"'Kyrie eleison,' the congregants intone, while at the altar, a retired cop-turned-Orthodox priest performs rituals as old as Christianity. When he steps down to face the crowd, he delivers a sermon like a country preacher, sweat beading on his forehead. 'Some of us here are former Methodists,' says the Rev. James Hamrick, wearing white vestments over a black cassock, addressing two-dozen worshippers scattered sparsely through the pews. 'Some of us were former Lutherans. Some of us were former Episcopals. Evangelicals. Non-denominational Christians. Pentecostals. But the one single factor that is common to all of our journeys — no, not where we come from — is that fact that we pursued the truth of God’s self-revelation.'"
Dept. of Western Rite News
The Very Reverend W.S. Paul Schneirla, longtime pastor at St. Mary Church in Brooklyn, New York, fell asleep in Christ on Saturday, September 20th, 2014 at the age of 98. May his memory be eternal!
Father Paul was ordained an Antiochian priest in 1943, and served parishes in Iron Mountain, MI and Allentown PA, before moving to New York to serve at St. Mary's in Brooklyn from 1951 until his retirement in August, 2002. He served in many capacities within the Archdiocese for 71 years, including: the first chairman of the Department of Christian Education, the dean of the Atlantic Deanery, the first editor of The Word magazine, and as the Archdiocese's Ecumenical Officer.
As a young man, Fr. Paul had converted to Orthodoxy from a Protestant background, and thus years after his ordination, his interest in the Western Rite was kindled by a visit to one of the Rite's parishes within the Romanian Orthodox jurisdiction in Paris, France.
The biennial conference of the Western Rite Vicariate will be held Tuesday, August 5 through Friday, August 8 on the beautiful lakeside campus of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Seminary and St. Mary’s Preparatory in Orchard Lake, Michigan.
The theme for this year's conference will be based on St. Paul's words to the Corinthians:
"Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." (1 Cor. 9.25)
Presentations will focus discipline and the spiritual life.
Bishop JOHN (Abdalah), Auxiliary Bishop for the Western Rite Vicariate, will attend and will address the clergy and laity. Other presenters include V. Rev. Patrick Reardon, V. Rev. Chad Hatfield, and V. Rev. Edward Hughes, Vicar General for the Vicariate.
Mass will be celebrated daily, together with Vespers and Lauds (or Morning Prayer).
The conference begins with Vespers at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, 5 August, followed by a formal welcome by His Grace, Bishop JOHN. Presentations will be given on Wednesday and Thursday, and will include the Bishop's address to participants. The final presentation, by Fr Hughes, will be on Friday morning. The Conference concludes at noon on Friday, 8 August.
In addition to the presentations, ample free time is scheduled for prayer and conversation. Participants will be able to visit the Galeria (an art museum dedicated to Polish history), the campus Grotto, and other sites on the spacious campus. Participants may also join a pontoon excursion to Apple Island where Chief Pontiac is visited and perhaps was buried, according to legend.
The Western Rite Vicariate announces the publication of ORDO 2014. This booklet is the official liturgical guide for all Western Rite parishes in the Vicariate. It contains directions for reciting the Divine Office and celebrating the Mass according to the calendar and use of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. It contains rubrics for both the Rite of St. Gregory with the Monastic Diurnal, and the Rite of St. Tikhon with The English Office.
The ORDO 2014 is available in both print and electronic formats. Copies may be purchased at the St. Luke’s Priory Press Store on Lulu: www.lulu.com/spotlight/frfenton.
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.
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.
On Saturday in the Fourth Week after the Octave of Easter on June 8, 2013, His Grace Bishop John ordained Subdeacon James Tochihara to the office of Deacon at St. Mark's Orthodox Church in Denver, CO, . Deacon Patrick is assigned to St. Mark in Denver. Three young men were also ordained Readers. Father John Connely celebrated Mass following the ordinations. Axios! Ad multos annos! Many Years!
On the Feast of Pentecost on June 23, at St. Peter's Orthodox Church in Ft. Worth, TX, His Grace ordained Deacon Robert Weber to the Holy Priesthood. Father Robert is the non-stipendiary curate at St. Peter, and Fr. Daniel Keller sponsored Father Robert for ordination. Axios! Ad multos annos! Many Years!
On Ember Saturday in Pentecost, June 29 at the Parish Life Conference (PLC) for the Diocese of Worcester and New England, His Grace Bishop John ordained Subdeacon Benjamin Kjendal to the Holy Diaconate. Then on Trinity Sunday, June 30, His Grace ordained Deacon Benjamin Kjendal to the office of Priest in the Orthodox Church. Father Benjamin is assigned to St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Springfield, Massachusetts.
MEMORY ETERNAL! Our beloved and highly esteemed brother and concelebrant in the sacred mysteries Fr. Anthony Miller, proistamenos at St. Peter Church in Fort Worth, Texas, fell asleep in Christ around midnight after a long and heroic battle with cancer at the age of 54. Fr. Anthony is survived by his wife Khouriya Kim and their three children Carla, Luke and Matthew. Fr. Anthony was also the spiritual advisor for the Order of St. Ignatius in the Diocese of Wichita.
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.
By Fr. John W. Fenton
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, one God.
In less than two weeks, we will be celebrating the Queen of Feasts, the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Even now, we should be eagerly anticipating this feast. For it is the highlight not of spring, but the highlight of our life in God. And even if you’ve not been successful thus far at keeping the fast—not merely the fast from food, but the more important fast from sin; and not merely the abstention from meat but the abstention from mean-speaking and thoughtless prayer and living as if you mattered most—even if you’ve struggled with this Lent’s fast, nevertheless we should all be longing to delight in the gracious invitation that St. John Chrysostom will once again issue on Easter Day. And to see the resplendent gold and candlelight, to repeat the uplifting hymns, to add our vigorous Amen to the prayers that warm our hearts—that should even now increase our expectation to celebrate this joyous day.
Saint Michael the Archangel Orthodox Christian Church, a Western Rite congregation in the Antiochian Archdiocese, hosted The Right Rev. Bishop Basil (Essey), Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, for its first Divine Liturgy in its new church temple in Park City, KS, on April 7, 2013. This service on the third Sunday in Lent was a significant milestone in the life of the parish which has experienced many challenges and successes in the nine years of its existence.
St. Michael’s began when Fr. John Flora and a group of his former Episcopal parishioners sought to become members of the Orthodox Church. Father John and 37 members were accepted as catechumens by Bishop Basil in the narthex of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita on Dec. 31, 2003.
During the time St. Michael's parishioners were catechumens, they attended services in the Cathedral and later held morning prayer services in the chapel at St. George. Father John was ordained on Pascha, 2004, and St. Michael’s then celebrated Divine Liturgy in the cathedral chapel until it moved into a rented space of its own in March 2010.
The Western Rite Vicariate announces the publication of ORDO 2013. This booklet is the official liturgical guide for all Western Rite parishes in the Vicariate. It contains directions for reciting the Divine Office and celebrating the Mass according to the calendar and use of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. It contains rubrics for both the Rite of St. Gregory with the Monastic Diurnal, and the Rite of St. Tikhon with The English Office.
The ORDO 2013 is available in both print and electronic formats. Copies may be purchased at the St. Luke’s Priory Press Store on Lulu: www.lulu.com/spotlight/frfenton.
(Wappingers Falls, NY) On Thursday, October 25, 2012, His Grace Bishop Thomas was invited to attend a ROCOR Western Rite ordination at the Mount Alvernia Franciscan Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, New York. His Grace Bishop Jerome, the ROCOR bishop of Manhattan and Vicar of the Diocese of Eastern America, presided over the ordination of Dn. Mark Rowe to the Holy Priesthood, and served as the principal celebrant at the Divine Liturgy. Bishop Jerome, who is bi-ritual and fluent in Latin, adorned western vestments and conducted the ordination service in the Western Rite, and said the Divine Liturgy (Mass) almost exclusively in Latin.
Father James Hamrick, an Antiochian Western Rite priest serving as pastor of St. John the Baptist Mission in Lewistown, Maryland, accompanied Bishop Thomas to the ordination. Bishop Jerome invited Fr. James to participate in the laying-on of hands during the ordination, and to concelebrate at the Mass which followed Fr. Mark’s ordination to the priesthood. Other ROCOR clergy who assisted in the service included Subdn. Anthony Bondi and Fr. Nathan Monk.
Father Mark Rowe was originally ordained an Anglican clergyman in 1997, and in 1998 was assigned as the rector of St. Mary the Virgin in Tampa, FL. Father Mark originally met Bishop Thomas in about 1998, prior to Bishop Thomas’ elevation to the episcopate, while (then Fr. Thomas) was still serving as a priest at St. Nicholas in Pinellas Park, Florida. It was in the years following that Fr. Thomas was instrumental in introducing Fr. Mark and his parishioners to Holy Orthodoxy.
The biennial conference of the Western Rite Vicariate will be held Monday, August 7 through Friday, August 10 at St. Gregory’s University and Abbey in Shawnee, OK.
The theme for this year’s conference will be based on St. Paul’s words to the Philippians:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.” (Phil 4.8-9)
Presentations will focus on the attraction of personal holiness.
Bishop John (Abdalah), Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester and New England and newly appointed Auxiliary Bishop to oversee the Western Rite Vicariate, will attend and will be one of the featured speakers at the conference.
by Fr. John W Fenton, Assistant to the Vicar General
For all Orthodox Christians, the Holy Season of Lent begins on the First Sunday in Lent (4 March in 2012), and the Lenten fast begins a few days prior. For Byzantine Orthodox Christians, the First Day of the Great Fast is on the Monday before the First Sunday in Lent; and for Western Orthodox Christians the Lenten fast begins on the Wednesday before, commonly known as Ash Wednesday.
While both traditions observe a 40 day fast, the different starting dates for the fast are related to how the fast is calculated. Early on in the West, the Lenten included every day including Saturdays but never included Sundays. Therefore, in order to achieve 40 days, since the 7th century the Western Orthodox have fast not only for six fully weeks (i.e., 36 days) but also four additional days. Hence, for about 1400 years the Lenten fast in the West has begun on the Wednesday before the First Sunday in Lent.
It is not clear when the Wednesday beginning the Lenten fast began to include the imposition of ashes. Originally, the imposition of ashes was one of several public rites required of those penitents who wished to be restored to the church. As early as the 4th century, these rites were associated with a 40 day fast. Most likely this fast was the Lenten fast, but the evidence is too thin to be conclusive. What does seem clear is that, by the end of the 10th century, it was customary in Western Europe (but not yet in Rome) for all the faithful to receive ashes on the first day of the Lenten fast. In 1091, this custom was then ordered by Pope Urban II at the council of Benevento to be extended to the church in Rome. Not long after that, the name of the day was referred to in the liturgical books as “Feria Quarta Cinerum” (i.e., Ash Wednesday).
By Fr. Dn. Stephen Holley, St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church, Whittier, CA
And He spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
According to the Epistle [Romans 15.4-13], the theme of today’s liturgical celebration is the joining together of the Holy Scriptures and Hope. Two things that are very precious to us as we wait for Christ’s return, are both Faith and Hope. They both have their foundation in the Holy Scriptures. The believer in Christ walks by Faith and, at the same time, rests in Hope.
2012 calendars are in both Western and Byzantine editions are now available from Lancelot Andrewes Press:
This Calendar has full color plates of English stained glass for every Month. It is full of Saints and observances of the Universal Church. It should be a most attractive aid to children, youths, and adults in learning the incredible richness of the Christian Year. It should be helpful to clergy and Church workers in planning Parish and School events in harmony with the customary observances day by day. Of course, no Calendar could perfectly bridge all of Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican variants. However, we think the result of making a “chock full of Saints” Calendar is instructive, fun, and practical in many instances.
