Diocese of Los Angeles News
Recently, Bishop Basil spoke with AFR correspondent Matthew Namee about the historic assembly of bishops which took place in the week following Pentecost. His Grace was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Below are excerpts from the interview, which can be found here in full:
"The bishops delighted in being together and doing the work of the Church."
"The ultimate task was to prepare the Orthodox (Church) of this region...to constitute itself as a canonical, single Church.…It is a huge task, one that a vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America have been praying for, hoping for, talking about, for a long, long time."
"It’s as if the Mother Churches have said to us, ‘Look, you have been asking for this. Before we give it to you, we would like to know, what is your plan?’"
"We were blessed by the work of SCOBA….the work of the Episcopal Assembly was made quite easy by the 50 years of preparation."
"The Episcopal Assembly is comprised of every Orthodox bishop, not just the primates. We had 55 in attendance, (in New York) where the maximum of SCOBA members would have been 8."
Ancient Faith Radio has also posted an extensive interview with Fr. Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA, titled Unraveling the Episcopal Assembly. Additionally, Antiochian.org has compiled a summary of online Assembly articles.
Much to the surprise of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, the faculty, trustees and students of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary bestowed on Sayidna the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa. In a gesture of brotherly love in Jesus Christ, His Grace, Bishop MICHAEL (outgoing seminary dean and now Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America) personally announced the award, recognizing Sayidna’s lifelong efforts to spread the Holy Gospel everywhere he has lived and shepherded. The honorary doctorate described Sayidna as a “loyal son of Antioch and devoted father in North America, illumined educator and patient shepherd, inspiring churchman and loving archpastor.” You can read the entire citation here.
Sayidna then had the honor and distinct pleasure of addressing the graduating class of 2010, their families and friends at the 68th Commencement exercises at St. Tikhon’s. At this institute of spiritual learning and refinement, Sayidna’s message centered on knowledge, but not the secular type that traps us in this world and deprives us from the life to come. Sayidna reminded the gathering that “the Theologian is one who prays.” His Grace’s message often cited that pillar of spiritual knowledge, the ecumenical teacher St. Basil the Great. Though this archbishop of Caesarea did not abhor secular learning, Sayidna quoted him as saying “the arrogance of philosophy has nothing in common with humility.”
I’ve just come home from the FOCUS North America YES trip to the Fred Jordan Mission on skid row in Los Angeles and am still so excited I want to capture part of what happened, for the benefit of Orthodox Christians.
Our group of 23, included Katrina, five older “counselors” or leaders, the young adults (7th graders through high school students), and myself. We started Friday, February 4 at noon with a two hour briefing and training session at a local Orthodox Church by our truly spiritual, truly uplifting and inspiring YES! Director, Katrina Bitar. What rapport she has with the teens and counselors, what humility, what love for the poor, what a model for our young people. God willing, she is in the process of replicating herself .
We are not only more than doubling the YES program this year but, God willing, will multiple it many times over in the near future. Preparation had been made by the staff the day and week before the YES weekend. The trip was well-planned.
At the initiative of the canonical Orthodox Bishops of the West, 106 priests and deacons gathered at Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Dunlap, California, December 1-3, 2009 for a retreat.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos [Greek Archdiocese]; His Grace, Bishop Joseph [Antiochian Archdiocese]; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin [OCA]; and His Grace, Bishop Maxim [Serbian Patriarchate] encouraged their clergy to participate in this historic gathering. Each hierarch addressed a reflection to the group during one of the services.
“Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdest all creation in the hollow of His hand. He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe. The God Who from of old established the heavens lieth in a manger. He Who showered the people with manna in the wilderness feedeth on milk from the breasts. And the bridegroom of the Church calleth the Magi. And the Son of the Virgin accepteth gifts from them. We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ. Show us also Thy divine Theophany!” (The Idiomela for the Ninth Royal Hour of Nativity)
Beloved in Christ:
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Just as our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary after she heard the proclamation of the Archangel, let each of us heed God’s word with joy and bear the fruits of the Spirit. Let us become partakers of the New Adam and the new humanity He offers us through His Incarnation, Death and Resurrection. Let us be transformed so that we may not just know about God, but know Him through the experience of His dwelling within us.
Yours in His Service,
Bishop of Los Angeles and the West
On September 24, 2009, His Grace Bishop THOMAS, led the Convent and many clergy, present at the Village for a clergy retreat, in celebration of Festal Vespers the evening prior, and Orthos and Divine Liturgy on the Feast at the Saint Peter and Paul Chapel. His Grace was also able to be with us for the beginning of Pilgrimage. We thank him for presiding at the Liturgy and for being with us. Many years, Master!
