Diocese of Wichita News


Thanksgiving, Awards, Elections and More from the 2012 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference

The Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America held its 2012 Parish Life Conference from June 6-9 in Houston, Texas, courtesy of the generous hosting of St. Joseph Church. His Grace Bishop Basil offers the following letter of thanks. Information regarding the awards bestowed and elections held at the conference may be found below. Click here for a photo gallery from the 2012 conference.


 

To the 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 Lord Christ. Having just returned to the Chancery from our annual Diocesan Family Reunion – the 2012 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference – I convey blessings and most sincere thanks to Father Joseph & Khouriya Elizabeth Huneycutt, Father James & Khouriya Jennifer Early, Deacon Meletios and our PLC Chair Shamassy Kristi Marx, and all the faithful of St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality which they extended to the 600+ people who attended the Conference from throughout our Diocese. May God the All-holy Trinity richly reward them for all they have done to help build up the Body of Christ here in America’s Heartland. Many years!

Orthodox Reality in America

Key note presentation at the 2012 Dioces of Wichita Parish Life Conference by Alexei Krindatch:

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Santa Fe Purchases Community House

Bethany House, Santa Fe, New MexicoBethany House, Santa Fe, New MexicoKiera Hay, Albuquerque Journal North reporter, writes:

It’s not a monastery. It’s not a retreat.

Rather, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church’s new Bethany House, located on an acre of prime Cordova Road real estate in Santa Fe, is an intentional community.

It’s for “people who have embraced the Orthodox faith,” who have committed to “living in prayer and with the church” and want to form meaningful relationships with each other, Holy Trinity’s Very Rev. John Bethancourt said.

Intentional communities are relatively common across both the religious and secular spectrum as places where like-minded people can live around certain ideals and goals.

For Holy Trinity, Bethany House is where unmarried members of the church can create a deeper sense of community and faith.

Memory Eternal! + Kh. Lilija Vreeland

Update 6/1/12 - His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

MAY SHE BE GRANTED PARADISE! Eleven priests and two deacons served with me the Trisagion Prayers and Funeral for Kh. Lilija Veronica Vreeland on Wednesday and Thursday at St. George Church in Kearney, Nebraska. Hundreds of layfolk from all over the diocese and elsewhere filled every available space on the ground-floor and balcony of St. George Church for these divine services and, led by Kearney's very fine chanters, beautifully sang congregational responses at the divine services. May Khouriya Lilija's memory be eternal, and may you and your families be granted long life.

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Khouriya Lilija Veronica Vreeland, retired from St. George Church in Kearney, Nebraska, reposed at 1:50PM on Sunday, May 27th after a long and heroic battle with cancer.  May she be granted Paradise!  Condolences to our brother Fr. Philip and the children and grandchildren.

The schedule of divine services for Khouriya Lilija is as follows:

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30th Visitation at St George Church 5:00-7:00PM Trisagion Prayers of Mercy 7:00PM Reception will follow in the parish fellowship hall.  
THURSDAY, MAY 31st Funeral at 10:30AM Interment at Kearney Cemetery Mercy Meal will follow in the parish fellowshiop hall.

Please join me in praying a rope for Khouriya Lilija's respose, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, grant rest to the soul of Thy departed servant."   May her memory be eternal, and may you be granted long life. 

In Christ Who is our Resurrection and our Life,

+Bishop Basil

Parish Life Conference Season Starts June 6

On June 6-9, the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America will kick off the Antiochian Archdiocese's Parish Life Conference season, which is themed "The Bible fills us with eternal joy." The Houston gathering is sponsored by St. Joseph Orthodox Church. Alexei D. Krindatch, Research Coordinator for the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, will be the keynote speaker, and attendees will enjoy southern hospitality at events such as the Saturday evening dinner, "Cowboys and Cassocks."

