Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity


IOCC Supports Earthquake Relief Efforts of the Greek Archdiocese of New Zealand

March 1, 2011

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — As survivors begin to piece back their lives in the New Zealand city of Christchurch following a 6.3 magnitude quake that struck on February 22, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New Zealand has initiated efforts to provide assistance to those who have lost homes and places of work. The death toll in Christchurch stands at 148, but authorities expect it to rise to near 200.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is working to support relief efforts personally led by His Eminence Archbishop Amfilochios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New Zealand and Exarch of Oceania who visited Christchurch just days after the initial quake to assess the damage and the needs of the people. Emergency supplies such as water, blankets, food and other essential items are being provided for families affected by the earthquake.

The IOCC response is being coordinated through the Chancellor of the Archdiocese in New Zealand, Fr. Christodoulos Papadeas, who previously served at Brotherhood of St. George in Denver, Colo. Also providing support is Fr. Amphilochios Basiltiotellis of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary parish in Christchurch.

Fr. Paul Patitsas, who previously served parishes in Rocky River, Ohio and Albuquerque, New Mexico, is part of IOCC's Emergency Response Network and is working with IOCC directly to manage the response. The "Frontline" as the network is known, is made up of Orthodox clergy and laity volunteers who are trained and experienced in emergency response.

OCMC Launches New Hunger Strike Program for Youth

By Carolyn Kouracos

“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

Hunger Strike is a new youth ministry of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). Launched this year on a national level, Hunger Strike is already becoming a growing youth movement. Started at St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, CA three years ago, this vibrant ministry has already raised more than $10,000 and has Orthodox Christian teens striving to make a difference in the world by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and giving to those in need.

Hunger Strike is coordinated by local parishes, where teens fast for 30 hours while they participate in activities which raise both awareness and money for the needs of those throughout the world who suffer the effects of poverty and who hunger for the hope found in Christ.

"Souper Bowl of Caring" Sunday is February 5

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) 

Dear Reverend Fathers, Youth Leaders, and Church School Directors, 

Souper Bowl Sunday 2012 is coming! Team up with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and SOYO in our 14th annual Souper Bowl of Caring. Rally your parish and church youth to champion this social service ministry by feeding the poor and caring for those in need around the world. 

It's easy! Just follow the simple guidelines to lead your youth towards recognition as Souper Bowl MVPs! Your youth can collect donations on or near February 5, 2012 and direct the collected donations to IOCC or a local charity of their choosing. 

Let's carry the excitement of Super Bowl Sunday into the homes and lives of people in need throughout the world: $200 collected from your parish youth can provide a refugee with vocational training; $100 can help provide a child in a developing nation with a much needed wheelchair or help bring books to inner city schoolchildren across the United States.  It's a simple but significant act that reminds us what is truly important. Your parish youth have the power to make a positive difference. Join hundreds of other Orthodox Christian parishes around the country participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring as an opportunity to demonstrate your concern for the hungry. 

Fr. Don Hock's India Mission Journal

Last fall, Archpriest Fr. Don Hock of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Omaha, traveled to India with the OCMC, in order to minister with a teaching team in an orphanage in Bakeswar, and in Calcutta. Composed of three laymen and three clergy, the six-member team taught catechism classes, visited with orphanage children, served liturgy in the Orthodox Church of the Holy Transfiguration in Calcutta, and visited several Christian churches and sites of interest there.

"In many ways," wrote Fr. Don in his journal, "this was a full-circle event for me, as some of the missionary experience my wife and I had was in reaching out to the Indian immigrant population in England. And now, I was heading for India itself to preach the Gospel as before, but this time we were also bringing the fullness, depth and richness of the Holy Orthodox Faith to the hungry hearts of those waiting for us to come and minister to them." Read all of Fr. Hock's daily thoughts and impressions here in his Mission Trip Journal.

A Year After the Earthquake, Haitians Remain Vulnerable

Father Barnabas (center) and Father Pavlos (right), priests of the Greek Orthodox parish of St. Jean de Freres in the Bobin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, visit with people left homeless by the January 2010 earthquake: (Photo credit: Paul Jeffrey/IOCC)Father Barnabas (center) and Father Pavlos (right), priests of the Greek Orthodox parish of St. Jean de Freres in the Bobin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, visit with people left homeless by the January 2010 earthquake: (Photo credit: Paul Jeffrey/IOCC)Baltimore, MD (IOCC) – A year after a 7.0 earthquake devastated the lives of millions of Haitians reminders of the disaster – and the continued need – are everywhere.

"Beyond the immediate needs that emerged following the disaster, the earthquake has exposed the suffering of the Haitian people," observed Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC executive director. "Much remains to be done to address the long-term need for permanent housing, clean water and sanitation, and other basic necessities that will help to restore justice, dignity and peace for the people of Haiti."

