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Diocese of Wichita News

2016 Winter Camp St. Raphael

Fr. Nicholas BelcherFr. Nicholas BelcherThe Diocese of Wichita Winter Camp 2016 (WAMP) will take place at Camp St. Raphael in Wagoner, Oklahoma from January 15th-18th, 2016. The retreat speaker will be Fr. Nicholas Belcher from Hellenic College/Holy Cross. Teens in 7th-12th grade can register for the retreat at

Questions? Contact DOWAMA Youth Director Erin Ghata at

Young Orthodox Professionals Gather in Santa Fe, NM

Valerie Blomberg writes:

"As Orthodox young people gather, personal isolation ceases to influence the development of their Orthodox identity."

These are the words Archimandrite Gerasim, dean of St. Seraphim's Cathedral in Dallas and our keynote speaker, gave us before the start of the Orthodox Young Professionals Retreat held in Santa Fe, New Mexico from October 16-18, 2015. We felt his words to be true as a community of Orthodox young adults formed over the course of the three day retreat. Most of us were strangers to one another at the start, but soon became fast friends. Personal isolation fell away as we discovered a community of like-minded young adults who would support us in answering the call to "sanctify time and space" and to bring Christ into the midst of our everyday lives.

Bishop Basil's Homily at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Los Angeles, California

Over the weekend of October 22-25, 2015, the hierarchs and Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese convened in Van Nuys and Los Angeles, CA, for their annual Fall Meeting. On Sunday morning, October 25, the hierarchs and clergy gathered with the faithful of St. Nicholas Cathedral for Orthros and the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph invited His Grace Bishop Basil of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America to preach the homily. His Grace focused on the Epistle reading of the day, Galatians 2:16-20, in which St. Paul said "that a man is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ."

Presented by the Multimedia Ministry Team at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Los Angeles, California

November 2015 DOWAMA Ordination and Elevations

Bishop Basil with the newly-elevated Archpriest James Shadid and Archdeacon Joseph Carter.Bishop Basil with the newly-elevated Archpriest James Shadid and Archdeacon Joseph Carter.His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! On Sunday, November 1st, Fr. James Shadid and Deacon Joseph Carter, both of St. George Church in Houston, Texas, were elevated to the rank and dignity of Archpriest and Archdeacon respectively.

WORTHY! On Sunday, November 8th, Subdeacon Paul Fuller, former youth director at St. George Church in Houston, Texas, now in his senior year at St. Vladimir's Seminary, was ordained to the holy diaconate.

Fr. Patrick Henre Ordained to Holy Priesthood

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! Father Patrick Henre of St. Basil the Great Church in Kansas City, KS was ordained to the holy priesthood at his home parish of St. Basil the Great on Sunday, September 13th, 2015, and is assigned to the pastorate at the Church of St. John the Theologian in Rapid City, SD, effective October 1st. He will serve his 'Week of Liturgies' at St Basil Church beginning with that for the Elevation of the Cross.

9th Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament

The 9th Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament will hosted Friday through Sunday, October 2-4, 2015 at St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Seminarian Alex Mackoul will be the retreat speaker. A flyer and registration forms are attached hereto.

$35 per person- includes t-shirt, meals, and snacks, **DOES NOT INCLUDE HOTEL** $50 Team Registration

Please Return forms by September 26th, 2015 to: St. Elijah Orthodox Church Attn: Erin Ghata, 15000 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK

A Veteran’s Journey of Faith: The Life of Archdeacon Basil Rives

The following article inaugurates a new series on In "Antiochian Profiles," we will feature some of the many eminent Christians of past and present who have found a spiritual home in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. This story, written by Michael Price and published by the Conciliar Press (now Ancient Faith Publishing) magazine AGAIN in 2004, describes the remarkable life of the newly reposed Archdeacon Basil Rives of Santa Fe, NM.

Deacon Basil Rives of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a man of many names. He began his life under the name of Harold, “although for some reason I was always called Bill as a child, even though that is nowhere in my name,” he said. Other monikers include Hal and Slim. Nowadays, his fellow parishioners know him affectionately as Fr. Basil.

Like many veterans, no matter from which war, his military experiences have affected and solidified his spiritual beliefs.

Memory Eternal! +Archdeacon Basil Rives

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

While we were all at Divine Liturgy this morning Archdeacon Basil Rives, 94, of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Santa Fe, NM, the eldest clergyman of our Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, fell asleep in Christ. May he be granted Paradise! Archdeacon Basil, born May 23, 1921, was preceded in death by his wife Shamassy Mary Anne, and is survived by four sons and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

The first Trisagion Prayers of Mercy were prayed for Archdeacon Basil by Fr. John Bethancourt and the congregation of Holy Trinity following this morning's Divine Liturgy.  Condolences may be sent to the Rives Family c/o Father John Bethancourt at

Read the obituary for Archdeacon Basil Rives in the Santa Fe New Mexican

Funeral Arrangements for Archdeacon Basil (everything will take place at Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe):

Young Orthodox Professionals Retreat in Santa Fe, NM + October 16-18, 2015

Sanctifying Time and Space
Privilege and Responsibility as an Orthodox Young Professional
October 16-18, 2015 + Santa Fe, NM
Retreat Facebook page

Keynote Speaker: Archimandrite Gerasim
Dean, St. Seraphim's Cathedral, Dallas

In addition to the keynote presentation and breakout sessions, the retreat will also offer activities including a fall color hike in Santa Fe National Forest, exploring historic downtown Santa Fe, evening activities and worship at Holy Trinity Antiochian Orthodox Church.

