Diocese of Wichita News
Christ the Savior Mission in Jacksonville, Texas, has suffered heavy damage due to the recent rains and flooding in the nation's central regions. Reports His Grace, Bishop BASIL in his newsletter, "During the recent heavy rains here in the Heartland several of our church temples sustained various levels of flooding and water damage, but none has been damaged as severely as the Church of Christ the Saviour/Jacksonville, TX where our brother Fr. Finbar Thibodeaux is proistamenos."
Adds Fr. Finbar, "It seems than when the building next to ours was undergoing repair of its roof and renovation of its upper storeys, much of the construction debris - as well as the personal trash produced by the workers (soda bottles, cans, plastic bags, candy wrappers, newspapers, etc.) - was simply tossed on to the lower, flat roof of our church building. During the recent storms all of that debris and trash completely clogged the downspouts, gutters and drains of our building resulting in the pooling of a massive amount of water on the roof of Christ the Saviour Church. As was to be expected, the weight of the water finally proved to be too much for the structure; the water began not only to seep into our building but literally pour in, eventually causing ceilings to collapse and severe interior flooding coming from above....We continue to try to facilitate the drying of the building by running the AC units, fans and dehumidifiers. The humidity in the building remains extremely high and we continue to see more and more damage to the building. My vestments were taking on the stench of the building so I moved them to my home. The pew missals and hymnals are warping due the humidity."
Father or Kh. Linda may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, Bishop Basil spoke with AFR correspondent Matthew Namee about the historic assembly of bishops which took place in the week following Pentecost. His Grace was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Below are excerpts from the interview, which can be found here in full:
"The bishops delighted in being together and doing the work of the Church."
"The ultimate task was to prepare the Orthodox (Church) of this region...to constitute itself as a canonical, single Church.…It is a huge task, one that a vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America have been praying for, hoping for, talking about, for a long, long time."
"It’s as if the Mother Churches have said to us, ‘Look, you have been asking for this. Before we give it to you, we would like to know, what is your plan?’"
"We were blessed by the work of SCOBA….the work of the Episcopal Assembly was made quite easy by the 50 years of preparation."
"The Episcopal Assembly is comprised of every Orthodox bishop, not just the primates. We had 55 in attendance, (in New York) where the maximum of SCOBA members would have been 8."
Ancient Faith Radio has also posted an extensive interview with Fr. Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA, titled Unraveling the Episcopal Assembly. Additionally, Antiochian.org has compiled a summary of online Assembly articles.
Fr. Paul Hodge, Antiochian pastor of St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City, Iowa, recently republished a fascinating account of the life and times of Fr. Nicola Yanney, the first Antiochian priest to serve in mid-America. Born in 1873 as the son of Elias Yanney in Fi’eh al-Koura, north Lebanon, Fr. Nicola and his young bride Martha George al-Baik of Qilhat, immigrated to America shortly after their wedding, where they led the life of homesteaders in a sod house. Sadly, after happy years spent farming in the Kearney area, Martha and the Yanneys' second daughter Catherine, reposed in 1902. Following this loss, St. Raphael of Brooklyn ordained the widower to the priesthood, as Bishop BASIL recounted in his own Enthronement remarks on December 15, 2004: "Father Nicola’s parish stretched from the Canadian border in the north, to the Mexican border in the south, and from the Mississippi River in the east, to the Rocky Mountains in the west. It is Fr. Nicola who, as a circuit riding priest headquartered in Kearney, followed the example of his Father-in-Christ, St. Raphael, and visited Orthodox Christians in the scattered towns, villages and isolated farm lands throughout America’s Heartland."
Read the full account here.
At the Episcopal Assembly recently concluded in New York City on Friday, May 28, His Grace Bishop BASIL was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Reports His Grace, "I was nominated by Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Chair of the Episcopal Assembly), and Metropolitan PHILIP (First Vice-Chair of the Episcopal Assembly) seconded my nomination. I was then elected by acclamation by the 53 other bishops present at the Episcopal Assembly. I will head the Secretariat of the Episcopal Assembly which will be headquartered in the center of America's Heartland -- Wichita, Kansas."
By decision of the Assembly, all organizations and joint action projects such as International Orthodox Christian Charities which operate under SCOBA, will function now under the auspices of the Episcopal Assembly. Newly formed committees will meet at regular intervals to discuss issues of common interest to all Orthodox Christians.
The St. Vladimir's Seminary Summer Octet will be performing in three weekend concerts June 4th, 5th, and 6th. Both Overland Park and Wichita, Kansas, will host Director Dn. Philip Majkrzak's singing eight for three evenings of Byzantine and Slavic musical selections. Those interested may contact the host parishes: Holy Trinity Church (June 4), 913-681-6948; St. Mary's Church (June 5), 316-264-1576; and St. George Cathedral (June 6), 316-636-4676.
Fr. David Mustian (email@example.com) reports that over 200 people attended the first Divine Liturgy in the new home of St. Luke Orthodox Church, Erie, Colorado, on Sunday, May 23rd. The new iconostasis and some other items are yet to be delivered and installed. In other good news, a second parish, Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Norman, Oklahoma, has finished building their new church as well. Fr. Justin McFeeters (firstname.lastname@example.org) says that the congregation hopes to begin worshipping in their recently completed church temple following the Parish Life Conference next month. As is the DOWAMA tradition, the iconostasis crafted for the chapel at the Parish Life Conference is gifted to a mission or small congregation within the Diocese. This year the iconostasis will be gifted to Holy Ascension in Norman. The formal blessing of this new facility is scheduled to take place in conjunction with the Diocesan Fall Gathering in October.
St. Vladimir's Awards Honorary Doctorate, Announces the Bishop BASIL Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music
At the May 22nd Commencement ceremony, St. Vladimir's Seminary bestowed an honorary doctorate degree on His Grace, Bishop BASIL, and also established a Byzantine music program in his honor. The commendation read:
Faithful son of God fearing Orthodox Christian parents, reared in the Church and nourished by her manifest blessings, university educated, theologically trained, and spiritually formed in graduate Orthodox seminary practice, steeped with the knowledge of church history, Scripture, and liturgical and pastoral practice, bridger of traditions, rejecter of phyletism, seeker of truth, author and translator of liturgical books and arranger of hymnography celebrating the glory of the Mother of God, avid inspirational leader of youth, teacher of liturgical music and church rite, builder of churches, lover of people, dedicated follower of the monastic rule, commemorator of the saints, archpastor and Christ loving shepherd of flocks, bearer of joy and teacher of sobriety, true friend and loyal advisor, articulate witness and dynamic defender of the faith, visionary leader and clear thinking guide, bearer of truth and defender of right, without guile and humble in spirit, “rightly dividing the word of God’s truth,” it is with great honor that the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, by unanimous decision and by the power vested in them by the Board of Regents of the State of New York, bestow upon His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and of Mid-America of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, the degree Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.
Recently, a video celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Church, Houston, Texas, was released via YouTube.
Created by videographer Doug Burns, "The Beginning" includes vintage photographs and clips, and chronicles the story of the lively, multi-ethnic parish. The parish is led by the Very Rev. Fr. Matthew B. MacKay.
His Grace, Bishop BASIL writes: "Your prayers are requested for our Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops which will convene in Englewood, N.J. next Thursday and Friday, May 20th and 21st, and for the Episcopal Assembly of all Orthodox hierarchs in the United States, Canada and Central America which will convene in New York City on Wednesday and Thursday, May 26th and 27th. God being my Helper, I will depart Wichita on Wednesday, May 19th and, by your prayers, return on Friday, May 28th. Should an emergency requiring my immediate attention during my absence from our Diocese, I may be contacted through Subdeacon Joshua at the Chancery office (316-687-3169).
Bishop BASIL writes:
Dear to Christ, Father and Brothers: Christ is risen!
Although last night's tornadoes killed two persons in Oklahoma City and three in nearby Cleveland County (of which Norman is the largest city), all of our communities in that area were spared injury and damage:
1 - Khouriya Sharon Nasr and Kay Lehman, secretary at ST ELIJAH/OKLAHOMA CITY, said that all in the congregation are safe and sound as are the parish facilities.
2 - Father Mark Wallace of ST ANDREW/OKLAHOMA CITY reports that his community suffered no injury or damage.
3 - I also got a text message from Father Justin McFeeters of HOLY ASCENSION/NORMAN which reads: "Just a quick note to tell you that after a Holy Ascension head-count we're OK in Norman. Headed out to the new building to see how things are there. God is good!"
Thankfully our two other congregations in Oklahoma ST JAMES/STILLWATER and ST ANTONY/TULSA were not in the path of the tornadoes. Glory to God for all things!
During Commencement at St. Vladimir’s Seminary on Saturday, May 22, 2010, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary will award a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, to His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL (Essey).
His Grace is a 1973 alumnus of St. Vladimir’s. "He has served tirelessly to build up Orthodox Christianity in America and has contributed greatly to the field of liturgical music," reads the seminary announcement. The institution has invited the public to join in the graduation events, and to commemorate this "honorable and dedicated servant of God" in the Commencement exercises which begin at 2 p.m. on the campus of St. Vladimir's, in Crestwood, New York.
Bishop BASIL writes:
AXIOS! Symeon Kees, a DOWAMA vocation and son of St. George Church in Houston, Texas will be ordained on Sunday, June 20th at St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Kees is a 2009 graduate of St. Tikhon's Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
Antiochian Orthodox priest and author, Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston, made a pilgrimage to Syria visiting Metropolitans, monasteries, and ancient churches from April 11-24. Father shares his journal here, and in his Ancient Faith Radio podcast "The Blindside."
The airport: It was a 16-hour flight from Dubai to Houston, having left Damascus the previous day. The lines to get through American Customs were long. When it finally came my turn, I approached the counter to see a sight not seen in my two-week absence: a very white woman with red hair and freckles. “Where you coming from?” she asked. “Dubai,” I said, “I’ve been traveling in Syria.” “Syria! On business?” she asked. “No, I was visiting the holy sites,” I replied. The fair skinned Customs Agent looked at me as if I had six heads and said, 'Why Syria?!'
Following Bright Week, 30 Orthodox teens and chaperones gathered in Oklahoma City at St. Elijah to participate in the YES program. (YES stands for Youth Equipped to Serve and is a program sponsored by FOCUS North America that gives Orthodox youth the opportunity to participate in hands on ministry in cities across the United States.) Facilitated by Katrina Bitar, Director of the YES program, and Christina Saad, YES intern, this weekend gave teens from St. Eljah and St. George Cathedral a chance to see a different side of Oklahoma City.
A note from Fr. James Shadid, Director of Camp Saint Raphael:
Each year our DOWAMA's Camp Saint Raphael must pay to the YMCA $18,000 in fees to cover the camp costs for our own non-paid, volunteer staff. In other words, although our clergy and those great folks from our parishes volunteer their time and talents (and pay their own way to and from Camp!) for those two weeks to be our camp chaplains, counselors, nurse or doctor, etc., CSR must pay the YMCA $18,000 to cover the costs of for their meals and lodging. That breaks down to a weekly fee per staffer of $300 ($600 per staffer for our full two-week camping program). This year - to mark CSR's 10th anniversary - we are asking that congregations, parish groups and individual parishioners consider sponsoring a CSR staff member. Please see the attached flyer (PDF) and publicize this opportunity among your parish groups and individual members.
Bishop BASIL writes:
May it be blessed! Erin Elizabeth Learned, a daughter of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, employed as full-time Youth Director at St. Elijah in Oklahoma City, has been appointed Diocesan Youth Director for DOWAMA to succeed Fr. Anthony Baba.
HE IS WORTHY! Fr. Anthony Baba of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas and DOWAMA Youth Director was ordained to the holy priesthood at his home parish of St. George in Houston, Texas on the Fifth Sunday of the Fast, March 21st, 2010. He will be assigned to the pastorate at St. Anthony Church in Spring, TX effective Monday, April 12th. He will begin his "Week of Liturgies" at St. George in Houston and will conclude it at St. George Cathedral in Wichita.
“When Thou hadst fallen asleep in the flesh, as one mortal, O King and Lord, Thou didst rise again on the third day, raising up Adam from corruption, and abolishing death: O Pascha of incorruption! O Salvation of the world!” (The Exaposteilarion of Pacha)
To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, the Christ-loving Monastics, and the Faithful Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:
I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of our Risen Saviour. Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! ! ألمسيح قام Христос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Cristo ha resucitado!