During the September 25-27 weekend, the Convent celebrated the Saint Thekla Pilgrimage. His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, arrived on Friday for the Pilgrimage celebration which included daily Vespers, Orthros, and Divine Liturgy. We thank all of the clergy and chanters who served. After the Liturgy on Saturday morning, all processed to the Shrine of Saint Thekla where His Grace led us in a Supplication Service to Saint Thekla. Later in the day, His Grace presided at an Unction Service. Over the course of the Pilgrimage, His Grace presented three spiritually uplifting homilies on our theme, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” and led an “Ask Sayedna” panel.
From the Diocese of Los Angeles web site:
Update Sep. 7: Containment efforts are moving slowly at the Station fire in the Angeles National Forest, due to unfavorable weather conditions over Labor Day weekend. A scheduled controlled burn to build more fire lines on Monday was scrapped. The blaze is almost two weeks old and has scorched 157,200 acres (246 square miles) and approximately 75 homes, but it is 56% contained. Full containment is still expected on September 15. No further deaths or injuries have been reported. Not all evacuations have been lifted, though some members of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles who live near the fire have been able to return home. Fire officials are continuing their arson investigation.
Please continue to pray to the Lord God for the souls of the firefighters who lost their lives last week, for all those who have been harmed or impacted by the Station fire and for the inferno’s speedy extinguishment. For the latest fire information, log onto the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection website.
“Be mindful, O Lord, of those who bear fruit and do good works in thy holy Churches, and who remember the poor.”
This passage from the Anaphoras of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom served as the theme for the Parish Life Conferences of the Archdiocese this year. This theme resonated throughout the 2009 Parish Life Conference for the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, powerfully sounded out by the words of keynote speaker Father Thomas Hopko.
At the gathering in Santa Clara, CA, hosted by St. Stephen in nearby Campbell, Father Hopko described how the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, and the history of the Church teach us the importance of ministering to the poor. He began his opening talk making the striking observation that the phrase “with God all things are possible” is only used in context with three things in the Gospels: (1) the incarnation, (2) the resurrection and (3) Jesus saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” In his second talk, Father Hopko noted that in the book of Acts the three thousand people converted after Pentecost divided all they had with those in need and were united. He closed the session pointing out how, in Christianity today, helping the poor is the exception and not the rule, and that the Orthodox Christians in America are not united because we are not poor. In the closing question and answer session, Father Hopko acknowledged we must care for those in our lives who we are responsible for, but that we must also question what all of us really need, always bearing in mind that everything we have is from God.
On Sunday, March 8, 2009, Eastern Orthodox Christians from a dozen parishes in San Diego and Riverside counties filled St. George Serbian Orthodox Church—one of San Diego’s architectural and iconographic jewels—to celebrate “The Triumph of Orthodoxy” in a Vesper service.
“I’ve dreamed of this day for fifteen years!” exclaimed Fr. Jon Braun, priest Emeritus of St. Anthony Antiochian parish in La Jolla. While the Orthodox parishes in San Diego have been celebrating this feast day together for many years, it has been sparsely attended in the past and this was the first time in several decades that a Pan-Orthodox choir sang the responses for the city-wide Vesper service. The chorus of 40 singers from nine different parishes was organized and conducted by Valerie Yova, Music Director of St. Anthony's Antiochian Orthodox Church. Ms. Yova is a Founder and former Artistic Director of the Orthodox Christian Chorale of Detroit, Past President of the Pan-Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Liturgical Music and graduate of New England Conservatory. “For a number of reasons, the timing seemed right to begin a pan-Orthodox music ministry here in San Diego, and I’m very grateful to the clergy here for giving us their enthusiastic blessing! We have so much to gain from coming together to share our knowledge and traditions! Not just the musicians, but ALL of us.” stated Yova.
A Statement of the
Orthodox Christian Bishops of California
in support of Proposition 8:
A Constitutional Amendment to Restore the Definition of Marriage
The decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, unilaterally redefines the sacred institution of marriage in a manner unprecedented in human history — and alien to our Christian tradition. We, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, were saddened by this decision which constitutes a direct attack upon the longstanding role and freedom of religion in American life. A majority of the justices declared not only that same-sex couplings must be allowed to exist at those couples’ discretion as “marriages,” but that the state of California is forbidden to refer to these couplings as anything but “marriages.” Orthodox Christianity holds in high regard the God-ordained institution of marriage and the family. The Orthodox Church must and shall remain true to its faith and tradition, and affirm that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, given by God to one another for mutual support, encouragement, love and the ability to bear children.
The decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, unilaterally redefines the sacred institution of marriage in a manner unprecedented in human history — and alien to our Christian tradition. We, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, were saddened by this decision which constitutes a direct attack upon the longstanding role and freedom of religion in American life. A majority of the justices declared not only that same-sex couplings must be allowed to exist at those couples’ discretion as “marriages,” but that the state of California is forbidden to refer to these couplings as anything but “marriages.”
Orthodox Christianity holds in high regard the God-ordained institution of marriage and the family. The Orthodox Church must and shall remain true to its faith and tradition, and affirm that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, given by God to one another for mutual support, encouragement, love and the ability to bear children.