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Diocese of Wichita News

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

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." 

St. Timon Sunday 2015

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

The Feast of St. Timon, patron saint of the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran, is July 28th. On the preceding Sunday, 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).

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.

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

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."

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 ( 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

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


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