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Diocese of Wichita News

Ongoing Earthquake Relief Efforts in Japan

Holy Annunciation Church in Japan, destroyed in last week's earthquakeHoly Annunciation Church in Japan, destroyed in last week's earthquakeHis Eminence Metropolitan Philip encourages the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese to donate to IOCC's ongoing relief efforts for victims of last week's Japanese earthquake.

His Grace Bishop Basil passes along an update from Japan:

Dear Orthodox family, thanks God, through the prayer of Orthodox family, situation of the suffered places is getting better. We appreciate your e-mails with prayer and thoughtfulness. They were translated and uploaded to Japanese page to encourage brothers and sisters struggling in Tohoku. And we were much grateful to know donation for this disaster had started in many places. Yesterday, we received photos of two church located in the Sanriku Coast, uploaded to the website: http://www.orthodox-jp.com/westjapan/earthquake/201103earthquake_en.html. There were five churches along Sanriku Coast, with deeply indented coastline, suffered by tsunami. We found out that one is destroyed, one is still unknown, but the other three were safe, even though minor repairs seemed necessary. Especially, Holy Ascension Church in Sakari (Ofunato) is quite safe, even though City of Ofunato is one of the worst destructed places. Bishop Seraphim of Sendai said the Diocese made contact with 80% of parishioners living in the coastal area and  continue investigation on damage of parishioners, too. Please continue keeping us in your prayer. Fr. George and Maria

What is IOCC doing to help in Japan right now? Emergency Response Coordinator Jamie Helfer gives us the latest on the situation on the ground, what help is being offered and what to expect in the upcoming weeks and months. Click here to listen to the interview on OCN.

The latest update from the IOCC:

March 18, 2011

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — With financial support from an emergency grant of $25,000 from the National Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society and contributions by private donors, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will provide humanitarian assistance such as medicines, food and other essential items to communities in the earthquake and tsunami-damaged Pacific coastal districts of Japan in the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaragi. The assistance is being distributed by the Orthodox Church in Japan in cooperation with regional authorities. All of the aid to be distributed is expected to be obtained locally in Japan.

Prayers for Victims of Japanese Earthquake

The Orthodox Cathedral in Sendai, JapanThe Orthodox Cathedral in Sendai, JapanUpdate: Orthodox Church in Japan Assesses Needs of Survivors, Searches for Missing Priest

The faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese wish to offer their fervent prayers on behalf of those suffering from Friday's earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

IOCC Stands Ready to Offer Aid Following Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Via his grace Bishop Basil, some information regarding the Orthodox community in Japan from Maria Matsushima Junko:

We appreciate your love and prayer. I received many emails from friends.

Nagoya, where I live is all fine. But northern Japan are suffered much. Vladika Seraphim of Sendai called Tokyo office by his cell phone and said that the cathedral in Sendai is safe, but he cannot contact with parishioners or recognize situation and damage of his territory, as telephone and electricity stopped. There are many small churches and chapels there and many brothers and sisters. Fr. Vasili is old and sick, living near coast.

A Message from DOWAMA Missionary Katy Wilcoxson

DOWAMA's diocesan missionary in Tanzania Katy Wilconxson, daughter of Fr. Aidan and Kh. Cynthia of St. John the Forerunner in Cedar Park, TX - sends us the following note:

"Master, bless!  I am very privileged to be a daughter of DOWAMA!  I am overwhelming thankful for the generous donation of $1,000.00 the Diocese's Clergy Brotherhood has donated to my support fund through the OCMC!!  I am grateful for and humbled by our Diocese's continued support while we are beginning the medical ministry here in Tanzania.  It is amazing how exciting these past seven months have been.  I am so grateful also for the Diocese's continued prayers for my teammates and me.  Thank you, holy fathers of the DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood, for asking my dad about me and for asking how things are going here.  Please visit my website and share with your parish about the ministry beginning in Tanzania!  My personal website page is http://missontanzania.blogspot.com/ and my OCMC profile page is http://www.ocmc.org/missionaries/missionary_profile.aspx?MissionaryId=12   In Christ's Everlasting Love, Katie Wilcoxson."

