Diocese of Wichita News
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 email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Beloved and Christ-loving Clergy, Monastics and Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:
I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Resurrected Theanthropos Jesus Christ, and, together with you and Orthodox Christians throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim that Christ is risen! Al-masih qaam! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Христос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Cristo ha resucitado!
On this radiant Feast of feasts I share with you, my dearly beloved spiritual children, the following soul-profiting words of our Father among the Saints, Gregory the Great, known as the Dialogist (+604), which are excerpted from his homily on the Gospel pericope proclaimed before the closed doors of our holy temples in the earliest moments of Pascha morning (Mark 16:1-8):
We have heard how, according to the Evangelist Mark, Mary Magdalene, and the other holy women who had followed the Lord, came to the sepulchre, bringing sweet spices. For Him whom they had loved in life, they would also serve in death, and that with all care and tenderness. But in this there is indicated something which is to be done by all of us who are member of the holy Church. If we, who believe in Him that was dead, and is alive again, do come, seeking the Lord, and bearing with us the perfume of good works, and the sweet fragrance of holiness, then do we come, as it were to His sepulchre, bearing spices which are sweet indeed.
Wishing you and your families a glorious Paschal season perfumed with the sweet fragrance of good works and holiness, looking forward to being with you all at our Diocesan Family Reunion in San Antonio this June 11st - 14th, and assuring you of my continued love, prayers and blessings, I remain
Your Father in the Risen Christ,
Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, Patriarchal Vicar for our Archdiocese of North America, will visit the Diocese of Wichita on Bright Wednesday, April 23rd, the patronal feast day of our Diocesan Cathedral of St. George in Wichita, Kansas. The main purpose of His Eminence's visit is to get to know our Diocese by meeting and chatting with many folks from throughout DOWAMA, therefore all DOWAMA clergy and laity are cordially invited to be present at the Cathedral for his visit. His Eminence also plans to bless our newly-acquired St. Silouan Monastery House (named for his own patron saint) on that occasion. Details about that visit will be added as they become available.
- BRIGHT TUESDAY evening: Paschal Office at 6:15PM, Paschal Vespers at 6:30PM, followed by an hors d'oeuvre reception
- BRIGHT WEDNESDAY morning: Paschal Orthros at 9:00AM, Paschal Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at 10:00AM followed by a light breakfast buffet
All priests and deacons are invited to concelebrate at the divine services (WHITE vestments, please).
To be good hosts for you, we ask that you inform us of the approximate number who will be coming from your community with an RSVP before Great and Holy Thursday (April 17th) either to the Cathedral Office (email@example.com) or Gayle Malone (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you!
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
MEMORY ETERNAL. Dorothy Eklund, mother of Fr. Theodore Eklund of St. Vincent Church in Omaha, Nebraska, fell asleep in Christ on April 2, 2014 at the age of 79. Mrs. Eklund, a member of St. Mark Church in Denver, Colorado, is also survived by her husband John.
May she be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.
The Website LevantReport.com with Managing Editor Brad Hoff published an interview on March 5, 2014 with The Very Rev. Joseph Huneycutt, pastor of the St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, TX. Titled "Syrian Christians in a Time of Conflict," the interview comes over two years after Fr. Joseph traveled to Syria as part of an official delegation of American Antiochian Christian pastors and leaders sent to assess the situation of Syria's Christians.
In December, St. Joseph in Houston sponsored a benefit concert, "Hope, Humanity, Healing," which raised $18,000.00. The proceeds were distributed to the suffering Syrian people through the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, as well as through the St. Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus. In the interview, Fr. Joseph soberly notes that "...the Christian presence in southern Syria has diminished, the charitable support of refugees continues; those who remain live in danger every moment. It will take heroic hard work to rebuild – the land and the people – once this war comes to an end." Read the full text of the interview
Nick Harroz, maternal grandfather of Khouria Valerie Salem of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, OK, fell asleep in Christ on March 12, 2014.
Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning at St. Elijah, and burial will follow at Arlington Memorial Gardens. The family is asking for donations to the "Flowers That Do Not Wither Fund" at St. Elijah in lieu of flowers.
Mr. Harroz was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, but moved to Oklahoma City in 1929 where he founded and administered the Crest Family Market until retirement from the business in the late 1990s. Crest remains a family business, with grandson Sam Homsey working as a store manager, granddaughter Christian Harroz Duthie in charge of advertising and public relations, and grandson Nick Harroz III serving as Senior Advisor.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
The annual men's Lenten Retreat will be hosted in Victoria, Kansas by St. George Cathedral of Wichita this coming weekend, March 14th-16th, 2014. Fr. John Bethancourt of Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico will be the speaker. For more information, contact the Cathedral Office at 316-636-4676.
The Annual St. Mary Retreat will be hosted by and at St. Mary Church in Wichita, Kansas on Friday and Saturday, March 21st and 22nd. Nicholas Chapman, Managing Editor of Holy Trinity Publications in Jordanville, New York, will be the speaker. His topic will be An Orthodox Founding Father: Orthodox Christianity at the Birth of America, a discussion of the life and work of Colonel Philip Ludwell III of Williamsburg, Virginia. For more information, contact Father Aaron Warwick at email@example.com.
MEMORY ETERNAL! The Very Rev. John Elias was born in 1939 in Hafa, Latakia, Syria. He passed away on February 11, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. Father John faithfully served the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in America for 40 years in the following parishes:
St. Mary's Yonkers, NY; St. Thomas in Sioux City, Iowa; St. George in Akron, OH; St. George in El Paso, Texas; St. Mary in Omaha, NE; and St. George in Jacksonville, FL, where he served from 1992-2001.
Archpriest John was preceded in death by his parents: Nassim and Badia; his sisters Yvonne, Azizeh, and Mother Antonina. He is survived by his wife, Kh. Nawall Elias; his children Yvonne, Jany (husband), Azizeh, Zaharia (husband), Nassim, Dana (wife); his grandchildren: Reema, Nicole, John, Alina, Michael, Christopher; his brothers Aziz and Spiro, and his sisters Hind and Nadia. Father John was a beloved priest, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. May his memory be eternal. Christ is Risen!
More than 80 men were present at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas for DOWAMA's 42nd annual St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood Retreat the week of February 4-7, 2014. The Retreat was led by Archimandrite Zacharias of the Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights-by-Maldon in Essex, England. Archimandrite Zacharias was accompanied to the U.S. by Hierodeacon Bartholomew.
Many thanks to all the brothers who assisted with the execution of the Retreat, to the members of the Board of the Virginia H. Farah Foundation for providing a financial grant to help underwrite the Retreat, and to Mrs. Brenda Farha and her family for hosting the Brotherhood Breakfast in memory of Dr. George J. Farha following Friday morning's Divine Liturgy.
Next year's Clergy Brotherhood Retreat is scheduled for February 3rd-6th, 2015 at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita.