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Diocese of Wichita News

St. Vladimir's Awards Honorary Doctorate, Announces the Bishop BASIL Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music

At the May 22nd Commencement ceremony, St. Vladimir's Seminary bestowed an honorary doctorate degree on His Grace, Bishop BASIL, and also established a Byzantine music program in his honor. The commendation read:

Faithful son of God fearing Orthodox Christian parents, reared in the Church and nourished by her manifest blessings, university educated, theologically trained, and spiritually formed in graduate Orthodox seminary practice, steeped with the knowledge of church history, Scripture, and liturgical and pastoral practice, bridger of traditions, rejecter of phyletism, seeker of truth, author and translator of liturgical books and arranger of hymnography celebrating the glory of the Mother of God, avid inspirational leader of youth, teacher of liturgical music and church rite, builder of churches, lover of people, dedicated follower of the monastic rule, commemorator of the saints, archpastor and Christ loving shepherd of flocks, bearer of joy and teacher of sobriety, true friend and loyal advisor, articulate witness and dynamic defender of the faith, visionary leader and clear thinking guide, bearer of truth and defender of right, without guile and humble in spirit, “rightly dividing the word of God’s truth,” it is with great honor that the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, by unanimous decision and by the power vested in them by the Board of Regents of the State of New York, bestow upon His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and of Mid-America of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, the degree Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.

Video Celebrates Parish's Fifteenth Anniversary

Recently, a video celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Church, Houston, Texas, was released via YouTube.

Created by videographer Doug Burns, "The Beginning" includes vintage photographs and clips, and chronicles the story of the lively, multi-ethnic parish. The parish is led by the Very Rev. Fr. Matthew B. MacKay.

Bishop BASIL Requests Prayer for Important Upcoming Meetings

His Grace, Bishop BASIL writes: "Your prayers are requested for our Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops which will convene in Englewood, N.J. next Thursday and Friday, May 20th and 21st, and for the Episcopal Assembly of all Orthodox hierarchs in the United States, Canada and Central America which will convene in New York City on Wednesday and Thursday, May 26th and 27th. God being my Helper, I will depart Wichita on Wednesday, May 19th and, by your prayers, return on Friday, May 28th. Should an emergency requiring my immediate attention during my absence from our Diocese, I may be contacted through Subdeacon Joshua at the Chancery office (316-687-3169).

DOWAMA Parishes Escape Tornado Damage

Bishop BASIL writes:

Dear to Christ, Father and Brothers: Christ is risen!

Although last night's tornadoes killed two persons in Oklahoma City and three in nearby Cleveland County (of which Norman is the largest city), all of our communities in that area were spared injury and damage:  

1 - Khouriya Sharon Nasr and Kay Lehman, secretary at ST ELIJAH/OKLAHOMA CITY, said that all in the congregation are safe and sound as are the parish facilities.  

2 - Father Mark Wallace of ST ANDREW/OKLAHOMA CITY reports that his community suffered no injury or damage.  

3 - I also got a text message from Father Justin McFeeters of HOLY ASCENSION/NORMAN which reads: "Just a quick note to tell you that after a Holy Ascension head-count we're OK in Norman. Headed out to the new building to see how things are there. God is good!"  

Thankfully our two other congregations in Oklahoma ST JAMES/STILLWATER and ST ANTONY/TULSA were not in the path of the tornadoes. Glory to God for all things!

Bishop BASIL To Receive Honorary Doctorate from St. Vladimir's Seminary

During Commencement at St. Vladimir’s Seminary on Saturday, May 22, 2010, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary will award a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, to His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL (Essey). 

His Grace is a 1973 alumnus of St. Vladimir’s. "He has served tirelessly to build up Orthodox Christianity in America and has contributed greatly to the field of liturgical music," reads the seminary announcement. The institution has invited the public to join in the graduation events, and to commemorate this "honorable and dedicated servant of God" in the Commencement exercises which begin at 2 p.m. on the campus of St. Vladimir's, in Crestwood, New York.

