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).
During October 12-16, His Grace, Bishop Thomas made his annual pastoral visitation to St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, as well as making other stops in the Eastern Pennsylvania area. During his visit to St. Paul's, His Grace presided over the divine services, including the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. While there, His Grace noted the numerous upgrades and expansions to parish life that have been made during the administration of the current pastor, the Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, who was assigned to the pastorate of the parish in July 2009.
Since 2009, St. Paul's population has grown by 46%, and annual pledges have grown by 180%. During this time, multiple weekday services (including, in many cases, daily) have been instituted, as well as a vigorous program of adult education.
The St. George parish of Danbury, CT has celebrated two major events over the past few months.
A special Luncheon was held in August to honor The V. Rev. Fr. George Alberts on his 40th Anniversary as a priest. Father George and Kh. Carol have been a beloved part of our parish ever since they came to Danbury in 2002. Father is a noted scholar and teacher throughout our Diocese. We feel privileged to have him as our spiritual leader and to have Kh. Carol as our Church School director. God Grant Them Many Years!
On September 22nd, our own Bishop Nicholas graced us with his presence for the culmination of a year long celebration of 25 years at our present location. St. George Church has been an integral part of the community since 1924, with our new Church being consecrated in 1987 by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip.
St. George Church in Troy, Michigan recently celebrated both its 100th anniversary and the burning of its mortgage. The weekend began at the Troy Marriott on Friday, October 18th, 2013 with meetings of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board and the Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius, which continued through Saturday morning.
Saturday Evening Great Vespers took place at St. George's at 6:00p.m. followed by a Grand Banquet and the Burning of the Mortgage. The parish was honored to have six hierarchs present: His Eminence Metropolitan Philip; Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West; Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and the Southwest; Bishop Nicholas, Bishop of Brooklyn and assistant to the Metropolitan; Bishop Anthony Michael, Bishop of Toledo and the Midwest; and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Diocese of North America. All of these hierarchs' presence was welcomed with great joy.
On Friday evening, November 1, 2013, the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York commemorated our father among the Saints, Raphael (Hawaweeny) the Bishop of Brooklyn, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America. A series of services for his feast day included Great Vespers with Artoklasia, the Festal Matins, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn.
On October 19, 2013, the 19th Annual Synergy Symposium titled "The Book of Revelation" was hosted by St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois and its rector, Archpriest Nicholas Dahdal, Economos. Orthodox Christian Synergy sponsored the event, which featured speaker Fr. George Dragas, Professor of Patristics at Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Orthodox Christian Synergy is a pan-Orthodox organization of clergy and lay representatives from greater Chicago's Orthodox Christian parishes seeking to spread the Orthodox Christian faith. Synergy works together with its parent organization, the Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Greater Chicago, with the blessings of the Chicago-area Orthodox hierarchs. The audio of the Symposium is available on Ancient Faith Radio.
His Grace Bishop Thomas was welcomed to the Mission of St. Andrew the Apostle in Lewes, Delaware by an enthusiastic congregation for Vespers and the Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy the first weekend in October, 2013. The parishioners were also blessed to celebrate Sayidna's Name Day, commemorating the Apostle Thomas, on Sunday, October 6. MANY YEARS, SAYIDNA!
Our beloved Bishop congratulated the parishioners on progress since his last visit. New pews were in place, along with an imposing Bishop's Chair. Outside, the parking lot has been paved and landscaping was in place. Sayidna again spoke of the need to bring Christ and Orthodoxy to southern Delaware. St. Andrew is the only Orthodox Church in Sussex County and there is a great opportunity for sharing the Good News.
Bishop Thomas recently visited St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His Grace's visit began on the day of the parish’s Annual Golf Outing. Sayidna came to the game at the Sand Springs Golf Course in Drums, and after talking with some of the parishioners, launched the tournament at 1 p.m. by blessing all of the golfers. During the afternoon he enjoyed the beautiful Pennsylvania weather and foliage, and was escorted by The Very Rev. Fr. David Hester, the pastor of St. Mary, to watch the golfers play. Neither Sayidna nor Fr. David are golfers, but that did not stop them from noticing how well—or poorly—the play was going. At the end of the day there was a meal in the clubhouse, at which Sayidna blessed the food. Sayidna even discovered that one of the golfers, John Charles, was a Wilkes-Barre high school classmate of his mother.
On Saturday, September 28, Sayidna made his annual visit to his family’s hot dog restaurant, Abe’s on Main St., and he saw both family and parishioners in the very busy and popular restaurant.