Immediately following Bishop Basil's visit in late October, a team of five Russian artists, led by Dmitri Shkolnik, arrived at Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico to begin work on the temple's iconography. Working all day and into the night six days a week, the team managed to complete the church's dome and apse before returning to their families for the holidays three weeks later.
The choice of icons in the apse was driven by the parish's history and patronal feast. Fr. John Bethancourt has long felt a special guidance from the Mother of God in his efforts to build a mission and grow a parish community over the years. Therefore, the icon of the Mother of God Platytera, "More Spacious than the Heavens," was chosen to preside over the altar space. Above the altar is the icon of Pentecost, Holy Trinity's patronal feast. Towards the ceiling is the icon of the Annunciation, divided by the Holy Trinity at Abrahams table. Together with Pentecost, these icons depict three manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Fr. John also points out that the unusual juxtaposition of the Holy Trinity and Annunciation icons is full of meaning. This icon of the Trinity depicts the visitation of Abraham and Sarah, when the Lord promised to Abraham that he "shall surely become a mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him" (Genesis 18:18). This promise finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Annunciation, through which Jesus Christ comes into the world to save all.
"ALF MABROUK! A THOUSAND BLESSINGS! The central dome was raised today atop the new church temple being built by the congregation of St. Anthony the Great Church in Spring, Texas where Fr. Anthony Baba is proistamenos."
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando, Florida was founded in 1968. During the V. Rev. Fr. John Hamatie's thirty-seven year tenure the parish purchased and remodeled their church building, and also bought the office building and parking lot behind the Church. The parish has been a presence downtown since 1974, when the community established the annual tradition of Diving for the Cross in Lake Eola Park. Then in 1976 the parish celebrated their first liturgy in the church downtown, on the Fourth of July.
In 2009 in conjunction with the Ephraim Project, Fr. John began to put St. George's parking lot to good use during the week, when he established a weekly feeding for those he calls "our homeless brothers and sisters." Volunteers arrive earlier in the day to prepare food for between 150 and 200 people every Friday; meals are served in the outdoors in the same place that parishioners park on Sundays. "The Blessings deriving to us for over the last year of feeding 200 homeless men, women and children every Friday behind the Church is perhaps one of our greatest spiritual 'highs.' To be actually fulfilling a command of the Lord to love those closest in proximity is a wonderful thing."
DETROIT, MI [COCC] -- A fall benefit concert sponsored by the Council of Orthodox Christian Churches of Metropolitan Detroit [COCC] raised more than $5,000.00 for International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC].
The concert of "Music from the Twelve Great Feasts” was presented by the Orthodox Choir of Metropolitan Detroit on Sunday, October 17, 2010 at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Troy, MI.
The choir was conducted by Artistic Director Vickie Kopistiansky, who also conducts the choir at Holy Trinity Church [OCA], Detroit. Archpriest Paul Jannakos of Saint Mary Magdalene Church [OCA], Fenton, MI, provided commentary.
On October 30-31, 2010, the congregation of St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Church, located in Chantilly, Virginia, and its priest, Fr. Thomas Palke, gratefully received His Grace Bishop Thomas. Bishop Thomas' visit was his first to the mission since the mission's move to Chantilly from nearby Centreville, Virginia, where we had met for four years. Sayedna Thomas presided at Great Vespers on October 30, during which he offered words of instruction, admonition, and encouragement to the congregation. Afterward, the congregation enjoyed dinner and a mini-concert from violinist Michael Munayer, a member of St. Raphael's. Over dessert, Sayedna spoke briefly and opened the floor for questions from the faithful. Among other topics, he discussed with the faithful the prospect of administrative unity among the Orthodox churches in America. Joining the mission for the evening's events were Fr. John Anderson, attached priest of St. Raphael, Fr. Patrick Cardine of St. Patrick's Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA, Fr. Nicholas Aflord of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, D.C., and Deacon Peter Maris of Holy Cross Orthodox Church of Linthicum, Maryland.
His Grace Bishop Thomas recently visited St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York on the occasion of their patronal feast. Sayedna arrived in New York on Friday, December 3, 2010 and served liturgy for the feast of the Great-Martyr Barbara and St. John of Damascus on December 4 at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. The seminary hosted a lunch for His Grace together with the Antiochian students and staff. On Sunday, the feast of St. Saba, Bishop Thomas celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral and also celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas that day, followed by a dinner and dance in the Cathedral hall.
On November 13, 2010, the parish of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania warmly welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas on the occasion of their annual patronal feast day celebration. Sayidna Thomas began the weekend festivities by attending a dinner with the parish council members and their spouses on Friday evening.
On Saturday morning, His Grace presided at the Divine Liturgy concelebrated by the Very Reverend Fr. Peter Pier, pastor of St. John Chrysostom and Reverend Stephen Vernak of Christ the Savior OCA Church in Harrisburg. Following Divine Liturgy, Sayidna enjoyed breakfast and interaction with the children in the parish hall. In the afternoon, the Teen SOYO met with Bishop Thomas for a session of “Ask Sayidna.” Great Vespers was then concelebrated by Fr. Peter and Fr. Nicholas Alford of St. Gregory the Great Church in Washington D.C., with Bishop Thomas presiding. Following Great Vespers, a gala banquet was held at nearby Heritage Hills Resort.
Josephine Katzbach ("Josie"), a parishioner at St. Matthew Orthodox Church in North Royalton, Ohio, has returned from Haiti, where she successfully delivered 2200 flip flops for those in need.
An experience in Haiti was the source for Josie’s idea. Months ago while she worked there in a clinic building project, several aid workers had to escort an ill woman from a clinic in town back up the mountain. Struck by her lack of material possessions, Josie literally gave the woman the clothes off her back, with the exception of her ﬂip-flops, the only shoes that would fit Josie's swollen feet. So when she and her friend returned to Chicago, inspiration struck and Josie said, “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s do ‘ﬂip-ﬂops for Haiti.’”
Josie is no stranger to helping others. She takes food and water to the homeless in Cleveland twice a month with parishioners from St. Matthew’s or St. George of Cleveland. A “life-changing experience”– that’s how Josie describes her first trip to Haiti. Although the city’s poverty and devastation are great, the poverty is even more extreme in the mountains. “They are the poorest of the poor,” says Katzbach. The earthquake did not have as much of an effect on them; instead, poverty is a way of life.
On October 26, 2010, St. Matthew's held a fund raiser: "Flip Flops For Haiti All You Can Eat Italian Dinner." All proceeds went to benefit shipping and the distribution of flip flops. Josie's husband Mark and her sister Antonette chaired the affair, and the people of St. Matthew came forward and ate and gave, enabling Josephine to return to Haiti with several thousand shoes. Josie was able to distribute several hundred, while a Catholic priest and nun offered to deliver the remaining shoes to those in need.
It was the joy and delight of the faithful of Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico to welcome His Grace Bishop Basil on the weekend of October 30-31, 2010. In addition to the Divine Services, the weekend centered around a townhall-style meeting in which His Grace discussed the pan-Orthodox Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held in May 2010. Besides members of the Holy Trinity community, the meeting drew in visitors and clergy from nearby OCA and ROCOR churches.
Sayedna Basil presented a detailed background history of the Assembly of Bishops, accompanied by many stories of his work and meetings as EA Secretary. He particularly emphasized the need for Orthodox laypersons to contribute to the work of the EA in their areas of expertise. While acknowledging that events will unfold in God’s time, His Grace communicated an enthusiastic hope that the work of the EA may begin to bear fruits for Orthodoxy in America far sooner than many people might expect.
On October 23, 2010, Sayedna Basil, Bishop of Wichita and the Diocese of Mid-America, was the celebrant the Thyranoixia (Opening the Doors of a Church Temple) at the newly completed Holy Ascension Orthodox Mission in Norman, Oklahoma. The V. Rev. Justin McFeeters, Pastor of Holy Ascension, the V. Rev. Constantine Nasr of St. Elijah Church of Oklahoma City, as well as other local Orthodox priests, assisted His Grace. Great Vespers followed immediately. Bishop Basil celebrated a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy the next morning.
A crowd of over 150 attended the blessing of the church building. Later that evening a banquet was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel with attendees from throughout the Diocese and included many local guests. In his keynote address, Bishop Basil commended the members of the congregation for their faith, hard work and commitment to the realization of this holy endeavor. The completion of the project is all the more amazing due to the extremely small size of the parish family.
The ground breaking ceremony for the new temple was held on January 29, 2009. Many obstacles were overcome in the construction project, including the relocation of a natural gas pipeline, delaying sever winter weather conditions, and forced compliance with innumerable local governmental regulations not actually appropriate for the building of a church. By the grace of God, the temple was completed with its first service of Great Vespers being served on Saturday, August 14, 2010.