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Diocese of Wichita News

Updates on Texas Flooding

Further updates - May 27, 2015 12:00 p.m. Central time:

Fr. George Eber of St. Anthony Church in Tulsa, OK, Fr. Michael Pavez of St. Michael Church in Beaumont, TX and St. John the Divine Church in Lake Charles, LA, and Fr. Jeremy Davis of St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, OK all report that their homes, those of their faithful and their church temples are all undamaged by the storms.

Further updates - May 27, 2015 9:00 a.m. Central time:

Fr. Gregory Gibson of St. Silouan the Athonite Church in College Station, TX: "Your Grace: Bless, master! Thanks very much for checking on us. There is plenty of water to go around, and streams and lakes are very full. But so far, I am not aware of any significant flood damage in the immediate vicinity of College Station. There were also tornado warnings, but the local media didn't report any damage here either. Your son in Christ, Priest Gregory"

St. Timon Sunday 2015

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

The Feast of St. Timon, patron saint of the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran, is Tuesday, July 28th. On the preceding Sunday, July 26th, 2015, the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America will observe "St. Timon Sunday" when DOWAMA parishes and missions pray for and highlight the history, ministries and needs of our Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran shepherded by His Eminence Metropolitan Saba. However, if you will be remaining in Boston for the concluding Divine Liturgy on Sunday, July 26th you may keep "St. Timon Sunday" on the previous Sunday, July 19th. The text of my letter to the Diocese (PDF) about this observance is attached hereto. Immediately following your community's observance of St. Timon Sunday, please direct your parish treasurer to send one parish check for the total amount collected (payable to"DOWAMA FSJD Account" and earmarked "Bosra-Hauran") to the coordinator of The Hauran Connection Dn. James Kallail - 502 South Creekside - Derby, KS 67037. Questions? Contact Deacon James at kkallail@att.net.

May 22nd,2015

Beloved and Christ-loving priests, deacons, monastics and lay folk of DOWAMA:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Lord Christ.

In the Biblical account of the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2) we read of people from a multitude of nations who heard for the very first time and "everyone in his own language" (2:6) the proclamation by the Holy Apostles of the Good News. Among those people were "Arabians" (2:11) which meant people from Rome's frontier province of Arabia Petraea (the area of modern Syria south of Damascus, the Nabataean kingdom in modern Jordan, the Sinai peninsula and the northwestern tip of modern Saudi Arabia).

Icon Painting and Water Gilding Workshops in Denver, CO

St. Mark Church in Denver, CO will be hosting Icon Painting and Water Gilding workshops on June 15th-20th and June 22nd-23rd, 2015 under the direction of iconographer Theodore Papadopoulos of Larissa, Greece. For enrollment or information contact Mr. J.P. Andrews at 303-729-1855 or jp@sicafoundation.org.

Register for 2015 DOWAMA Bible Bowl

Khouriya Gigi Shadid writes:

Dear Fathers and Youth Workers, Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen! It is that time again to register your teen and/or adult teams for this year's Bible Bowl, hosted by St. Elias of Arvada, CO. This year's study text is Our Father Among the Saints, Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn: Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America. If you have a team, please fill out the attached form (one per team) and e-mail it back to me by the 31st of May at gigishadid@yahoo.com.

The Bible Bowl will take place on Thursday, June 11th from 7:30-9:30 and the winning teen team will have "first dibs" to represent DOWAMA at the national Bible Bowl in Boston this July.

Thanks so much for all of your hard work preparing our youth for this special Bible Bowl commemorating the 100th year of St. Raphael's falling asleep in the Lord. Looking forward to seeing you in Colorado, God willing.

Interview with Kh. Gigi Shadid: Teaching Service Through HUGS

Khouria Gigi Shadid, wife of Fr. James Shadid of St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, TX, is a mother of three, a school teacher, and former youth director. Her passion is teaching with music, and she has produced five educational music CDs to date. Several years ago, she developed the Matthew 25 HUGS program, or Hands Used for God's Service, in cooperation with the Archdiocese's Department of Christian Education. The goal of the program is to nurture generous spirits in the children of our church schools, with targeted activities and lessons at every grade level until children graduate from high school. Antiochian.org asked her to explain further.