"Death was terrible to the human race before the death of Christ, but after Christ’s Resurrection man became terrible to death, for One of us conquered death, did not remain in the grave, and did not see corruption. The former Pascha was the liberation of Israel from Egypt. Our Pascha is the liberation from the slavery of death and corruption. Christ is risen! I now know that my salvation has indeed been wrought. I know that God did indeed appear on earth. There have been great men, conquerors of the elements, conquerors of nature, but death equalized all and revealed our common nothingness. Who is this Who has passed through the gates of death? He can only be God. This means that God was indeed incarnate on earth, has indeed brought the healing medicine against that which consumes me and the corruption that tortures me. The Incarnation and the Resurrection are combined into one. The Incarnation gives the meaning of the Resurrection, and the Resurrection irrefutably confirms that the Incarnation is truth and reality, and not illusion or dream. Now death is not frightening to me, for I have seen the victory over corruption." (New Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky, 1886-1929)
His Grace Bishop BASIL has appointed Fr. John Mefrige of St. Ephraim the Syrian Church in San Antonio, Texas to begin the process of organizing a "DOWAMA Consortium of Professional Counselors" to be a resource for clergy in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. Professional counselors in the Diocese are encouraged to download and submit a registration (PDF). For more information, please contact Fr. John Mefrige at FrJohnMefrige@aol.com.
Online registration is now available for the 2010 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference at St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Parish Life Conference will take place June 16-19, 2010. For more information or to register, please visit http://plc.stelijahokc.com/.
On March 9, 2010, His Grace Bishop THOMAS visited St. Paraskevi Monastery in Washington, Texas for the feast day of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. It was His Grace's first visit to the Monastery. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, who serves at St. George Church in Houston, Texas, accompanied His Grace.
For more pictures, please visit Fr. Joseph Huneycutt's blog.
This is the third year that Jim and Ruth Cohlmia have offered the Harry and Florence Kouri Scholarship of $2,000 to a graduating high school senior from the Diocese of Wichita. Eligible high school seniors may download an application form here. Please note that the signature of the applicant's parish priest is required. The deadline to submit applications to the Wichita Chancery is May 3rd. The recipient will be announced at our Parish Life Conference in Oklahoma City, OK this June.
His Eminence Metropolitan SABA of Syria's archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran announces that the very popular Arabic-language, full-color, Orthodox Children's Magazine "FARAH" (which means "joy") will soon be published in an all-English edition - to be called "JOY" - for our children here in America.
His Eminence Metropolitan SABA writes:
Dear Brother in Christ,
As our Holy Orthodox Church is embarking on a very special time of the year in preparation to celebrate the Feast of all feasts, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I greet you with a holy kiss from the land that was blessed to witness the conversion of the Apostle Paul and the martyrdom of one of the seven first Deacons, Timon.
With the blessing and the enthusiastic support of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, the Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, I present you with the first issue of the “JOY” magazine in English, which is intended to help children (7-13)with their parents to learn about our holy Orthodox faith. “JOY” will be a colorful publication of about forty pages, containing a variety of simple educational materials, offered three times a year, for the sake of enriching the children of Christ, for the nominal cost of twenty dollars a year including postage cost.
On Sunday, February 21, 2010, His Grace Bishop BASIL attended the annual Triumph of Orthodoxy weekend concelebrated by the "Three Hierarchs of the Heartland." The celebration was hosted this year by His Eminence METROPOLITAN ISAIAH of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver at his Assumption Cathedral in Denver, Colorado. His Eminence ARCHBISHOP DMITRI of the OCA's Diocese of Dallas and the South preached at the concelebrated Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning and Sayedna BASIL preached at Vespers on Sunday evening. The 2011 celebration will be hosted at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas, Texas.
14 February 2010
To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, the Christ-loving Monastics, and the Faithful Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:
Blessings and greetings in the Name of the Lord Christ. As we stand at the thresh-hold of the Great Fast, I make my prostration before you and ask your forgiveness. As this year’s Forgiveness Sunday Message to our Diocese, I share with you the following counsel of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Theodore the Studite (759-826).