(Adapted from The Word, March 2013)
Last fall, the Antiochian parish of St. Mary in Chambersburg, PA, began its fourth year of service to the surrounding community through the St. Seraphim Orthodox Center (SS OC). Affiliated with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS), the ministry serves lunch to some 35 to 45 guests on Thursdays and Saturdays, complimenting the lunch schedule of the local Salvation Army.
During his August 2012 visit to St. Mary Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Thomas repeatedly stressed the importance of the parish’s work at the Center in the downtown area, and urged parishioners to continue and extend this ministry to the wider community.
Over the weekend of February 23-24, 2013, St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Riverside, CA and its Rector The Very Rev. Dr. Josiah Trenham, hosted the first Southern California Symposium of the Saints Cyril & Athanasius of Alexandria Institute for Orthodox Studies. Titled "Prayer in the Church Fathers," the event featured His Excellency the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, St. Vladimir's Seminary Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, Institute Director The Very Rev. Dr. Irenei (Steenberg) and The Rev. Daniel Meyer (Antiochian Archdiocese, West Chester, PA), addressing the topic "Prayer and the Church Fathers."
On Sunday, His Eminence The Most Reverend Archbishop Joseph concelebrated with Metropolitan Kallistos for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. A photo gallery of His Eminence serving with Metropolitan Kallistos is posted on the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West website.
His Grace Bishop Anthony, who oversees the diocese of Toledo and the Midwest in the Antiochian Orthodox church, had the opportunity to attend St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Goshen, Indiana on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. It was the Bishop's first visit to the parish since his consecration in December of 2011. The parish was honored to have Bishop Michaels lead Divine Liturgy at the church, which has seen the recent completion of a two-month beautification project including the installation of several large-scale icons by parishioner Reader Brian Matthew Whirledge.
While in attendance, Bishop Anthony tonsured two parishioners, Adrian Sharp and Charles Bussard. Sharp was ordained a reader and Bussard was ordained a subdeacon.
For more information on the church and the Bishop's visit, go to www.stmarysorthodox.org.
His Grace Bishop Thomas came to visit St. Raphael of Brooklyn Church in Chantilly, Virginia on the weekend of December 15-16, 2012, and presided at Vespers on Saturday evening, as well as Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday.
This was the culmination of another successful year for the mission, which was established in 2006 and located 20 miles west of our nation’s capital. The mission has grown from 20 members to its present 140 under the leadership of Fr. Thomas Palke. The congregation has made the transition from setting up for Sunday liturgies in an established location that offers a sizable sanctuary, nave, and narthex, plus classrooms and a social area. During the past two years the parish has built an iconostasis that can be expanded as the congregation grows. A lovely platytera icon adorns the wall behind the altar, and the nave is surrounded with a complete set of festal icons.
The former Deacon A. Gregory Roeber of St. George Orthodox Church in Altoona was elevated to the priesthood as Father Anthony in services on Saturday, February 9, 2013.
The Right Reverend Thomas Joseph, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese was the ordaining hierarch. The ordination occurred during the bishop’s annual visit to the Altoona parish. He was assisted by priests and deacons from his diocese, the Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C., the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania, Orthodox Church in America, and the Carpatho-Russian Diocese of North America. The Very Rev. Anthony G. Yazge, Interim pastor of St. George, and the Very Rev. Donald E. Shadid, pastor of St. Mary Church, Johnstown were the sponsors for the new priest. Priests and deacons who concelebrated included The Very Rev. Nicholas Alford, Washington, D.C., The. Rev Joseph Gereige, visiting from Lebanon, The Very Rev. Nicholas Ferencz of Scranton, Pa.,The Rev.Deacon Glenn McIntyre, Brownsville, The Rev. Deacon David Jacobs, Antiochian Village, and The Rev. Deacon Alexander Cadman, State College. These clergy were assisted by Subdeacon Todd Mokhiber, Antiochian Village, Bolivar; and St. George members Subdeacon Joshua Kollat, Reader James Johns, and Acolyte Ethan Kollat.
The parishioners of St. Nicholas Church in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, enjoyed a multitude of blessings the weekend of January 4-6, with the first visit of our new beloved spiritual leader, Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. Saedna Anthony came to meet his cherished flock for the first time, celebrate with them the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy of St. Basil and the Great Blessing of Water, ordain two parish members, and bless the church's beautiful new iconostasis.
