The following excerpts are from the Director of the Department of Christian Education Carole Buleza's address to Sunday School teachers. The full text is available in the September 2013 edition of The Word.
All of us teachers, I trust, begin the Church School Year with the hope that our efforts will produce in our students a closer relationship to Jesus Christ. In my conversations with teachers through the years, the same concerns come up — the children don't come regularly to Church but it's not their fault; we can't have church school for more than 20 minutes without parents coming to get their children; our materials are not engaging the children. Except for the last, which I hope to address soon, these are, and will continue to be, perennial concerns. What can be done?
I teach high school at my parish, St. John Chrysostom, in York, Pennsylvania. My students are not in the same high school and don't get to see each other during the week. They went to get refreshments right after Divine Liturgy and it was hard to get them to class on time. I made a deal with them.
Founding pastor of the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, The Very Rev. George Shalhoub, has released a book titled The Mystery of Love and Marriage. An associate professor at Madonna University as well as a priest of many years, Fr. George draws from more than 40 years of experience in counseling, teaching and educating the community on the foundations of a healthy relationship. His book provides practical advice about healthy living in a complicated and fast paced world, and about how to live a balanced way of life.
"This book is a roadmap for anyone looking to be in a relationship,' said Fr. George Shalhoub. "The Mystery of Love and Marriage exposes the truths to communication, forgiveness and unconditional love, all the scariest and most important pieces of being in a partnership."
The Assembly of Bishops reports:
"In an unprecedented action, two Orthodox Christian churches—one Greek and one Antiochian—have merged together to form a new parish in northeastern Tennessee. Holy Resurrection (AOCA) in Johnson City and Holy Trinity (GOA) in Bluff City joined together in their first liturgy on June 23, the Feast of Pentecost. The new parish, which has taken the name Christ the Savior, comes under the jurisdiction of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The parish is served by Fr. Stephen Mathewes, an Antiochian priest who had been assigned to Holy Resurrection.
Holy Trinity and Holy Resurrection were originally mission parishes, founded in 1984 and 1997 respectively. Despite the dedication of their members, both parishes had struggled in recent years. According to Fr. Mathewes, 20-30 parishioners attended Holy Resurrection for Divine Liturgy on a typical Sunday. "With a church that small, if one person comes or one goes, it's a major change. It's devastating if a family moves away or leaves. You feel all those ripples and waves."
For the last several years Holy Trinity had not had a full-time priest. The parish was served by visiting priests who would celebrate liturgy once every 2-3 weeks.
The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of Saint Mary in Livonia, MI, praises God for all His blessings, as the Lord provides us with multiple opportunities to serve our beloved children—God's inheritance. They are our greatest gift from the Lord.
Every summer, the Basilica of St. Mary hosts both a weekly "Camp St. Mary" ministry program for our children 13-17 years of age, and a one- week Vacation Bible School ministry program for children 3-12 years of age. The goal of the summer programs is to teach the children the meaning of Christ's two greatest commandments: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All the activities are designed to instill these spiritual truths into the lives of our children by teaching them how to be strong in their faith, and how to represent Christ to the world.
"For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matthew 25:35-36
The faithful of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, PA have organized in an effort to identify and locate newcomers who are seeking refuge in the United States, reports the Very Rev. Anthony Sabbagh. "The largest Syrian community in the United States is here in the Allentown area," explains Fr. Anthony. "People in Syria are contacting their relatives to come to the United States in order to escape persecution and poverty; their homes are demolished, their jobs are gone. Their families here can apply for them to come since our government has opened the doors for Syrians, who are now coming to Allentown in numbers."
Serve the LORD with gladness; Know that the LORD, He is God! (Psalm 100: 2-3.) The Faithful of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Beckley, West Virginia welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas during the weekend of May 17 – 19, 2013 for his annual pastoral visit. The weekend was marked by glorious worship to our Lord with His Grace presiding, and many opportunities for meaningful fellowship.
After dinner on Friday evening, Sayidna Thomas met with the members of the Parish Council in the parish conference room. During the meeting, there was an important and informative discussion in which Sayidna provided an update on his activities in the diocese and a very informed perspective of the situation in Syria and our suffering Antiochian Patriarchate. The Parish Council members updated His Grace on the various activities of the parish, parish council and especially the charitable outreach activities of the Women of the Holy Myrrhbearers. Other topics of interest to the local parish were also discussed, as Sayidna answered questions from each of the Parish Council members.
By Fr. James Coles, St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, Mesa, AZ
A new, and lively, cohort of doctoral students gathered May 19-24, 2013 at the Antiochian Village to begin a three-year journey toward, as St. Gregory The Theologian put it, "hieratiki syneithesis" (priestly consciousness) in the D. Min. program through the Antiochian House of Studies. Under the tutelage of Director The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Allen, and with the wonderful opportunity of the participation of The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn as a fellow student, we spent five days delving deep into the knowledge and love of God the Father.
Fr. Patrick Cardine of St. Patrick Church in Warrenton, Virginia writes:
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Work on the new building has commenced, the foundation trench has been dug and we are proceeding onto the next phase. Also the Fauquier Times Democrat ran a nice article in the paper today. Part of the article may be viewed at www.fauquier.com/news/article/fauquier_parish_breaks_ground_for_new_church.
Below are some pictures of the site blessing. It was a wonderful day and we missed all who could not be with us.
God Bless you,
St. Patrick Church's original building was burnt to the ground in July 2012 in a fire set by an arsonist. For more information on the parish's building project or to make a donation, please visit the St. Patrick Orthodox Church Building Project web page.
Construction is underway on a new Byzantine-style temple for St. Mary Church in Hunt Valley (Baltimore), Maryland. From the St. Mary Church Website:
There is soon to be a new light of Orthodox Christianity in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The parish family of St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church are struggling to build a church that will be connected to the existing hall in which they currently celebrate all Liturgical services and social events. The new St. Mary’s Church will be fashioned in ancient Byzantine style and will be endowed with emblematical notions all carefully crafted to glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. All aspects of the architectural design are deeply and religiously symbolic, inspired by a desire to create a spiritually tangible testament to the beauty of our Lord and His creation.
Psalms 99:2 commands us to “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with great joy.” St. Michael Church in Van Nuys, California did just that when it came together on the weekend of January 12-13, 2013 to honor and celebrate the 30 years of joyous service in the holy priesthood of their pastor, the Very Rev. Timothy Baclig.
The festivities began with the celebration of Great Vespers, presided by Archbishop Joseph with several clergy from throughout southern California in attendance. We then proceeded to our community center ballroom that was decorated with an elegant Hawaiian theme in honor of Fr. Timothy’s birthplace.
It was a joy for our parish to have Fr. Timothy’s son Michael, daughter-in- law Rebekah, and his grandchildren “home” with us for the weekend. Additionally, we were delighted to welcome several members of the Baclig family, many who came from Hawaii, including his brother and sister-in-law Andy & Rosemary Baclig, Jr., his sister Carol Bissen, along with Father’s nieces, nephews and cousins.