This “Complete Church Calendar” for 2012 conveniently includes boxes already filled to every corner with Saints’ Days and Holy Days.
The most popular book in Russia before the Communist era was “The Little Flowers” of St. Francis of Assisi. Often the suffering laity in their prayers find more spiritual resources in the company of Saints than the various official calendars would suggest.
The “Complete Church Calendar” is available with the Western Easter Date, 8 April 2012 for Catholics and Anglicans. (West2010)
We offer a similar edition with the Orthodox Paschal date, 15 April 2012 (Byz2012) All the days (Lent, Holy Week, etc.) dependent on the Easter Date are calculated accordingly.
Additionally, we offer a narrowly Orthodox Calendar (Ex2012) without most of the popular Saints and yet geared to the public worship of the Orthodox parishes. And so three Church Calenders for 2012:
Recently, St. Patrick Orthodox Church was featured in the Warrenton, Virginia, Lifestyle magazine. Part of a series about local houses of worship, the colorful article presented the life of the community of St. Patrick in both text and photographs.
The author writes, "St. Patrick's Orthodox Church is strongly committed to being a vibrant witness of the Orthodox faith for their community. The congregation is made up of seniors, young singles and couples, families and many children, In Orthodoxy, the path of salvation is clear: we confess our sins regularly, we partake in our Lord's Body, we read (and sing) the Scriptures, we feed and clothe the poor, we fast, and we pray that we may be continually more filled with love for God and man."
During the upcoming Archdiocese Convention in Chicago, the Department of Western Rite (Western Rite Vicariate) will offer a special presentation for all by the V. Rev. Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon on Wednesday, July 27.
Under the theme “What Benefits Does Western Orthodoxy Offer Eastern Orthodoxy,” Father Patrick will talk about “Christ as Mediator.” Following his presentation, there will be opportunity to ask questions related to his presentation.
Father Patrick’s presentation will begin at 10:45 a.m. and conclude by 12:30 p.m.
Parish priests attending the convention, along with lay delegates and guests, are invited to attend this session.
Following Fr Patrick’s presentation, the priests serving Western Rite parishes will gather for a closed session for a discussion with the Vicar General.
May God bless you and grant you safe travels to Chicago.
By V. Rev. Edward Hughes
Vicar General of the Western Rite
On Friday, June 24, 2011, on the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Bishop Thomas, the bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, made an episcopal visit to the faithful at St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Lewistown, Maryland. St. John the Baptist Mission is the only Western Rite church in Maryland, and is one of only four Antiochian Orthodox churches in the United States that has taken the Forerunner of Christ for their name and patron saint. Bishop Thomas’ visitation coincided with the mission’s celebration of their annual patronal feast.
The celebration began with evening Vespers, followed by the tonsuring of Reader Jude (Marty) Hobbs by Bishop Thomas. The fact that Marty keeps a shaved head gave occasion for a bit of levity as Bishop Thomas took up the scissors, looked at Marty’s head, and proclaimed, “We’ll see what we can do here!” A bit of Marty’s goatee was sufficient for the ritual tonsuring, and with the prayers of consecration said by His Grace, the newly tonsured Reader Jude chanted his first epistle reading from Philippians 2 before Bishop Thomas and the people of St. John the Baptist.
On March 19, 2011, His Grace Bishop Thomas visited the congregation of St. Patrick’s Western Rite Orthodox Mission in Warrenton, Virginia. Since the establishment of the mission, Sayidna Thomas has been a great encouragement, always offering his time, guidance, and love. He is a true shepherd and spiritual father of the community. After greeting and giving his blessing to a group of smiling children, Bishop Thomas prayed alongside Fr. Patrick Cardine during Solemn Vespers. In the midst of worship he spoke with ardent love about our Most Holy Mother’s betrothed husband, St. Joseph. As though recounting the life of a dear and close relative, Sayidna told the story of St. Joseph’s deep faith, humility, and trust in God. His words could not have painted more clearly the reality that our Holy Church is truly one large family. Indeed, “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”!
by Peter Kavanaugh
After a year and a half on Mt. Olympus I prepared for my return back to America. I did not know what would await me there, and was a little anxious about leaving behind the awesome Grace of God I had experienced in Greece.
