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."
His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:
GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA 2012
Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics, and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
When they who were with Mary came, anticipating the dawn, and found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher, they heard from the Angel: Why seek ye among the dead, as though He was mortal man, Him who abideth in everlasting light? Behold the graveclothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world that the Lord is risen, and hath put death to death. For He is the Son of God, who saveth the race of man. (Hypaköe of Pascha, Tone 4)
As we now gaze into the tomb with those who first heard the news of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, how should we understand this moment? Surely we know that this is the height and heart of our faith, that the beautiful and radiant message of the Resurrection is the defining word of the Orthodox Christian life. But how does this touch us in our own lives? How does this connect with us?
Just like those myrrh-bearing women of long ago who gazed into the sepulcher and came expecting to see death and disappointment, we, too, are people who find that our own vision is permeated by the expectation and the experience of death. The myrrh-bearers came to that tomb not out of joy but to mourn. They came there to pour their hearts into that place of death. But they were greeted there not with death, not with decay, but with life, and not just mere existence, but the Life of the World, the Life Who puts death to death.
St. Anthony Church in Bergenfield, NJ Welcomes Bishop Thomas to Commence Parish Life Conference Registration
His Grace Bishop Thomas honored St. Anthony Church of Bergenfield, New Jersey with his annual visit on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. During the beautiful Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Dn. Peter Boulukos was elevated to Archdeacon as his proud brother and sister-in-law and entire St. Anthony family beamed. After Liturgy, the parish hall was filled as all enjoyed breakfast and entertainment by our children. Inspired by the Creative Festivals theme “The Bible…fills us with eternal joy,” church school students sang a song about Old Testament patriarch Abraham and teens hosted a radio call-in show - featuring audience participation – about the prophesies of the Old Testament.
St. Anthony Parish Life Conference chairs Jim Bach and Lisa Fares, under the guidance of V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Allen, have been working hard to make sure every aspect of this year’s Dioceses of Charleston and New York Parish Life Conference—to be held July 4-8, 2012 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, New Jersey— is a great event. Bishop Thomas spoke to the faithful about our role in making sure that we use the PLC as a way to spread The Word, as we are all called to do, during this registration kick-off event. A table of materials, a “Top 10 Reasons Why All Should Attend the Parish Life Conference” slide show, and a guided tour of the dedicated PLC web site helped ensure that every parishioner knew “The Top 10 Reasons to Attend,” including to enjoy the camaraderie of diocese Orthodox Christians and participate in the traditional and fun events the conference offers for adults, teens, and children!
To register, obtain schedules, purchase an ad for the souvenir journal, or learn more, please visit http://EasternDiocesePLC.weebly.com.
(Unionville, MD) On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, His Grace Bishop Thomas was received by the Sisterhood of the Holy Monastery of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. Bishop Thomas was accompanied by four of his diocesan priests including Father Gregory Mathewes-Green (Holy Cross Church, Linthicum, MD), Father Patrick Cardine (St. Patrick Mission, Warrenton, VA), Father James Hamrick (St. John the Baptist Mission, Lewistown, MD), and Father Raphael Barberg (St. James the Apostle Mission, Westminster, MD).
Following a short service of reception in the chapel, Bishop Thomas welcomed the sisters to their new property and urged all present to do whatever was necessary to ensure that the property would remain an Orthodox monastery. Bishop Thomas and his priests were then led to the dining room where the sisters provided a hot Lenten meal.
Following lunch, Sister Ignatia accompanied Bishop Thomas and the guests on a brief tour of the property.
His Grace Bishop Thomas visited the community of St. George Cathedral in Oakland, Pennsylvania over the first weekend of Lent, arriving on the evening of Thursday, March 1st and departing on the afternoon of Monday, March 5th.
During the weekend, the clergy and the faithful of St. George were blessed to worship at eight different services with His Grace! On Thursday evening, we prayed Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. On Friday evening, we prayed the Little Compline with the Akathist Hymns to Our Lady Theotokos. On Theodore Saturday morning, we had Orthros and Divine Liturgy and, in the evening, had Vespers. On Sunday morning, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we had Orthros and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Later in the evening, the Orthodox community of the Greater Pittsburgh area gathered for the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers, which was presided over by His Grace Bishop Thomas and His Grace Bishop Melchisedek of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (Orthodox Church in America). Over 20 priests and deacons from every jurisdiction of the Greater Pittsburgh Orthodox community participated in the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers! Of course, every service was followed by the joy of coffee hour and fellowship in the Church Hall.
St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas on the occasion of its annual patronal feast day celebration over the weekend of November 11-13, 2011. Sayidna Thomas began the weekend festivities by attending a dinner with the parish council members and their spouses on Friday evening.
On Saturday morning, His Grace blessed the icons in the dome which were written this past Spring. He was accompanied by the Reverend Fr. Peter Pier, pastor of St. John Chrysostom, and Dn. Jerome Atherholt. Following the blessing, the children learned about the Prophets in the dome from Kh. Pam. Great Vespers was then concelebrated by Fr. Peter, Fr. Joseph Butts and Fr. Theodoros Daoud of St. Mary’s in Hunt Valley, Maryland, with Bishop Thomas presiding. Following Great Vespers, a gala banquet was held at the Golden Stories Restaurant in Columbia, Pennsylvania.