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Building a Dream in Mississauga

"Unless the LORD BUILDS THE HOUSE, they labor in vain who build it" (Psalm 127:1)

On behalf of Rev. Fr. Elias Ayoub and St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, we are honoured and excited to announce the first-time visit of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, along with our diocesan Bishop, His Grace Alexander, over the Victoria Day weekend (May 16–17). This hierarchical honour is scheduled especially for the Ground-Breaking Ceremony and the Fundraising Gala.

Twenty years ago, our parish purchased a 3.2-acre property, centrally located in Mississauga, just west of Toronto. We continued to rent a local church, and were permitted to offer our Divine Liturgies on Sunday evenings only. We had to endure extra rental fees for all other liturgical ceremonies, and spiritual and social activities. Our parishioners always say "al kaneesa mesh men hajjar, al kaneesa men basher," an Arabic saying that translates roughly to "the Church is not made out of stones; the Church is made out of people." How true that is! While we firmly believe that we are His Church, all members of Christ's Body, we also recognize the practical needs of our community here in Mississauga. Every parish needs a physical church in which to carry out its liturgical, pastoral, educational, and social activities. Therefore we have been working very hard, determined to realize our community's dream: building our own St. Mary's Church.

Bishop Antoun Celebrates Palm Sunday in Jacksonville, FL

Archpriest Fr. Kamal Alrahil and the community of St. George Church in Jacksonville, Florida welcomed His Grace Bishop Antoun during the weekend of April 3rd-5th, 2015. He was warmly received on Friday April 3rd at the airport and was immediately taken to St. George Church Hall for a Lenten cover dish offered by the Ladies Auxiliary, who were making Palm Crosses.

On Saturday Morning, His Grace presided over the Divine Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday. A Lenten luncheon was prepared by the Sunday school and Teen Soyo. The youth and Sayedna enjoyed a lengthy question and answer discussion. That evening he presided over Vespers followed by dinner offered by the Parish Council.

On Palm Sunday Bishop Antoun presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, which was well attended by approximately 400 faithful people who gathered from the greater Jacksonville area to celebrate the Feast with Sayedna, who is greatly loved in our church community. On that day, Sayedna ordained our own son, Subdeacon Eric Bateh, to the holy Diaconate. Afterwards a Luncheon in honor of Eric's ordination was offered by his parents Ted and Jackie Bateh in the church hall to the whole community.

Bishop Thomas Visits St. Andrew Church + Lewes, DE

The mission community of St. Andrew the Apostle and Fr. Boniface Black welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas for the 2014 feast of the Dormition and following Sunday in comfortable and beautiful August summer weather.

The visit began with Vespers on Thursday evening, August 14th, and continued with Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on the Feast Day. Saturday Vespers and Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy rounded out a very blessed time of worship and Christian fellowship. All services were very well attended. Many summer visitors joined with parishioners for the Church Services and bountiful meals following, provided by the Antiochian Women of St. Andrew.

St. Willibrord Mission Celebrates Patronal Feast

St. Willibrord Mission in Holland, Michigan, celebrated their patronal feast with a beautiful Vigil service on the evening of November 6 and the Divine Liturgy on the morning of November 7, 2014. Fr. Steve Van Bronkhorst, the Mission’s pastor, shared the life story of this great saint, who spread the Orthodox Faith throughout the Netherlands in the 7th-8th centuries. Members of Holland’s predominantly Dutch community enjoyed learning about the man who first introduced Christ to their ancestors, and the Mission’s members thanked their patron saint for his faithful intercessions.

St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA Celebrates 110 Years

The 110th anniversary of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA was celebrated over the weekend of October 10-12, 2014. 

For the weekend Bishop Thomas presided over all of the events. On Friday morning the parish had the funeral of the oldest parishioner, Lorraine George, who was 98. Bishop Thomas arrived before to be able to serve the funeral.

On Friday evening there was a potluck dinner to which the parishioners brought many different kinds of delicious fast-day foods.  

On Saturday, Bishop Thomas went to visit his family’s restaurant in Wilkes-Barre and enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers from Abe’s Restaurant on Main Street. He reminisced there about his family during the meal. (View the photo gallery of the festive weekend.)