DOWAMA Teen SOYO Lenten Retreat

Retreat Master: Fr. John Ballard
Friday, April 1st, to Sunday April 3rd

Located at John Knox Ranch near Wimberly, Texas.
Hosted By St. Elias Teen SOYO, St. Elias Orthodox Church, Austin, TX
Contact Fr. Dave Lewis for more information:

frdavelewis@sbcglobal.net 512-476-2314

Cost is $50 per participant.  Registration form and Medical Release are Mandatory!  Forms and $50 registration fee must be sent by March 27th to

St. Elias Orthodox Church
408 E. 11th St.
Austin, TX 78701
C/O Fr. Dave Lewis

St. Mary Parishioner to Administer School in India

Paul Sidebottom of St. Mary in Wichita, will leave for Kolakata (Calcutta), India in mid-March where he has accepted a position at St. Ignatius Orthodox Boys' School. Paul wrote to Bishop Basil: "Your Grace: Your blessing. I can give a little history of the mission there. Father Ignatios (Sennis) a hieromonk of Stravronikita Monastery on Mount Athos began the current mission in India in the 1990s. He was later joined by his cousin, Sister Nectaria (Paradisi) - their family is from Corinth, Greece. In India, our Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration is in Kolakata, blocks away from the Hindu temple of Kali, the goddess of destruction and patroness of the city.  

2011 Oklahoma City Pan-Orthodox Meeting

With all eyes and hearts focused on Jesus Christ, a pan-Orthodox gathering of clergy and their parish councils came together for a common meal in Oklahoma City, OK.  With this being the third annual gathering on February 13, 2011, a solid tradition is being established for Orthodox unity in central Oklahoma.

St. Elijah (Antiochian), St. George (Greek) St. Mary’s (Ukrainian) and Holy Ascension (Antiochian) all had a chance to share what the Lord is doing in their midst.  Mr. and Mrs. Kory Warr were our hosts and The Very Rev. Constantine Nasr was our emcee.  Father Jeremy Davis, of St. Elijah, shared about a successful seminar that will be implemented annually at St. Elijah called, “Sex as God Intends.”  That is a two-day seminar for middle-school and high-school students with presentations made by the clergy, medical personnel and laity. By sharing this, it helped to spark the interest in duplicating that ministry for the other Orthodox congregations.

39th Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

We thank God for everyone's safe return to their homes and families following the close of our 39th Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat, led by Dr. Krastu Banev of the University of Durham in the UK, which was held at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas this past Tuesday through Thursday.

Spring 2011 Conference on Orthodox Schools + Wichita, KS

Update: Unfortunately, due to unforseen circumstances this event has been cancelled.

Register Online for 2011 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference

Online registration for the 2011 Diocese of Wichita Parish Life Conference (including vendor registration and souvenir journal entries) is now available at AntiochianEvents.org. Mail-in registration forms in PDF format are available on St. Nicholas Church's conference page.

February Conferences Focus on Family and Culture

February is a season for conferences, as Orthodox Christians go indoors to escape the cold while enjoying fellowship and spiritual enrichment. 

In a cyberspace gathering on February 11 and 12, the organization Illumination Learning ("Bringing Together Orthodox Christian Resources to Share with Each Other") will be hosting "Orthodoxy in the Home" in the first annual Orthodox Christian Online Education Conference. The line-up of speakers includes Fr. Luke Veronis, who will talk about how to teach children about missions; the sister singers of Eikona, who will discuss "Teaching Our Families the Hymns of Our Church"; and Antiochian priest Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, who will expound on how humor and the funny moments of family life are teachable moments too. Go here to register virtually, for this virtual conference! 

The following weekend, February 18 and 19, The Climacus Conference will tackle great themes in philosophy, theology and literature in their series of lectures held at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Clothing, food, Plato, marriage, Dostoevsky, a movie screening and more, will be discussed by academic notables such as Vigen Guroian and by popular authors such as Conciliar Press writer Molly Sabourin.

That same weekend, the pan-Orthodox coalition North Texas Orthodox Missions, is sponsoring the 2011 Festival of Orthodoxy Conference in two Texas cities, Fort Worth and Dallas. Featured guests Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green and Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr. will speak to the theme, “From Conception to Dying: Orthodox Christian Views in Today’s World.” Go here for information and registration.

Report from DOWAMA's Missionary in Tanzania

Katie Wilcoxson writes to Bishop Basil:

Master, bless!  Furaha na Amani (Joy and Peace).  I greet you and the Clergy Brotherhood of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America from Bukoba, Tanzania, where I now reside.  I wanted to let you know that, recently, the Clergy Brotherhood of the Archdiocese of Mwanza gathered for their own retreat.  The priests travelled on buses' (sardine-packed vans) and motorcycles to get to Bukoba.  They were here for a weekend.  His Eminence Jeronymos invited two instructors from the seminary in Nairobi, Kenya, where many of the priests in the diocese studied.  Some of the topics were chanting the troparia for the different Feasts , the worsening economy, and a report from the annual synod meeting. 

2011 Camp St. Raphael Applications Available Online

Camp St. Raphael 2011 is ready for application!!!!  

Please find attached to this email three applications:  Camper, CIT and Staff applications, the Check List and the Parent Booklet have been sent to the youth advisors and are online at www.campstraphael.org.

Here is how the process works:

2011 DOWAMA Creative Festivals

2011 CREATIVE FESTIVAL COORDINATORS
2011 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference
Hosted by St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
Shreveport, Louisiana
June 15-18, 2011

 

Below are the Creative Festival Coordinators for 2011. Entries for the respective festivals should be sent to the addresses listed for each coordinator. If you have any questions regarding the festivals, you may contact the coordinator or Vasiliki Oldziey (contact information below.)

Remember the Victims of Abortion

Icon of the Mother of God, "Helper in Birthgiving"Icon of the Mother of God, "Helper in Birthgiving"Bishop Basil writes:

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 22, 2011, marks the 38th anniversary of the greatly-lamentable decision by the United States Supreme Court known as Roe v. Wade.  You are asked to prayerfully remember the victims of abortion (see the attached PDF, Service of Supplication for Victims of Abortion), and to educate your congregations about and support the life-affirming, Church-related agencies and organizations, such as "The Tree House" (www.wichitatreehouse.com), "Zoe for Life" (www.zoeforlifeonline.org),  and "Orthodox Christians for Life" (www.oclife.org).

First Liturgy in Taos, New Mexico

On Saturday, January 15, 2011, the first Divine Liturgy ever was celebrated in the new Holy Annunciation Chapel in Taos, New Mexico. Fr. John Bethancourt celebrated the service, the first ever in the Taos area, with the help from Subdeacon Raphael Nava and members of the choir and congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chapel founder Claire Brandenburg and several other local Taoseños also attended the service. Following the Liturgy, Fr. John led a presentation and discussion on the theology of Holy Icons in the attached Heavenly Ladder bookstore and coffee shop. It was a delight to see the further development of the Taos mission project and to assist the vine of the Orthodox Church as it takes further root in northern New Mexico.

Heavenly Ladder Bookstore was featured in a recent edition of The Taos News:

Antiochian Churches Featured in Houston Chronicle

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle discusses Antiochian Orthodox Churches in the Houston area and explores trend of American conversion to Orthodoxy:

Like many of his parishioners, Father Richard Petranek came to the Orthodox church in search of the past.

After 30 years as an Episcopalian priest, Petranek converted to the Antiochian Orthodox Church and leads a new but growing parish in west Houston, filled almost entirely with converts to the ancient faith.

