On Sunday January 26th, 2014, St. George Church in Montreal, Quebec, Canada celebrated Godparents’ Sunday. It is a special day where Godparents, parents and grandparents get together with all the children for a special procession and blessing during Liturgy, followed by a get-together elongated coffee hour.
At the invitation of Economos Antony Gabriel, Pastor of St. George Church, his worship Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal, attended the Divine Liturgy on this special day. The mayor was accompanied by Mrs. Anie Samson, Mayor of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension Borough; Aref Salem City Councilor of St. Laurent Borough; and Joseph Daoura, City Councilor of Town of Mont-Royal. They were warmly received by a full attendance. At Fr. Antony’s request, the Mayor read the Epistle in French and then delivered a short speech in which he thanked the pastor and the parishioners for their kind hospitality, stressing that with hard work and perseverance, the city will improve its performance in attending to the interests and needs of its citizens and in fighting corruption.
AXIOS, he is worthy! With those words Deacon Mark McNary was ordained into the priesthood at St. Basil Orthodox Church in Metairie, Louisiana on December 15, 2013. He is now caring for the Holy Antimins on the altar of St. Peter Church in Fort Worth Texas—the very church where he attended his first Orthodox service in 2007.
On January 19, 2014, His Grace Bishop John, Auxiliary Bishop for Western Rite, officiated at the induction of Fr. Mark as the parish's third rector of the largest Western Rite parish in Texas. Kent Schmedel, senior warden of St. Peter's vestry, presented Fr. Mark with the keys to the sanctuary. Seven parishioners were also received into the Order of St. Ignatius. The parish then hosted a country western luncheon to welcome Bishop John and Fr. Mark to Fort Worth and presented each with his own special "Cowtown" hat.
On Sunday, January 5, 2014, the three Orthodox parishes in Butler, PA got together and served the Great Blessing of the Waters outdoors, at Lake Arthur in the Moraine State Park. The event was covered by journalists from Butler and Ellwood City, and even made the first page of the Butler Eagle!
The parishioners of St. Anthony Orthodox Church (Antiochian), St. Andrew (Orthodox Church in America), and Sts. Peter and Paul (Ukrainian) had grown accustomed to the beautiful practice of worshipping together on their patronal feast days and during Lent, or for the evening Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts. Yet the outdoor Blessing of Waters was a first. God sent us a relatively mild day in the middle of the famous "arctic vortex" which brought to the area some of the coldest temperatures in decades.
On December 24, 2013, St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was graced by the presence of His Grace Bishop Thomas to celebrate the feast of the Nativity. The cathedral celebrated the Hours of the Nativity, followed by the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil on the morning of Christmas Eve. Later that evening, His Grace celebrated Matins and Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, a blessed service in which Bishop Thomas ordained two men from the parish, Michael Janakis and John Norman, into the sub-diaconate.
During the service, Sayedna Thomas spoke about the significance of the feast, and the importance of being spiritually awake and keeping Christ as the true meaning of Christmas instead of other worldly ideas of the holiday. At the end of the service, Bishop Thomas inducted three very dedicated and inspired people into the Order of St. Ignatius. The congregation broke the fast together downstairs with a meal and much love and joy.
The faithful of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Raleigh, NC, were blessed by the archpastoral visit of His Grace, Bishop Antoun, the weekend of October 25-27, 2013. This was Bishop Antoun's first visit to the parish since consecrating the new nave in 2011.
The parish was especially pleased to present to Sayedna the new thronos, which has been installed for him on the south side of the nave, together with the new chanters' stand and stalls. These items were lovingly designed, carved, and assembled by a dedicated group of men in the parish, led by parishioner John Hawranick. This same group designed and built the parish's beautiful iconostasis, Altar Table, Table of Oblation, and Table of Preparation.
By Fr. Philip Rogers
On November 10, 2013, the Sunday closest to the feast of the Holy Archangels (November 8), His Grace Bishop Antoun blessed our community of Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Christian Church in Lafayette, Louisiana with a special hierarchical visit. It was a special visit because during the weekend, our community celebrated the burning of the mortgage of our first permanent building, a momentous occasion!
The faithful of our community came together on Saturday, November 9, to celebrate with His Grace Bishop Antoun and our previous pastor, the Very Rev. Fr. John Badeen. After a memorable dinner and a few remarks from our current pastor, Fr. Philip Rogers, our parish council chairman, Dr. Fadi Malek, Fr. John Badeen and Bishop Antoun, Fr. Philip and Dr. Malek held the mortgage and ceremoniously lit it on fire. All those present cheered as the fire destroyed the mortgage.
His Grace Bishop John visited Holy Trinity Mission in Lynchburg, Virginia over the weekend of November 23-24, 2013. After an unexpectedly prolonged sojourn at the Charlotte, North Carolina airport, Bishop John arrived in time to preach at Vespers after his solemn reception. On Saturday evening, His Grace was guest of honor at a dinner with the lay leadership of the mission. At Sunday Matins and Liturgy, His Grace eloquently wove all the Scripture readings together into their theme of Eucharist, answered questions at a festive coffee hour afterwards, and later treated Fr. Alban Waggener and Kh. Helen to dinner. It was a joyous weekend. We are greatly blessed with Bishop John's leadership and charisma as the overseer of the Western Orthodox churches of the Archdiocese.
It was a weekend like no other! For months we prepared for this special event, the highlight of this year, and our entire existence as a parish. Between September 27-29th, 2013, we were about to celebrate our 50th Anniversary as St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero!
Excitement built up when we knew that our beloved Metropolitan, His Eminence Sayidna Philip, would be presiding over the weekend's activities. We were also blessed with the presence of His Grace Bishop Antoun, Bishop of Miami and the Southwest, as well as His Grace Bishop Anthony of our diocese. We were also honored to have Subdeacon Rassem Massih, who accompanied the Metropolitan on this visit. Everyone from all ages were thrilled to be part of this historic celebration; a celebration of a parish that has faced obstacles in its history, but overcame them with faith and hard work!
On December 8th, the second Sunday of the month, our Antiochian Archdiocese will be celebrating Choir/Chanter Appreciation Sunday. While we appreciate our choir and chanters many other times throughout the year, for all the liturgical services they beautify and make possible with their singing and chanting, this is one Sunday that we especially acknowledge them particularly throughout the Archdiocese, and thank them for their ministry in the parish.
The first weekend in November was more than a normal weekend for the congregation of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Monessen, PA. The parish began the celebration of their 100th anniversary, first celebrating Great Vespers on Saturday evening. Bishop Thomas, Auxiliary Bishop of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, spoke after the service, encouraging us to honor our forefathers' and mothers' memories by working to keep the parish a healthy Orthodox presence in Monessen. On Sunday, Orthros and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Bishop Thomas and Bishop Basil, Auxiliary Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America. Following the Liturgy a 100th anniversary luncheon and program was held at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Hellenic Center.
St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church was founded in 1913 by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants as a place where Orthodox Christians were able to worship and seek salvation. The church was one of many that owes its organization to then Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny (St. Raphael).