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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
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
Monk Benedict was ordained to the Holy Deaconate on January 1, 2012 at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.
Apolytikion of St. Basil, Tone 1
In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.
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.
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.
His 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.
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
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,