"Most people come for the stability," he said. "The same thing that is taught today in the Orthodox church was taught 500 years ago, was taught 1,000 years ago, was taught 1,500 years ago."

At a time when most mainline Christian churches are losing members, Eastern Orthodox churches — which trace their beliefs to the church described in the New Testament - are growing, both in Houston and across the United States.

Read the complete article at the Houston Chronicle web site.

Fr. Don Hock's India Mission Journal

Last fall, Archpriest Fr. Don Hock of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Omaha, traveled to India with the OCMC, in order to minister with a teaching team in an orphanage in Bakeswar, and in Calcutta. Composed of three laymen and three clergy, the six-member team taught catechism classes, visited with orphanage children, served liturgy in the Orthodox Church of the Holy Transfiguration in Calcutta, and visited several Christian churches and sites of interest there.

"In many ways," wrote Fr. Don in his journal, "this was a full-circle event for me, as some of the missionary experience my wife and I had was in reaching out to the Indian immigrant population in England. And now, I was heading for India itself to preach the Gospel as before, but this time we were also bringing the fullness, depth and richness of the Holy Orthodox Faith to the hungry hearts of those waiting for us to come and minister to them." Read all of Fr. Hock's daily thoughts and impressions here in his Mission Trip Journal.

DOWAMA Ordinations on Theophany

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

WORTHY!  Deacon Methodios Ingalls of St. Sophia Church in Dripping Springs, Texas was ordained to the holy priesthood and Subdeacon Gregory Farman of St. Elias Church in Austin, Texas was ordained to the holy diaconate on the great feast of Theophany which I served at St. Elias Church in Austin with all the clergy of the Central Texas Deanery.  Fr. Methodios will soon return to St Tikhon's Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania to complete his final semester of graduate theological studies, while Deacon Gregory has been assigned to St. Elias Church.

Fr. Methodios giving his first blessing, using hand-cross painted by Kh. Danielle.Fr. Methodios giving his first blessing, using hand-cross painted by Kh. Danielle. Dn. Gregory receiving the hexapteryga at his ordination.Dn. Gregory receiving the hexapteryga at his ordination.

Christmas Greetings from Bishop Basil

"The Bethlehemitissa” Wonderworking Icon of Our Lady of Bethlehem in the south transept of the Church of the Nativity."The Bethlehemitissa” Wonderworking Icon of Our Lady of Bethlehem in the south transept of the Church of the Nativity.

To the Right Reverend Archimandrites, the Very Reverend and Reverend Presbyters, Archdeacons and Deacons and their families, the Venerable Monastics, and all the Christ-loving Faithful of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Incarnate Christ. I send to each of you and your communities my paternal love, festal greetings and prayerful best wishes for the merriest of Christmases and a healthy and happy 2011. Christ is born! . ألمسيح ولد

In Christ Jesus the Incarnate Word,

New Iconography at Holy Trinity Church + Santa Fe, NM

The new dome and apse (click to enlarge)The new dome and apse (click to enlarge)Immediately following Bishop Basil's visit in late October, a team of five Russian artists, led by Dmitri Shkolnik, arrived at Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico to begin work on the temple's iconography. Working all day and into the night six days a week, the team managed to complete the church's dome and apse before returning to their families for the holidays three weeks later.

The choice of icons in the apse was driven by the parish's history and patronal feast. Fr. John Bethancourt has long felt a special guidance from the Mother of God in his efforts to build a mission and grow a parish community over the years. Therefore, the icon of the Mother of God Platytera, "More Spacious than the Heavens," was chosen to preside over the altar space. Above the altar is the icon of Pentecost, Holy Trinity's patronal feast. Towards the ceiling is the icon of the Annunciation, divided by the Holy Trinity at Abrahams table. Together with Pentecost, these icons depict three manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Fr. John also points out that the unusual juxtaposition of the Holy Trinity and Annunciation icons is full of meaning. This icon of the Trinity depicts the visitation of Abraham and Sarah, when the Lord promised to Abraham that he "shall surely become a mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him" (Genesis 18:18). This promise finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Annunciation, through which Jesus Christ comes into the world to save all.

