Diocese of Wichita News
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).
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.
This 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.
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 email@example.com.
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.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.
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.
His Grace BIshop Basil writes:
AXIOS! Juvenaly Hale of St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas was ordained to the holy diaconate Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at St. Joseph Church in Houston.
On Friday evening, September 5, 2014, The Orthodox Clergy Association of Southeast Texas held a Town Hall Meeting at St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas (with rector The Rev. James Shadid), titled "The Silent Holocaust—The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East." The press release following the event reported that all of the Orthodox, Coptic and Syriac Christian communities in the area participated—approximately 300 persons, including 16 priests. Jurisdictions represented were the Greek Archdiocese (GOA), the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the Serbian Diocese of Midwestern America, and Coptic and Syriac Dioceses.
There were four speakers, including Hieromonk Bashar (al-Shamany) of the Syriac Orthodox Church. Originally from Mosul, the he spoke about the current situation in the Middle East. Father Bashar's family are currently among the thousands of scattered refugees. A question and answer period followed, and a large collection was taken for the IOCC's relief work in the Middle East.
At the conclusion of the Town Hall, all of the Orthodox clergy offered up the Trisagion Prayers for those who have died.
2015 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat
February 3rd-6th, 2015
Spiritual Life Center + Wichita, KS
Featuring guest speakers Sam Noble, Matthew Namee and Fr. Christopher Morris
DOWAMA'S 43rd Annual Clergy Brotherhood Retreat will be held at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas during the Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, Tuesday-Friday, February 3rd-6th, 2015.
Since February 27th, 2015 will mark the centenary of the repose of the patron saint of our Clergy Brotherhood St. Raphael of Brooklyn, DOWAMA will inaugurate the centennial year at the Clergy Brotherhood Retreat, which will focus on St. Raphael's life, ministry and legacy. The featured guest speaker will be Samuel Noble, well known for his blog "Notes on Arab Orthodoxy" and the newly published book he co-authored with Alexander Treiger The Orthodox Church in the Arab World 700-1700: An Anthology of Sources.
The 8th Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament will hosted Friday through Sunday, October 3rd-5th, 2014 at St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The retreat speaker will be Khouriya Gigi Shadid of St. George Church in Houston, Texas. A flyer and registration forms are attached hereto.
Questions? Contact DOWAMA Youth Director Erin Ghata at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A note to our young adults from Fr. David Barr of St. Elias Church in Austin, Texas. Father David writes:
Howdy, y'all! We are thrilled to be hosting Austin's first pan-Orthodox Young Professionals Conference. Join us on October 24th-26th, 2014, deep in the heart of Texas, for an incredible weekend, packed full of spiritual and social activities. Get to know and spend time with fellow Orthodox Christians as we learn what it means to live authentically. Explore the concepts of 'Real Life, True Faith' with Dr. George Stavros during the keynote address, as well as during breakout sessions led by both esteemed clergy and theologians. Later on, perhaps you'd like to check out the vintage shops on South Congress, or maybe you'd rather try your luck at paddling on Town Lake. One thing's for sure -- you can't leave Austin without some authentic BBQ! We'll reflect, learn, and worship together, discover Austin's hotspots, and form lifelong connections.
Early bird registration ends on September 1st.
Register on our website: http://peliniko.wix.com/yal-2014-austin
Check us out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AustinConference#!/events/268607640009171
Email us at: email@example.com
An audio CD of the hymns of Great Vespers, the Lamentations, and the Orthros hymns for the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos has been made available in anticipation of the August 15, 2014 feast day. Chanted by Dr. Sam N. Cohlmia, Protopsaltis of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS, the CD is available for $15.00 by contacting Dr. Cohlmia at his email address.
The Feast of St. Timon, when our parishes and missions pray for and highlight the history, ministries and needs of DOWAMA's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran shepherded by Metropolitan Saba, is Sunday, July 27th, 2014.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
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).
Much of Decapolis (Matthew 4:25), an area frequently visited by Christ and His disciples, is situated in this Arabia, as is Caesarea Philippi (modern Banyas in Syria) where the Holy Apostle Peter confessed Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-20). It was to this Arabia that, following his baptism in Damascus by St. Ananias (9:17 & 18) and his escape over the city’s wall (9:25) that the Holy Apostle Paul fled and spent three years (Galatians 1:15-18). And it was to this Arabia that St Timon, one of the Seventy Apostles appointed by the Lord Christ (Luke 10:1) and one of the Seven Deacons chosen by the Twelve (Acts 6:5), was sent to preach and later served as first bishop of the province’s capital city of Nova Trajana Bostra (modern Bosra in Syria).
From June 25–28, 2014, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East His Beatitude John X joined with the Fathers of the Holy Synod to call the faithful from around the world to the Hill of Balamand for a conference on Antiochian unity. Appropriately, the Conference concluded with the joyous celebration of the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Antiochian Church. (Read the text of Patriarch John's homily.)
Antiochian.org has assembled a collection of photographs highlighting the Unity Conference. Additionally, the Patriarchate of Antioch's website has published photo galleries and written reports of the historic events in both Arabic and English, and galleries are also available on the Patriarchate's Facebook page. The sizable North American delegation, pictured here with Patriarch John X, was composed of bishops, priests, key department heads, and organization leaders. Members of the group will begin returning home on Monday, June 30.
This year's Diocese of Wichita and Mid America's (DOWAMA) Parish Life Conference was held in San Antonio, Texas. The host church was the tiny St. Ephraim the Syrian, with host pastor The Rev. John Mefrige. Not only was there great weather, but the 412 people who attended conference found old friends, met new ones, and were both physically and spiritually encouraged.
There was something happening for everyone. The younger kids went to a children's Whitte Museum one day and did some interesting craft projects the next. Teens were busy going to Six Flags/Fiesta Texas as well as making blankets to be donated to a community home for unwed mothers.
Fr. Robert James Bethony, retired and attached to St. George Church in El Paso, Texas, fell asleep in Christ on June 17th, 2014 at the age of 73. He is survived by his wife Khouriya Elizabeth and their married daughter Alexis. The Funeral Service will be served at St. George in El Paso on Friday, June 20 at 10:00AM.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
Many thanks to Fr. John Mefrige and the congregation of St. Ephraim Church in San Antonio, Texas for hosting a truly outstanding 2014 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference this past Wednesday through Saturday, June 11-15, 2014. Special thanks to the PLC co-chairs Samira Bitar and Carmen Britt and their hardworking committees. GO SPURS GO!
Many years to those who will serve as presidents of our Diocese's service organizations for the 2014-2015 year: A.B. Bayouth of St. Antony in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Fellowship of St. John the Divine; Deanna Bottei of St. Thomas Church in Sioux City, Iowa for the Antiochian Women; Barry Busada of St. Nicholas Church in Shreveport, Lousiana for the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch; and Alex Wakim of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas for Teen SOYO.
Congratulations to Peyton Powers of St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, senior division winner of the 2014 DOWAMA Oratorical Festival; The Teen Team from St. George in Houston, Texas and The Adult Team from St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas, winners of the 2014 DOWAMA Bible Bowl; and Jessika Nebrat of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, recipient of the "Harry and Florence Kouri Memorial Scholarship for a 2014 DOWAMA High School Graduating Senior."
The 2015 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference, which will celebrate the centenary of the repose of St Raphael of Brooklyn, will be hosted by Fr. George Shawareb and the congregation of St. Elias Church in Arvada, Colorado.
The first two Parish Life Conferences (or PLCs) for the Antiochian Archdiocese have kicked off the summer PLC season with a splash! From June 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas, host parish St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Church is overseeing a lineup of events for attendees from the Diocese of Wichita, including talks by Keynote Speaker Sister Vassa Larin, as well as excursions to local attractions such as the River Walk and Sea World San Antonio. Also enjoying water access are the faithful of the Diocese of Miami, who are being hosted on June 11-15 by the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando at the Crown Plaza Hotel, with its proximity to lakes and the Atlantic coast.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
Fr. George Dahdouh, attached to St. George Church in Houston, Texas, has enlisted as a member of the mission team which the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), an endorsed agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, will send to the Metropolis of Mwanza in Tanzania from October 27th through November 8th, 2014. If you, your parish, parochial organizations or individual parishioners would like to help sponsor Fr. George (he needs $4,000 in sponsorships), please go to www.ocmc.org/about/open_teams.aspx, scroll down to "Tanzania," find the listing for "Father George Dahdouh" and then click on the "Support" tab to the right of his name. Your prayers and contributions will be greatly and sincerely appreciated. Fr. George will be in San Antonio for the Parish Life Conference in June, where he will be available to discuss his upcoming missionary journey.
