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Diocese of Wichita News

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servants

By Father Deacon Ezra Ham

“The last one out of Oklahoma, Turn out the lights.” That’s what the T-shirt said. It was 1982. The collapse of the Penn Square Bank in Oklahoma City had set in motion a domino effect. What the whole country would experience with the collapse of the housing loan market in 2009, Oklahoma faced in 1982. Banks failed. Businesses and stores closed. Many lost their jobs.

Times were tough in Oklahoma. Times were tough at St. Elijah Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City. Church attendance had dwindled and along with it—the offering. Discouraged and disheartened—it was easy to complain and be divided.

It was 1982 when Fr. Constantine Nasr arrived with his wife, Sharon, and their young sons, Constantine and Philip. Fresh from their successful years at St. George in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, they found themselves in a raw, young state three months short of its 75th birthday. It was a state hardened by the frontier and toughened by tornadoes, the Dust Bowl years, and the changing price of oil and cattle.

Upcoming Ordination

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! Deacon Philip Begley, son of Fr. Thomas and Kh. Beth Begley, formerly of St. Thomas Church in Sioux City, IA and now of St. George Church in West St. Paul, MN, will be ordained to the holy priesthood by the soon-to-be-consecrated Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England on January 8th, 2012. Deacon Philip is a senior at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA.

Bible Lecture Series with Fr. Paul Tarazi + October 28, 29

The First Annual Bible Lecture Series, featuring Fr. Paul Tarazi (, will be hosted at by Fr. Aaron Warwick ( and the congregation of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Wichita, Kansas, Friday and Saturday, October 28th and 29th.

Fr. Paul is a renowned author and speaker, and is Professor of Old Testament at St. Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, New York.

The topic will be The Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Ephesians. For details view the lecture series flyer or contact the office at St. Mary Church ( The flyer explains, "The epistle functions as a farewell speech similar to the one he gave to the elders at the Ephesus Church before heading towards his death. As both a final testament and universal letter to all the Pauline Churches, Ephesians is rich in content and addresses all major issues related to Paul's mission to the Gentiles."

Upcoming DOWAMA Ordinations, Elevations and Consecration

His grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! On Sunday, October 2nd, 2011, Fr. Elias Issa of St. Basil the Great Church in Kansas City, Kansas will be elevated to the dignity of archpriest.

WORTHY! Subdeacon Mark Telschow of Holy Cross Church in Midland-Odessa, Texas will be ordained to the holy diaconate at St. George Church in Houston, Texas on Sunday, October 30th. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas will be elevated to the dignity of Archpriest at St. Joseph Church on November 3rd. Subdeacon David Cook of St. Paul Church in Houston, Texas  will be ordained to the holy diaconate at St. Joseph Church on November 3rd. Deacon Michael Fulton of St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas and a senior at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, Massachusetts will be ordained to the holy priesthood at St. Joseph Church on November 3rd.

MABROUK! St. Anthony Church in Spring, Texas, where Fr. Anthony Baba is proistamenos, will be consecrated on the weekend of November 5th and 6th.

Letter of Thanks from Hunger Relief International

His Grace Bishop Basil recently recieved this letter of thanks from Hunger Relief International, the recipient of DOWAMA's 2011 charitable contribution as recommended by Fr. Seraphim Gisetti of St. John Chrysostom Church in Golden, Colorado and decided upon during the General Assembly at this summer's Parish Life Conference in Shreveport, Louisiana:

Dear Bishop Basil:

Our thanks to Bishop Basil and all the faithful of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America (DOWAMA) for the generous gift of $500.00 donated to Hunger Relief International. These funds will be utilized to provide food staples to the school-based feeding program run by the Orthodox Church in Port au Prince, Haiti. We will be providing rice, beans, pasta and oil to the school in early September, right before classes begin.

We appreciate your compassion and generosity in helping us to assist children living in extreme poverty in Haiti.


Rachel Zelon
Executive Director
Hunger Relief International, Inc.

Child Abuse Prevention Seminar + St. Basil Church, Kansas City, KS

October 15, 2012, 2:00 pm– 4:00 pm
St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church
9302 Riverview, Kansas City, KS 66112
Phone: 913-663-2200
E-mail your attendance numbers to:
Download Flyer (PDF)

St. Basil Antiochian Orthodox Church is offering a 2-hour workshop for Sunday School Teachers, Parish Councils, Priests, day care providers in your Parishes, or anyone interested in learning more about child abuse and how to best deal with it in your congregation or work.

The award-winning video Hear Their Cries: A Religious Response to Child Abuse & Neglect on the role of clergy and lay leaders in ending child abuse is a critical resource for all congregations. Produced by the FaithTrust Institute.