Symeon Kees to be Ordained in June

Bishop BASIL writes:

AXIOS! Symeon Kees, a DOWAMA vocation and son of St. George Church in Houston, Texas will be ordained on Sunday, June 20th at St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Kees is a 2009 graduate of St. Tikhon's Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.

Antiochian Author and Speaker Fr. Joseph Huneycutt Records Syrian Pilgrimage

Metropolitan SABA and Fr. Joseph HuneycuttMetropolitan SABA and Fr. Joseph HuneycuttAntiochian Orthodox priest and author, Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston, made a pilgrimage to Syria visiting Metropolitans, monasteries, and ancient churches from April 11-24. Father shares his journal here, and in his Ancient Faith Radio podcast "The Blindside."

The airport: It was a 16-hour flight from Dubai to Houston, having left Damascus the previous day.  The lines to get through American Customs were long.  When it finally came my turn, I approached the counter to see a sight not seen in my two-week absence:  a very white woman with red hair and freckles.  “Where you coming from?” she asked.  “Dubai,” I said, “I’ve been traveling in Syria.”  “Syria!  On business?” she asked.  “No, I was visiting the holy sites,” I replied.  The fair skinned Customs Agent looked at me as if I had six heads and said, 'Why Syria?!'

Youth Events in Oklahoma City


Following Bright Week, 30 Orthodox teens and chaperones gathered in Oklahoma City at St. Elijah to participate in the YES program. (YES stands for Youth Equipped to Serve and is a program sponsored by FOCUS North America that gives Orthodox youth the opportunity to participate in hands on ministry in cities across the United States.) Facilitated by Katrina Bitar, Director of the YES program, and Christina Saad, YES intern, this weekend gave teens from St. Eljah and St. George Cathedral a chance to see a different side of Oklahoma City.

Sponsor a Camp St. Raphael Staff Member

A note from  Fr. James Shadid, Director of Camp Saint Raphael: 

Each year our DOWAMA's Camp Saint Raphael must pay to the YMCA $18,000 in fees to cover the camp costs for our own non-paid, volunteer staff. In other words, although our clergy and those great folks from our parishes volunteer their time and talents (and pay their own way to and from Camp!) for those two weeks to be our camp chaplains, counselors, nurse or doctor, etc., CSR must pay the YMCA $18,000 to cover the costs of for their meals and lodging. That breaks down to a weekly fee per staffer of $300 ($600 per staffer for our full two-week camping program). This year - to mark CSR's 10th anniversary - we are asking that congregations, parish groups and individual parishioners consider sponsoring a CSR staff member. Please see the attached flyer (PDF) and publicize this opportunity among your parish groups and individual members. 

Questions? Contact CSR's Executive Director Gayle Malone at or myself at Thanks!

Erin Elizabeth Learned Appointed DOWAMA Youth Director

Bishop BASIL writes:

May it be blessed! Erin Elizabeth Learned, a daughter of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, employed as full-time Youth Director at St. Elijah in Oklahoma City, has been appointed Diocesan Youth Director for DOWAMA to succeed Fr. Anthony Baba.

Anthony Baba Ordained to Priesthood

Bishop BASIL writes:

HE IS WORTHY! Fr. Anthony Baba of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas and DOWAMA Youth Director was ordained to the holy priesthood at his home parish of St. George in Houston, Texas on the Fifth Sunday of the Fast, March 21st, 2010. He will be assigned to the pastorate at St. Anthony Church in Spring, TX effective Monday, April 12th. He will begin his "Week of Liturgies" at St. George in Houston and will conclude it at St. George Cathedral in Wichita.

Paschal Greetings from His Grace Bishop BASIL

“When Thou hadst fallen asleep in the flesh, as one mortal, O King and Lord, Thou didst rise again on the third day, raising up Adam from corruption, and abolishing death: O Pascha of incorruption! O Salvation of the world!” (The Exaposteilarion of Pacha)

To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, the Christ-loving Monastics, and the Faithful Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of our Risen Saviour. Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! ! ألمسيح قام Христос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Cristo ha resucitado!