It was in the spring of 2008 that I began my life at the Holy Monastery of St. Dionysius of Mt. Olympus. I had gone there because I wished to live in an environment where Orthodoxy was deeply embedded into everyday life. There I found a community of lay people and clergy with a Christianity that was not, in the popular sense of the word, just a “religion” (in the popular sense of the word), or merely a set of dogmas and rituals, nor was it just “what we do on Sundays.” Instead, their faith was to be found even in the way they drink their coffee, in their daily expressions and habits, in their hospitality and lack of anxiety, and especially in their love for one another.
I was especially impressed by how natural and uncontrived their religion was. For them Orthodoxy was not exotic or foreign. It was simply life. One day followed another as these monks engaged in ancient, beautiful traditions. But as time passed by, it was no longer the elaborate robes and rituals that impressed me. Behind everything they did there was a spirit. Their faith, expressed through their Byzantine traditions, consisted of something much deeper and transcendental. There was a quiet power in their hearts and behind their eyes. This gradually became much more apparent and alluring. I went to Greece seeking to find the height of Orthodox expression. When I left, I simply wanted to find God.
On behalf of the Orthodox Oblates of St. Benedict from St. Michael Orthodox Church in Whittier, we cordially invite you to attend our annual Lenten Retreat on Saturday, March 19, 2011, at the church property - 3333 Workman Mill Rd. Whittier, CA. 90601. The Retreat Conductor will be Rev. Fr. Paul Olson from St. Nicholas Cathedral in L.A. Fr. Paul will speak on the topic: "COMMUNION DEVOTIONS - What Do They Teach Us."
The retreat will be held from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., and it will include the Office of Oblates, Western Rite Liturgy, several sessions with our speaker, time for question and answers, quiet time to reflect and read, and time to meet with clergy if you so desire. In keeping with the Western Rite, this retreat will be in silence, so please be prepared for that. Snacks and lunch will be served, and there is no charge for the day.
In order to be properly prepared for the day, please RSVP to the church, (562) 692-6121. Please spread the word and invite your friends and family to join us for this special day. Fliers will be mailed this week to the local parishes. We encourage everyone to take time away from their busy lives so that this Lenten Season will bring you much peace and joy.
The Oblates support the Whittier Pregnancy Crisis Center, which assists mothers in crisis pregnancies and helps them to either keep their babies or find adoptive families for them. We are collecting newborn diapers, and if you would like to contribute some, that would be most appreciated.
by Fr. John W. Fenton
The Theme of the Season
The holy season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes with the Easter Vigil. It is a 40-day season of instruction in the Christian Faith, and devotion on Our Lord’s merciful passion. During this season, mortification of the flesh, through self-denial, is practiced both with the Church and individually.
The Parts of this Season
The season of Lent is divided into three distinct parts:
- Lent proper begins with Lauds Ash Wednesday and concludes just before First Vespers on Passion Sunday. Instruction in the Faith is the central liturgical focus.
- Passiontide begins with First Vespers on Passion Sunday (2 weeks before Easter) and concludes with Vespers on Holy Wednesday. Meditation on Our Lord’s Passion is the central liturgical focus.
- The triduum sacrum (“holy three days”) begins with Lauds on Maundy Thursday and concludes with Compline (follow the Vigil Mass) on Holy Saturday. Meditation on the Paschal Mystery is the central liturgical focus.
The Three Disciplines of Lent
The mortification of the flesh, or the putting to death of the passions which hinder attainment of the kingdom of heaven, is practiced with three disciplines of self-denial during Lent. These disciplines are not individual, but communal; and they are not optional, but obligatory. For Holy Church understands that the practice of these disciplines both increases the Paschal joy of the faithful, and aids the soul living the fullness of the faith.
These three disciplines are: