Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity


Operation: Lace Up is FOCUS Summer Project

June 28, 2013

The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) writes:

Imagine if you or your children could not attend school or stay healthy because you did not have a sturdy pair of shoes. Children should be able to have the freedom to run and play with durable soles and their feet protected. Throughout the country, children who are experiencing homelessness and poverty have inadequate or no shoes at all, which leads to being unable to go to school, participate in sports, play on the playground, and pose numerous health risks.

In response, FOCUS is launching Operation: Lace Up, a national shoe distribution program that will begin in the summer of 2013. Hundreds of thousands of children affected by homelessness and poverty will receive two new pairs of high-quality shoes each year. The goal of the program is to ensure that all school-age children have comfortable, properly-fitting shoes and are able to attend school. Operation: Lace Up will work with public school districts in 28 metropolitan areas across the United States to reach kids in need.

The first shoe distributions will begin in August 2013, in preparation for the new school year. Details are available on the FOCUS website.

Alone In A Foreign Land, Syrian Refugees Face New Fears And Sacrifices

Faruk and baby daughter Mona, named after her late mother. Mona's mother lost her life four days after giving birth. Photo: Jennifer Romanos/IOCCFaruk and baby daughter Mona, named after her late mother. Mona's mother lost her life four days after giving birth. Photo: Jennifer Romanos/IOCCInternational Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) marks World Refugee Day in remembrance of the sacrifices made by refugee families all over the world.

June 19, 2013

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — When violent clashes suddenly erupted in his Aleppo neighborhood, Faruk, 33, his pregnant wife, Mona, and their three children left their home in Syria and the only life they had ever known to make the exhausting, 160-mile trek to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Arriving safe but penniless and alone in a foreign land, the former construction worker fashioned a small shelter out of scavenged scrap metal for his family. The long and difficult journey made Mona seriously ill. Faruk took her to several hospitals in search of help, only to be turned away from each one because he couldn't pay for her care.

With his wife's life at stake, he pleaded with strangers for any help they could give and eventually scraped together enough money to cover the hospital fees. Mona gave birth to a little girl, but the long journey and harsh living conditions in their makeshift home took their toll on her weakened body and she passed away four days later. A devastated Faruk, who left Syria out of fear for the safety of his family, was now a widower filled with a new fear – how to care for a newborn and three more children with no means to support them.

FOCUS North America Seeks National Program Intern

FOCUS North America, a national, Orthodox non-profit organization that provides sustainable services to the homeless and working poor of America, is looking for a National Program Intern.  The Program Internship will provide practical, hands-on project management training and skills development in the context of a multi-million dollar community engagement and distribution program implemented in more than 20 cities across the United States.

This is a high-level internship that requires a high-performance and driven individual who is seeking to gain a deep understanding of community and volunteer engagement, and the federally-mandated social services framework. Qualified candidates who are interested in domestic or international social services, social entrepreneurship, or community development programs is encouraged to apply.

The intern will be stationed in FOCUS’ office in Orange County, California, with some national travel required to speak on behalf of FOCUS/promote FOCUS activities. FOCUS will pay for all program-related travel expenses and will, in addition, provide a fixed monthly stipend to the successful candidate. To apply, please send cover letter and resume to: jobs@focusna.org. For more information, view the job description.

 

25 Anniversary Gala for Project Mexico is August 24, 2013

Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage of Tijuana, Mexico, have announced a celebratory anniversary gala to be held in Southern California later this summer. "As we conclude our 25th year building hope in Mexico, we find ourselves with much cause to celebrate! Our 25th Anniversary Gala will be hosted on Saturday, August 24, 2013, at the beautiful Grand Tradition Estate in Fallbrook, California. Please join us for an elegant evening of celebration and giving thanks to God for keeping us under His loving arm, allowing us to continue serving those in need."

Since 1988, Project Mexico has ministered in three primary ways:

  • by alleviating suffering by building homes for impoverished families facing adversity
  • by providing an opportunity for Orthodox people of all ages to participate in missions
  • by providing a home and a family for orphaned teenage boys

An internship program began in 1993 as a way for young people to give a few months to one year in service. Interns have helped with everything from work trips to projects at the orphanage to administrative tasks. Additionally, over 10,000 volunteers from forty-three of fifty states and eleven foreign countries, including many teams from Antiochian parishes, have come to give of themselves and have been blessed in return.

Order Al-Kafaàt Crafts Now for Delivery at Archdiocese Convention

Handpainted vases from Al-KafaàtHandpainted vases from Al-Kafaàt

Download brochure (PDF)

View our original and artistic handicrafts on Facebook

The Village of Al-Kafaàt is a unique campus where children and adults with special needs live in a sheltered environment and receive special education, rehabilitation and employment, all free of charge.

Join us in Houston and check out the various handicrafts—stationery items, coaster, baskets, beautiful ceramic vases and glassware, paintings—all produced by our very special ones at Al-Kafaàt, in partnership with designers and artisans from Lebanon.