"Death was terrible to the human race before the death of Christ, but after Christ’s Resurrection man became terrible to death, for One of us conquered death, did not remain in the grave, and did not see corruption. The former Pascha was the liberation of Israel from Egypt. Our Pascha is the liberation from the slavery of death and corruption. Christ is risen! I now know that my salvation has indeed been wrought. I know that God did indeed appear on earth. There have been great men, conquerors of the elements, conquerors of nature, but death equalized all and revealed our common nothingness. Who is this Who has passed through the gates of death? He can only be God. This means that God was indeed incarnate on earth, has indeed brought the healing medicine against that which consumes me and the corruption that tortures me. The Incarnation and the Resurrection are combined into one. The Incarnation gives the meaning of the Resurrection, and the Resurrection irrefutably confirms that the Incarnation is truth and reality, and not illusion or dream. Now death is not frightening to me, for I have seen the victory over corruption." (New Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky, 1886-1929)

Diocese of Wichita to Organize Consortium of Professional Counselors

His Grace Bishop BASIL has appointed Fr. John Mefrige of St. Ephraim the Syrian Church in San Antonio, Texas to begin the process of organizing a "DOWAMA Consortium of Professional Counselors" to be a resource for clergy in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. Professional counselors in the Diocese are encouraged to download and submit a registration (PDF). For more information, please contact Fr. John Mefrige at

Online Registration Available for 2010 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference

Online registration is now available for the 2010 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference at St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Parish Life Conference will take place June 16-19, 2010. For more information or to register, please visit

Bishop THOMAS visits St. Paraskevi Monastery in Washington, Texas

On March 9, 2010, His Grace Bishop THOMAS visited St. Paraskevi Monastery in Washington, Texas for the feast day of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. It was His Grace's first visit to the Monastery. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, who serves at St. George Church in Houston, Texas, accompanied His Grace.

For more pictures, please visit Fr. Joseph Huneycutt's blog.

Harry and Florence Kouri Scholarship

This is the third year that Jim and Ruth Cohlmia have offered the Harry and Florence Kouri Scholarship of $2,000 to a graduating high school senior from the Diocese of Wichita. Eligible high school seniors may download an application form here. Please note that the signature of the applicant's parish priest is required. The deadline to submit applications to the Wichita Chancery is May 3rd. The recipient will be announced at our Parish Life Conference in Oklahoma City, OK this June.

Download Application Form (PDF)

Joy Magazine to be Published in English-Language Edition

Sample page: click to enlargeSample page: click to enlargeBishop BASIL writes:

His Eminence Metropolitan SABA of Syria's archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran announces that the very popular Arabic-language, full-color, Orthodox Children's Magazine "FARAH" (which means "joy") will soon be published in an all-English edition - to be called "JOY" - for our children here in America.

His Eminence Metropolitan SABA writes:

Dear Brother in Christ,

As our Holy Orthodox Church is embarking on a very special time of the year in preparation to celebrate the Feast of all feasts, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I greet you with a holy kiss from the land that was blessed to witness the conversion of the Apostle Paul and the martyrdom of one of the seven first Deacons, Timon.

With the blessing and the enthusiastic support of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, the Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, I present you with the first issue of the “JOY” magazine in English, which is intended to help children (7-13)with their parents to learn about our holy Orthodox faith. “JOY” will be a colorful publication of about forty pages, containing a variety of simple educational materials, offered three times a year, for the sake of enriching the children of Christ, for the nominal cost of twenty dollars a year including postage cost.

Bishop BASIL Celebrates Sunday of Orthodoxy in Denver

On Sunday, February 21, 2010, His Grace Bishop BASIL attended the annual Triumph of Orthodoxy weekend concelebrated by the "Three Hierarchs of the Heartland." The celebration was hosted this year by His Eminence METROPOLITAN ISAIAH of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver at his Assumption Cathedral in Denver, Colorado. His Eminence ARCHBISHOP DMITRI of the OCA's Diocese of Dallas and the South preached at the concelebrated Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning and Sayedna BASIL preached at Vespers on Sunday evening. The 2011 celebration will be hosted at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas, Texas.