Where did the idea for the HUGS program come from, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

My cousin, Georgina, is known for giving great hugs. One day, we were talking and she began telling me about how much she wishes she could go to the NICU at a hospital and just hug on the little babies there. I told her that her loving hugs are one of the gifts that God has given her and that she should share those hugs with as many people as she can. As we talked, Georgina expressed a desire to do more with that gift... but what?

2015 Paschal Letter from Bishop Basil

Pascha 2015

"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 Pascha)

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! Al-maseeh qaam! 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)

Applications Being Accepted for Summer Music Institute for Youth: July 9-12

Chris Farha, the Diocesan Sacred Music Coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America writes:

This will be our fourth year for Youth Music Ministry at the Department of Sacred Music's summer Sacred Music Institute. Each year, the numbers grow but every year the students walk away changed, inspired and better equipped to serve their churches with a heightened awareness, more knowledge about the hymnography of the Church and a better skill set with which to vocally execute the music of the Church. They establish deep friendships with their peers who are of like mind and cultivate those friendships throughout the year. It is a wonderful program that I also feel blessed to participate in and hope that you might help promote it in your parishes.

Memory Eternal! + Archpriest Thomas Williams

Archpriest Thomas Williams, 73, of St John the Theologian/Rapid City, SD reposed early on the morning of March 12, 2015 following a long and valiant battle with cancer. Father Thomas is survived by his wife Khouriya Josephine ("Jody"), their son Christopher and daughter-in-law Hillary, and grandson Shephard.

Ten priests from throughout the Diocese of Wichita joined  His Grace Bisho Basil and Hierodeacon Benedict for the Funeral Service for Departed Priest on Friday evening, March 13th, and for the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the General Funeral Service on Saturday morning. Fr. Michael Fulton of Holy Resurrection Church in Gillette, WY oversaw the vesting of Fr. Thomas and all aspects of the gospel vigil, divine services, interment and meal of mercy.

Read Fr. Thomas' obituary from the Rapid City Journal (PDF)

May his memory be eternal!

Patrick Henre Ordained to Holy Diaconate

HE IS WORTHY! Subdeacon Patrick Henre of St. Basil the Great Church in Kansas City, Kansas was ordained to the holy diaconate by Bishop Basil this past Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 and is assigned to that parish.

Spring 2015 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Spring 2015 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights The Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America! The issue contains:

  • Living the Christian Life in a Secular Age, by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph
  • The Springtime of the Soul, The Season of Repentance, by His Grace Bishop Basil
  • Introducing The 2013 - 2015 Board of Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America
  • I Am an Antiochian Woman, by Deana Bottei, Diocesan President
    Happenings Around the Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America

...and more! Download (PDF) here.

Lenten Retreat in Wichita, KS + March 20-21, 2015

I Was in Prison and You Visited Me:
Witnessing the Gospel in the Depths of Hell
Download Flyer (PDF)

A Lenten retreat with Fr. Stephen Powley will be held March 20th and 21st, 2015 at St Mary Church in Wichita, Kansas. Please see the attached flyer (PDF). The retreat is free to the public.

Fr. Stephen Powley has served in prison ministry for over 30 years, having the great privilege of being a spectator of many incredible events the God did in those prisons, some of which he has the honor to share with you! Fr. Stephen serves as Executive Director with Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM). OCPM assists men and women in prison with their spiritual journeys by providing study Bibles, correspondence studies, devotional books, prayer books and icons. The Correspondence Ministry of OCPM sends out hundreds of personal letters and cards each week. OCPM is also helping to establish and train Orthodox Prison Ministry teams throughout North America that go into prisons to provide Orthodox visits and services in person.

Lenten Retreat in Kansas City + February 21-23, 2015

A Lenten retreat with Dr. Christopher Veniamin will be held February 21st and 23rd, 2015 at St Basil the Great Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Please see the attached flyer (PDF). For more information, please contact host pastor Fr. Elias Issa at 913-663-2200 or Fr.Elias@StBasilKC.org.

Dr. Christopher Veniamin is a spiritual child of Elder Sophrony of Essex and Professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan PA, where he has served for more than 20 years. He received his first degree in Theology from the School of Theology in the University of Thessalonica, and his doctorate from the University of Oxford. Professor Veniamin is also the President of Mount Thabor Publishing.

