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."
On October 24th and 25th, 2008, faithful from throughout the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America will gather at St. George Church in Kearney, Nebraska for a diocesan pilgrimage to honor Fr. Nicola Yanney, the first priest of our diocese, on the 90th anniversary of his repose.
Please join us for this historic event!
For directions, logistical information and registration, please click here.
The Reverend Nicola Yanney, a native of Fi’eh, Lebanon, emigrated to the United States, arriving in Nebraska on December 1st, 1892. During his lifetime, Fr. Nicola was a man of several notable firsts. On April 3rd, 1904, Fr. Nicola became the first priest to be ordained by Bishop Raphael of Brooklyn after the saint’s consecration to the holy episcopacy. Taking up the cross of his priesthood and returning to his parish of St. George in Kearney, Nebraska, Fr. Nicola became the first resident Orthodox priest in what is now the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.
AXIOS! Stephen DeYoung, a DOWAMA vocation from St Nicholas/Shreveport, LA and a senior at St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA, will be ordained to the holy diaconate by Bishop THOMAS of Charleston at St. Mary's Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA on Sunday, October 12th.
MOUSTAHIQ! Fr. John Salem of St. George Church in Houston, TX will be elevated to the rank and dignity of Archpriest on Sunday, November 2nd, during festivities marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of St. George Church.
HE IS WORTHY! John Ballard, a DOWAMA vocation from Ss. Constantine & Helen Church in Dallas, TX and a middler at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY, will be ordained to the holy diaconate by Metropolitan PHILIP at St. Nicholas Church in Bridgeport, CT on Sunday, December 7th.
Here are some updates from Bishop BASIL on the parishes in the path of Hurricane Ike. From the reports that have come in so far, all clergy and their families are safe, and their homes are mostly unharmed, with only minor damage (at least, as can be determined now). Several priests have not been able to travel to their churches or contact their parishioners, so please continue your prayers for our Orthodox brethren as they clean and rebuild.
St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS has recently been featured on local news broadcasts covering the installation four new mosaic icons on its exterior facades. The icons are beautiful reproductions of well known, ancient icons, including images of Christ, the Theotokos, and St. John the Forerunner from the 12th century mosaic from Hagia Sophia, which can be seen here and the 13th century icon of the Great-Martyr George in the Church of St. George Struga on the shore of Lake Ochrid in Macedonia, which can be seen here.
The mosaic icons are done by Bruno Salvatori, a master mosaicist from Florence, Italy. Mr. Salvatori is the same artist who has done the five mosaic icons that adorn the exterior of the Cathedral's eastern apse.
A video on the new mosaics, produced by the local NBC affiliate, can be seen here: www.ksn.com/news/local/28224734.html?video=YHI&t=a (cut and paste link into your browser).
From Fr. John Mefrige of St. Ephraim Church in San Antonio, TX:
The oncoming projections of Hurricane IKE places its path DIRECTLY over San Antonio. Despite being 150 miles from the ocean it is possible that we could experience 100 mile an hour winds should this make landfall as a category 4 or 5. Presently it is predicted to make landfall between Port O'Connor and Corpus Christi as a category 3 on early morning this Saturday. At present there is a 40% chance of Tropical Storm Force winds hitting us. For more information and up to the minute coverage see:
Despite the incoming track of Hurricane Ike, we WILL have Saturday Great Vespers and Sunday morning Services at the usual time. However you are urged to pay close attention to the weather and follow appropriate emergency measures, especially all evacuation orders. Services are only going to be held because Fr. John does not need to drive to the Church as the parish house is next door.
If there are any parishioners that feel that their homes will not be able to weather the storm they are directed to follow official evacuation orders or to PORT SAN ANTONIO where FEMA and Emergency Authorities are holding evaquees. Fr. John Khouriee Janet and the girls will be riding out the storm in the church which is a concrete structure.
From Deacon Elias of St. John the Divine Church in Lake Charles, LA:
Orthodox chaplain Fr. Mark Sahady (pictured left) was congratulated by President Bush for helping minister to evacuees from the Hurricane Gustav in San Antonio, TX. Fr. Mark organized the Chaplain Corp at Lackland Air Force Base (near San Antonio) to greet the evacuees when they arrived and to give them pastoral care while they were waiting to be sheltered.
Fr. Mark says, "I also was involved three years ago with Hurricane Katrina doing the same thing and also caring for them [the evacuees] in the shelters. This time the organization was much better and everything went much smoother. It was very impressive how quickly and smoothly the evacuees were cared for this time."
His Grace, our Bishop BASIL will visit the congregation of St. Mary in Wichita this weekend for the celebration of their maternal feast - the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. In addition to their maternal feast on Monday, September 8, Bp. BASIL will celebrate Divine Liturgy on Sunday as well. The schedule of services for the weekend is:
SATURDAY - SEPTEMBER 6th
5:00pm Great Vespers
SUNDAY - SEPTEMBER 7th
10:30am Hierarchical Divine Liturgy
5:00pm Great Vespers
MONDAY - SEPTEMBER 8th
8:00am Divine Liturgy
His Grace, Bp. BASIL reports that the clergy, people and churches in western Louisiana and eastern Texas have escaped unscathed from the damage and flooding of Hurricane Gustav. Praise God!