This movie will be the basis of a Mandated Reporter Training offered to all Orthodox Church Priests, Sunday School Teachers, and any day care providers in their congregations by Kh. Jeanetta Issa at St. Basil’s.

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

Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on 9/10/01St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on 9/10/01His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

This Sunday, September 11th, 2011, is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon our nation which took the lives of thousands of innocent civilians and first responders at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and in the peaceful farmland outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Attached hereto are texts which may be appended to this Sunday's Divine Liturgy (the first attachment is a prayer for those following the Byzantine Rite, which prayer is to be said after "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" and the Trisagion Prayers of Mercy; the second attachment is for those following of the Western Rite, which text is to be said after the Dismissal, Blessing and Last Gospel).

Memory Eternal! + Esther Samara

September 8, 1921 - September 5, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - Esther Massad Samara fell asleep in her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on September 5, 2011. She was born on September 8, 1921 in Drumright, Oklahoma to the Very Reverend George R. Massad and Khouria Bediyah (Hamra) Massad. The family then moved to Oklahoma City in 1937. She attended Classen High School and graduated in 1939. From 1939 to 1941 she attended Hills Business College, earning an Associate's Degree. Concurrently with school, she worked at the "Indian Post," a local mercantile store. On July 29, 1951 she married George R. Samara and together raised 3 children.

Colorado Women's Retreat with Author Lynette Smith

Camp St. Laurence near Canon City, CO
September 30-October 2, 2011
Download Flyer and Registration Form (PDF)

A Women’s Retreat with Lynette Smith and her book Voyage will be offered at Camp St. Laurence near Canon City, Colorado from Friday afternoon, 30 September, and concluding with Sunday Liturgy and brunch, followed by quiet time and departures for home.

Camp St. Laurence is an entire mountain valley surrounding Tallahassee Creek about twenty miles west of Canon City off Hwy 50. The valley is surrounded by National Forests and very quiet while revealing much of what makes Colorado such a beautiful and appealing place with great forests on the hillsides and cottonwoods and aspens along the creek. Lodging and meals are included in the modest tuition of $ 75 for a shared room. Private rooms are $95 and available on a first come basis.

Lynette Smith is a recognized Bible scholar and author and very committed to the Orthodox Christian Faith. She is a member of the choir at St. Columba’s Church in Lafayette, Colorado and has taught at other Orthodox parishes in the Diocese of Wichita.

For more information and a registration form, please download the event flyer (PDF).

2011 DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament

5th Annual DOWAMA SOYO Basketball Tournament & Retreat

St. Elijah Church, Oklahoma City, OK
October 7-9, 2011
Featuring Speaker Alex Younes

What you need to know…

  • Registration is only $20 but…
  • …we’ll be staying in a hotel so you will need to pay for that (See flyer)
  • Team registration cost is $50
  • Individual registration and medical form MUST be turned in BEFORE the deadline of October 1st!

Please send release forms and team registration forms to:

St. Elijah Orthodox Church
15000 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73134

Questions? Contact DOWAMA Youth Director Erin Learned at

Mary, Our Cause of Rejoicing

 By His Grace Bishop Basil 

Mary the Theotokos is very close to my heart, and, I am certain, close to the hearts of all who love her Son, Jesus. I can hardly think of her name without tears.

On the Eve of his Retirement, Fr. Constantine Nasr Profiled in

Fr. Constantine Nasr with his Church history timelineFr. Constantine Nasr with his Church history timelineThe August 6, 2011 Religion section of NewsOK published a profile of retiring priest Fr. Constantine Nasr written by reporter Carla Hinton. Hinton explains in the feature post that Fr. Constantine and Kh. Sharon have served the community of St. Elijah for 29 years, and Father will preach his last homily on August 14.

Assistant Priest Fr. Jeremy Davis is quoted as saying, “In terms of his legacy, he is the longest-serving priest at St. Elijah in its history....When he came here 29 years ago, the parish was divided, there were financial problems, lots of angst and turmoil. Now he leaves the parish in place of peace and harmony, in good standing.” 

The article explains that Fr. Constantine has been noted for his ministry of developing young men for the ministry. Hinton writes, "...he saw St. Elijah's as a sort of training center because so many students and seminarians made their way there over the years in search of guidance and fellowship." Considered a hub for evangelism and outreach, the parish-under Fr. Constantine's leadership-spearheaded a 2009 pan-Orthodox evangelistic effort in the Oklahoma City area, "Discover Original Christianity."

The article concludes, "Nasr said he is excited about discovering the new ways the Lord will use him after he leaves the pastoral ministry. He said his excitement stems from his observation that numerous people are being drawn to the Orthodox Christian Church these days."