Two DOWAMA Deacons Tonsured as Monks

Fr. Benedict and Fr. MarkFr. Benedict and Fr. MarkHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

With the blessing of Metropolitan Philip, Deacon Mark Berge and Subdeacon Joshua Armitage were tonsured rasophore monks (called "the beginning of the holy schema" and "the angelic estate") on the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch - Monday, December 20th, 2010. Assisting me at the service, which was served in the Chancery's domestic chapel of St. Raphael, was Hieromonk Jeremy (Davis), second priest at St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, OK. Deacon Mark is now known as Hierodeacon Mark (his patron being changed from Venerable Mark the Ascetic to the Hieromartyr Mark of Arethusa), and Subdeacon Joshua is now known as Father Benedict (his patron being Venerable Benedict of Nursia). Father Benedict (monk.benedict@gmail.com) remains as synkellos at the Chancery, and Hierodeacon Mark (mark.berge@colorado.edu) remains assigned to St. Luke Church in Erie, CO. As in the Service of Tonsure, "Let us all say for them, 'Lord, have mercy!'"

Dome Is Raised at St. Anthony the Great, Spring, TX

The New St. Anthony Church in Spring, TexasThe New St. Anthony Church in Spring, TexasHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

"ALF MABROUK! A THOUSAND BLESSINGS! The central dome was raised today atop the new church temple being built by the congregation of St. Anthony the Great Church in Spring, Texas where Fr. Anthony Baba is proistamenos."

Memory Eternal! + Abraham 'Bus' Bayouth

Bishop Basil writes:

MEMORY ETERNAL! Abraham "Bus" Bayouth, 94, of Skiatook, Oklahoma, father of A.B. Bayouth, vice president of DOWAMA's Fellowship of St. John and tireless supporter of Camp Saint Raphael, fell asleep in Christ this past Monday, December 13th, 2010.  The Trisagion Prayers of Mercy will be chanted for the repose of his soul on December 15 at seven o'clock at St. Antony Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the funeral will be served on December 16 at two o'clock at the Skiatook High School Activity Center.  Condolences to his wife Mrs. Abraham (Su'ad) Bayouth and their three sons A.B., Gary and Gregory. 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.

Katie Wilcoxson Serves As OCMC Missionary in Tanzania

Katie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatherine Wilcoxson, daughter of Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas, has always wanted to find ways to serve. "In Tanzania," says OCMC's website,  "Katherine is dedicating her training and experience as a registered nurse to the Orthodox Church’s Resurrection Hospital. Because Tanzania is one of the many African countries plagued with treatable diseases and poverty, this ministry of preventive healthcare and health education is vital." 

Now that she's newly settled in her mission assignment, Katie took a moment to tell her story. 

From an early age I have loved helping others. During middle school and high school, I was the youngest regular volunteer at the local food bank. The year I graduated from high school, I learned about the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). In 2000, I went on my first OCMC short-term trip to Alaska. In the following two years I also went on short-term trips to Guatemala and Tanzania. I had a real connection with the people of Tanzania, and I knew I would return as a long-term missionary.

DOWAMA 2011 Teen Winter Camp

DOWAMA 2011 Teen Winter Camp will be held at Camp Saint Raphael in Wagoner, Oklahoma, January 14th through 17th.  The theme is "A Christ-centered Life" and the registration fee is $90 (chaperones/advisors $45).  Registration and payment must be received by January 7th.  Questions?  Contact Fr. James Shadid (fatherjames@stgeorgecathedral.net) at St. George Cathedral/Wichita, Kansas.

Download registration form (PDF)