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Diocese of Wichita News

Fr. Constantine Nasr Speaks on Parish Growth and Evangelization

Bishop Michael (OCA) with Fr. ConstantineBishop Michael (OCA) with Fr. ConstantineView Video of Fr. Constantine's talks

The Diocese of New York & New Jersey for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) recently sponsored the 2013 Parish Council Conference for the Diocese. At the invitation of His Grace Bishop Michael, the conference facilitator was Antiochian speaker and author The Very Rev. Constantine Nasr. Father Constantine oversaw the growth of a modestly sized parish in Oklahoma City, OK to a truly thriving community of over 1,000 souls during his three decades of pastoral ministry. With enthusiasm, clarity, and wit, Father Constantine shared his years of expertise and highly practical methods for making the faith contagious and parishes inviting to both new visitors and to those who have fallen out of regular participation in parish life. 

Blake Keller (Parish Council Warden, Saint John the Baptist Church, Rochester NY) said: “Father Constantine Nasr immediately got the attention of the conference participants by reminding us that in the Gospel of Mathew we are told to ‘Go ye therefore...!’ He repeatedly inspired us that this requires energy and effort, not sitting frozen.

"Man of the Year" Award Presented to Dr. George J. Farha

The Dr. George J. Farha FamilyThe Dr. George J. Farha FamilyOn Tuesday, July 30, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presented Dr. George J. Farha with the Antiochian Heritage Foundation’s 2013 “Man of the Year” award.

Born in Merj-Auon, Lebanon, Dr. Farha immigrated to the United States to pursue his baccalaureate degree at West Virginia University, and his doctorate of medicine degree at Tulane University Medical School. After graduating medical school, Dr. Farha came to Wichita where he met his wife Brenda.  Since beginning practice in Wichita, he has always brought Christ into his practice by taking care of the patient first and treating all patients with the best care possible.

St. Timon Sunday 2013

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

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 28th, 2013. Please see my attached letter to the Diocese about this observance. If, however, you will be remaining in Houston for the concluding Hierarchical Divine Liturgy of the Archdiocesan Convention on July 28th, you may keep St. Timon Sunday with your congregation on the preceding Sunday, July 21st. Metropolitan Saba has provided the following updated list of the clergy serving in his Archdiocese. Please pray for His Eminence, his clergy and congregations when you keep St. Timon Sunday in your community.

51st Archdiocese Convention Kicks Off in Houston

The city of Houston, and Fr. James Shadid and the parish of St. George Orthodox Christian Church, are hosting the Antiochian Archdiocese Convention this week at the Hilton Americas hotel. The largest legislative body of the Archdiocese, the General Assembly meets in convention biennially. In addition to the business meetings, liturgical celebrations, exhibits, youth activities, and department meetings  are central to each convention as well.

There will also be special events that emphasize the uniquely Southern character of this year's gathering. Families will enjoy the Country Western Dinner and Dance on Thursday evening, while on Friday evening convention goers can attend the Mardi Gras Masquerade Dinner/Dance; visits to several of Houston's tourist venues are planned. The culmination of the week is the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday with Metropolitan Philip and all eight Auxiliary Bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese presiding. 

Fr. Raphael Daly and Fr. Isaac Farha Return to DOWAMA

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Fr. RaphaelFr. RaphaelFr. IsaacFr. IsaacWELCOME HOME TO DOWAMA!

Fr. Raphael Daly, a son of St. Michael Church in Beaumont, Texas currently serving as second priest at St. Nicholas Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been assigned second priest at St. Elias Church in Austin, Texas. He and his wife Khouriya Zohreh are the parents of two young daughters.

Fr. Isaac Farha, a son of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas currently serving proistamenos at St. Nicholas Church in Fairbanks, Alaska, has been assigned proistamenos at Holy Transfiguration in Hillsboro, Kansas. He and his wife Khouriya Anastasia are the parents of three young children: a son and two daughters.

Memory Eternal! + Fr. Anthony Miller

Fr. Anthony MillerFr. Anthony MillerHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

MEMORY ETERNAL! Our beloved and highly esteemed brother and concelebrant in the sacred mysteries Fr. Anthony Miller, proistamenos at St. Peter Church in Fort Worth, Texas, fell asleep in Christ around midnight after a long and heroic battle with cancer at the age of 54. Fr. Anthony is survived by his wife Khouriya Kim and their three children Carla, Luke and Matthew. Fr. Anthony was also the spiritual advisor for the Order of St. Ignatius in the Diocese of Wichita.

