Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) is the official prison ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. It was started in 1991 by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, who asked Antiochian priest Fr. Duane Pederson to establish a prison ministry for the Antiochian Archdiocese. The ministry continued unabated until 2005, when His Eminence offered the Archdiocese’s prison ministry to the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA). OCPM became an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops after that body was established in 2009.
On July 26, 2012, at the Fourth Annual National Convocation in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the board and the staff of OCPM awarded Fr. Duane Pederson the Matthew 25:36 award, recognizing his lifetime of dedicated service to those in prison, and to those among the homeless population. Award presenters noted Fr. Duane's forty-plus years of prison ministry outreach, as well as his role in the founding of OCPM.
On Sunday, November 18, as families head into the Thanksgiving holiday, parishes will be remembering the needy on the International Orthodox Christian Charity's (IOCC) "A Day of Sharing." The Assembly of Canonical Bishops of North and Central America has issued an Encyclical calling on Orthodox Christians to support the work of IOCC, especially on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, thus remembering the less fortunate.
"Through IOCC’s close work with the Church," noted the statement, "Greek families are receiving hot meals and medical care; Bosnian entrepreneurs are using micro loans to create jobs and community prosperity, and Zimbabwe’s babies have a fighting chance to reach their fifth birthday because of new medical equipment and adequate medicine to treat infections.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
Beloved in Christ: Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
I write to you today with a heavy heart as we continue to endure the effects of the massive storm “Sandy” that engulfed the Northeast last week. In fact, I had hoped to communicate with all of you earlier, but we just received our electricity back at the archdiocese and until now we have no Internet access. Nevertheless, the inconvenience we endured pales in comparison to what hundreds of thousands experienced, and continue to experience in the Northeast, most especially in New Jersey, New York City and Long Island. No doubt, all of you have seen on television from the comfort of your warm homes, the death and destruction this rare and massive storm brought to the coastal areas and beyond. Until now, people are without the basic necessities of life, countless families have lost their homes, and even more have suffered extensive damage to their homes- if they can be saved at all. People continue to have to sleep in near freezing temperatures without heat; many are without food, electricity, transportation and other basic needs.
With that in mind, we appeal to you, the faithful of our God-protected archdiocese, to respond to this disaster with your monetary offerings so that we can help those desperate people who are in the geographical “backyard” of our archdiocese headquarters and our Mother Cathedral.
November 6, 2012
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — As people up and down the East Coast work to recover from the destruction of Super Storm Sandy, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is mobilizing its resources to support the response efforts of Orthodox Christian parishes in the affected areas and relief partners in the storm-ravaged region.
In Maryland, more than 100 families with homes in the flooded coastal community of Crisfield received emergency clean-up buckets from IOCC, and numerous storm survivors sought comfort from trauma counseling provided by IOCC Emergency Response Network's Frontliners.
To the north in Toms River, New Jersey, IOCC Frontliners joined members from local chapters of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association), and women's philanthropic society, Philoptochos, to assemble and distribute emergency clean-up buckets to more than 150 local residents trying to salvage their wind and water-damaged homes.
In New York, IOCC is working in cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and New York City Mayor Bloomberg's office to respond to the most pressing needs of survivors with the distribution of emergency relief items. A shipment of more than 1,300 cases of donated bottled water, along with 6,300 quilts and 4,600 personal hygiene kits provided in cooperation with Lutheran world Relief, is destined for Queens, New York, where it will be distributed to displaced families living in local shelters.
Charles Ajalat, the former chancellor for the Antiochian Archdiocese as well as an Order of St. Ignatius member, is the featured guest during the first week of Orthodox Christian Network's (OCN) flagship program, "Come Receive the Light." Charles joined Fr. Chris Metropulos, executive director for OCN, to discuss how he has attempted to bear witness to Christ throughout his life through both philanthropic efforts and one-to-one evangelism.
A co-founder of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), Charles has been active in many Orthodox organizations, including the Order, and also helped form the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS). "People should be giving much more," noted Ajalat. "And how do we take action? It should be through the Orthodox Church.
"We need to do more in America," he noted in the interview. "We need to combine our efforts because together, we are strong. FOCUS, for instance, now has thousands of volunteers. We are Orthodox, and we are here to help."
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who went about doing good and healing all our infirmities, I ask you to bless all the people who have suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Strengthen those who are injured, gather those who are lost and give courage to all to rebuild their lives once again.