Read the full text of the NewsOK article. 

Camp Saint Raphael Concludes 11th Season

Bishop Basil reports:

DOWAMA'S CAMP SAINT RAPHAEL (Ya Boy!) just concluded its 11th summer season. On behalf of our Clergy Brotherhood and entire Diocese I convey most sincere thanks to CSR's Executive Director GAYLE MALONE ( and Camp Director FATHER JAMES SHADID ( and all the volunteer counselors and staff members for all they do for our children and young people. Many years! Here follows a note from Father James as well as several photos from CSR's 2011 season. "Dearest Sayyidna BASIL, thanks be to God, another wonderful two weeks of CSR has happened. Though our time at camp has ended, the memories will last forever! Thank you, Sayyidna and all members of our DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood, for the prayers and support you have always given the Camp. We are especially grateful for the wonderful priests you sent (Fathers Mark Haas & Joseph Huneycutt and Fathers Anthony Baba & David Lewis) to minister to the children and staff. They were phenomenal! We had over 150 campers each session from all over the Diocese. Videos from this year's two sessions can be viewed at Session ONE: and Session TWO: Again thank you for all the love and support. Your son, Father James"

Early Bird Registration for 2011 DOWAMA PLC Ends May 15

A note form Fr. Daniel Bethancourt of St. Nicholas in Shreveport, LA:  "Christ is risen!  Please remember that PLC Early Bird Registration ends this Sunday, May 15th.  The brothers might consider announcing that in their parishes this Sunday.  Registration may be done online at  Thank you!  Forgive me, Priest Daniel"  Father Daniel may be contacted at

A note from Dr. Nada Farah, president of DOWAMA's Fellowship of St John the Divine:  "Dear Bishop Basil:  Christ is risen!  Please remind our clergy that 2011 PLC Parish Delegate/Report Forms are to be returned to me ASAP at   These forms as needed so that we can have accurate reporting of Diocesan statistics duringthe General Assembly at the PLC in Shreveport next month.  I have received only 15 of 50.  Thank you.  Yours in Christ, Nada"

Conciliar Releases Marriage Book by Fr. Constantine Nasr

An important new resource has just been produced for Orthodox couples. In Mastering the Art of Marriage: Staying Together When the World Pulls You Apart, Antiochian priest Fr. Constantine Nasr (St. Elijah, Oklahoma City) writes about the love, commitment and hard work involved in making marriages last. "As a pastor for the last 38 years," he notes, "I have had many young couples discuss their plans for marriage with me. I have seen their joy, their excitement and their eagerness to enter into marriage. During the same 38 years I have had many married couples come to me with their marriages in trouble. These same young couples that had been filled with happiness were now filled with anger, distrust and pain. It is staggering to hear that two out of three marriages will end in divorce. It is not the statistic that staggers me. It is the massive pain of divorce that staggers me."

Fr. Constantine continues, "The old signs that guided couples are gone. Today young couples head off in any number of directions hoping it will lead to happiness. Sadly, those roads most often lead to divorce."

Bishop Michael Dahulich of the Orthodox Church in America calls the book "...a resource masterpiece (which) combines the wisdom of the Scripture and the Holy Fathers throughout the centuries and the guidance of modern scholarship and marriage counseling from our own time."

Read the book's first chapter here.

Paschal Greetings from the Assembly of Bishops

Pascha at the Holy SepulchrePascha at the Holy SepulchreAnd he said to them, 'Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.' St. Mark 16:6-7

To the Reverend Priests, the Deacons in Christ, the monastics, and all the pious and Christ-loving Orthodox faithful in our beloved nation,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is risen!

On this radiant and sublime feast the sorrow of the disciples of our Lord was turned to astonishment and joy. Those whose world had seemingly come to an horrific end, found that their world had, in fact, begun anew and with splendor. The great enemies of the human race: death, sin, the devil and his twisted cohorts, lay collectively defeated, mauled and ruined in the tomb. Hades laments at its loss. No more was sin to tyrannize us. No more was the uncertainty of death to hang around our necks like a mighty millstone bending the human race down to the ground.

Claire Brandenburg Discusses Taos Chapel on Ancient Faith Radio

Claire Brandenburg, founder of Holy Annunciation Chapel and manager of the Heavenly Ladder Bookstore in Taos, New Mexico, speaks with Bobby Maddox about her efforts to spread Orthodoxy in northern New Mexico and about a new CD featuring the writings of Archpriest Sergius of Kasimov.

Click here to listen.

Memory Eternal! + Fr. Theodore Ziton

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Fr. Theodore Ziton, formerly of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas (1963-66) and retired from St. George Church in Canton, Ohio, fell asleep in Christ this past Friday, April 8th. He is the father of Fr. Stephen Ziton, formerly of St. Mary Church in Wichita. Fr. Theodore was preceded in death by Khouriya Vivian. The schedule of divine services for Fr. Theodore (all to be held at St. George Church in Canton, OH) is as follows: Thursday, April 14th - special funeral service for a priest at 7:15PM; Friday, April 15th - usual funeral service at 10:30AM followed by graveside prayers, interment and the meal of mercy.

May his memory be eternal!

Pastor Emeritus of St. George Antiochian Church passes away at age of 81

The St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Canton, Ohio mourns the loss of their longtime pastor, The Very Rev. Fr. Theodore Ziton, who served the parish from 1975 to 1996. He passed away this past Friday, April 8, 2011. 

Fr. “Ted” was born in Toledo’s north end neighborhood on August 7, 1929, the second of three boys, to Julia (Sabback) and Elias K Ziton.  After high school graduation with honors, he attended the University of Toledo then transferred to Columbia University in New York when he was accepted into St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.  He attended both institutions simultaneously, and in June ‘54 he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science and a Master’s in Divinity.

Teen SOYO Bright Week Retreat

The Teen SOYO of St. George Cathedral in Wichita will be hosting a 24-hour retreat on the Friday/Saturday of Bright Week, April 29-30, 2011.  While the retreat is especially targeting teens from the Kansas Deanery, all teens of the Diocese of Wichita may participate. For details, please contact Fr. James Shadid at

DOWAMA Lenten Retreats

Updated April 6, 2011

Retreats still upcoming:

April 8th & 9th in Tallahassee Creek, CO

THE BENEDICTINE FELLOWSHIP of St. Laurence is hosting a Lenten retreat centered around five "Meditations on the Passion of our Lord," to be presented by FATHER LESTER MICHAEL BUNDY of St. Columba/Lafayette, CO, at the St. Laurence Center in Tallahassee Creek, CO ( on Friday and Saturday, April 8th and 9th.  For a schedule, driving directions and other details, please be in contact with Father Lester at  

April 8th, 9th & 10th in Austin, TX

FATHER DAVID BARR of St. Elias/Austin, TX writes:  "Dear Brothers in Christ:  FATHER JOHN BEHR, dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, will be coming to St. Elias Orthodox Church the weekend of April 8th - 10th, for a Parish Retreat on 'The Journey to Jerusalem.'  You and your parishioners are definitely welcome to join with us for this retreat.  On Friday night, Father John will speak for a public presentation on the topic of 'Orthodox Christianity as Paideia: Faith, Reason and Culture in the Early Church.'  If you have any questions concerning this, please contact me at Have a blessed Great Fast.  Father David"

Antiochian Family Accepted by OCMC to Serve in Albania

Reports the OCA's Diocese of the South website, "Dr. Jeffrey and Caryn Macdonald have been accepted as Missionary Candidates by the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, to serve the Orthodox Church in Albania. Dr. Macdonald will be assisting the Holy Resurrection Seminary outside of Durres as a long-term missionary.

Christianity, and indeed all religious life, was outlawed in Albania under communist rule. With the end of communism in 1992, the Church has begun to rebuild both Church buildings and the Christian community. To help to rebuild Church life and provide teachers of the Gospel, the Holy Resurrection Seminary in Durres was established to train local Albanian clergy and Church workers.

Dr. Macdonald previously taught Church History and Old Testament at St. Herman’s Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska, helping to prepare Native Alaskans for service in their local Church. Dr. Macdonald studied at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, following an undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies and Archaeology. He later completed a Ph.D. in Early Christian Studies.

The Macdonalds and their five children live in Texas and attend an Antiochian parish, St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Church in Cedar Park. They are now raising support for their future work in Albania."

Biographical information available here.

Souvenir Journal Ads for DOWAMA Congregations

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Attached hereto is a subscription form to sponsor an ad in the Souvenir Journal being published by the Church of St. Anthony the Great in Spring, Texas on the occasion of the opening of their new church temple. Note that these are reduced subscription rates which are only applicable for ads sponsored by DOWAMA congregations. Questions? Be in contact with Fr. Anthony Baba, proistamenos at St. Anthony Church, at

Download subscription form (PDF)

Remember also that Souvenir Journal ad placements for the 2011 DOWAMA Parish Life conference are available and the deadline is May 1st. Click here to download the order form (PDF).

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: 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 and my OCMC profile page is   In Christ's Everlasting Love, Katie Wilcoxson."