Forgiveness Sunday Message from Bishop BASIL

14 February 2010
Forgiveness Sunday

To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, the Christ-loving Monastics, and the Faithful Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

Blessings and greetings in the Name of the Lord Christ. As we stand at the thresh-hold of the Great Fast, I make my prostration before you and ask your forgiveness. As this year’s Forgiveness Sunday Message to our Diocese, I share with you the following counsel of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Theodore the Studite (759-826).

2011 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

Dr. Krastu BanevDr. Krastu BanevΠαναγία - Εκκλησία

The Church and the Mother of God: Questions of Ecclesiology and Personal
Holiness in the Early Church and in the Later Orthodox Tradition

Presented in seven talks by

The 2011 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat will be held at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas, Tuesday through Friday, February 8th-11th.  Invited to be our guest speaker is Dr. Krastu Banev, Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Durham in England. Dr. Banev will adress the theme "Παναγία - Εκκλησία - The Mother of God and the Church: Questions of Ecclesiology and Personal Holiness in the Early Church and in the Later Orthodox Tradition."

Dr. Banev, a native of Bulgaria, teaches the history and theology of the Greek-speaking Church: from Nicea (325AD) to Chalcedon (451AD) and beyond; his research interests include patristic anthropology; early Christian asceticism and later Orthodox spirituality; Byzantine hymnography; the cultural and religious links between Byzantium and the Slav world. His forthcoming book is on the use of classical rhetoric in the Byzantine homiletic tradition.

Schedule (Download PDF Version)

TUESDAY – February 8th: Afternoon arrival of the clergy

2010 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

Bishop BASIL writes:

Our 2010 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat was crowned with the Divine Liturgy for the Leavetaking of the feast Meeting of the Lord in the Temple concelebrated this morning at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas by Archimandrite Zacharias and Hieromonk Petros of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England and Fr. James Shadid and Dn. Anthony baba of the Cathedral.  Father Zacharias preached the homily in which he addressed the providential confluence of the Leavetaking with the Marcan gospel pericope appointed for this Friday of the Week of Meatfare.  All of the brothers chanted the responses together, led by our new DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Choir under the direction of Fr. David Barr of St. Elias/Austin, TX.

Audio Recordings Available from 2010 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

Audio recordings of the 2010 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat with Fr. Zacharias may now be ordered through Eighth Day Books in Wichita, KS (  The price for the 7-CD set -- "Fulfillment of Personhood According to Elder Sophrony of Essex, Spiritual Son of St. Silouan the Athonite" -- is $60.00 (which includes domestic postage & handling).  For shipment of orders outside the U.S., please inquire concerning additional charges.

Bishop BASIL Visits Syria and Antioch

His Grace Bishop BASIL of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America recently returned from a journey to Syria. His Grace's travels included visits to many holy sites in in Aleppo and Antioch (in Turkey), as well as visits with Patriarch IGNATIUS IV, Metropolitan SABA of the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran, monastics, college students and others. Sayedna has kindly provided us with numerous photos from his trip: click here to visit the gallery!

Apply Now for Camp St. Raphael 2010

Application forms for Camp St. Raphael's 2010 Summer sessions are now available online. The first session runs from June 27-July 3, 2010; the second session runs from July 4-10. Deadlines for applications are May 1 for the early-bird rate ($300) and June 1 for the regular rate ($325). For more information, please visit

Fr. Anthony Yazge has made camp scholarship applications available to each congregation. For more information, please contact your parish priest. The absolute deadline for scholarship applications in March 1.

Sanctity of Life Observations Encouraged by Bishop BASIL

His Grace Bishop BASIL, in his St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood newsletter on January 8, encouraged the faithful and clergy of his Diocese to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision with prayers, volunteer work with local pro-life ministries, and participation where possible in the Washington D.C. March for Life.

His Grace writes:

"FRIDAY, JANUARY 22nd will mark the 37th anniversary of the infamous decision given by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case known as "Roe v. Wade." Please find below two links about how Orthodox Christians will observe that day: