Diocese of Charleston News


FOCUS Opens Free Health Center in Pittsburgh, PA

The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) recently opened the FOCUS + Pittsburgh Free Health Center. The Center provides free, quality physical and mental health care as well as pharmaceutical and laboratory services to uninsured individuals. Patients are seen by Orthodox physicians and health care providers who volunteer their time. The Center specifically targets and serves people who fall through the gaps in today's health care system: those who don't qualify for government assistance and/or those who don't have employer-sponsored health insurance.

The FOCUS + Pittsburgh Free Health Center is the first fully-accredited Orthodox health center in the United States. Using this model, FOCUS hopes to launch more health centers in areas where Orthodox physicians are available to donate their time and skills to serve the uninsured and working poor. A church hall, Sunday school rooms, an office—any of these can double as a health center in a community, on a weekly or monthly basis. Medical malpractice liability protection under the FOCUS model is provided by the federal government and the Federal Tort Claims Act at no charge, to any physician or medical staffer serving at a FOCUS clinic. Details are available on the Free Health Center's Information page.

 

Bishop Thomas Encourages Educational Opportunities

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Beloved in Christ,

God bless you!

I would like to make you aware, if you are not already, of several opportunities for us and our young people to become more educated in the Orthodox Christian faith or in an Orthodox environment. Please pass these on to your own diocesan, parish and other mailing lists as you see fit:

1. The proposed Institute for Orthodox Thought and Culture at Eastern University

A fully accredited undergraduate education with a broad range of majors and also including a minor in Orthodox Thought and Culture in its Arabic, Greek and Slavic iterations. Also included will be liturgical and community life. Be sure to fill out the survey and encourage others to do so. It is also on Facebook

Register Now: St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage, Sept. 26-28

Download the Pilgrimage brochure and registration form

Registration is open for the Annual St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage, with His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic presiding. Lodging for both adults and children is available for the weekend, which is an annual event at the Antiochian Village Conference Center and camp in Bolivar, PA.

"Did you know that the Antiochian Village is one of the few places places in the United States where you can visit the grave and shrine of a saint of the Church?" notes Bishop Thomas. Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in the United States, reposed in the Lord in 1915 and was later canonized by the Orthodox Church in America in 2000. Appropriately, since St. Raphael is buried on the grounds of Antiochian Village, the pilgrimage includes a Service of Supplication to him. Other activities include small group workshops, a panel discussion with Bishop Thomas, a special movie showing, and the full cycle of liturgical services.

Institute for Orthodox Christian Thought and Culture at Eastern University

Dr. Gary Jenkins, a member of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA, has been teaching history at Eastern University in the greater Philadelphia area, for 20 years.

Lately, he's been feeling called to do something even bigger. After much prayer and consultation with hierarchs and clergy throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, he has proposed the creation of an Institute for Orthodox Christian Thought and Culture at Eastern University.

Eastern is a fully accredited, Christian university with 35 majors and about 1,500 undergraduate students on its beautiful campus in suburban Philadelphia.

The proposed Institute would offer a minor for Orthodox students and serve as a hub for their spiritual, academic, and professional development.

Spotlight: Educational Opportunities at Balamand Seminary

His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, encourages the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to explore the possibilities of the educational opportunities that exist at the Balamand Seminary and the University of Balamand. "This is a multi-purpose institution," notes His Grace. "Here are some links that you and your high school and college students might want to take a look at. I was very impressed when I visited the University. In addition to Theology, there are a number of areas that can be studied the Balamand. The links that are provided here will familiarize you with everything the University has to offer.

Heritage Museum Exhibits Feature Women Artists

Exhibits highlighting the work of two remarkable women artists recently opened at the Antiochian Heritage Museum at Antiochian Village. In Women with Icons: Photographs, by Jocelyn Mathewes, the beauty and meaning of iconography is explored through a series of portraits of women posed with icons of their patron saints. (Selected portraits can be viewed online.) Vibrant, colorful paintings and textile work are showcased in Eternal Spring: The Art of Leila Chokheli, an exhibit that celebrates the abiding faith and joy of an artist who lived for decades under oppressive Communist rule in the Republic of Georgia. 

The two exhibits are open until February, 2015. Contact the Village's Director of Sales Barli Ross at 724-238-3677, ext. 426, to arrange an overnight package or a luncheon; view photographs and read more about the artists in the June 2014 edition of The Word magazine.

Parish Life Conference Season Begins with a Splash

The first two Parish Life Conferences (or PLCs) for the Antiochian Archdiocese have kicked off the summer PLC season with a splash! From June 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas, host parish St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Church is overseeing a lineup of events for attendees from the Diocese of Wichita, including talks by Keynote Speaker Sister Vassa Larin, as well as excursions to local attractions such as the River Walk and Sea World San Antonio. Also enjoying water access are the faithful of the Diocese of Miami, who are being hosted on June 11-15 by the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando at the Crown Plaza Hotel, with its proximity to lakes and the Atlantic coast. 

Time for Camp! Follow Antiochian Village's Updates

Beginning Sunday, June 15, 2014, Antiochian Village Summer Camp in Bolivar, Pennsylvania begins its summer-long camping program for kids age 9-18. Since 1978, the mission of the Camp has been to promote the faith of the Orthodox Church through ministry to the youth. The Village has been a "holy mountain" wherein campers form lifelong friendships and grow stronger as Christians. 

Is your child going to Antiochian Village this summer? Are you an alumnus longing to vicariously enter into this year's camping season? Visit the Village's Facebook page for introductions to counselors, highlights of each session, and other features, or view all the new photos as they are uploaded to the Village's photo site. A complete list of camps within the Antiochian Archdiocese is available on the Department of Camping page.

 

July 18-20, 2014: Summer Meetings at Antiochian Village

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, the patriarchal vicar of New York and all North America, the 2014 Archdiocese Summer Meetings will be hosted at the Antiochian Village, July 18-20, 2014. The Archdiocese and diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO, will gather for their annual summer meetings to conduct the business of the Archdiocese organizations.

In addition, the Archdiocese Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals will be held during the weekend with participants from each diocese. Please contact your NAC/NAB President if you have any questions.

Information for the Summer Meetings is as follows:

Photos from Bishop Thomas' Visit to Lebanon

From His Grace Bishop Thomas' visit to Lebanon in May 2014

Bishop Thomas visits St. Gregory Parish in Washington D.C.

The people of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington D.C. were happy to welcome His Grace Bishop Thomas on the weekend of May 10-11, 2014. The occasion for this visit was to celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of our church building. In 2006 St. Gregory's congregation bought a townhouse which had been converted to a Protestant church. The community subsequently renovated it and made it suitable for Orthodox worship. On May 5 and 6 of 2007, Bishop Thomas performed the ceremonies for dedication. This year was the first that he was able to return for this annual celebration.

2014 PLC Theme is Love the Lord - Love Your Neighbor

It's time to register for your diocese's regional Parish Life Conference (PLC)!

This year's conferences are spread out across five weekends in June and July. On June 11-15, the Diocese of Wichita and the Diocese of Miami will kick off the PLC season in San Antonio, TX and Orlando, FL. Shortly thereafter on June 19-22, the Diocese of Worcester will convene in Boston, MA. Fort Wayne, IN, will be the site for the final June conference with the Diocese of Toledo's PLC on June 25-29. Finally, the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Eagle River, Charleston and New York, and Ottawa, will all meet from July 2-6, combining Fourth of July celebrations with Parish Life Conferences.  

Visit the Conventions and Conference Planning page for full information.

As always, this year's theme, love for God and neighbor, 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.

To facilitate your parish participation in the Creative Arts, Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals, all resources are available in the Festivals 2014 section of Antiochian.org. Additionally, ads for the souvenir journals can be purchased and registrations can be submitted through the Department of Conventions and Conference Planning's Antiochian Events pages.

 

 

Metropolitan Silouan Visits St. Mary's Church in Hunt Valley, MD

On Saturday May 3, 2014, His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese, visited St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Hunt Valley, MD. Deacon Michael Bishop filed a report and a photo gallery to commemorate the eventful day.

When I first received an invitation to meet Metropolitan Silouan, I did not act because of the traveling requirement. Then I heard that he was coming to St. Mary's Orthodox Church, which is a manageable distance from where I live.

When I arrived at the church and went in the Altar, I was immediately introduced to His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan, whom I found to be a very warm and friendly hierarch. My first impression was that he was the bishop's deacon, especially since I saw Bishop Nicholas there and I did not know that another bishop was also coming. Subdeacon Basil also had the same impression and the three of us had a laugh over this when he told us later....I'm pointing this out because many of our bishops are models of humility. They are very approachable and real spiritual fathers. Both the metropolitan and the bishop were very friendly.

2014 Paschal Greetings from Bishop Thomas

His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:

GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA 2014

Beloved in Christ,

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

The Apostle Paul reminds us of what is central to our Faith: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, along with his appearances. We are fast approaching the greatest celebration in our Orthodox Christian calendar; let us open our hearts to celebrate this Good News with eagerness and embrace it fully.

The death of Christ is not only for our sins, but serves as our example of how to live for others a life of sacrificial love. The resurrection is the evidence that Christ was blessed by the Father, though on the cross he was cursed for our sake. The resurrection appearances of Christ to the Apostles were the call to them to proclaim what he had done through his cross. The apostolic witness to us is a call for us to do the same.

Let us not keep this resurrection joy to ourselves. Let us be like the myrrh-bearing women who left the empty tomb with great joy, and proclaimed the good news: He is risen!

Yours in Christ,

Rt. Rev. Bishop Thomas (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic

Bishop Thomas Announces Events with Metropolitan Silouan in PA for April 4,5

His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, announces:

His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan, who is serving as our Patriarchal Vicar, has expressed a desire to meet with as many of our Antiochian clergy and laity as possible. This weekend there will be two opportunities to do so in the Western Pennsylvania area.

Friday – Akathist: On Friday evening, April 4, His Eminence will be with us for the Akathist Service at Ss. Peter and Paul Chapel at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center. The service begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a gathering to meet with His Eminence.

Saturday – Vespers and IOCC Syrian Relief Dinner: On Saturday April 5, His Eminence will be presiding over Vespers at 4 p.m. at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh followed by attendance at the IOCC Syrian Relief Dinner. More information and registration for the IOCC dinner can be found at the IOCC's Website, or you may call Zelfa Khalil at 412-417-4706.

Overnight accommodations can be secured at the Antiochian Village Center by calling 724-238-3677.

Bishop Thomas Visits Holy Ascension Church + West Chester, PA

On March 1st and 2nd, 2014, Holy Ascension Church in West Chester, Pennsylvania was blessed by the presence of His Grace Bishop Thomas to celebrate the beginning of Great Lent. Bishop Thomas celebrated several services at the parish, including Sunday liturgy.

During the Sunday service His Grace gave a very personal homily where he confessed his own sins to the congregation and spoke of the importance of Great lent as a time of spiritual self-reflection. At the end of the service, Bishop Thomas inducted two parish members into the Order of St. Ignatius. After lunch His Grace meet with the children of the parish and spent time with them. The day concluded with the service of Forgiveness Vespers.

Memory Eternal! + Samuel Essey

Samuel Essey, 93, of Monessen, PA, died Wednesday, March 12, 2014. He was born in Syria, the son of the late Esper and Anna Abraham Essey. Sam was a 1939 graduate of Monessen High School and a member of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church, where he served on the Board of Trustees and was the treasurer for 30 years beforer retiring.

As a veteran of WW II, Sam served with the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Arkansas in the American Theater and the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. He retired from the Monessen Plant of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, then became the administrative assistant to the late Pennsylvania House of Representative Majority Leader, James J. Manderino.

Samuel is survived by his wife of 68 years, Elmunda "Munda" (George) Essey, a son and daughter-in-law, Alan and Teri Essey, a daughter, Ginger Gerdish, a son-in-law, Gregory Gerdish, a brother, George Essey of Monessen, four grandchildren, Jarrod, Cory, Dillion and Chad.

Bishop Thomas Opens Meeting at West Virginia State House of Delegates

His Grace Bishop Thomas recently opened a West Virginia House of Delegates meeting by presenting a prayer on the State House floor.

IOCC Hosts Syrian Relief Gathering in Pittsburgh, PA

Syrian Relief Dinner & Prayer Service
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
985 Providence Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237
(opposite La Roche College, 9000 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237)
www.iocc.org/pittsburgh

Tickets $50.00 per person (age 18 and under $20, age 6 and under free)

Prayer Service begins at 4 p.m. - Lenten dinner and Reception from 5 - 7 p.m.

Additional donations will be appreciated. Net proceeds will benefit Syrian Relief Efforts.

Hosting this event will be the following Hierarchs:

  • Greek Diocese - His Eminence Metropolitan Savas
  • Antiochian Diocese - His Grace Bishop Thomas
  • Orthodox Church in America - His Grace Bishop Melchisedek
  • Serbian Diocese - His Grace Bishop Dr. Mitrophan
  • Ukrianian Orthodox Church - His Grace Bishop Daniel
  • Carpatho-Russian - His Grace Bishop Gregory

Sponsoring organizations: Philoptochos of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, IOCC Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee, and Antiochian Orthodox Community

For Reservations

Online (preferred method): www.iocc.org/pittsburgh, or
Call Sophie at 412-341-6869, farahs32@gmail.com, or
Laura at IOCC 877-803-4622, or
Mail: IOCC, 110 West Road, Suite 360, Baltimore, Maryland 21204, or
Ask if tickets are available in your home parish.

Apply Now for Camp Scholarships: Deadline is 3/1

Antiochian clergy and parishioners should be reminded that camper scholarships are again available to each parish and mission in the Antiochian Archdiocese through the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Applications were mailed to all parish priests on January 16, 2014. If you are a priest and have not received that mailing, please be in immediate contact with Fr. Anthony Yazge of Antiochian Village, at franthony@antiochianvillage.org. Please note that applications to receive your scholarships ($700 per parish) must be received by Fr. Anthony no later than Saturday, March 1, 2014. More camping information is available from the Department of Camping.

Memory Eternal! + Beatrice Monsour Davis

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.

"Writing Icons of the Kingdom" is Youth Conference Theme

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.

Village Hosts Homeschooling Conference: March 27-30, 2014

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. 

Download the flyer

Pan-Orthodox Blessing of Waters at Moraine State Park

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.

Bishop Thomas' Nativity Visit to St. George Cathedral + Pittsburgh PA

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.