For more information, including registration, travel and hotel information and a complete schedule, please visit

SOYO Vice President Munir Pavez Reports on Ministry Trip

Munir Pavez (back row, left) and other team members in the IOCC Serv-X-treme service groupMunir Pavez (back row, left) and other team members in the IOCC Serv-X-treme service groupMunir Pavez is the son of Fr. Michael and Khouriya Mireille of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Beaumont, TX. As President of the Diocese of Wichita's SOYO, and Vice President of the NAC SOYO, he recently participated in a youth service conference sponsored by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). After this week of ministry, Munir wrote this report for Bishop Basil.

 Your Grace Bishop Basil: Master, bless.

Blessed Feast of the Transfiguration! I also hope that the end of the Dormition fast continues to be fruitful and blessed. It was great seeing you at the Archdiocesan Convention a few weeks ago! I would just like to tell you a little bit about my trip to Minneapolis last week for the IOCC Serv-X-treme Conference. As you probably know, this was a pan-Orthodox leadership/service conference for high school seniors that, by your blessing and delegation, I was so fortunate to attend. Going in, I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect. I had no idea that the next seven days would be some of the most amazing and fruitful of my life.

Throughout the week, we had many speakers come talk to us about various topics such as suffering, compassion, charity, and Orthodox unity, just to name a few. However, the main focus of the week was service. Every day the group of 26 teens would complete at least one or two service projects.

Next Pan-Orthodox "Be the Bee" Youth Retreat is August 29 in Austin, TX

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, encourages youth workers, parents, and young people to attend their nearest Pan-Orthodox "Be the Bee" Retreat. The retreats are starting in August 2015 and repeating each month in different locations throughout the United States, until May 2016.


St. George Houston Wins 2015 Bible Bowl

The Diocese of Wichita's Bible Bowl team from St. George in Houston, Texas took First Place at the Archdiocesan competition held last week during the Archdiocesan Convention in Boston, MA. Congratulations and many years to our winning team members and their coach and parish youth director Grace Tannous!

Listen to the 2015 Bible Bowl on Ancient Faith Radio

St. Timon Sunday 2016

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 24th, 2016, 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. 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

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).

2015 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference Concludes

DOWAMA Clergy preparing for Saturday's Divine LiturgyDOWAMA Clergy preparing for Saturday's Divine LiturgyHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Many years and most sincere thanks to Fr. George and Khouriya Raghad Shawareb and the congregation of St. Elias Church in Arvada, Colorado for hosting the most enjoyable 2015 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference on June 10-14, 2015.

The Diocese of Wichita's auxiliary organizations will be headed by the following persons for the 2015-2016 year:

  • Fr. Richard Petranek, proestos of the Council of Deans
  • Mr. A.B. Bayouth, president of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine
  • Mr. Munir Pavez, president of SOYO
  • Mrs. Deanna Bottei, president of the Antiochian Women
  • Mr. Barry Busada, chair of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch

Next year's PLC will be hosted by St. Antony Church Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Winning Video from Diocese of Wichita 2015 Creative Festivals

The video above won first place in the video category of the Diocese of Wichita's 2015 Creative Arts Festival. It was produced by Dimitri Hermantas and Danny Saber of St. George Houston, Texas.

Update on the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Update on the situation in our Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran:

Clergy of the Archdiocese

His Eminence Metropolitan Saba of Bosra (lives at the Chancery in Al-Sweda)
Archimandrite Isaac (serves Ira)
Priest Peter (serves Al-Sweda and Jbeb)
Priest George (serves Daraa)
Priest Peter (serves Znebe)
Priest Philip (serves Al-Osilha, Adara and Shahba)
Priest George (serves Salkhad, Aramman, Malah, Anz and Om Aromman)
Priest Simeon (serves Al-Korayya, Tisiya and Maarbeh)
Priest Elias (serves Izraa and Mothbeen)
Priest Timon (serves Kharaba and Rakham)
Priest Paul (retired)
Deacon Joseph
Rami (to be ordained to the holy diaconate)
Anas (to be ordained to the holy diaconate

Most affected parishes of the Archdiocese

Daraa: Half of the families fled to Damascus; 45 families lost their homes.
Kharaba: Only 36 families remain while 160 families fled to Al-Sweda and Ira.
Jbeb: Only 18 elderly people remain while all others fled to Damascus or Al-Sweda.
Al-Osilha: Half of the families remain while the other half fled to Al-Sweda.
Maarbeh: All of the parishioners fled and are now refugees.
Rakham: All of the parishioners fled and are now refugees.
Tisiya: All of the parishioners fled and are now refugees.
Smej: All of the parishioners fled and are now refugees.

Most of the Archdiocese's relief work is now being done in Sweda and Daraa.

DOWAMA Welcomes Fr. Joshua Burnett and Fr. Mark Vair

His Grace BIshop Basil writes:

Wlecome to DOWAMA! Fr. Joshua Burnett, who graduated from St. Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, NY on May 30th, 2015, has been assigned second priest at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS effective July 1st. Fr. Mark Vair, another recent gradute from St. Vladimir's Seminary, has been assigned proistamenos at St. Ephraim the Syrian Church in San Antonio, TX effective July 1st.

Updates on Texas Flooding

Further updates - May 28, 2015 8:00 a.m. Central time - We have now heard from 25 of our parishes in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas:

Fr. Mark Telschow of Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Midland, TX reports, "By God's grace and your prayers, our people and temple are fine. Lots of wind and hail but less rain than others. No flooding or damage to the temple or members homes. Thanks be to God."

Fr. Robert Weber of Our Lady of Walsingham in Mesquite, TX writes: "Thank you so much for your concern and prayers. Some, in the parish, have sustained minor wind damage but all are safe. Thanks be to God." 

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

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

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. 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.