Hotel reservations must be made by Thursday, May 22nd in order to take advantage of the discounted PLC rate. To make your reservation, go to www.sawyn.com and mention that you are with the DOWAMA PLC.
The 2014 Diocese of Wichita Parish Life Conference will be hosted by St. Ephraim the Syrian Church in San Antonio, Texas. Dates are Wednesday to Saturday, June 11th-14th, 2014 (the fast-free week following Pentecost).
Keynote speaker will be Sister Vassa of Vienna, Austria, a nun of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and liturgiologist of the highly prestigious University of Vienna in Austria. Sister Vassa is known as a prolific writer and stimulating lecturer throughout the Orthodox world.
"Coffee with Sister Vassa" is a brief, 10-minute weekly program offering an engaging reflection on the Orthodox Church calendar of the current week, including the lives of the saints, scriptural passages, the Orthodox liturgical tradition, and a light dose of humor, and can be heard on Ancient Faith Radio.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
MEMORY ETERNAL. Billy James Wilcoxson, father of Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas, fell asleep in Christ this morning after a long illness. Services will be arranged through St. Seraphim Cathedral (OCA) in Dallas, Texas.
May God grant him Paradise, and may he grant long life to you.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) ministers in the United States with emergency response, community development, and supporting literacy and education. Two recent stories are a reminder of this.
Religious leaders gathered at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Chicago to dedicate more than 10,000 new books provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The trove of colorful, age-appropriate reading materials will benefit thousands of schoolchildren participating in after-school enrichment opportunities, mentoring and summer learning programs in the Chicago area. The leaders were joined by wide-eyed youngsters from some of the city's most impoverished Southside neighborhoods who were grateful beneficiaries.
This year's conferences are spread out across five weekends in June and July. On June 11-15, the Diocese of Wichita and the Diocese of Miami will kick off the PLC season in San Antonio, TX and Orlando, FL. Shortly thereafter on June 19-22, the Diocese of Worcester will convene in Boston, MA. Fort Wayne, IN, will be the site for the final June conference with the Diocese of Toledo's PLC on June 25-29. Finally, the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Eagle River, Charleston and New York, and Ottawa, will all meet from July 2-6, combining Fourth of July celebrations with Parish Life Conferences.
As always, this year's theme, love for God and neighbor, will be the focus of the Creative Festivals, a highlight of the conferences. Youth and organizational meetings, spiritually edifying speakers and services, and social events for kids and adults alike, all make the PLCs one of the Archdiocese's most established and popular traditions.
To facilitate your parish participation in the Creative Arts, Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals, all resources are available in the Festivals 2014 section of Antiochian.org. Additionally, ads for the souvenir journals can be purchased and registrations can be submitted through the Department of Conventions and Conference Planning's Antiochian Events pages.
On the Feast of the Holy Greatmartyr George, Bright Wednesday, April 23rd, The Most Rev. Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina and Patriarchal Vicar for our Archdiocese of North America, visited the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America (DOWAMA) for the patronal feast of our Diocesan Cathedral of St. George, and to bless DOWAMA's newly-acquired St. Silouan Monastery House.
Upon His Eminence's arrival to Wichita (straight from Buenos Aires!) he was feted at a luncheon hosted at the Wichita Chancery and attended by the priests and deacons of Wichita's three parishes: St. George Cathedral, St. Mary Church, and St. Michael Church. A large number of clergy and laity were at the Cathedral to receive His Eminence when he arrived for Paschal Vespers that evening. They were moved by his homily following the service and enchanted by his remarks and the open dialogue that he encouraged during a paschal repast in the Cathedral's fellowship hall.