of Taiwan, all joined us for the session."

St. Demetrios the Myrrhbearer + October 26

Verily, the inhabited world found thee a great succor in tribulations and a vanquisher of nations, O fight-bearing one. Wherefore, as thou didst demolish the arrogance of Lahosh, and on the battle-field didst hearten Nestor, beseech, O Saint, Christ God to grant us the Great Mercy.

-Troparion, Tone 3

Verily, God, O Demetrius, who granted thee invincible power hath touched the Church with the live coal of thy blood streams, preserving the city unbreached; for it is established by thee.

-Kontakion, Tone 2

Read about the life of St. Demetrios.

Interview with Fr. George Morelli: To Teach and To Heal

A seasoned psychologist, priest, Archdiocese department chair, and prolific author, Fr. George Morelli has shared his articles with Antiochian.org readers for over six years. The assistant pastor at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Diego, Fr. George has taught university and seminary courses in psychology and pastoral theology, supervised doctoral clinical psychology interns, and authored many articles in his field. He can also be heard on his weekly Ancient Faith Radio podcast, Healing: Orthodox Spirituality and Psychology

You have been a faithful columnist for Antiochian.org for a number of years. What motivates you to write and is there a common thread that runs through all your columns?

My motivation is that I see Christ as our ultimate Physician and Healer of our souls and ultimately our bodies following the brokenness (i.e. passions) that we have inherited from our ancestral parents. I am acutely aware that any of the gifts that I have been given are a gift from God and to be used to glorify His Name, to emulate as best I can the Trinitarian love the Persons of the Holy Trinity have for themselves and have extended to all creation and onto all mankind. I have an obligation to use these gifts as best I can to reflect this love.

Camp and Youth Workers Conference Slated for Early 2014

Youth workers in North America are invited to the 2014 Camp and Youth Workers Conference, an annual gathering scheduled for January 23-25, 2014 at the Antiochian Village. Endorsed by the Assembly of Bishops, this year's Conference will address the theme, "Made in His Image and Likeness," with Keynote Speaker Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko.

The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, explains that the conference is "intended to help the parish youth worker spiritually form the teens they work with, on the parish level. I encourage all parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese to send your parish youth workers and teen SOYO advisors to this conference." Workshops will be available for three tracks: Youth Worker, Camp Ministry, and Pastoral.

Antiochian Women Announce Project for Syria's War Orphans

By Dianne O'Regan, Vice President/NAB Project Coordinator, North American Board of the Antiochian Women

This summer at the Archdiocese Convention in Houston, Metropolitan Philip announced the new Antiochian Women Project for 2013-2014 (PDF). He has challenged us with a mission that is beyond bricks and mortar, but goes to the very heart and soul of our faith: “Help the Orphans of War in Syria.” His Eminence has asked the Antiochian Women to raise $200,000 towards this worthwhile Project. All monies raised will be distributed directly to the affected areas. 

When asked by His disciples who was the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven," our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called a little child to Him and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you ... become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-5).

2013 Orthodox Institute Coming October 31

Registration is open for this year's Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education in the Faith, convening at Antiochian Village on October 31—November 3. The Institute is co-sponsored by the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Orthodox Church of America (OCA), and the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC), and has become the premier conference for Orthodox educators and parents. His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh is the Keynote Speaker, and the theme is "Blessed is the Kingdom: Acts 2:42 and Today."

Please note that the official registration deadline is October 14th, although registrations will be accepted beyond the due date.

Loving As God Loves Means Evangelism

By Bishop John Abdalah, Diocese of Worcester and New England, and Editor of The Word

The theme for the Conferences this new Church Year is from the Gospel of Luke: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). God calls us to give all, but only after He has given all! He gives all for us. After God created all, He sent His only begotten Son to redeem the world and share His own love with us. He has joined us to Himself. He calls us to do likewise, sharing His word and Spirit and His love. In so doing, we are joined to be one with Him and one with each other. What our neighbors need most is what we need most: Jesus Christ. What a pity that most of the world still doesn't understand what God has done for the world and what He calls us to be! Calling us to love, with all of our heart, soul and strength, ultimately requires us to be love, as He is love. Loving in God's way allows us to be joined to God in the love of the Holy Trinity. Loving our neighbor means sharing ourselves, sharing God's love, sharing His Oneness. This love leads us to share God with our neighbors. Rather, this love allows us to share God who is in us with each other. Ministering to one another allows us to share in God's own ministry. This ministry is loving with all our heart, soul and strength.

