In his September 24 Clergy Brotherhood Memo, His Grace Bishop Basil reports:
BY YOUR HOLY PRAYERS, the Chair of the Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North & Central America ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), the Second Vice Chair ARCHBISHOP JUSTINIAN of Naro-Fominsk (Russian Orthodox Church in the USA), the Treasurer ARCHBISHOP ANTONY of Ierapolis (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA) and I (who serve as the EA's Secretary) have all returned from Istanbul where earlier this week (Tuesday, 21 September) we were graciously received at the Patriarchal Headquarters in the Phanar by His All Holiness ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I. While in Istanbul I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sultanahmet, right next to Hagia Sophia and Hagia Ireni (site of the 2nd Ecumenical Council in A.D. 381).
Upon arriving at the Patriarchate on Tuesday morning, we immediately visited the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Greatmartyr George where we venerated the holy table and the sacred relics of St John Chrysostom (+403AD), St Gregory the Theologian (+389AD), the Great Virgin-martyr Euphemia the All-praised (+304AD), the Holy Empress Theophano (+893AD), and Righteous Solomoni the mother of the Seven Maccabbean Youths (+168BC).
On August 18, 2010, 43 pilgrims including His Grace Bishop Basil, joined pilgrimage organizer Fr. Joseph Abud (St. George Church, Flint, Michigan) for a journey which would later be described as "life changing" by Kh. Cindy Baize (Holy Transfiguration Mission, Hillsboro, Kansas). At one of the holiest seasons of the year which included the Feasts of the Transfiguration and the Dormition on the Old Calendar, the American faithful joined pilgrims from all over the world as they venerated the relics of saints and visited sites that even Orthodox tours pass over. "Our guide said he had never seen a group received as well as our group and he heard and saw things which he never had access to before." enthuses Bishop Basil. The packed schedule included a nightly Bible study and debriefing session, and some of the travelers even attended the midnight liturgies served daily at the tomb of Christ. Readers can browse the gallery of photos taken by Fr. David Moretti of St. George, Terre Haute, Indiana.
"I prayed for you all facing the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee," writes Bishop Basil on August 21. Read on for the rest of his pilgrimage diary.
Wednesday, 18 Aug. 2010
Visited St Peter Church (Orth) over house of St Tabitha house of Simon the Tanner, St Michael Monastery (Orth) with its church of St Tabitha. On to Lydda.
Pilgrim groups are here from Greece, Romania, Russia, and us (and probably others we haven't seen yet).
We have recently posted a collection of photographs from the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran in Syria, sister diocese to our Diocese of Wichita. These images, courtesy of Dn. James Kallail, show some of the fruits of DOWAMA's Hauran Connection program, including a medical clinic and pharmacy at Sweida, and sites of future projects such as a proposed kindergarten, Orthodox camp and monastery. We hope that these photographs will help our faithful to cultivate better understanding and sense of connection with our sister Archdiocese.
For more information, please visit The Hauran Connection web page.
Bishop Basil writes:
This Saturday, September 11, is the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation which claimed the lives of over 3,000 innocent men, women and children. A prayer appropriate to the occasion (which is blessed for our DOWAMA clergy to say before the dismissal of all divine services this coming Saturday) is printed below.
A Prayer for September 11th
O Lord our God, Who art Thyself, the Hope of the hopeless, the Help of the helpless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick; be all things to our land which nine years ago on this date was devastated by the cowardly and hateful acts of false martyrs; who imitated wicked Herod in his slaughter of 14,000 innocents, whose only crime was to be born at the time of Thine incarnation. For those who lost loved ones, grant the comfort you imparted to the Mary and Martha before you raised Lazarus and care for them as Thou didst care for Thy Mother from the Cross, putting her in the care of the Apostle John.
His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has invited the five officers of the Episcopal Assembly of North America to meet with him at the Phanar in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, September 21st. Since His Grace Bishop Basil serves as the Secretary of the Episcopal Assembly, he will depart for Istanbul late in the night of Sunday, September 19th and return to the Wichita later that week.
His Grace Bishop Basil will be celebrating the dedication of Holy Ascension Church in Norman, Oklahoma on October 23rd, 2010. The Service of the Opening of the Doors of a Chuirch Temple will be held at 5:00pm, followed by Great Vespers. Afterwards, there will be a Dedication Banquet at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 7:00pm. Banquet tickets are $50.00 for adults and $25.00 for children under 12.
For more information or to RSVP, please download the following forms (PDF format):
The evening of August 12th, 2010 will go down in history as another leap forward in the journey towards Orthodox unity in North America. Over a hundred clergy and lay people from seven Orthodox Churches in the greater Oklahoma City area came together to pray the Paraklesis service to the Mother of God, which was chanted by the teens of St. Elijah Church, followed by a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the future of Orthodoxy unity in America. This was the first such Town Hall Meeting to take place since the historic Episcopal Assembly.
The first part of the Town Hall Meeting was dedicated to watching the video of His Grace, Bishop BASIL’s address at the 2010 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference, hosted by St. Elijah, Oklahoma City. His Grace, who was elected at the Episcopal Assembly as Secretary, explained to all of the clergy and laity some of the progress that the fifty-five Hierarchs who met had accomplished, and the next steps in preparing North America to be united administratively.
Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of St. John the Forerunner Antiochian Orthodox Church of Cedar Park, TX, was interviewed recently by the Austin Statesman newspaper. The occasion was the publication of his reflection on Orthodox parish life, Aidan's Song: A Year in the Life of a Parish Priest, available from Conciliar Press.
What gave you the idea to write this book?
While there are a lot of spiritual memoirs being written these days, most of them are by people who are either dissatisfied with their particular spiritual tradition and on their way out the door, or they are sampling a number of different spiritual traditions to try and find out what’s right for them, or they are just maintaining an ironic distance from any and all spiritual traditions. I thought that a memoir written by someone who has fully embraced a particular tradition and is finding joy in it would be unique.
Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of Archpriest Matthew MacKay, 54, proistamenos of St. Joseph Church in Houston, TX, Dean of East Texas and member of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America Council of Presbyters, who fell asleep in Christ yesterday morning, July 26th. Fr. Matthew is survived by his wife Khouriya Lynn and their sons Patrick and Sean.
It was with great shock and with sadness that I heard of the passing of Fr. Matthew. Fr. Matthew and I have been good friends since he was assigned to St. Joseph’s. For a good period of time, he heard my confession. He shared the altar with me at St. Joseph’s for many Fridays during Great Lent as we celebrated the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. We renewed this practice during this past Great Lenten period when I visited Houston and once again celebrated the Presanctified Liturgy with him on Friday morning.
Fr. Matthew was a priest who loved the holy Orthodox Church with his whole body and his whole soul. He celebrated the divine services diligently and with great joy. He loved God, and he loved the parishioners God gave him to minister to. I can remember many times when we visited together he talked about the concern that he had for the salvation of the parishioners of St. Joseph.
He was a man of great courage. He was not afraid to speak the truth, even if it meant that he would personally suffer because of it. The most important thing to him was that he did what God wanted him to do. In my humble opinion, he ministered faithfully and diligently, always seeking to do God’s will.