Put a little Al-Kafaàt soul in your home and select the items that you would like to take back with you. Your full payment goes into our fund dedicated to constructing the Specialized Building of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, located in the Village of Al-Kafaàt.

2013 Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday Encyclical

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has announced Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday:

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me...only Luke is with me. 2 Timothy 4:9-11

To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Laity of the Orthodox Churches in North and Central America:

Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Christ is Risen!

We greet you in the surpassing joy of the Risen Christ. By the grace of God, we are blessed to observe the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, which this year falls on June 9, as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday. We embrace the diakonia of prison ministry in keeping with the example of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Physician of our souls, who did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; who ate in the houses of thieves and forgave the sins of harlots; and who said that, when we visit those in prison, we are in truth visiting Him, the Lord of Glory.

Samer Laham, Patriarchate of Antioch, Named 2013 InterAction Humanitarian of The Year

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The leader of one of the largest humanitarian efforts in Syria has been named 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by InterAction, an alliance of more than 180 U.S.-based international relief organizations. Samer Laham is a driving force inside Syria, providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need without regard to religious, ethnic, or political affiliations. Under Laham's leadership of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) based in Damascus, Syria, GOPA has worked tirelessly to provide more than $31 million in emergency aid to displaced Syrians as well as ongoing assistance to Iraqi refugees, including educational support, vocational training, small business development, and crisis counseling.

With the outbreak of violence in Syria that has inflicted hardship on millions of its citizens, Laham has courageously led his staff of 120 to provide food, medical supplies, crisis counseling, and other services essential to survival for people in need across the country. In the face of bombardments, fighting and constant fear, Mr. Laham and his staff have persevered to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 300,000 vulnerable Syrian children, families and elderly.

IOCC Dignitaries Meet with Patriarch John X

IOCC's Executive Director and Board Chair with Patriarch John X (Photo: George Antoun/IOCC)IOCC's Executive Director and Board Chair with Patriarch John X (Photo: George Antoun/IOCC)International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) reports:

It was a holy and historic day in Beirut. More than 1,000 hierarchs, clergy and lay people packed the incense-filled nave of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral on February 17, 2013, including both the President and Prime Minister of Lebanon, as well as government officials from the U.S., Russia, and other countries around the world.

Joining them were International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Board Chairman, Michael “Mickey” Homsey, and IOCC Executive Director, Constantine Triantafilou, who had both traveled from the United States to attend at the invitation of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. All were there to witness the same milestone, the first Divine Liturgy served by His Beatitude, John X, the newly elected Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

His predecessor, Patriarch Ignatius of Blessed Memory, spent more than three decades serving as the spiritual father of the Orthodox faithful in Syria. Patriarch Ignatius’ leadership provided a wellspring of inspiration and comfort to Orthodox Christians throughout the Middle East, especially during troubled times. Without His Beatitude’s grateful assistance, IOCC's humanitarian efforts in the region would not have been fully realized.

Both Homsey and Triantafilou had met with Patriarch Ignatius during a visit to Syria last year shortly before his repose, during which they were humbled to receive His Beatitude’s blessing for IOCC’s ongoing humanitarian work in Syria, and his praise for the organization serving as a beacon of hope for so many struggling families.

Patriarchal Special Tray Offering + Palm Sunday, 2014

Every year on Palm Sunday, a special Patriarchal tray offering is conducted in Antiochian parishes. The Palm Sunday special tray collection is for the benefit of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and is used at the discretion of the Patriarch to benefit people, churches, and programs of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the Middle East.

Now, more than ever, this material support is crucial, as our brothers and sisters in Syria are suffering such great hardship because of the violence that has gripped the country.

A significant portion of the funding that is required by the Archdiocese comes from the assessments and Special Trays which are paid by each parish to the Archdiocese on an annual basis.

For more information go here.

OCMC Announces Immediate Needs for 2013 Mission Teams

OCMC mission team members to Turkana, KenyaOCMC mission team members to Turkana, KenyaFrom July 19 to August 1, 2013, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is sending a team comprised of Orthodox families from North America to offer parent workshops, children’s programs, family activities and ministry outreach to Albanian church leaders and their families. Three to four families are still needed to serve on this team that will strengthen and encourage Orthodox Christians in a country that is predominantly non-Christian.

Another immediate need is for support staff to participate on the short-term mission team scheduled to offer healthcare in Uganda from May 29 to June 12, 2013. Two to three nurses, pharmacists, medical students, or those interested in providing much needed health services as a witness to their Orthodox faith are desperately needed for this team.

Those able to share and teach the faith are also needed for teams serving in Kenya and Tanzania in July and August. These are profound opportunities to share Orthodox Christianity with our African brothers and sisters who may be new to the faith.

For more information or to apply for a team, visit the Teams web page, call Teams Director Andrew Lekos at 1-877-GO-FORTH, or e-mail the OCMC’s Teams Department at teams@ocmc.org.