2013 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Most sincere thanks to everyone at St. Basil the Great Church in Kansas City, Kansas, the host parish of our very successful 2013 Parish Life Conference: Fr. Elias Issa host pastor, Kh. Jeanetta Issa and Joseph Henre co-chairs, all the committee chairs and the entire St. Basil congregation. Our 2014 PLC will be hosted by Fr. John Mefrige and the congregation of St. Ephraim the Syrian Church in San Antonio, Texas from June 11th-14th.

Parish Life Conference Season Begins June 5

There is still time for you to register for your diocese's "family reunion" this summer, your regional Parish Life Conference (PLC)! The theme for this year, "The End of History...The Last Judgment," 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. Visit the Conventions and Conference Planning page for full information.

First up is the Diocese of Wichita PLC, kicking off on June 5 in Kansas City. St. Basil Orthodox Church hosts the PLC at the Westin Kansas City Hotel in downtown Kansas City, "one of America's Best downtowns" according to Forbes magazine.

53 Days to Houston! 51st Archdiocese Convention is July 21-28

The clock is ticking—register for the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention!

Space is Limited, Don't miss out!

St. George Orthodox Church of Houston, with Fr. James Shadid, are the 2013 hosts for the 51st Biennial Antiochian Archdiocese Convention. Themed "The End of History...The Last Judgment," the convention will take place at the Hilton Americas Hotel, Houston's largest with over one thousand guest rooms.

Summer 2013 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online


The Summer 2013 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Worcester and New England, and contains:

  • A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
  • A message from His Grace Bishop John
  • A message from NAB Antiochian Women President Violet Robbat
  • A message from Diocese of Worcester and New England Antiochian Women President Delores George

...and more! Click here to download (PDF).

Oklahoma Tornado Update: AFR Audio, Reports from Parishes

Photo c/o www.heavy.comPhoto c/o www.heavy.comListen to His Grace and Fr. John Salem, priest at St. Elijah Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, as they report on the Oklahoma tornado on Ancient Faith Radio

His Grace Bishop Basil, Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, writes:

Dear to Christ, Fathers and Brothers:

Christ is risen. I have heard from Fathers John and Jeremy of St. Elijah in Oklahoma City and they are still waiting to hear from one woman with whom they have not been able to make contact. Father James reports that all at St. Benedict in Wichita Falls, Texas are safe, as are those from St. Antony in Tulsa, Oklahoma (including the Skiatook area) according to Fr. George. The people at Holy Ascension in Norman, Oklahoma and St. James in Stillwater, Oklahoma, are safe as well.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) writes,

IOCC has been in contact with the Orthodox community in the Oklahoma City area as well as its ecumenical partners and is assessing the emerging needs for an appropriate response.

IOCC is delivering emergency clean-up buckets, personal hygiene kits and blankets that will be distributed through the University of Oklahoma and Holy Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church in Norman. Members of the IOCC Frontline together with Fr. Justin McFeeters of Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church are also on campus to provide emotional and spiritual care for the hundreds of adults and children staying there. IOCC will continue to assist in this critical activity while displaced people remain housed at the University.

2013 Wichita PLC: Register and Make Your Reservations NOW!

With our 2013 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference quickly approaching (Wednesday to Saturday, June 5-8, 2013), please be sure to register very soon as well as making your hotel reservations. Both of these items can be accomplished at ">the PLC website. This year we will have our large “family reunion” in the historic downtown of Kansas City, Missouri. We look forward to having you with us for this year’s conference, which is being hosted by the parish of St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church in Kansas City, KS. Amir Askander will be our Hafli musician, Mother Nektaria of St. Paul's Skete in Grand Junction, TN will be our keynote speaker, and you will be our special guests!"

Upcoming DOWAMA Anniversaries

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

MANY YEARS! Fr. Seraphim and Kh. Maria (Masha) Gisetti and the congregation of St. John Chrysostom Church in Golden, Colorado will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Father's priestly ordination on May 19th, 2013

Fr. David Barr and Kh. Luanne Barr and the congregation of St. Elias Church in Austin, Texas will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Father's priestly ordination on June 28th, 2013.

2013 Paschal Greetings from Bishop Basil

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:


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! ! ألمسيح قام Хрңстос 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 excerpted from a Paschal homily of our father among the saints Gregory the Theologian (330-390):

This is the Day of Resurrection! Let us all be united in heart, and let us give glory to God on this solemn festival. Let us address as brothers even those who hate us, as also those who love us, and have helped us, and have suffered anything on our behalf. Let us forgive all things in the Resurrection ... Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him; today I am given life with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise again with Him. Today let us offer unto Him, Who has suffered and Who has risen for us, ourselves, which to God is the most precious and becoming of gifts.

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 Kansas City this June 5th - 8th, and assuring you of my continued love, prayers and blessings, I remain

Your Father in the Risen Christ,

+Bishop Basil

Antiochian College Student Reflects on Real Break Trip

Real Break students with Patriarch BartholomewReal Break students with Patriarch BartholomewOCF Real Break 2013 – Trip to Constantinople

by Alexa Janda, St George Orthodox Church in Houston, TX

My decision to serve with the OCF Real Break mission trip to Constantinople was one of the best decisions of my life. Initially, my spring break plan was to spend a week in Alaska with my parents. However, my plan changed last Christmas break when I found out my two good friends Mary Catherine Huneycutt and Mary Dahdouh were going on the OCF trip. I shared the Real Break information with my parents who instantly recognized what an amazing opportunity this trip would be for me. I registered for OCF Real Break not realizing that this mission trip would be a life changing experience.

New Church Home for a Kansas Western Rite Parish

Preparing the new temple for St. Michael, Park City, KSPreparing the new temple for St. Michael, Park City, KSSaint Michael the Archangel Orthodox Christian Church, a Western Rite congregation in the Antiochian Archdiocese, hosted The Right Rev. Bishop Basil (Essey), Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, for its first Divine Liturgy in its new church temple in Park City, KS, on April 7, 2013. This service on the third Sunday in Lent was a significant milestone in the life of the parish which has experienced many challenges and successes in the nine years of its existence.

St. Michael’s began when Fr. John Flora and a group of his former Episcopal parishioners sought to become members of the Orthodox Church. Father John and 37 members were accepted as catechumens by Bishop Basil in the narthex of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita on Dec. 31, 2003.

During the time St. Michael's parishioners were catechumens, they attended services in the Cathedral and later held morning prayer services in the chapel at St. George. Father John was ordained on Pascha, 2004, and St. Michael’s then celebrated Divine Liturgy in the cathedral chapel until it moved into a rented space of its own in March 2010.

Abilene, TX Parish Hosts Retreat with Dr. Paul Meyendorff

Dr. Paul MeyendorffDr. Paul MeyendorffOn March 23, 2013, Dr. Paul Meyendorff, The Fr. Alexander Schmemann professor of Liturgical Theology at St. Vladimir's Seminary, led a parish retreat on the theme of the Sacrament of Confession at St. Luke Orthodox Christian Church in Abilene, Texas. The community gathered to hear Dr. Meyendorff's first address at 4 p.m., and a community meal and Vespers followed, after which he presented the second part of the retreat at 7:15.

The parish priest Fr. Philip LeMasters is the Corporate Secretary for the Board of Trustees at St. Vladimir's, and is also professor of Religion, director of the Honors Program, and dean of the School of Social Sciences and Religion at McMurry University in Abilene. After the retreat, he commented that "Professor Meyendorff unfolded for us the historical development of the practice of confession, and then responded to questions from parishioners during a lively discussion time. Those who attended learned a great deal and were most appreciative for the spiritual encouragement provided by his presentation, coming as it did at the beginning of Great Lent."

Register Bible Bowl Teams by May 26

CALLING ALL BIBLE BOWL TEAMS! Sunday, May 26th is the deadline to register your congregations' teen and adult teams for the 2013 DOWAMA Bible Bowl.

The 2013 DOWAMA Bible Bowl will take place on Thursday, June 6th from 7:30PM-9:30PM at our Diocesan Parish Life Conference in Kansas City, Kansas. Click here to download the registration for (Word format).

Completed registration forms must be returned to Khouriya Gigi Shadid of St. George Church in Houston, Texas ( on or before May 26th.