Seminarians Welcomed at Annual Dinner on September 24

As the autumn sets in each year, one annually thinks of a new Ecclesiastical and school year, football season, and the changing colors of leaves. For our Antiochian seminarians, another staple of the fall every year is their annual dinner with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. Each year Sayidna welcomes his spiritual children to the Archdiocese headquarters, where they pray, eat and talk together. This year, seminarians and their wives from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, St. Tikhon's Seminary, and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary were in attendance, along with the archdiocesan clergy who teach them at the various seminaries.

October 2013 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The October 2013 issue includes the following articles:

Impressions of Our Pilgrimage to Russia, pg. 4
by Archpriest Thomas Zain

Charity as an Act of Faith Constituting Agents of the Holy Spirit, pg. 8
by Metropolitan Silouan

Giving is the Criterion of Our Belonging to the Reign of God, pg. 14
by Patriarch John X

An Appeal to All Arabs, pg. 18
by Metropolitan Philip

St. Basil on Higher Education in Every Age, pg. 20
by Fr. Gregory Harrigle

Healing Unresolved Grief: Resolving the Hidden Losses in Our Lives, pg. 29
by Fr. Demetrios Joshua Makoul

Sanctified Schooling: Working Out Our Salvation witihin Education, pg. 31
by Bishop Thomas (Joseph), Ed.D.

...and more!

His Beatitude Patriarch John X Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, met on Friday, September 27 with Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican in Rome. According to a report from Vatican Radio, "In his encounter with the Holy Father, the Patriarch spoke about the difficulties facing the Christian community in Syria and the surrounding region. He also talked about the plight of his own brother who was kidnapped last April, together with the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo. The two leaders also shared their hopes for progress on the journey towards full Christian unity."

His Beatitude was interviewed by Vatican Radio after his meeting with Pope Francis. The interview is available here.

The following brief video report of the meeting has been made available by Rome Reports.

Appeal from the Patriarchate of Antioch for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria

The Patriarchate of Antioch writes on September 24, 2013, the feast of St. Thekla:

Military acts are increasing in our beloved country Syria and Man pays a high price for this tragedy. So we see destruction prevailing in all the country and we see Man pained, displaced, hungry, thirsty and missing life in all places and at all times. One aspect of this tragedy touches the village Maloula and her Monastery of St. Thekla, a place of pilgrimage which witnesses to the continuous Christian presence of love from the first centuries of Christendom, in the one part, and testifies also to the deep relationship which links citizens to whatever religion they might belong.

The Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, a cultural monument, which belongs to all Syrian citizens, and at the same time, an international heritage belonging to all humanity, lives difficult and painful days at this time. The monastery is located in a region where there is exchange of fire and this renders it very difficult and dangerous for it to be provided and supplied. Recently, this exchange of fire damaged totally the electrical generator rendering it impossible to supply the monastery with water and threatening, therefore, the survival of this place.

2013 Assembly of Bishops Concludes with Official Statements

The Assembly of Bishops reports:

In the final day of its annual meeting, the Assembly agreed to issue two statements—one on the Church’s unchanging position on marriage and one expressing grave concern over the escalating violence in the Middle East. The Assembly also released a message to the faithful on the conclusion of Assembly IV.

The three statements can be found here: statement on marriagestatement on violence in the Middle East; and message to the faithful.  

2013 Assembly of Bishops Convenes in Chicago

See below for updates from the second day of meetings.

The Assembly of Bishops reports:

The first day of meetings of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America reflected a growing collegiality and cooperation among those present. Forty-three hierarchs representing 11 jurisdictions are in attendance. The morning began with hierarchs participating in a common celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Des Plaines, IL.

"Today...we are here together in unity and joy in full awareness of the truth that the love of Christ has brought us together and is with us," said Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of the Assembly, in his opening remarks to the hierarchs. "As we stand with awe, having prayed the Divine Liturgy and received the precious Body and Blood of our Lord, we are not only in God's presence but also more importantly, we experience His presence as one undivided Body—His Body."

OCN Interview with Bishop Basil Focuses on Assembly of Bishops Meeting

The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has posted an interview with His Grace Bishop Basil, Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, discussing the topic of the fourth annual meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America scheduled for September 17–19 in Chicago, IL. Bishop Basil is the Secretary of the Assembly and is deeply involved in planning the upcoming meeting.