Members of parish council enjoyed a dinner with the bishop on Friday evening, and many met with Saedna Anthony on Saturday afternoon for an open, informal meet-and-greet and question-and-answer session. The friendly, edifying discussion covered a wide range of topics, from politics to the place of men and women in the church, to the growth of secularism and radical Islam throughout the world, to genetically modified organisms and the environment, to daily prayers and study. Parish members delighted in and found inspiration in the bishop's gentleness, warmth, wisdom, and good humor.
On Saturday during the celebration of Hierarchical Great Vespers, parish member Curtis John Dowling of Menomonee Falls was ordained as subdeacon, with laying on of hands by the bishop and repeated calls by parishioners of "he is worthy" in English, Greek and Arabic. All celebrated a banquet afterwards in the fellowship hall. On Sunday during Hierarchical Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, Dn. David Moga was ordained to the priesthood with more calls of "he is worthy." With His Grace Bishop Anthony and the Very Rev. Fr. William Olnhausen, the newly ordained Fr. David celebrated the Eucharist as priest for the first time. Bishop Anthony and the clergy and people next celebrated the Great Blessing of the Waters, sanctifying them again through the baptism of our Lord. Finally, the new iconostasis was blessed with holy chrism. A festive coffee hour and reception afterwards was enjoyed by all. Saedna Anthony stayed and presided from the throne as Fr. David celebrated Divine Liturgy on Monday morning.
His Grace Bishop Thomas visited St. Andrew Mission in Lewes, Delaware over the weekend of November 17th - 18th, 2012, and was welcomed by an appreciative congregation for Saturday Vespers and for the Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.
Bishop Thomas remarked: "What a difference a year makes!" The previous November we were still meeting at the Grange Hall. This time for Sayidna's visit, we had just been in the new building for six Sundays. It is good to be "home" and we enjoyed celebrating with our beloved bishop. We were encouraged to reach out to southern Delaware with the good news of Jesus Christ and the Holy Orthodox Faith. It was noted that St. Andrew's is the only Orthodox church in Sussex County and that we have a lot of people to reach. We ask your prayers.
During his August 2012 visit to St. Mary Church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Bishop Thomas repeatedly stressed the importance of the parish’s work at the St. Seraphim Orthodox Center (SSOC) in downtown Chambersburg and urged parishioners to continue and extend this ministry to the wider community.
His Grace was presented with a report on the Center written by one of the parish’s high school students, Ariel Wetzel, who gave an overview of the history of the SSOC, as well as excerpts from interviews she conducted among those engaged in the ministry.
On Saturday, August 25, 2012, Fr. Nabil Hanna and about 350 parishioners and friends of St. George Orthodox Church, Indianapolis, joined together for the service, "Founding a New Church," and the subsequent groundbreaking ceremony. Presided over by His Grace Bishop Anthony, the service took place on the new property where the parish will relocate once the new building is completed, in the neighboring community of Fishers, Indiana.
On September 19, construction commenced as the big diesel engines fired up in the earth moving machines. Construction continued despite the rain and the foundations were poured and progress was made, all under the able supervision of the construction manager, Mr. David Mouck. Forms for the lower level walls were up and filled with concrete.
On Saturday, November 17, the lower level slab was blessed and the Cross, icons, photos, prayers and mementos were placed into the foundation, under where the altar will be, before the workers poured the concrete for the floor. Next the bell tower was poured. Completion is expected by the summer of 2013.
On December 10, 2012, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that since mid-November, "piece by piece," Soleiman Shalhoub has been installing a stone iconostasis at St. George Orthodox Church. Last January, he began the project with the aid of fifteen employees, sketching out his designs and then carefully carving the Syrian stone quarried from mountains in the Holy Land.
“There’s no one else who does this kind of work,” Shalhoub said, noting that his technique has been passed down through his family for generations. Six tons of stone traveled by ship to New York in 1,700 pieces, arriving at about the same time as Hurricane Sandy made landfall. It was then transported via truck and train to Cedar Rapids.
Members of St. George's community have assisted with the project, providing meals and labor. The parish will celebrate with an open house in the spring once the icons are mounted in the completed stone iconostasis. "The finished piece, which will include red oak doors also designed by Shalhoub, will be unlike any other piece of art in Iowa," noted the Gazette.