Diocese of Charleston News
Fr. Noah Bushelli of St. Philip Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania writes:
It is always a blessing to be Orthodox and to be laboring in God's Vineyard, but this blessing is highlighted with an archpastoral visit. Bishop Thomas's stirring sermons, practical wisdom and common touch inspire us to bear greater fruit to God's glory. We are laboring day and night to building up our parishioners in ministry and also to build up our parish through outreach efforts. Glory to God! Here are some of our efforts:
"Oh your mark, get set, go!" Antiochian Village's annual 5K Trail Run will benefit the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, and many runners have registered to participate in the event, slated for Saturday, October 6, 2012. Special Olympics PA provides year-round training and competition in 23 Olympic-type sports, to more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. One hundred percent of the AV5K Trail Run registration fee goes to Special Olympics.
Antiochian Village is an ideal setting for this event. At this time of year, spectacular fall color will welcome runners and walkers of all ages on a moderately challenging wooded course. Prizes and refreshments will be awarded at the finish line.
The run comes just two weeks before Special Olympics Awareness Day, which is sponsored by SOYO and aimed at raising funds to underwrite the Village's summer Special Olympics program.
Registration will be open the day of the Run at 9 a.m. in the Village Conference Center.
Pilgrims gathered for the annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage at the Antiochian Village from September 21-23, 2012, joined by presiding hierarch His Grace Bishop Thomas, and the Abbess of the Convent of St. Thekla, Mother Alexandra. The Pilgrimage began on Friday evening with Great Vespers, followed by dinner, a showing of the Oscar nominated movie "The Help," and a discussion led by Fr. Anthony Yazge, Antiochian chair of the Department of Camping.
On Saturday, the Pilgrimage continued with a Hierarchical Liturgy at St. Ignatius Chapel at the Camp, followed by fellowship at brunch and an afternoon of activities which included workshops and discussion on "The Family and the Media" and "The Sacraments." Pilgrims also attended the Supplication Service to St. Thekla with anointing with oil from the Shrine in Maíaloula, Syria, and enjoyed a Chapel tour with Village Director Paul Finley. Afterwards, there was time for prayer, rest and reflection, and an opportunity to tour the Antiochian Heritage Museum.
2012’s clergy retreat for the Eastern Dioceses (the Dioceses of New York and Washington, D.C.; and of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic), held from September 17-21, centered on the spiritual life of the pastor. Its keynote speaker was the distinguished Dr. Christopher Veniamin, Professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Dr. Veniamin spoke with thoughtful and true words about spiritual renewal, but “beyond that,” he said, the retreat was really about “inspiration: the art of inspiration in the Orthodox patristic tradition.”
The deacons of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic met with His Grace Bishop Thomas Joseph for their fourth annual retreat. This year, the retreat was held jointly with the annual Saint Thekla’s Pilgrimage at the Antiochian Village, September 21-23. For the first time, deacons from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and the Orthodox Church of America also participated in response to Sayedna Thomas’ invitation to deacons from all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions who had received a blessing from their hierarchs to attend.
Registrations will be accepted until October 30, but PLEASE HELP US OUT BY REGISTERING TODAY!
Please download and send in your form so we can make class handouts. See you soon!
Now is the time to register for the Orthodox Institute 2012: Culture. Morality. Spirituality. Held at Antiochian Village, Ligonier, PA, on November 1–4, this year's conference will survey current cultural views, beliefs of the church, and the challenges facing young people. Registration is open until October 14. Keynote Speaker Dr. Peter Bouteneff of St. Vladimir's Seminary will be joined by Featured Presenters Dr. Vigen Guroian (University of Virginia) and Dr. Philip Mamalakis (Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology). The conference offers panel discussions, lectures, and fellowship for Orthodox educators, parents and clergy.
On June 23, 2012, His Grace Bishop Thomas was solemnly received at Vespers by Fr. Alban Waggener and the members of Holy Trinity Western Rite Orthodox Mission in Lynchburg, VA. We were doubly blessed to have Fr. Olaf Scott, the Dean of the Virginias, and Kh. Eva in attendance. The Scotts' daughter Lisa and family are members of Holy Trinity. After Vespers, His Grace spoke to the congregation about supporting their priest and encouraged them to seek out ways to be of assistance within the mission. His Grace then joined the mission council for dinner at the Waggener home, where he discussed many topics, including the present situation in Syria.
Eastern Dioceses 2012 Fall Delegates Meeting
October 12-14, 2012
Diocese of New York and Washington D.C.
Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic
Hosted by St. George Church, Danbury, CT
Event page on Facebook
Download Registration Form (PDF)
Deadline for registration is Friday, October 5, 2012. Please mail a registration form (PDF) with your check to: St. George Orthodox Church Delegates Meeting, 125 Kohanza Street, Danbury, CT 06811.
Saturday night will be an international dinner featuring homemade foods from several different countries, as well as a hafli and dance featuring Arabic and American music.
St. George Church has set aside a block of rooms at the La Quinta Inn and Suites in Danbury, CT. For more information and directions, please download this hotel registration information PDF.
His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:
Many years to Deacon Seraphim (Ron Moslener) who was ordained to the holy diaconate by his Grace Bishop John at the Chapel of Ss. Peter and Paul at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center. Deacon Seraphim is assigned to St. John the Evangelist Church in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
On the weekend prior to the commemoration of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29, 2012), His Grace Bishop Thomas made an episcopal visit to the faithful at St. John the Baptist Church in Lewistown, Maryland. His Grace presided at Vespers on Saturday, August 25th and at Matins and Divine Liturgy on Sunday, August 26th. The visit marked the fourth time that Sayedna Thomas had visited the mission since it was established by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip on March 20, 2009. St. John the Baptist Mission, located about 65 miles from Baltimore and Washington, is the only Western Rite Antiochian Orthodox church in Maryland.
During the weekend celebrations, Bishop Thomas shared with the people how the commemoration had personal significance for him since he had served his first Divine Liturgy as a newly ordained priest on the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. His Grace proclaimed that the patron of the mission was not one who was politically-correct, but was rather one who was bold in the faith—who had “guts” and was willing to stand for the truth — and who, like the Theotokos, was willing to say “yes” to God, no matter the cost. Bishop Thomas encouraged the people of St. John the Baptist to follow the example of their patron, the Forerunner of Christ.
His Grace Bishop Thomas presided over the baptism of Dean Jacobs, son of Dn. David and Tatiana Jacobs, on June 23, 2012 at St. Thekla Outdoor Chapel at the Antiochian Village. Dean Jacobs' baptismal name and patron saint is St. Dionysios of Zakynthos. Sayedna Thomas presided with Fr. Anthony Yazge (from the camp), Fr. Don Shadid (St. Mary Johnstown, PA), Fr. Noah Bushelli (St. Philip Souderton, PA), and Fr. Bogdan Bucur (St. Anthony Butler, PA) also serving. Dean's Godparents are Nathan and Kristen Catanese.
His Grace Bishop Thomas asks that we remember the community of St. Patrick Orthodox Church of Warrenton, VA in our prayers. A fire burned down the new temple that was still in the process of being built by the congregation. Thanks be to God, no one was harmed. Local news has covered the story in the July 25 piece, "Fire destroys future home of church near Bealton."
"The congregation of Saint Patrick Orthodox Church had spent about $80,000 on renovations which started four months ago," Fr. Patrick Cardine explained to the Fauquier Now reporter.
A wonderful event that will be taking place at Antiochian Village this autumn! As you may know, Antiochian Village is the burial place of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. Many people each year come to visit his burial place as they also attend the St. Thekla Pilgrimage. The 2012 pilgrimage will take place during the weekend of September 21-23. This pilgrimage is sponsored by our Convent of St. Thekla, with the assistance of the Convent's abbess Mother Alexandra, and will be overseen by His Grace Bishop Thomas.
In addition to the usual events of the pilgrimage, this year we will also have a deacon's retreat in conjunction with the pilgrimage. For information about this retreat, please contact Dn. Gregory Roeber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As Orthodox Christians, our lives are a type of pilgrimage, so why set time aside to attend the St Thekla Pilgrimage? The key is in "setting aside." We invite you "to set aside all earthly cares" and to join us in refocusing and refreshing ourselves in our Orthodox life. Like St Thekla, Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles, together we will pray at the Divine Liturgy and services, obtain guidance and direction from the Gospels for our lives at home, and enjoy fellowship with other pilgrims.
Through the intercession of Saint Thekla, may this Pilgrimage be blessed!
Questions? Please call 724-238-3677 x425 or email email@example.com.
St. Anthony Orthodox Church of Bergenfield New Jersey is hosting the faithful and clergy of the Dioceses of Charleston and New York at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, over the long weekend beginning on July 4th. His Grace Bishop Thomas will preside over the Parish Life Conference (PLC), which promises "Fun, Fellowship and Worship!" and is featuring such events as a talent show, a teen sporting competition, and a workshop titled "Enliven to Christ." (Download the full schedule.)