Metropolitan Philip Asks for Full Archdiocese Support for Antiochian Day of Solidarity on Sunday Sept. 15

As you may know, His Beatitude John  X, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, has designated Sunday September 15th as “Antiochian Day of Solidarity”.  His letter can be found here.

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip is asking all of our churches and missions in North America to give our full support to this appeal, and to make a special collection on Sunday September 15, 2013 which will benefit the victims in Syria who are suffering so terribly.

Metropolitan Philip Interviewed by Orthodox Christian Network

From Orthodox Christian Network (OCN):

Join us for an exclusive interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, the primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. His Eminence has issued several statements calling for prayer and action on the current situation in Syria, where millions of Christians are suffering and in grave danger of persecution. Listen now to his thoughts on what will happen to Christians in Syria if the country is bombed, how people can help both the political situation and the millions of refugees, as well as about the Day of Solidarity that has been set for September 15th.

Read about Antiochian Day of Solidarity, Sunday September 15.

See articles from the Archdiocese on recent events in Syria here.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s Appeal to President Barack Obama Regarding the Situation in Syria

The following is courtesy of the Moscow Patriarchate. See Metropolitan Philip's thank you to Patriarch Kirill here.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia sent a message to Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, in which he expressed his deep concern over the plans of the US army to strike the territory of Syria.

The Primate of the Russian Church appeals to the US President to listen to the voices of religious leaders who unanimously oppose any military interference in the Syrian conflict and to make every effort for the soonest commencement of peace negotiations.

His Excellency Mr. Barack OBAMA, President, United States of America

Your Excellency, Dear Mr. President,

The tragic events in Syria have raised anxiety and caused pain in the Russian Orthodox Church. We receive information about the situation there not from the news reports but from living evidence coming to us from religious figures, ordinary believers and our compatriots living in that country.

Syria today has become an arena of the armed conflict. Engaged in it are foreign mercenaries and militants linked with international terrorist centres. The war has become an everyday golgotha for millions of civilians.

We were deeply alarmed to learn about the plans of the US army to strike the territory of Syria.

Antiochian Delegation Receives Relics of St. Tikhon of Moscow from Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

View a photo gallery, courtesy of Fr. Thomas Zain and the Photographer for Patriarch Kirill of Moscow

View video of the Dormition Liturgy

From August 13-27, 2013, His Grace Bishop Nicholas and Vicar-General Fr. Thomas Zain led a group of 22 pilgrims from throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese (along with two from Damascus) on a two week pilgrimage of Russia. After the majority of the group returned home on August 27th, Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas, Fr. Mousa Haddad from St. Mary Church in Palos Heights, IL and Bishop Nicholas' mother, Nadia Ozone, remained until August 30 to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 28 (old style) with His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

The Divine Liturgy took place in the main historical Cathedral for all Russia, the Dormition Cathedral inside the Kremlin walls. It was in this Cathedral that the Patriarchs and Metropolitans of Russia were enthroned and Czars were crowned prior to the dark years of Soviet rule. Thanks to the efforts of our Antiochian representative in Moscow, His Eminence Archbishop Niphon, the delegation was invited to participate in the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy with His Holiness.

An Open Letter to President Obama Regarding the Situation in Syria

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:

September 6, 2013

President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you with a heavy heart having heard the recent news of the attack on the ancient Christian city of Maaloula, Syria by the rebel forces.  This city houses one of the oldest and most important monasteries, the Monastery of St. Thekla, which is considered a holy place by both Christians and Muslims.

This attack by the rebel forces, who are supported by the U.S. government,  is an unspeakable act of terror, and speaks volumes to the viciousness of those rebel forces who seek to overthrow the Syrian government.  Apparently there is nothing that is sacred to these people, and it is very disturbing that these same people are being supported by our government.

Mr. President, we appeal to your humanity, and compassion for people to halt consideration of any U.S military action against the Syrian government.  This would be a deadly and costly action, and nothing can be gained by it.  If indeed chemical weapons have been used (and this is still to be determined by the UN inspectors who recently returned from Syria), there is no compelling evidence which points to the use of these weapons by the Syrian government.  On the contrary, there is some compelling evidence that the rebel forces had both the means and the will to launch such a heinous attack against innocent people, Christians and Muslims alike, who are all the children of God.

May our Lord and God guide you to find a peaceful solution which relies on negotiation and not bombs.

Sincerely

+Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba