"'Kyrie eleison,' the congregants intone, while at the altar, a retired cop-turned-Orthodox priest performs rituals as old as Christianity. When he steps down to face the crowd, he delivers a sermon like a country preacher, sweat beading on his forehead. 'Some of us here are former Methodists,' says the Rev. James Hamrick, wearing white vestments over a black cassock, addressing two-dozen worshippers scattered sparsely through the pews. 'Some of us were former Lutherans. Some of us were former Episcopals. Evangelicals. Non-denominational Christians. Pentecostals. But the one single factor that is common to all of our journeys — no, not where we come from — is that fact that we pursued the truth of God’s self-revelation.'"
Diocese of Charleston News
Beatrice Monsour Davis, beloved wife of David L. Davis of blessed memory, passed into eternal life on Sunday, February 2, 2014, one week shy of her 99th birthday, in her adopted home of Naples, Florida.
She was the cherished mother of Samuel and Marcia Davis, Archpriest Joseph and Diane Shaheen, and of Laila Corey.
Her love and devotion to her grandchildren was boundless: Just ask Rebecca and Richard Cosentino, Joseph and Maria Shaheen and Philip Shaheen; George and Lucy Corey; David and Megan Corey; Michael and Grisel Corey and Jonathan Corey; Christopher and Suzanne Davis and Jennifer Davis.
She was Grammy to: Gabrielle, Laurence, Frederique, and Lucas Cosentino; Matthew and Augusten Corey, and William and Addy Davis.
The 12th Annual Orthodox Christian Camp and Youth Workers Conference took place at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA from January 23-25, 2014. Over 80 youth workers from across the United States and Canada gathered together for this year's conference, sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Camps Association and youth departments from different jurisdictions. This year's conference was co-hosted by the Youth and Camping Ministries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A. The theme of the Conference was "Writing Icons of the Kingdom: Understanding our Youth as Icons we are Helping to Write."
Ruling Hierarch of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese His Grace Bishop Gregory of Nyssa was the keynote speaker. In his first address, Bishop Gregory spoke about the unity required of us in youth ministry in order to effectively "write" icons for the kingdom. For his second address His Grace stepped aside for a very special presenter, Protopresbyter Mark Leasure, his priest from St. George Church in Taylor, PA, who brought the myrrh-streaming icons of the Mother of God that reside in his parish.
Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA, will deliver the keynote addresses at the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling Conference at the Antiochian Village in March. Children's workshops will be held for ages three and up. Presentations are meant to cover the spectrum of interests and concerns of parents from "Homeschooling 101" beginners to veterans who are homeschooling teens. Three tracks are offered at each session, focusing on "big picture" questions, ages and stages, and practical tips and techniques.
Registration fees, lodging, and meal packages are offered as economically as possible, with a special pricing cap so families will pay food expenses for their four oldest family members only. Register before February 27 for an early-bird price! In addition to the sessions, which cover homeschooling topics from theological and practical, general and specific perspectives, attendees will participate in services and have beautiful opportunities to experience works from photographer Jocelyn Mathewes, artist Leila Chokheli, illustrator Niko Chocheli, and author Chrissi Hart. Family photo sessions with Jocelyn Mathewes are also offered.
On Sunday, January 5, 2014, the three Orthodox parishes in Butler, PA got together and served the Great Blessing of the Waters outdoors, at Lake Arthur in the Moraine State Park. The event was covered by journalists from Butler and Ellwood City, and even made the first page of the Butler Eagle!
The parishioners of St. Anthony Orthodox Church (Antiochian), St. Andrew (Orthodox Church in America), and Sts. Peter and Paul (Ukrainian) had grown accustomed to the beautiful practice of worshipping together on their patronal feast days and during Lent, or for the evening Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts. Yet the outdoor Blessing of Waters was a first. God sent us a relatively mild day in the middle of the famous "arctic vortex" which brought to the area some of the coldest temperatures in decades.
On December 24, 2013, St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was graced by the presence of His Grace Bishop Thomas to celebrate the feast of the Nativity. The cathedral celebrated the Hours of the Nativity, followed by the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil on the morning of Christmas Eve. Later that evening, His Grace celebrated Matins and Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, a blessed service in which Bishop Thomas ordained two men from the parish, Michael Janakis and John Norman, into the sub-diaconate.
During the service, Sayedna Thomas spoke about the significance of the feast, and the importance of being spiritually awake and keeping Christ as the true meaning of Christmas instead of other worldly ideas of the holiday. At the end of the service, Bishop Thomas inducted three very dedicated and inspired people into the Order of St. Ignatius. The congregation broke the fast together downstairs with a meal and much love and joy.
Beloved in Christ,
Greetings in the name of our incarnate God and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!
Glory to that Hidden One, Whose Son was made manifest! Glory to that Living One, Whose Son was made to die! Glory to that Great One, Whose Son descended and was small! Glory to the Power Who did straiten His greatness by a form, His unseen nature by a shape! With eye and mind we have beheld Him, yea with both of them.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, His Grace Bishop Thomas visited St. Mary Church in Chambersburg, PA. He was welcomed at his arrival on Saturday afternoon by the pastor, Fr. Theodore Pulcini. That evening members of the parish community assembled for Vespers, at which Sayidna presided. Afterwards the Parish Council and their spouses gathered at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Nagib Khalifa for a reception to welcome His Grace as well as Mary Winstanley-O'Connor, North American Chair of the Order of St. Ignatius, who was also visiting the parish that weekend.
The next day, after Orthros, His Grace celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, assisted by Fr. Ted, Dn. Evangelos Prieston, Dn. David Jacobs, Sdn. Ben Daniel, and the parish's acolytes.
His Grace Bishop John visited Holy Trinity Mission in Lynchburg, Virginia over the weekend of November 23-24, 2013. After an unexpectedly prolonged sojourn at the Charlotte, North Carolina airport, Bishop John arrived in time to preach at Vespers after his solemn reception. On Saturday evening, His Grace was guest of honor at a dinner with the lay leadership of the mission. At Sunday Matins and Liturgy, His Grace eloquently wove all the Scripture readings together into their theme of Eucharist, answered questions at a festive coffee hour afterwards, and later treated Fr. Alban Waggener and Kh. Helen to dinner. It was a joyous weekend. We are greatly blessed with Bishop John's leadership and charisma as the overseer of the Western Orthodox churches of the Archdiocese.
Being Orthodox means having a rich liturgical, spiritual, ministry life. It also means being part of the One, Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church. When our bishops visit, they remind us that our parish is part of the Church that Christ's established and gave into His apostles' hands for safe-keeping and spreading. St. Philip Orthodox Church in Souderton, PA recently had the great blessing of our bishop's visit to mark some very important occasions in our the life of our parish and to encourage us along in our life in Christ.
First, he presided over our patronal feastday for the Holy Apostle Philip. In his stirring sermon he reminded us to "be like the bee, rather than the fly" in our relationships.
The first weekend in November was more than a normal weekend for the congregation of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Monessen, PA. The parish began the celebration of their 100th anniversary, first celebrating Great Vespers on Saturday evening. Bishop Thomas, Auxiliary Bishop of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, spoke after the service, encouraging us to honor our forefathers' and mothers' memories by working to keep the parish a healthy Orthodox presence in Monessen. On Sunday, Orthros and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Bishop Thomas and Bishop Basil, Auxiliary Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America. Following the Liturgy a 100th anniversary luncheon and program was held at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Hellenic Center.
St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church was founded in 1913 by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants as a place where Orthodox Christians were able to worship and seek salvation. The church was one of many that owes its organization to then Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny (St. Raphael).
During October 12-16, His Grace, Bishop Thomas made his annual pastoral visitation to St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, as well as making other stops in the Eastern Pennsylvania area. During his visit to St. Paul's, His Grace presided over the divine services, including the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. While there, His Grace noted the numerous upgrades and expansions to parish life that have been made during the administration of the current pastor, the Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, who was assigned to the pastorate of the parish in July 2009.
Since 2009, St. Paul's population has grown by 46%, and annual pledges have grown by 180%. During this time, multiple weekday services (including, in many cases, daily) have been instituted, as well as a vigorous program of adult education.
His Grace Bishop Thomas was welcomed to the Mission of St. Andrew the Apostle in Lewes, Delaware by an enthusiastic congregation for Vespers and the Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy the first weekend in October, 2013. The parishioners were also blessed to celebrate Sayidna's Name Day, commemorating the Apostle Thomas, on Sunday, October 6. MANY YEARS, SAYIDNA!
Our beloved Bishop congratulated the parishioners on progress since his last visit. New pews were in place, along with an imposing Bishop's Chair. Outside, the parking lot has been paved and landscaping was in place. Sayidna again spoke of the need to bring Christ and Orthodoxy to southern Delaware. St. Andrew is the only Orthodox Church in Sussex County and there is a great opportunity for sharing the Good News.
Bishop Thomas recently visited St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His Grace's visit began on the day of the parish’s Annual Golf Outing. Sayidna came to the game at the Sand Springs Golf Course in Drums, and after talking with some of the parishioners, launched the tournament at 1 p.m. by blessing all of the golfers. During the afternoon he enjoyed the beautiful Pennsylvania weather and foliage, and was escorted by The Very Rev. Fr. David Hester, the pastor of St. Mary, to watch the golfers play. Neither Sayidna nor Fr. David are golfers, but that did not stop them from noticing how well—or poorly—the play was going. At the end of the day there was a meal in the clubhouse, at which Sayidna blessed the food. Sayidna even discovered that one of the golfers, John Charles, was a Wilkes-Barre high school classmate of his mother.
On Saturday, September 28, Sayidna made his annual visit to his family’s hot dog restaurant, Abe’s on Main St., and he saw both family and parishioners in the very busy and popular restaurant.
The priests of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic gathered together for their ninth annual Brotherhood Synaxis, held at the Antiochian Village from October 1-4, 2013. Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest was the guest speaker. His excellent talks addressed the need for parish priests to be aware of the challenge that the secular worldview presents in ministering to their flocks. In addition to Bishop Anthony’s lectures, the clergy had a supplication service for St. Raphael, whose tireless efforts brought about many of the churches of the diocese, and who is buried on the grounds of the Village Camp.
Additionally, His Grace Bishop Thomas inspired his priests on several occasions with discussions on activities in the Orthodox world, the archdiocese, and the diocese; he also counseled them to be diligent and prayerful in all of their efforts.
Registration is open for the annual St. Herman Middle School Retreat, convening at Antiochian Village on the feast day of St. Herman of Alaska.
- Who: Students in grades 5-8
- Where: Antiochian Village Conference Center, December 13-15, 2013
- What: interactive presentations and discussions, weekend liturgical services (with an outdoor supplication service to St. Herman), games, crafts, meals and snacks, sledding, geocaching, stargazing, guided night hike, a campfire
- Why: The distraction-free environment of the Village and the spiritual emphasis of the retreat offer a wonderful opportunity for middle schoolers to focus on their faith
- How much: $96/person for lodging and meals
- Download the registration form or visit the Antiochian Village's list of upcoming events for more information.
The clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas to our Patronal Feast of the Elevation of the Cross from September 13-15, 2013. Along with His Grace Bishop Melchizedek (Orthodox Church in America), over twenty visiting clergy and many other well-wishers joined us in commemorating both the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Cross as well as Sayedna Thomas' 25th year of ordination. The weekend also saw the ordinations of Lt. Col. Kelvin Gardner (chaplain, USAF). In total, four services and a banquet were held. Also included in the weekend was the annual retreat of the deacons of the Eastern dioceses with renowned scholar Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
An important reminder from Bishop Thomas for all clergy:
Next week is the Annual Clergy Retreat for the Dioceses of Charleston/Oakland and New York/Washington. This retreat is open to all Orthodox clergy, regardless of diocese or jurisdiction. The speaker will be His Grace Bishop Anthony (Michael) of the Diocese of Toledo. To register, please call (724.238.3677) or email Fr. Anthony Yazge, Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center, Ligonier, PA.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has announced the following three appointments for the Convent of St. Thekla in Glenville, PA. The Convent of St. Thekla is a monastic community of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
Effective immediately, Mother Eisodia is appointed the Acting Abbess of the convent, and Sister Kathrina will join the community. Effective September 1, 2014, Very Rev. Mark Sahady is appointed the Chaplain of the Convent following his retirement from the Air Force.
Mother Eisodia is a native of Los Angeles, California, and she attended college in Portland, Oregon. She has worked in the secular world as an engineer, and was raised in the Presbyterian faith. Her journey to Orthodoxy was fulfilled with her reception into the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. She received her monastic formation in Greece, and later moved to the U.S. She has travelled to Orthodox monasteries in Romania, Greece, Great Britain, France, and Mexico.
St. George Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, welcomed back family and friends for the 2013 Labor Day Weekend. The two-day event included haflis, a banquet, raffle, and special coffee hour. The St. George Choir also performed "The Star-Spangled Banner", "Eye on the Sparrow", and "He Lives" before the banquet. His Grace Bishop Thomas, who served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, was in attendance for several of the events.
The Orthodox Christian faith is growing on our continent and, with it, awareness of the challenge of raising and educating our children in a way that is shaped by that faith. On many occasions I have been asked my opinion, as both a hierarch and as an educator, as to my preferred educational option, whether parents ought to favor public schools, private schools, homeschooling or some other approach.
It has become clear to me, though, that there can be no "one size fits all" approach; each circumstance requires careful and prayerful consideration and exploration of options. Parents must decide based on their particular situation what will be the best preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven for their children, how their children's schooling can be not only educational, but sanctifying. "Sanctified Schooling," as I've come to call it, means finding the best educational fit for students and their families to grow in sanctity as they grow physically, intellectually and emotionally.
The Patriarch Tikhon Choir, a unique choral ensemble made up of professional singers from Russia and North America, under the direction of renowned Moscow conductor Vladimir Gorbik, will perform a premiere concert of Orthodox sacred choral works entitled "Their Sound Hath Gone Forth," Monday, September 16, 2013, at St. Malachy's Roman Catholic Church: The Actor's Chapel, 239 West 49th St., The Actor's Chapel, in New York City, at 7:30pm. Tickets (General: $35, Students: $15) can be purchased in advance and at the door.
The program includes works from the Orthodox All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy ranging from austere, centuries-old Znamenny Chants to sumptuous polyphonic works by such Russian masters as Dmitry Bortniansky, Alexander Kastalsky, Pavel Chesnokov, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Sergius Trubachev. Also featured on the program are compositions and arrangements by contemporary American Orthodox composers; several will be concert premieres. In keeping with the choir's multi-cultural approach, the program will be sung in both Church Slavonic and in English.
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.
It is with saddened hearts that we inform you of the passing of our sister and aunt, Helen Thomas. Surrounded by family and friends, she died peacefully in her Washington, D.C. home Saturday morning, July 20, 2013.
Helen Thomas devoted her nearly 70-year career in journalism to the pursuit of the public's right to know. She was a champion of the First Amendment, fervently advocating for the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. For years, she proudly occupied her front row seat in the Press Briefing Room at the White House, considering it the people's chair in the people's house. She always acknowledged the privilege of being the eyes and ears of the public, and she boldly and unabashedly asked the hard questions to hold our leaders accountable.
Antiochian Village announces that "Session One of camp is underway and the campers are loving it...all thanks to God. This year we are using a new website for our photography and we are excited to provide the campers and parents, per request, with many more photos from every day this summer! At present we have our 2013 Family Camp album and our Staff Training Week album full uploaded. The Session One Album is up and running and we are keeping it updated with hundreds of pictues every day!"