On the opposite site of the country, the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, with the oversight of Archbishop Joseph and sponsorship of the Church of the Redeemer, is hosting their PLC at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel. Kids up to age 12 will enjoy the PandaMania! Vacation Bible School Program, the Keynote Speaker will be Bishop Anthony, and the SOYO attendees will participate in a youth community service event. More details are available here.
Fourth Annual Deacons' Retreat
September 21-23, 2012 + Antiochian Village
His Grace, The Right Reverend Bishop Thomas Joseph of The Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic announces The Fourth Annual Deacons’ Retreat at the Conference Center, Antiochian Village, Friday to Sunday, September 21-23. (The retreat will be held simultaneously with the St. Thekla Pilgrimage and priests and laity are invited and urged to attend those sessions.)
“For the Son of man also came not to be served, but to serve. . . .” (Mark: 10:45)
The featured speaker and retreat master will be the Reverend Dn. Paul Zaharas, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Metropolis of Denver (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America).
The Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black recently held their Annual Ancient Christianity Conference at Antiochian Village, from May 25-May 27. His Grace Bishop Thomas was a featured guest; audio of the Opening Addresses and Sessions is available on Ancient Faith Radio.
The Brotherhood posted the following letter of thanks from Vice-President Carla Thomas:
Greetings in Christ,
Dear Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Thomas,
How refreshing it is to have the Lord's shepherds to be so supportive of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black.
The 2012 BSMB Annual Ancient Christianity Conference was held at the Antiochian Village 5/25-5/27. The conference is supported by a grant from Christ the Saviour Brotherhood. 75 men, women and children attended the conference. The lectures are available on Ancient Faith Radio.
St. George Church in Altoona, Pennsylvania welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas for his annual visit on the weekend of May 18-20, 2012. Sayedna Thomas met with the clergy and their wives on Friday evening, and then at Saturday noon with Fr. Stephen Lourie, Kh. Nancy, Choir Director Nadeen Nerenberg and Fr. Dn. Gregory Roeber and the members of the Church Council. Over lunch they took the opportunity to discuss the challenges facing our Orthodox parishes in regions that have been hard hit by the current recession and job crisis. Sayedna urged the Council and clergy to stay in touch with other parishes in the region since many of our fellow parishes face the same issues and we might share both strategies and mutual encouragement in our continued efforts to grow the Church, both in reaching out to those lapsed Orthodoxy and in inviting those who do not know Orthodoxy to “come and see.”
Later in the day, Sayedna also met with two members of the parish who were candidates for tonsure to service in the Church. At Great Vespers on Saturday, Mr. James Johns was tonsured to the office of Reader. Sayedna tonsured Mr. Joshua Kollat to the order of Subdeacon at the close of the Matins service prior to the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy Sunday morning. In his homily on the story of the Man Born Blind, Sayedna urged us all again to be thankful for the blessings that we have received as did the man whose sight was restored and to remember that the Church is the hospital where all of us are being made well. We will only know our physician, however, if we take advantage of the opportunity to worship together and then to love and serve as He has loved and served us.
On Wednesday, April 1, 2012, His Grace Bishop Thomas presided over the Presanctified Liturgy at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Monessen, Pennsylvania. Fr. Fred Pfeil served, with assistance from Deacon Glenn McIntyre of St. Ellien Church in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Additionally several area Orthodox clergy were present as well: Fr. Joseph DiStefano of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Monessen; Fr. Edward Pehanich of St. Nicholas Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in Monongahela; Fr. George Yatsko of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church in Monongahela; Fr. Rodney Torbic of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Carmichaels; Fr. Rumen Stoychev of St. John the Divine Russian Orthodox Church in Monessen; and Fr. Samuel Smolcic of Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church in Belle Vernon.
The St. Michael Church choir, supplemented by choir members from some of the neighboring Orthodox churches, sang beautifully under the direction of Mr. George Essey.
At the end of liturgy, Bishop Thomas blessed a new Apostle Book, donated by Mrs. Joan Langan in memory of her brother, the Rt. Rev. John Namie. His Grace then gave an inspiring homily regarding the need for and spiritual value of the holy mystery of Confession.
With great joy the congregation of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Beckley, WV and its priest, Fr. Samuel Haddad, were pleased to receive His Grace Bishop Thomas for a visit to the Parish on the weekend of the Third Sunday of Pascha, April 27 – 29, 2012. The congregation had especially awaited this visit with eager anticipation, as it was to mark the elevation of Fr. Samuel to the dignity of Archpriest.
The busy weekend schedule got underway Friday evening when Sayidna met with the Parish Council. Members had the opportunity to tell His Grace about progress that St. Nicholas has made during the previous year, especially focusing on the congregation’s growth in numbers. Bishop Thomas encouraged the parish council and congregation to continue in their efforts. He also took some time to explain the ongoing efforts of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve). FOCUS works throughout North America as an expression of Christ’s love, serving the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, sick and imprisoned.
On Saturday His Grace met for lunch with the Women of the Holy Myrrh Bearers. Members of the Parish women’s group enjoyed a wonderful time of inspiration and fellowship with Sayidna. The women reviewed their own activities over the past year, and then listened eagerly as Bishop Thomas shared his thoughts concerning the ongoing crisis in Syria and how it is impacting the Orthodox Christians there. Sayidna also gave an update on the Archdiocese’s new Bishops, highlighting the many ways they are now serving in their new capacity.
by Fr. Joel Gillam and Peter Schweitzer
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Mt. 28:18-20)
St. Matthew’s Gospel concludes with Our Lord’s 'Great Commission', that we should “Go forth” and teach the entire world what He has revealed. This command is directed to every Orthodox Christian, to each and every one of us, through Holy Baptism. This is the mission that every generation is chosen for; the ministry that each of us as part of the royal priesthood offers (1Pet. 2:9). In order to fulfill this command we must know several things: 1) the message, 2) the people to whom we are delivering the message; and 3) knowing these things we must determine the means to deliver the message.
In the secular world, this is known as a communications plan. In the Church it is evangelism, bringing the people the Good News of Christ. In principle, what we are discussing is no different from any other communications plan devised by businesses, organizations, or political campaigns. Yet at the same time it is so that the world might know “God the Father, and Jesus Christ whom [He] has sent” (Jn. 17:3); the gift of eternal life. This is true mission work and evangelism.
On Monday, April 9, 2012, His Grace Bishop Thomas visited the parish of St. Elias in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He presided over the second of the three Bridegroom Matins services of Holy Week. After the service, His Grace delivered a sermon in which he reflected on the importance of the services of Holy Week, and also gave his positive impression of the progress that the church is making in becoming a beacon of Orthodoxy in the New Castle area.
Immediately following the service, refreshments were provided and the Bishop greeted many of the community who came to the service. We were grateful for his visit, and look forward to his returning soon!
The Eastern Dioceses 2012 College Scholarship Application is now available for download. This scholarship application is intended only for parishioners from churches that are within the Eastern Dioceses. If you wish to participate in the application process, please complete the application and be sure to include all required materials. All information must be accurately completed and returned by June 1, 2012.
The fourth and fifth weeks of Great Lent 2012 were especially spiritually blessed for St. Mary Church in Hunt Valley (Baltimore), Maryland. His Grace Bishop Thomas’ pastoral visit to the parish during the weekend of March 23-25 for the Feast of the Annunciation coincided with these two critical weeks of Great Lent, prayerfully and powerfully linking them in the Church’s journey to Pascha.
During an eleven day stay in the Baltimore area, Sayidna presided over St. Mary’s daily English and Arabic Lenten services in the weeks both preceding and following the weekend of the Annunciation Feast. His Grace’s gentle pastoral presence, sensitive and profound spiritual guidance, and wisdom offered at the end of these services deepened and strengthened the spiritual preparation of the attendees to receive the Risen Lord at Pascha.
The principal liturgical highlights of His Grace’s visit to St. Mary’s were his presiding over the offering of the fourth Akathist Hymn on March 23, Great Vespers of the Annunciation on March 24, and celebrating Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Liturgy marking the Feast of the Annunciation. Bishop Thomas’ recurring message to the faithful throughout the Annunciation weekend services was that they must constantly strive to fully comprehend the meaning of the “good news” announced to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel and individually live out the reality of the Lord’s redemptive love for humanity demonstrated by the Incarnation, just as did the Theotokos.
At the conclusion of the Hierarchical Liturgy, His Grace and all those present proceeded to the newly constructed road that will access the construction site of the new Byzantine-style church the St. Mary’s community is building. Bishop Thomas prayed over and blessed the new road, aptly named “Heaven’s Way."