Also in June, the Diocese of Worcester and New England will hold their Parish Life Conference on June 21-24. Hosted by St. George Church in Norwood, MA, participants will stay at the Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine, on the Atlantic Coast. This will be Bishop John Abdalah's first conference as presiding bishop, and the coastal atmosphere will be enhanced by events such as the Maine Clambake.

Three more dioceses will gather in June: Miami and the Southeast; Toledo and the Midwest; and Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York. Finally, the Los Angeles and Eagle River, and Charleston and New York, conferences will be held over the long holiday weekend of July 4-8. Visit the Conventions and Conference Planning page, or the Antiochian Events website, for registration and information.

Dr. J.S. Luke Stauffer Ordained to Holy Deaconate

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

HE IS WORTHY! On May 6th, 2012 Dr. J.S. Luke Stauffer was ordained to the holy diaconate at St George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas. He is assigned to Holy Mother of God Mission in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Memory Eternal! + Subdeacon George Shakour

Subdeacon George Jacob ShakourSubdeacon George Jacob ShakourHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of Subdeacon George Shakour of St. Michael in Beaumont, TX, who reposed on Pascha. Condolences may be sent to his wife Sherridan c/o her parish priest Fr. Michael Pavez at FATHERMICHAEL@prodigy.net. Please join me in praying a rope for the repose of Subdeacon George's 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.

The following obituary was published on the Broussard's Mortuary website, Beaumont, TX: 

George Jacob Shakour, 69, of Beaumont, went to be with his Lord unexpectedly on April 15, 2012, at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital. Mr. Shakour was born on November 8, 1942, in Beaumont, to George and Mildred Shakour. He attended Beaumont High, and continued his education at Lamar University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Government. He enlisted in the Army after college, and bravely served his country in the Vietnam War. During his service, he received an Orthodox cross from a priest in Italy which he never took off for the rest of his life. George was a devoted member of St. Michael’s Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church and served as a sub-Deacon there. He also dedicated many hours to the small church of St. John the Divine in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

No Damage or Injuries from Heartland Tornadoes

St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, WichitaSt. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, WichitaOn April 16, His Grace Bishop Basil (Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America) gave thanks to God for His help during the recent period of tornadoes in the nation's Heartland.

"GLORY TO GOD! None of our parishioners sustained any injuries and none of our church temples sustained any damage during the violent tornadoes (estimated to be numbered at 130+) which ripped through the Heartland this past weekend, claiming six lives in Woodward, OK. The only noticeable result was a one hour delay in the start of Paschal services at Wichita's St. George Cathedral and St. Mary Church. Thank you for your prayers and the many inquiries of concern."

2012 Paschal Greetings from Bishop Basil

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Pascha 2012

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! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! ! ا ق حيسملا م Хрңстос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Cristo ha resucitado!

As we delight in the brilliance of the Resurrection, the dawn of the New and Eighth Day, I offer for your consideration the following words of the late Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, the Most Reverend ANTHONY Bloom (1914-2003):

Memory Eternal! + Ruth Cohlmia

His Grace Bishop Basil has passed along the sad news that Ruth Cohlmia, wife of Jim Cohlmia, has reposed in the Lord. The funeral services will be held in Wichita, Kansas at St. George Cathedral; The day and time has not been established. A short memorial service is tentatively scheduled for Thursday evening, April 5, at 7:00 PM at St. Ignatius Orthodox Mission, 3800 E. Main St., Mesa, AZ.

Diocese of Wichita Lenten Retreats

Lenten Retreat 2
"That They All May Be One"
Speaker: His Grace Bishop Basil

March 23-24, 2012
St. Basil Church
Wichita, Kansas
Download Flyer (PDF)

The retreat is gifted by our Bortherhood and meals will be provided through your love offering.


