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.