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Diocese of Wichita News

Groundbreaking for St. Luke's New Temple + Lafayette, CO

by Dn. Mark Berge
Photos by Kirk Tatusko and Ron Brotzman

On February 14, 2009, the parish of St. Luke Orthodox Church in Lafayette, Colorado was honored to welcome His Grace Bishop Basil for the service of ground-breaking at the site of our new temple.

Our parish has been blessed with increasing membership since its founding in 1991. The current temple, seating 200, was built in 1995 with a subsequent expansion in 1998. We tried to expand our church again, but this proved impossible given the county's firm rules on development and our lack of sufficient land. With steady growth in new members our beloved Bishop Basil challenged us in October of 2007 to move to a new location and erect a beautiful temple with seating for 400 to 450 people. We were frankly astounded when he went on to predict that such a task could be done in about two years if God blessed it. Our priest Father David Mustian had been encouraging us to pray about our space needs for several years. With the core of a building committee already in place we were eager to try to meet our bishop’s challenge.

Metropolitan SABA Unable to Attend DOWAMA PLC

Update: In lieu of Metropolitan SABA we are pleased to announce our keynote session "The Hauran Connection" which will be led by Fr. Richard Petranek and Fr. Matthew McKay who have just returned from a service trip to Hauran.


Bishop BASIL writes:

Metropolitan SABA of the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran has recently informed me that, due to circumstances beyond his control, he will be unable to attend our Parish Life Conference in Wichita this June 10th-13th.  His Eminence will be greatly missed.

2009 Paschal Letter from Bishop BASIL


Beloved and Christ-loving Clergy, Monastics and Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Resurrected
Theanthropos Jesus Christ, and, together with you and Orthodox Christians throughout
the world, I joyfully proclaim that Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! ! ألمسيح قام Христос
Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Cristo ha resucitado!

On this radiant Feast of feasts I share with you, my dearly beloved spiritual children,
the following soul-profiting words excerpted from a Paschal homily of our father among
the saints Gregory the Theologian (330-390):

This is the Day of Resurrection! Let us all be united in heart, and let us give glory to God on this
solemn festival. Let us address as brothers even those who hate us, as also those who love us, and have
helped us, and have suffered anything on our behalf. Let us forgive all things in the Resurrection ...
Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him;
today I am given life with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise again with Him.
Today let us offer unto Him, Who has suffered and Who has risen for us, ourselves, which to God is
the most precious and becoming of gifts.

Wishing you and your families a glorious Paschal season perfumed with the sweet
fragrance of good works and holiness, looking forward to being with you all at our
Diocesan Family Reunion in Wichita this June 10th - 13th, and assuring you of my
continued love, prayers and blessings, I remain

Your Father in the Risen Christ,

+ Bishop Basil

Hauran Connection Sunday School Materials Online

The Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Hauran Connection web page has been updated with a collection of Sunday School materials pertaining the the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran. These materials include lesson plans, a map and poster, and a message from His Eminence Metropolitan SABA, as well as materials for pre-kindergarten through high school levels. The materials were developed by Sally Buxton of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS. The power of the message they present will be strengthened if these materials are combined with prayers for the children and families of the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran.  Some teachers also have collected donations from their children for the children of our Sister Diocese.  May God bless your ministry to His children.

Some Reminders from the 2009 PLC Committee

Requests from our 2009 PLC Committee at St Mary/Wichita, KS:

  • If you would prefer vegetarian meals at the Parish Life Conference, June 10-13 (the fast-free week after Pentecost), please inform Fellowship President JUDY STANLEY ( as soon as possible so that she can compile a count for them.
  • Registration forms are being received without the $10 registration fee included.  Please remind your parishioners that this must be add to all registration forms for anyone over the age of 12 years old.
  • Please get your ads for the PLC's Souvenir Journal submitted as soon as possible.  Questions or comments?  Contact PLC Chair HELEN STITT at

Bishop BASIL Celebrates Sunday of Orthodoxy with Fellow Hierarchs

The hierarchs reading the Synodikon of Orthodoxy.

On Sunday, March 8, 2009, Bishop BASIL of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Metropolitan ISAIAH of the Greek Archdiocese and Archbishop DMITRI of the OCA gathered at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas to celebrate the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

Photos courtesy of Subdeacon Vladimir Grigorenko of St. Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX.

DOWAMA Antiochian Women Featured in DIAKONIA

The Spring 2009 issue of DIAKONIA, the quarterly newsletter of the Antiochian Women of North America, features the Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America (DOWAMA). Click here to read the Spring 2009 issue!

St. Luke Church Breaks Ground on New Temple

clip_image001[4]Bishop BASIL writes:

This past Saturday, February 14th, 2009, I visited with Fr. David Mustian and the good people of St. Luke/Lafayette, CO to break ground and plant the Cross at the site of their proposed new church temple in the nearby town of Erie, CO.  Clergy from our Rocky Mountain Deanery and from other jurisdictions were in attendance, as well as over 250 lay folk, including the mayor of Erie, the town council and other town officials.

Father David and Building Committee Chair Mrs. Kirk (Lisa) Tatusko report that the congregation hopes to be in the new facility by their patronal feast day on October 18th.  May it be blessed!

2009 St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

Bishop BASIL writes:

It was a great joy to be with Bishop MARK and so many of you this past week at our DOWAMA St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood Retreat at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, KS.  Those of you who, for a variety of reasons, were unable to attend were truly missed!

Photo by Dn. Mark Berge

2010 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

The 38th Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

February 2-5, 2010

The Spiritual Life Center – 7100 East 45th Street, North – Wichita, Kansas – (316) 744-0167


"What is man, that Thou shouldest magnify him and the Thou shouldest set Thine heart upon him?"


Mark your calendars now! our featured speaker will be Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex, and his topic will be "What is man, that Thou shouldest magnify him and the Thou shouldest set Thine heart upon him? (Job 7:17): Fulfillment of Personhood according to Elder Sophrony of Essex." This is another Brotherhood Retreat you certainly will not want to miss!

Updates to St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood Web Site

Bishop BASIL writes:

Please note that our St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood's Liturgical Resources web site has been redesigned and has a new address: Many and most sincere thanks to Reader John Michael Press of Ss. Peter and Paul/Topeka, KS who has served as our web master since the site's inception.

Basil Esper: Memory Eternal!

Bishop BASIL writes:

Dear to Christ, Fathers and Brothers:


Basil Esper: Memory Eternal! Basil Esper of the Syrian port city of Lattakiya, the father of His Eminence Metropolitan SABA of Bosra-Hauran, fell asleep in Christ on Saturday, December 13th.  Please join me in praying a rope for the repose of his soul, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, grant rest to the soul of Thy departed servant."

May his memory be eternal, and may you be granted long life.

In Christ Who is our Resurrection and our Life,

+ B A S I L
Bishop of Wichita and the Diocese of Mid-America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

DOWAMA's 2009 College Mission Trip: Bosra-Hauran

As part of the sister diocese relationship between the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran and the Diocese of Wichita and Mid America, Father Richard Petranek of St. Paul Church and Father Matthew MacKay of St. Joseph Church of Houston, Texas, have been blessed by Metropolitan PHILIP of New York, Metropolitan SABA of Bosra, and Bishop BASIL of Wichita to lead a group of eighteen college age students from the Diocese of Mid- America on a Mission Trip to the ancient Archdiocese of Bosra in southwest Syria.

The purpose of the two week Mission Trip (May 24th-June 7th, 2009) is to join with Metropolitan SABA and his clergy and laity who are valiantly laboring to rebuild the church temples, shrines and ministries of the Archdiocese. Our group will assist in refurbishing some of the church temples and properties of this ancient See. In addition, the group will go on pilgrimage to several of the most famous monasteries, shrines and historical sites of the Patriarchate of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East.

In addition to work projects, the young people will also make pilgrimage to many of the most revered holy sites within our Patriarchate, including the house chapel of St. Ananias where the Holy Apostle Paul was baptized and the Patriarchal Cathedral and residence in Damascus, the women's monasteries of Our Lady in Saydnaya and St. Thekla in Ma'aloula, the men's monastery of St. George Al-Humayrah in the "Valley of the Christians," the reliquary shrine of the Martyr and Unmercenary Healer St. Julian (Mar Ilyan) in Homs.  The group will return to the U.S. in time to attend our Parish Life Conference in Wichita where they, along with Metropolitan SABA, will share their experiences with us. 

Cost is $2,000.00 per person (including round-trip airfare from Houston, lodging and meals).

It is our hope that we will have young people from every DOWAMA Deanery on this trip!

Bishop BASIL's Christmas Letter 2008

The Nativity 2008

To the Right Reverend Archimandrites, the Very Reverend and Reverend Priests and
Deacons and their families, the Venerable Monastics, and all the Christ-loving Faithful of
the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Incarnate Christ. I
send to each of you and your communities my paternal love, festal greetings and prayerful
best wishes for the merriest of Christmases and a healthy and happy 2009.

Glorify Him!

In Christ Jesus the Incarnate Word,

+ B A S I L
Bishop of Wichita and the Diocese of Mid-America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

2009 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat


The 37th Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

February 3-6, 2009

The Spiritual Life Center – 7100 East 45th Street, North – Wichita, Kansas – (316) 744-0167

"All Scripture is Given by Inspiration of God"

BishopMARKThe Right Reverend Bishop MARK of Toledo and the Diocese of the Midwest has graciously accepted the invitation to be the featured speaker at the 37th Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat, which will be hosted at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, KS, Tuesday through Friday, February 3rd through 6th, 2009.  The theme of the retreat is "All Scripture is Given by Inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16a).

Download a detailed schedule (PDF format)

Winter Camp St. Raphael

Winter Camp St. Raphael Winter Camp St. Raphael, hosted by DOWAMA SOYO, will be held at Camp St. Raphael in Wagoner, OK, January 16th-19th, 2009.  This first-ever weekend event is open to teens who are in 7th-12th grades.  For more information and registration materials, please contact CSR Director Fr. James Shadid at or DOWAMA Youth Director Camille Baba at

Click here to download the Winter Camp St. Raphael application and flyer (Adobe PDF format).

Photos from Bishop BASIL's Visit to Rocky Mountain Deanery

A selection of photographs from His Grace Bishop BASIL's visit to the Rocky Mountain Deanery in late September and early October, 2008:

September 27, 2008 - 1st Rocky Mountain Deanery All-Parish Picnic and Vespers in Denver, CO.

Fr. John Salem to be Elevated to Archpriest

Fr. John Salem

Bishop BASIL writes:

AXIOS! Father John Salem of St. George Church in Houston, Texas will be elevated to the rank and dignity of Archpriest this coming Sunday, November 2nd, during festivities marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of St. George Church.

Diocesan Pilgrimage Commemorates Fr. Nicola Yanney

Bishop BASIL writes:

Consecration of  Fr. Nicola's GraveBY YOUR PRAYERS, the Diocesan Pilgrimage held this past weekend in Kearney, NE was a truly blessed event.  Twenty priests, five deacons and over 150 laity from twenty-three of DOWAMA's fifty congregations joined our hosts Fr. Christopher Morris and the Christ-loving faithful of St. George/Kearney, NE for a weekend filled with divine services, homilies, historical talks and presentations (not one business meeting!).  Numbered among the pilgrims were many of Father Nicola's grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

The Pilgrimage (held in lieu of our Fall Gathering) began on Friday afternoon with the Akathist to St. Raphael at St. George Church.  The rousing congregational singing was led by Subdeacon John Wolf, Protopsaltis of St. George/Kearney.

Diocesan Pilgrimage Schedule

Wednesday, October 22nd is the deadline to register for the Diocesan Pilgrimage! If you have not yet registered, contact FATHER CHRISTOPHER MORRIS of St. George/Kearney, NE today by email ( or by telephone (308-234-9252 or 308-234-6969). 

The Pilgrimage Schedule is as follows:

Friday, October 24th

  • 4:00 pm—Akathist to St. Raphael of Brooklyn at St. George Church
  • 5:00 pm—Blessing of Father Nicola’s new gravestone at the Kearney Cemetery
  • 6:00 pm—Dinner and keynote address by Bishop Basil at the Ramada Inn

Saturday, October 25th

  • 8:45 am—Orthros at St. George Church
  • 10:00 am—Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and Trisagion Prayers of Mercy
  • Noon—Lunch and address by Father Paul Hodge at the Ramada Inn
  • 3:00 pm—Great Vespers at St. George Church

(Conclusion of the Pilgrimage.  For those staying over:)

Sunday, October 26th

  • 8:45 am—Orthros at St George Church
  • 10:00 am—Divine Liturgy presided over by Bishop Basil

Clergy are reminded to bring with them GOLD vestments for concelebrating divine services.

Register for the 2nd Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament

An important note from our Diocesan Youth Director, Camille Baba: 

Registration for our 2nd Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament & Retreat (November 14th-16th) is happening right now!  Visit for all the forms, but what is MOST important is each individual's registration form and medical release form attached to this email be completed and mailed.  Please have each of your teens complete this form and send it directly to: St. Elijah Orthodox Church - Attn: Erin Learned - 15000 N. May Avenue - Oklahoma City, OK 73134. If for any reason your teens cannot do this before the November 1st deadline, please call Erin (405-755-7804) and tell her exactly how many teens will be attending from your parish. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at my office at the Cathedral (316-636-4676).

Download Parental Authorization and Medical Consent Form (PDF Format)

Metropolitan SABA to Speak at 2009 DOWAMA PLC

Met SABA and Bp BASILHis Eminence Metropolitan SABA, Archbishop of Bosra-Hauran, will be the keynote speaker at the 2009 Parish Life Conference of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. The PLC will be held during the fast-free week after Pentecost from June 10-13, 2009. The host parish will be St. Mary Church in Wichita, Kansas.

For more information on Metropolitan SABA and the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran, please visit The Hauran Connection, the web page for the Sister Diocese Program between Wichita and Bosra-Hauran.

2nd Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament

The 2nd Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament will be hosted November 14th - 16th at St Elijah Church, Oklahoma City, OK.  Registration fee is $50.00 per team.  For further information go to or contact the DOWAMA Youth Director Camille Baba of St George Cathedral/Wichita, KS at camillesbaba [at] yahoo [dot] com or the DOWAMA SOYO Spiritual Advisor Fr. Antony Bahou of Ss Constantine & Helen/Dallas, TX at antonyel [at] hotmail [dot] com.

A Son's Journey to the Priesthood

During the weekend of June 7–8, 2008, clergy, family and friends gathered at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to witness the ordination of Fr. Daniel Bethancourt by Bishop BASIL – first to the diaconate and then to the holy priesthood.

Fr. Daniel is the son of Archpriest John Bethancourt, Holy Trinity’s pastor. “Holy Trinity is my spiritual ‘hometown,’” said Fr. Daniel, “where I was raised during the early years of my life as an Orthodox Christian. It was wonderful to be ordained there with my parish family-of-origin present. I felt surrounded by love and prayers.”

Fr. Daniel’s sponsors to the diaconate were Holy Trinity’s Archdeacon Basil Rives and Dn. Justin Havens of Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Salt Lake City. His sponsors to the priesthood were his father, Archpriest John Bethancourt, and his spiri­tual father, Archpriest Paul Moses Jaroslaw.

This was a special privilege for both father and son. “I was overjoyed to have my natural father and my spiritual father as my sponsors,” said Fr. Daniel. “They’ve both been mentors to me in the past, and I’ve already gone to both of them for advice since my ordination.” Fr. John added, “There is within me a feeling perhaps somewhat akin to that of the aged Simeon in the Temple: now I can die in peace.”

A number of other area priests served along­side Bishop BASIL at the two hierarchical divine liturgies, including Hieromonk John Anderson of St. Michael’s Skete in Canones, Economos Demetrios Demopulos of St. Elias Church in El Dorado, Fr. John Hennies of St. Dimitri Church in Los Alamos and Fr. Luke Huggins of St. Juliana Church in Santa Fe. Holy Trinity’s Subdeacon Raphael Nava and Subdeacon Joseph Olas, a classmate of Fr. Daniel from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, also served.

The Hauran Connection Sister Diocese Program Online

The Hauran Connection The Department of Internet Ministry has recently created a dedicated web page for The Hauran Connection, the Sister Diocese program between the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran in Syria and the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. The Sister Diocese program aims to provide material support and prayer and to foster increased awareness of the circumstances of our fellow Orthodox Christians in Syria.

In the words of His Grace, Bishop BASIL:

"One of the most venerable Archdioceses of our Patriarchate, the Archdiocese of Bosra now finds itself facing very difficult times. Due to the frequency of warfare in that area, the occupation of much of its territory by a neighboring unfriendly nation, and the resultant unemployment and poverty, most of its people are economic refugees, having relocated to Damascus or departed for the Americas, Australia, Europe or the Gulf States.

In a gesture of Christian love and support for Metropolitan SABA and his flock, the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America has committed itself to a “Sister Diocese” relationship with the Archdiocese of Bosra."