 

 

Lenten Retreat 3
“Voices from the Crowd on the Via Dolorosa, The Way of the Cross”

Speaker: Fr. Lester Michael Bundy of St. Columba Antiochian Orthodox Church

March 30-31, 2012
The Benedictine Fellowship of St. Laurence
Canon City, Colorado
Download Flyer and Registration Form (PDF)

Retreat cost is $49 per person though Sunday, $39 through Saturday. St. Laurence campus is a mountain valley ten miles west of Canon City on Hiway 50, then north eleven miles on Hiway 9 and then west on County Road 21. Call 303-722-0707 or go to saintlaurenceosb.org for directions.

Bishop Basil's 2012 Letter for the Great Fast

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

February 26th, 2012
Forgiveness Sunday

To the Christ-loving Clergy, Monastics and Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

I bless you, and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Lord Christ.

As we make our final preparations to enter into the Great Fast – which the hymnography of our Holy Church calls “the Springtime of the soul” – I make a prostration before each of you, begging your forgiveness and, of your charity, remembrance in your holy prayers.

In his Homily on Fasting, Abba Dorotheos of Gaza (+AD 620) says to us:

“Not only must we all pay attention to what we are eating, but we must also abstain from every sin, so that while the belly fasts, in the same way the tongue should also fast. In other words, we must abstain from slander, from lying, from vain talking, from mocking others, from anger and, in a word, from every sin which we commit with the tongue. In the same way, our eyes must also fast and not look at vain sights. Let us not be haughty with words and not look at anyone with rudeness and audacity. In the same way, if we are fasting, our fasting is pleasing to God when the five gates of our senses are well closed and preserve us pure and undefiled.”

May it be! Asking your forgiveness and prayers, assuring you of my continued paternal love, prayers and blessings, and wishing you a good Fast, I remain

Your unworthy intercessor before the All-holy Trinity,

+Bishop Basil

Wichita Orthodox Community Set to Open Christ the Savior Academy

WICHITA, Kansas. --“This will affect our children for eternity. It is for eternity,” His Grace Bishop Basil told the Orthodox community as they prepared to investigate the formation of an Orthodox classical school in Wichita.

Now, two years later, the school is on track to open its doors in the fall of 2012. Enrollment has begun, and the board of directors for Christ the Savior Academy, Inc., is accepting applications for the headmaster and teacher positions. The board plans to start the school small with Prekindergarten through second grade. With God as its guide, the school hopes to grow a grade a year until it reaches fifth grade.  (For more information, visit the website.)

Preparation for an Orthodox parochial school was initiated when St. George Cathedral approved construction of an educational wing addition to the Cathedral facilities. The addition was designed with a school in mind.

DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Meets for 2012 Retreat

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

GLORY TO GOD! Seventy-five brothers gathered for the 40th annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas this past week. We completed our time together today with Divine Liturgy and the Clergy Brotherhood Breakfast Meeting at the Cathedral followed by an Open House at the Chancery. Many thanks to the Board of the Virginia Farah Foundation for again providing our Clergy Brotherhood with a grant to underwrite the expenses of bringing in the guest speaker for our Retreat. And sincere thanks are expressed to Richard and Joyce Ayoob of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, California for their very thoughtful and generous donation to our Diocese, which allowed scholarships to be provided for several of our brothers to attend the Retreat, as well as the gift of the book "Alexandros Papadiamantis: Greece's Dostoevsky" to each man who attended the Retreat.

The dates for the 2013 Retreat are February 12th - 15th.

Assembly of Bishops Secretariat Meets at Antiochian Parish in Riverside

Assembly of Bishops SecretariatAssembly of Bishops SecretariatThe Secretariat of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held its annual "face-to-face" meeting, January 24th and 25th, 2012. The hosts for this year's "face-to-face" meeting were Father Josiah Trenham and the congregation of St Andrew Church in Riverside, CA. An overview of the work accomplished at the Riverside meeting will be included in a soon-to-be issued media release which will report to the Church-at-large on the work of the Assembly during the past year.

The Secretariat, which also meets monthly via teleconference, consists of Bishop Basil (Secretary of the Assembly of Bishops), Archbishop Antony, Bishop Andonios, Bishop Maxim, Father Mark Arey, Father Nicholas Ceko, Father Josiah Trenham, Hierodeacon Benedict (Armitage), Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, and Messrs. Alexei Krindatch, Alex Machaskee, Eric Namee and Constantin Ursache.

DOWAMA Winter Camp + February 17-20, 2012

Winter Camp 2012 for the Diocese of Wichita will be held at Camp St. Raphael in Wagoner, Oklahoma from February 17-20. This year's theme will be Christ the Merciful Judge, and the camp will feature speaker George Hazaris, the youth director and pastoral assistant from the Greek Orthodox Church of Our Savior in Rye, New York.

Form & $100 registration (Chaperones/Advisors $70.00) payment is due by Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, and should be sent to:

St. George Orthodox Church – Attn: Paul Fuller
5311 Mercer Street
Houston, TX 77005

Click here to download a registration form (Word format). Please contact Paul Fuller at 502.592.9981 (cell) or paulf518@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

2012 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

The deadline for registering for the 40th Annual St. Raphael DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat - "ANTIOCH AND HER SPIRITUAL PATRIMONY" - is Friday, January 27th, when we must make a firm commitment for the number of rooms and meals with the Spiritual Life Center. Remember that the Retreat will be held February 14th through 17th, 2012 at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas. Attached hereto is a revised schedule for the Retreat. The guest speaker will be Monk Elia (Khalifeh) of the Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon, founder and director of the prestigious "Antioch Centre" in Oxford, England. You can check out the Centre's web site at www.AntiochCentre.net.

Please take a moment today to ask your parish's treasurer to send in your registration fee of $400 to reserve your room and meals for the Retreat. (1.) Make check payable to "DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood," (2.) clearly earmark it with your name and the notation "Clergy Retreat," and (3.) mail it to our Clergy Brotherhood Treasurer so that it arrives to him before January 27th:
FATHER JOHN SALEM
St. Elijah Orthodox Christian Church
15000 North May
Oklahoma City, OK 73134

Download retreat information and schedule (PDF)

Ordination of Hierodeacon Benedict

Monk Benedict was ordained to the Holy Deaconate on January 1, 2012 at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.

The Tradition of the Vasilopita (with Recipe)

St. Basil the GreatFrom the DOWAMA St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood:

The tradition of baking and cutting a special "pita" (which can mean a loaf of bread, a cake, or even a pie) each year on January 1st is observed in honor of our holy father Basil the Great, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappodocia-- hence its name "Vasilopita" meaning "St. Basil's Bread." This tradition is observed in both parish churches and in the homes of the faithful. What is the meaning of this tradition and how did it begin?

For centuries upon centuries, parents, grandparents and godparents have related the following to Orthodox children about St. Basil and the Vasilopita. One year, during a time of terrible famine, the emperor levied a sinfully excessive tax upon the people of Caesarea. The tax was such a heavy burden upon the already impoverished people that to avoid debtors' prison each family had to relinquish its few remaining coins and pieces of jewelry, including precious family heirlooms. Learning of this injustice upon his flock, St. Basil the Great, the archbishop of Caesarea, took up his bishop's staff and the book of the holy Gospels and came to his people's defense by fearlessly calling the emperor to repentance. By God's grace, the emperor did repent! He canceled the tax and instructed his tax collectors to turn over to St. Basil all of the chests containing the coins and jewelry which had been paid as taxes by the people of Caesarea. But now St. Basil was faced with the daunting and impossible task of returning these thousands of coins and pieces of jewelry to their rightful owners. After praying for a long time before the icons of our Master Christ and His All-Holy Mother, St. Basil had all the treasures baked into one huge pita. He then called all the townspeople to prayer at the cathedral, and, after Divine Liturgy, he blessed and cut the pita, giving a piece to each person. Miraculously, each owner received in his piece of Vasilopita his own valuables. They all joyfully returned home, giving thanks to God who had delivered them from abject poverty and to their good and holy bishop St. Basil the Great! In remembrance of that miracle wrought by God as a result of St. Basil's love and defense of his people, Orthodox Christians have observed the tradition of the Vasilopita each year on January 1st-- the date on which St. Basil reposed in the Lord in the year 379.

St. Romanos Choral Presents Holiday Concert at St. Joseph

Recently, the St. Romanos Chorale gave a concert at St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas. Titled "God With Us," the concert was recorded and is now featured on AFR as a Christmas special.

The St. Romanos Chorale takes its name from the Syrian religious poet and hymnographer of the Orthodox Church, St. Romanos, who is considered to be the greatest of the Byzantine melodist-poets. The Chorale is composed of singers from Orthodox Christian churches in the greater Houston area, including many Antiochian Christians. The music is sung a capella in both Byzantine and Slavonic styles, predominantly in English, but also in Greek, Arabic, and Slavonic. The Chorale has presented beautiful Orthodox Christian music to audiences throughout Texas and neighboring states at venues including major colleges and universities.

The pan-Orthodox chorale is directed by Dr. William Attra, who directed the choir of St. George in Houston for many years. 


St. Eleftherios Day in Bosra-Hauran

His Eminence Metropolitan Saba of Bosra-Hauran writes:

Dearest Sayyidna Basil: Blessed and happy feast day to your Diocese! Attached are some photos of our St Eleftherios Day Divine Liturgy served in the St. Timon Chapel at my chancery in Al-Sweda. Your brother, +Metropolitan Saba

A Letter of Thanks from Bosra-Hauran

His Eminence Metropolitan SabaHis Eminence Metropolitan SabaHis Grace Bishop Basil passes along this note from Metropolitan Saba of DOWAMA's sister-archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran:

Dearest and beloved brother in Christ, Bishop Basil: Thank you very much for your kind greeting on my Name's Day. Be assured that you, your clergy and all in your Diocese are in my prayers always. I want to thank you and all in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America for the very generous donation of US$30,000.00 which, I know, was collected for us by much sacrifice and love. I received it last Tuesday before I left for Geneva to attend a consultation about what is transpiring in my country. How we need your prayers! I return to the Middle East tomorrow to take part in the consecrations of the new bishops for your Archdiocese, then I shall go back to my Diocese. Please ask your clergy to pray for us, our Church and our country.

In Christ,
Metropolitan Saba

Thanks from Holy Annunciation Chapel in Taos, NM

A note from Claire Brandenburg of DOWAMA's newest congregation, Holy Annunciation Chapel in Taos, New Mexico (served from Holy Trinity/Santa Fe):

Dear Bishop Basil and our brothers and sisters of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

We thank you so much for DOWAMA's monthly mission grant to Holy Annunciation Chapel here in Taos. We were pleased at our Saturday Divine Liturgy that Fr. John Bethancourt made two new catechumens. We are now blessed with a family of four that are our first disciples in Christ here in Taos. Your donation is greatly encouraging. By God's grace and mercy we will continue to grow in His Name. Thank you - thank you!

In Christ Jesus,
Claire Brandenburg and all at Holy Annunciation in Taos

2012 Nativity Greetings from Bishop Basil

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

To the Christ-loving Priests, Deacons, Monastics and Lay Folk of this God-protected Diocese:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss and the joyous festal proclamation:

Christ is born – ألمسيح ولد
Χριστὸς Γεννᾶται – Христос рождается
Hristos se rodi – Hristos se naşte

May God the All-holy Trinity grant you and your households the happiest of Feasts and a New Year filled with His abundant and rich blessings.

With assurance of my continued love, prayers and blessings, I remain

In Christ the Incarnate Word of God,

+Bishop Basil