Works of the Order in Action: The Treehouse

Yuri and her husband baptizing their daughter with a gown from the thrift store at The Treehouse!Yuri and her husband baptizing their daughter with a gown from the thrift store at The Treehouse!Ten short years ago in Wichita, Kansas, a group of Orthodox Christians wanted to reach out to struggling moms who had chosen to let their babies live. In addition to praying for them, we wanted to provide tools to help moms take their lives in a positive direction. The Treehouse was born.

Today, we have celebrated 15,755 birthdays and helped change over a quarter million diapers! Our goal is to practice our Orthodox faith daily in everything we do at The Treehouse, teaching moms that they are not alone in their struggles. We want them to know that, when their world seems like a very dark place, they have somewhere to turn for hope. We provide them and their babies with positive Christian role models and basic necessities, such as diapers, formula and an inexpensive thrift store. We offer, too, educational classes to nurture our moms so that their babies can flourish.

Bishop Basil Ordains Deacon David Sebits

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! HE IS WORTHY! Subdeacon Trenton David Sebits of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas was ordained to the holy diaconate On Wednesday March 20, 2013 at the Cathedral during the first Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts of this Great Fast. Deacon David is assigned to the Cathedral.

Lenten Retreat at St. Mary Church in Wichita, KS + March 29-30, 2013

Lenten Retreat
March 29-30, 2013
St. Mary Orthodox Church + Wichita, KS

Topic: Becoming a Healing Presence
Speaker: Dr. Albert Rossi

This event is free to the public at 344 S. Martinson (near Seneca and Maple) in Wichita, with no registration required. Childcare is provided.

For more details, please download the event flyer (PDF).

Spring 2013 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Spring 2013 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, and contains:

  • A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph on the Feast of the Annunciation
  • A message from Diocese of Wichita Antiochian Women President Deana Bottei
  • A message from His Grace Bishop Basil
  • Do Icons Really Matter? by the late Archpriest Peter E. Gillquist

...and more! Click here to download (PDF).

41st Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

From February 12-15, 2013, Wichita, Kansas was the site of the annual St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood Retreat of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, attended by 67 clergymen. Over the course of four days, a series of lectures was read on the topic “Feasting and Fasting in the Orthodox Church,” by Nun Vassa (Larin) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, who traveled to Kansas from Vienna, Austria, at the invitation of the Bishop of the Diocese, His Grace Bishop Basil (Essey). Sister Vassa, PhD, is a monastic of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany (ROCOR) and a lecturer in the Department of Liturgical Studies at the University of Vienna.

Record Number of Teens Attend Oklahoma SOYO Winter Camp

DOWAMA Winter Campers, February 2013DOWAMA Winter Campers, February 2013The Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Youth Director Erin Ghata, member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Oklahoma City, OK, recently reported to the St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood, that the Diocese of Wichita's annual SOYO Winter Camp from February 15-17 exceeded all expectations. "Your blessing!" wrote Ms. Ghata. "Thank God, by your prayers, we had a wonderful time this past weekend at Winter Camp! More than 120 DOWAMA teens and chaperones gathered at Camp Saint Raphael (YABOY!) for a weekend of prayer, fellowship and learning. It was the biggest Winter Camp we have ever had!

"Father James Shadid did an amazing job as our speaker," she continued.

Wichita Ministry to Moms in Crisis Seeks Executive Director

The Treehouse in Wichita, Kansas, is looking for an Executive Director. Created in 2002 to fill a unique niche, helping economically challenged moms and children with basic necessities and programs, the Treehouse is a Christian-based, not-for-profit organization. The Executive Director is responsible for providing strategic leadership for The Treehouse by working with the Board to establish long-range goals, strategies and policies. The Executive Director is responsible for the administration of the comprehensive Treehouse program, leading its public relations, community relations, and fundraising efforts.

The Treehouse offers compassionate physical and emotional support and positive Christian relationships. It is a special place, created by members of the Orthodox Christian community, especially for moms to receive education guidance and support after their baby is born. Parenting education, spiritual support, diapers and formula, and an inexpensive thrift store with books, toys and clothes are just a few of the resources. The Treehouse provides to women referred to our organization from our approved partners.

More information is available on the Orthodox Jobs website.