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has provided $4 million in direct assistance to the people of Haiti since January 12, 2010. Yet, the level of devastation that required one of the largest relief operations in history has been complicated by a fragile infrastructure, limited government capacity and soaring poverty levels.

"The earthquake was the first of three major disaster that threatened Haitians this past year," said Mark Ohanian, IOCC director of programs. "The frequent disasters and threats to public health call attention to the vulnerability of the Haitian people, the magnitude of the work ahead and the continuing need for assistance."

IOCC has been focusing its efforts on delivering basic food and hygiene items, providing assistance to schools, addressing health and hygiene needs and mitigating the long-term effects of natural disasters.

Friends of the Hogar Rafael Ayau and AFR, Release "Hymns of the Hogar"

Hogar Rafael ChildrenHogar Rafael ChildrenAncient Faith Radio announces that the CD "Hymns of the Hogar" is now available here.

In May 2010, Ancient Faith Radio, at the request of the Friends of the Hogar Rafael Ayau, recorded the children of the Hogar Rafael Ayau in Guatemala City singing the Orthodox Christian Hymns for Matins and Vespers as they do in their daily lives at the Hogar.

The CD includes 25 tracks. All proceeds from the sale of the CD will support the Capital Campaign Building Fund to bring construction of a new home for the children, Hogar San Miguel, to fruition. The children are in desperate need of a safer place to live away from the dangers surrounding the current orphanage.

The CD's are priced at $22 - $18.00 plus $4 for Shipping and Handling. 

St. George of Orlando Parish Feeds Hundreds During Weekly Outreach

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."

FOCUS "House of Blues" Benefit Concert Draws a Crowd

House of Blues ConcertHouse of Blues ConcertThe Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) reports:

Over 1000 people attended the Dec. 3rd House of Blues at Downtown Disney charity concert benefiting FOCUS Orange County and two other local charities. FOCUS Orange County was given 15 minutes of stage time to share the work FOCUS Orange County is doing and collected 150 cans of food for the food pantry at El Dorado Motel, which makes the food available to the many working poor families staying at its motel and the neighboring Valencia Motel.

In November, FOCUS Orange County began its weekly meal ministry at the Valencia, where 100+ meals are served each Sunday night by FOCUS volunteers. Working poor families may also receive clothing items that have been donated.

Stocking the El Dorado’s food pantry is just one more way FOCUS Orange County is working with area Orthodox churches to make sure that working poor families will not have to choose between food or shelter this Christmas.

Katie Wilcoxson Serves As OCMC Missionary in Tanzania

Katie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatherine Wilcoxson, daughter of Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas, has always wanted to find ways to serve. "In Tanzania," says OCMC's website,  "Katherine is dedicating her training and experience as a registered nurse to the Orthodox Church’s Resurrection Hospital. Because Tanzania is one of the many African countries plagued with treatable diseases and poverty, this ministry of preventive healthcare and health education is vital." 

Now that she's newly settled in her mission assignment, Katie took a moment to tell her story. 

From an early age I have loved helping others. During middle school and high school, I was the youngest regular volunteer at the local food bank. The year I graduated from high school, I learned about the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). In 2000, I went on my first OCMC short-term trip to Alaska. In the following two years I also went on short-term trips to Guatemala and Tanzania. I had a real connection with the people of Tanzania, and I knew I would return as a long-term missionary.

IOCC School Program To Address Needs Of Lebanese Children

December 8, 2010

Baltimore, Md. (IOCC) — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded $26.4 million to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) for a program in Lebanon that will improve student achievement, expand after-school programs, provide training for public school teachers and upgrade educational facilities in 600 Lebanese public schools over the next four years. The program is part of a $75 million initiative that will be implemented in 1,400 schools in cooperation with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education and five other agencies, including the Education Development Center which is managing the entire initiative for USAID.

"For nearly a decade, children have been an important focus of IOCC's efforts in Lebanon in collaboration with the Orthodox Church and the Lebanese Government," said His Eminence Metropolitan Philip (Saliba), Primate of the Antiochian Christian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. "This award validates the efforts we have steadfastly supported and ensures that the essential work of improving conditions for children and others that IOCC has undertaken in the Middle East with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch through its institutions, including the University of Balamand, will continue."

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, Lebanese children were some of the worst affected. Nearly one-third of all civilian deaths and injuries were suffered by children and over half a million children were forced to flee their homes. The conflict also damaged more than 300 schools. IOCC's presence in Lebanon not only led to an immediate humanitarian response for those impacted by the violence, but also led to subsequent IOCC activities in rebuilding damaged schools.