St. Patrick Orthodox Church Rebuilds after Fire

A new home for the parishioners of St. Patrick Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA, demonstrates that fresh beginnings can arise out of tragedy. Two years ago when their new church building burned to the ground before the parish even had a chance to move in, Fr. Patrick Cardine said that the community didn't ask "why?" but "what now?"

"The congregation of St. Patrick Orthodox Church had spent about $80,000" on the original building, Fr. Patrick Cardine explained to the Fauquier Now reporter who covered the story of the blaze in 2012. Later, the community of St. Patrick learned that an arsonist had set the fire. Undeterred, the priest and parish set out to rebuild, aided by generous contributions from members of the community and the Orthodox SICA Foundation. 

The new building will be fireproof, and larger than the original structure. "It's going to be a very interesting building," says Fr. Patrick, adding that it might be finished sometime in the fall of this year.

Read an article from the Wednesday, August 27, 2014 edition of the Fauquier Times.


In Time for the Dormition Fast: Taste & See II Cookbook

The Dormition Fast is almost upon us. Now is the perfect time for a new Orthodox fasting and feasting cookbook! Plus, for this month, it's ON SALE! Save $2 on every cookbook ordered by Thursday, July 31. Orders must be placed online via PayPal or mailed and postmarked by July 31 to receive the discount.

Taste & See II: More American Orthodox Cooking is a sequel to the much loved Taste & See Cookbook published in 1999.  With the help of 150 contributors at 63 parishes in 27 states across America, this cookbook has been published by the Women of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The Taste & See Cookbooks have been created to help American cooks prepare meals that conform to traditional Orthodox fasting guidelines while appealing to an American palate. Preparing meals during the fast should be as simple and stress-free as possible to allow ourselves more time for prayer, almsgiving and attending the services.

Bishop Antoun Visits Our Lady of Regla + Miami, FL

On Holy Thursday, 2014 (April 17th), His Grace Bishop Antoun visited Our Lady of Regla Church in Miami, Florida. During his visit, His Grace ordained Reader Christian Abril and Subdeacon Serafín Hernández and presided at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy according to the Western Rite.

The Liturgy was served by the parish's Pastor, Canon Michael Lobo, and assisted by Priest Elias Bouboutsis, Subdeacons Samuel Diaz and Serafín Hernández and Readers Skye Diaz and Christian Abril. Bishop Antoun recalled in his homily the institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion and the mandate of Our Lord to his disciples “Do this in remembrance of me”, a commandment the universal Church has kept throughout the ages into our own time.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, a Lenten reception was held in the parish hall during which parishioners and guests were able to meet and talk to Sayedna Antoun and congratulate the newly ordained Subdeacon and Reader.

It was a joy for the parish community to welcome Bishop Antoun at this important date of the Church calendar, and we wish him a happy and healthy tenth anniversary as our diocesan bishop. Many Years! EIS POLLA ETI DESPOTA!

Bishop Thomas visits St. Gregory Parish in Washington D.C.

The people of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington D.C. were happy to welcome His Grace Bishop Thomas on the weekend of May 10-11, 2014. The occasion for this visit was to celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of our church building. In 2006 St. Gregory's congregation bought a townhouse which had been converted to a Protestant church. The community subsequently renovated it and made it suitable for Orthodox worship. On May 5 and 6 of 2007, Bishop Thomas performed the ceremonies for dedication. This year was the first that he was able to return for this annual celebration.

Bishop Thomas Visits Holy Ascension Church + West Chester, PA

On March 1st and 2nd, 2014, Holy Ascension Church in West Chester, Pennsylvania was blessed by the presence of His Grace Bishop Thomas to celebrate the beginning of Great Lent. Bishop Thomas celebrated several services at the parish, including Sunday liturgy.

During the Sunday service His Grace gave a very personal homily where he confessed his own sins to the congregation and spoke of the importance of Great lent as a time of spiritual self-reflection. At the end of the service, Bishop Thomas inducted two parish members into the Order of St. Ignatius. After lunch His Grace meet with the children of the parish and spent time with them. The day concluded with the service of Forgiveness Vespers.