O Lord, You suffered and died for me and you understand suffering.
Give them the strength in body, courage in spirit and patience in pain.
Calm their fears and increase their trust in You and hasten to their aid.
I also pray for the safe keeping of our nation from famine, earthquakes, floods, fire and civil war.
I entreat You, O Lord our God, to hear my prayer.
Bless me to help those in need and give me courage to be Your face to all those suffering.
Through the prayers of the Holy Father Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and save us.
Supplication to the Mother of God
(taken from the Small Paraklesis)
For those in great sorrow you are joy, and for the oppressed, a protection, and for the hungry, their food, comfort unto those estranged; You are a staff to the blind, visitation of all those sick, and to those held by pain shelter and a comforting, and to the orphaned, an aid; Mother, of our God in the highest, You who are the Spotless One, hasten, save your servants from their sin, we ask of you.
Contributed by Fr. George Shalhoub, Basilica of St. Mary, Livonia, Michigan
October 31, 2012
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — At the request of the Maryland Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has deployed members of its Emergency Response Network "Frontliners" to a Disaster Recovery Center in Princess Anne, Maryland to provide trauma counseling to survivors of Hurricane Sandy and to assess the emerging needs of families returning to storm-ravaged homes and coastal communities.
As the storm moves further inland, emergency response crews are starting to assess the damage and restore critical services while people try to return to their normal daily lives. IOCC is in contact with the Orthodox Dioceses and disaster response networks throughout the East Coast to assess the damage in local communities. IOCC emergency response personnel will continue to monitor the situation and respond with emergency relief to storm survivors in need.
IOCC has already received initial requests for anticipated shipments of emergency relief items from its ecumenical partners for communities recovering from Hurricane Sandy. IOCC is urging Orthodox Christian parishes to assist by assembling emergency relief items and by making financial donations.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) Recently, His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, issued an appeal for humanitarian assistance to all Syrians who have been victims of violence in their country. "Syrians, in spite of their religious backgrounds, have the right to live in their country with pride and dignity. It is important for us as Orthodox Christians to help whoever extends their hand to ask for assistance regardless of their background."
In that spirit, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a member of the ACT Alliance, is working in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), to respond to the urgent needs of thousands of internally displaced Syrian families. Katia, age 20, is one such person. Her days as a kindergarten teacher in Sabil, Syria, are a distant memory, since eight months ago, she and her family fled their home to escape fighting in the neighborhood, and have been displaced ever since. Left with no job and nothing to do, Katia turned to a local church for guidance, and is now helping assist other Syrians who were driven from their homes by the conflict that has engulfed Syria.
The Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Stewardship's Chair Ronald Nicola taught high school social studies and served as a vice-principal for many years. A California native, he grew up attending St. Nicholas Church in San Francisco. He and his family have been members of St. John the Evangelist Orthodox Church in Orinda, California since its founding in 1978.
Ron has been active in many ministries of the Archdiocese, from SOYO to parish council to a twenty-year period of service on the Board of Trustees. Through these experiences, he developed an interest in Christian stewardship and the Scriptural teachings that guide the faithful in their offerings of time, talents, and treasure. Recently, the Department of Stewardship added two substantial resources to the web: The Fifty-Two Week Parish Giving Campaign, and the Parish Council Guidebook. The department is also responsible for the upcoming Parish Council Symposium in November.
Antiochian.org spoke with Ron about the ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Department of Stewardship.
1. What is the Department of Stewardship—when was it founded, and why?
Metropolitan Philip established the Department of Stewardship in 1975 and he appointed the late Ernest Saykaly of Montreal, Quebec, as its first chairperson.
"Oh your mark, get set, go!" Antiochian Village's annual 5K Trail Run will benefit the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, and many runners have registered to participate in the event, slated for Saturday, October 6, 2012. Special Olympics PA provides year-round training and competition in 23 Olympic-type sports, to more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. One hundred percent of the AV5K Trail Run registration fee goes to Special Olympics.
Antiochian Village is an ideal setting for this event. At this time of year, spectacular fall color will welcome runners and walkers of all ages on a moderately challenging wooded course. Prizes and refreshments will be awarded at the finish line.
The run comes just two weeks before Special Olympics Awareness Day, which is sponsored by SOYO and aimed at raising funds to underwrite the Village's summer Special Olympics program.
Registration will be open the day of the Run at 9 a.m. in the Village Conference Center.