Diocese of Wichita Holds 2015 Winter Camp St. Raphael

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Over 180 teens and OCFers from throughout the Diocese of Wichita gathered at Camp St. Raphael the weekend of January 17-18 for 2015 Winter Camp (WAMP). Many thanks to Fr. Daniel Bethancourt of St. Nicholas Church in Shreveport, Louisiana and Erin Ghata of St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, advisors to DOWAMA Teen SOYO, and all who helped them plan this event.

Application for 2015 Harry and Florence Kouri Scholarship Now Available

Application forms are now available for the 2015 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. Submissions must be postmarked no later than April 27th, 2015. Completed forms may be sent to:

The Chancery
1559 North Woodlawn Boulevard
Wichita, KS 67208-2429

Download 2015 Harry & Florence Kouri Memorial Scholarship Application Form (PDF)

Samuel Trant Ordained to Holy Diaconate

His Grace BIshop Basil writes:

AXIOS! Subdeacon Samuel Trant of Christ the Saviour Church in Jacksonville, Texas was ordained to the holy diaconate on Sunday, January 11th, 2015 and is assigned to that parish.

Niketas Sanders Elevated to Archdeacon

His Grace BIshop Basil writes:

AXIOS! On Sunday, January 11th, 2015, Deacon Niketas Sanders of St. Elias Church in Austin, Texas was elevated to the rank and dignity of Archdeacon.

Endowment Established to Honor Dr. George J. Farha

Students from Christ the Savior AcademyStudents from Christ the Savior AcademyDr. George J. Farha didn't like big events. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, people listened. So, when the idea of forming the first Orthodox day school in Kansas was presented to Dr. George and a group of his peers in 2009, he listened quietly, looked around the room and then proclaimed, "This school must happen. I'm going to support it, and I want each of you to support it too."

It is fitting, then, that five years later, the Dr. George J. Farha Endowment for Christ the Savior Academy is being established on the one-year anniversary of his passing on January 7 a year ago. The goal of the endowment is to raise $1 million, and the Trustees of the endowment board are asking Dr. George's friends and colleagues to join the family in raising the funds.

"It is my desire to secure his dream long-term for the Academy," said Brenda Farha, Dr. George's wife. "I believe with all of my heart that my husband would be so pleased, you see, this school was his dream."

Many Years to His Grace Bishop Basil!

Many years, master! January 1st is the celebration of St. Basil the Great and the name's day of His Grace Bishop Basil. May God grant him many years!

Apolytikion of St. Basil, Tone 1

In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.

St. Panteleimon Fellowship: A Society for the Practice of Orthodox Christian Healthcare

Christ healing the Paralytic (6th C. Mosaic)Christ healing the Paralytic (6th C. Mosaic)Greetings, Orthodox healthcare professionals!

With the approval of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and His Grace Bishop Basil (Antiochian Archdiocese of North America), the St. Panteleimon Fellowship has been launched for the benefit of all Orthodox health care professionals. This new organization has emerged from the coordinated efforts of Deacon Luke Stauffer, MD of St. Thomas Orthodox Mission in Frederickburg, TX and Father Symeon Kees of St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, TX.

The Great Martyr Panteleimon, a physician counted among the Unmercenary Healers of the Church, is our patron. Orthodox physicians, nurses, and all others who work in health care are invited into the Fellowship. Since the Church has always held the healing of the soul and body together, Orthodox clergy are certainly welcome. While our organization is currently rooted in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, all Orthodox Christians from our sister canonical jurisdictions are welcome. Indeed, the founders hope that the efforts of the Fellowship will create opportunities for health care professionals to share the Orthodox Way to non-Orthodox workers as well.

If you would like to be added to our email list, contact Alexandra Funchess (cafunchess@gmail.com). For more information, please download the St. Panteleimon Fellowships inaugural newsletter (PDF).

Let us confess the presence of Him who is both King and Physician. For Jesus the King when about to become our Physician, girded Himself with the linen of humanity, and healed that which was sick.

- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Dec. 15 + St. Eleftherios, Patron Saint of Diocese of Wichita

The Holy Hieromartyr Eleftherios

December 15th is also the anniversary of the formal establishment of the Diocese of Wichita in 2004. Click here to read His Grace Bishop Basil's address on the occasion (PDF).

The Passion of the Hieromartyr Eleftherios of Illyria

From a good tree comes good fruit.  This wonderful saint had noble and greatly eminent parents.  Eleutherius was born in Rome, where his father was an imperial proconsul.  His mother Anthia heard the Gospel from the great Apostle Paul and was baptized by him.  Having been left a widow early, she entrusted her only son for study and service to Anicetus the Bishop of Rome. 

Seeing how Eleutherius was gifted by God and illumined by the grace of God, the bishop ordained him a deacon at the age of fifteen, a priest at the age of eighteen, and a bishop at the age of twenty.  Eleutherius's God-given wisdom made up for what he lacked in years, and this chosen one of God was appointed Bishop of Illyria with his seat in Valona (Avlona), Albania.

Antiochian Priests Offer Teaching, Encouragement to Uganda's Church

Fr. John ChagnonFr. John ChagnonFr. George DahdouhFr. George DahdouhThis reflection was written by Fr. John Chagnon of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in St. Paul, MN, about a missions trip in which he and Fr. George Dahdouh of St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, TX travelled to Africa to minister to the Ugandan Orthodox Church. The article was originally published on November 25, 2014, in the Orthodox Christian Mission Center News.

Uganda is an Oregon-sized country in East Africa, 20 hours away by air and nine time zones ahead of us, and yet, by Faith we are family. Since just after World War II, canonical Orthodoxy has been part of the life of Uganda, spread not by missionaries but rather by Ugandans themselves who sought out and found the apostolic Christian Faith they were seeking, a Faith they chose rather than accept the faiths of the colonial powers that ruled them until the early 1960's.

The Ugandan Orthodox Church is led by His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah, himself the son of the leader of those who discovered Orthodoxy and brought it to Uganda. It is a young church, vital, and working in a culture where old and new are intertwined and some traditional brick houses have solar panels to make sure the cell phones are charged every night.

2015 Winter Camp St. Raphael

A Love Story
God's Love Revealed through Salvation history
with His Grace Bishop Basil

WHEN: Friday January 16 - Monday January 19, 2015

WHO: DOWAMA Teens

WHERE: Camp St. Raphael (a.k.a. YMCA Camp Takatoka - Wagoner, OK)

COST: $125 Teens (T-Shirt included) - $110 Chaperones (Must complete application and be accepted)

2015 Winter Camp (WAMP) will take place January 16th-19th at Camp St. Raphael (YABOY!) in Wagoner, OK. The featured speaker will be Bishop Basil. Flyers and registration forms are attached to this page. If you have questions, please contact Diocese of Wichita Youth Director Erin Ghata at erin@stelijahokc.com.

Ordination and Elevation of Fr. Gabriel Tannous and Archdeacon Meletios Marx

Elevation of Archdeacon MeletiosElevation of Archdeacon MeletiosHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! Fr. Gabriel Tannous, a son of DOWAMA and a senior at St. Vladimir's Seminary, was ordained to the holy priesthood at St. Anthony Church in Spring, Texas on Sunday, November 2nd, 2014.

WORTHY! Dn. Meletios Marx of St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas was elevated to the rank and dignity of archdeacon on the feast of the Holy Archangels (Saturday, November 8th, 2014).

Memory Eternal! + Charles Slemon

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

MEMORY ETERNAL! Charles Slemon, father of Kh. Sharon Nasr (retired at St. Elijah in Oklahoma City), OK, fell asleep in Christ in Rhode Island on Sunday, October 5th at the age of 96. Mr. Slemon will be buried this Saturday, October 11th, from St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Pawtucket, RI. Condolences may be sent to Archpriest Constantine Nasr and Kh. Sharon at revnasr@yahoo.com and sharonnasr@yahoo.com

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 he be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.

Read his obituary here.

Memory Eternal! + Catherine Kouri Massad

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Memory eternal! Catherine Kouri Massad of Ss. Constantine & Helen Church in Carrollton, Texas reposed last evening, October 11, 2014. Catherine (along with her late daughter Mary) was a longtime fixture at Diocese of Wichita Parish Life Conferences and Antiochian Women functions, and was also well known for her volunteer icon and gift shop "Catherine's Corner" at her parish church. Please join me in praying a rope for the repose of Catherine's soul, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, grant rest to the soul of thy departed servant." May she be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.