Diocese of Wichita News
Here are some updates from Bishop BASIL on the parishes in the path of Hurricane Ike. From the reports that have come in so far, all clergy and their families are safe, and their homes are mostly unharmed, with only minor damage (at least, as can be determined now). Several priests have not been able to travel to their churches or contact their parishioners, so please continue your prayers for our Orthodox brethren as they clean and rebuild.
St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS has recently been featured on local news broadcasts covering the installation four new mosaic icons on its exterior facades. The icons are beautiful reproductions of well known, ancient icons, including images of Christ, the Theotokos, and St. John the Forerunner from the 12th century mosaic from Hagia Sophia, which can be seen here and the 13th century icon of the Great-Martyr George in the Church of St. George Struga on the shore of Lake Ochrid in Macedonia, which can be seen here.
The mosaic icons are done by Bruno Salvatori, a master mosaicist from Florence, Italy. Mr. Salvatori is the same artist who has done the five mosaic icons that adorn the exterior of the Cathedral's eastern apse.
A video on the new mosaics, produced by the local NBC affiliate, can be seen here: www.ksn.com/news/local/28224734.html?video=YHI&t=a (cut and paste link into your browser).
From Fr. John Mefrige of St. Ephraim Church in San Antonio, TX:
The oncoming projections of Hurricane IKE places its path DIRECTLY over San Antonio. Despite being 150 miles from the ocean it is possible that we could experience 100 mile an hour winds should this make landfall as a category 4 or 5. Presently it is predicted to make landfall between Port O'Connor and Corpus Christi as a category 3 on early morning this Saturday. At present there is a 40% chance of Tropical Storm Force winds hitting us. For more information and up to the minute coverage see:
Despite the incoming track of Hurricane Ike, we WILL have Saturday Great Vespers and Sunday morning Services at the usual time. However you are urged to pay close attention to the weather and follow appropriate emergency measures, especially all evacuation orders. Services are only going to be held because Fr. John does not need to drive to the Church as the parish house is next door.
If there are any parishioners that feel that their homes will not be able to weather the storm they are directed to follow official evacuation orders or to PORT SAN ANTONIO where FEMA and Emergency Authorities are holding evaquees. Fr. John Khouriee Janet and the girls will be riding out the storm in the church which is a concrete structure.
From Deacon Elias of St. John the Divine Church in Lake Charles, LA:
Orthodox chaplain Fr. Mark Sahady (pictured left) was congratulated by President Bush for helping minister to evacuees from the Hurricane Gustav in San Antonio, TX. Fr. Mark organized the Chaplain Corp at Lackland Air Force Base (near San Antonio) to greet the evacuees when they arrived and to give them pastoral care while they were waiting to be sheltered.
Fr. Mark says, "I also was involved three years ago with Hurricane Katrina doing the same thing and also caring for them [the evacuees] in the shelters. This time the organization was much better and everything went much smoother. It was very impressive how quickly and smoothly the evacuees were cared for this time."
His Grace, our Bishop BASIL will visit the congregation of St. Mary in Wichita this weekend for the celebration of their maternal feast - the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. In addition to their maternal feast on Monday, September 8, Bp. BASIL will celebrate Divine Liturgy on Sunday as well. The schedule of services for the weekend is:
SATURDAY - SEPTEMBER 6th
5:00pm Great Vespers
SUNDAY - SEPTEMBER 7th
10:30am Hierarchical Divine Liturgy
5:00pm Great Vespers
MONDAY - SEPTEMBER 8th
8:00am Divine Liturgy
His Grace, Bp. BASIL reports that the clergy, people and churches in western Louisiana and eastern Texas have escaped unscathed from the damage and flooding of Hurricane Gustav. Praise God!
O LORD JESUS CHRIST HAVE MERCY ON US SINNERS!
As you saved your apostles from perishing in a storm by calming wind and waves on you command, so now keep us safe and sound in this hurricane season. Grant us favorable and benign weather. Protect us from the unpredictable elements of nature. Steer us from storm, flood, fire, illness, injury, disaster and sudden death. Preserve us from all evil and harm for we, though sinful, are nonetheless the work of Your hands. And You together with your Father who has no beginning and Your all holy good and life giving Spirit are our God in whom we live, move, and have being. Now and ever and unto ages and ages. Amen.
MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS SAVE US!
Seeing how your holy and powerful maternal intercessions and safe haven for the storm tossed, count us worthy of your prayers during this season of uncertain and threatening weather. Beg your divine human Son to grant us mercy, forgiveness, health, safety and salvation over the coming months. For He is sure to listen to you, His mother, the woman whom all generations call blessed. Amen.
ALL HOLY PROPHET ELIAS!
As the Lord gave you control over droughts and rainfall to prove His power to the wayward and unbelieving, plead with Him to keep stormy weather, heavy rains and destructive winds away from us. Help us with your heavenly intercessions for we know the prayer of a righteous man like you is powerful and effective as God is wondrous in His Saints. Amen.
Beloved Sayyidna Basil and my Brothers of DOWAMA:
Thank God, by your holy prayers we had a wonderful first session and are ready to welcome the second group of campers this afternoon. The weather has been perfect and the campers and staff have had an amazing time so far.
From Christian Ed. to Sports to Divine Services, it's very easy to see the Holy Spirit's presence in everything happening here.
It has also been very nice to worship in our newly renovated St Raphael Chapel. New sheet rock, paint, ceiling and air conditioning have all enhanced the chapel. This, as you know, was done through the generosity of the faithful of our Diocese. If there is any way any of you can journey up to CSR this week, it would be OUR delight to welcome you to camp.
Thank you all for the sustaining prayers you have offered and continue to offer, and for the campers and counselors your parishes have sent to us. They are our greatest joy. Please continue to keep us in your holy prayers.
A sermon from Fr. Thomas Williams
St. John the Theologian Mission, Rapid City, South Dakota
Gospel Matthew 17:14-23 (10th Sunday after Pentecost)
This kind is cast out only by prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting.
When I was ten or eleven growing up in New York City I was one of the lucky kids whose family had a television. New York had seven channels in the 50s. Every Sunday, for some reason, when I came home from the nine o'clock mass, I would sit in front of the twelve-inch screen, eat breakfast and watch Channel 11, waiting for the Yankees game that would come on promptly at 12:30.
But as I was waiting I would always watch the Oral Roberts program on Channel 11, with lots of preaching and shouting. What fascinated me the most were the healings. "Heal!!! Be thou healed in the name of Jesus," he would shout, and almost always the person who was healed would fall back as he pushed them back on their head. Just as they were about to hit the floor, his assistants would catch them, pulling them up, and off the person would go, somewhat wobbly, but waving their hands and shouting praises to God ... and everyone in TV land. I was fascinated by this. Now I am not sure if it was the shouting (Catholic priests didn't shout during the mass or even in their sermons); or if I was waiting to see if anyone would ever hit the floor. I didn't believe in my heart that anyone was really being healed. It all seemed too loud, and besides who would ever go on television to be healed?
This kind is cast out by prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting.
"O Master Who lovest mankind, King of the ages and Bestower of good things, Who hast destroyed enmity and givest peace to the human race: Grant peace even now unto all Thy servants who dwell in the lands of the Caucasus. Establish among our nations love one for another; quell every uprising; and allay all dissent and temptations. Grant unto them, O Lord, health and oneness of mind, protect them from all tribulations, afflictions and sudden death; bring an end to all enmity and malice which ariseth through the activity of the devil. Plant peace, O Lord, through the intercessions of the holy Theotokos, of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-called, of the first hierarchs of Moscow, of the holy Nino, Equal-to-the-Apostles, and of the Great Martyr George the Victorious. For Thou art our Peace, and we send up glory unto Thee—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen." (Released by the Press Service of the Moscow Patriarchate)
There will be a diocesan-wide pilgrimage to Kearney, Nebraska on the weekend of October 25-25, 2008 in honor of Fr. Nicola Yanney, who was the first priest ordained by St. Raphael of Brooklyn and who was also the first priest to serve in what has become today our Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.
One important part of the pilgrimage will be a commemorative journal that will be a souvenir of the event. We are asking for your assistance in the creation of this journal. The Journal will consist of informative pictures and articles about Father Nicola, his family, and his parishes. In addition, it will also contain one-page entries describing each parish in the diocese. We ask for your participation in forming the entries from each parish.
We are asking that each parish contribute a one page written history of their community. Along with the history, we are also asking for photos of the current parish church building and the current parish clergy. Please send the text and photos: all of the pages will be formatted by the journal staff into a consistent format.
Please download and complete the Parish Information Form here: http://www.stjfc.org/Pages/Dowama/dowama.php and send it in by August 15th, accompanied by your parish history, photo and order fee.
On Sunday, June 29, our brother Fr. David Lynch, 72, retired from St. Augustine Church of Denver, CO, fell asleep in Christ. Condolences may be sent to Kh. Martha Lynch the Lynch family at email@example.com.
His Grace Bishop BASIL passed on these thoughts from Fr. David's daughter Margaret:
"The long battle for my dear father has come to an end. At 5:30pm this evening, Fr. David (Charles) Lynch, fell asleep in the Lord. He ran the good race and crossed the finish line. He was surrounded by his family and Fr. Pat Reardon who offered prayers for him the whole day and at the moment of his departure. We gave dad our love and told him to tell everyone already departed hello and that we see him again when it's our time. He is now in the Loving Hands of the Lord Whom he has served his whole life. He made us so proud with how hard he fought to come back; we were proud to stand by him as he worked so hard day after day to recover. One thing I know for sure is this didn't happen for lack of prayers, faith, hope or love. Your outpouring of love and concern has been a cushion for us; we couldn't fall completely down during this because we kept hitting this cushion around us. And it was an encouragement to him. Every card, email and message was passed onto him and we heard from a lot of people; that was so good to hear for him to hear from so many people."
The following information regarding funeral arrangements has been released:
Funeral Arrangements for Fr. David (Charles C.) Lynch (1936-2008)
Wednesday July 2, 4:30pm-8:30pm
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church
1449 N. Quentin Road
Palatine, IL 60067
The schedule for this year's Parish Life Conference is now available.
His Grace Bishop BASIL traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico's Holy Trinity Orthodox Church on the weekend of June 7-8 to ordain to the diaconate and then to the holy priesthood Fr. Daniel Bethancourt, son of Holy Trinity's Fr. John Bethancourt. Fr. Daniel and his wife Maria are expecting their first child in July. May God grant them many years! Following are a selection of pictures from the ordination. More are available here, courtesy of Subdeacon Joseph Olas.
The Dowama General Assembly will be held during the upcoming Parish Life Conference in Dallas from 1:30-4:30PM on Friday, June 20th. At this most important meeting nominations and elections of officers for the Diocesan Fellowship will take place. The following important notice was issued by the Fellowship's Nominating Committee:
"Christ is risen! We are preparing for the Fellowship of St. John the Divine election of diocesan officers. We will need to have nominations (or candidates) in place before the general assembly in Dallas. Due to the requirement that each nominee be in good standing with the Church (to be confirmed by his/her parish priest) we will not be taking nominations from the floor. If you would like to nominate someone from your congregation for an office, please send contact information to Father Jeremy Davis, Spiritual Advisor to the DOWAMA Fellowship, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org before this coming Monday, May 26th. Thank You. Yours in Christ, The Nomination Committee: Father Jeremy Davis and Helen Norton."
On Thursday, April 3, the Very Reverend Father Constantine Nasr, Pastor of St. Elijah Antiochian Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, visited St. Tikhon's Seminary and offered an evening lecture to the community on the subject of: "The Vision and Mission of the Local Parish."
See photos at http://www.stots.edu/news_080404_1.html.
Our brother, Fr. Stephan Close, the U.S. Air Force chaplain stationed at the airbase in Ramstein, Germany, shares with us the following observations of his very special and grace-filled ministry:
"Your Grace, one of the joys of my ministry here at 'the Ramstein of my repentance' is to serve the wounded. Rarely do I have the blessed obligation to honor the dead, which I offer with as much dignity as my humanity can muster. It is such a blessing to be at worship with the wounded faithful who look to the icons with eyes which cannot see and offer a candle though they remain in physical darkness, their hand guided by fellow warrior. They faithfully follow a Divine Liturgy (and wait patiently through a sermon) in a language they do not understand but whose form helps them recall worship and remind them of truth which warms their hearts though far away from home. They walk towards the chalice though one shoe has no foot in it. They bow down although they cannot rise without the support of their brother. They make the sign of the cross with a hand scarred and tortured by flame. Such are the saints you have sent me to serve.
On January 13, St. Elijah Orthodox Christian Church of Oklahoma City, OK, had the great joy of receiving by chrismation 29 new members including Fr. Mark Wallace in to the Holy Orthodox Faith. Fr. Mark was ordained to the diaconate on January 20, and to the priesthood on January 21. St. Elijah’s is led by Fr. Constantine Nasr. The following images are of the happy event. At the request of Fr. Constantine, Fr. Mark delivered a moving homily in tribute to his group's journey. This homily is available for viewing online here, courtesy of Fr. Mark.