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Diocese of Miami News

Antiochian Priest to Speak at 2016 March for Marriage

Father John Oliver, pastor of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church (Antiochian Archdiocese) in Murfreesboro, TN, has been invited by the National Organization for Marriage to speak at the 2016 March for Marriage. The March will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2016 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The peaceful demonstration—convened to express support for traditional marriage and family—will begin at the Capitol Grounds at 11:30 a.m. and end before the U.S. Supreme Court building. In 2015, the March's inaugural year, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph released a letter encouraging the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to attend the March.

St. George Cathedral Seeks Youth Director/Pastoral Assistant

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

Thanks be to God for all things! Due to the many blessings from the Lord and the continued growth He is granting, Saint George Cathedral, Coral Gables, Florida, announces a new full-time position, "Youth Director / Pastoral Assistant," beginning this summer 2016. Resumes may be emailed by June 3rd to the Cathedral Office at Office@StGMiami.org. Qualifications for this position are below the signature. Compensation includes a decent salary, health insurance, and other benefits. May the Lord grant you all many years!

Yours in Christ,
V. Rev. Fr. Fouad Saba, Cathedral Dean 
Chris Farha, Cathedral Council Chairman

Qualifications for the Full-Time position of Youth Director / Pastoral Assistant at Saint George Cathedral, Coral Gables, Florida:

St. Anthony the Great in Florida Celebrates a Consecration, Ordination, and Elevation

By Deborah Thieme

On May 7, 2016, St. Anthony the Great Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Melbourne, Florida celebrated a Consecration, Ordination, and Elevation. The consecration of a church is a once in a lifetime event for a parish. It was especially eventful for this struggling mission parish, which had been meeting in various rented facilities for its 15-year existence. 

As a convert who only just celebrated my first Pascha as an Orthodox Christian this year, I beheld these events with wide-eyed wonder, and what follows is my feeble attempt to share this wonderful story with you.

But first, you should know how the story almost never came to be…

A Weekend of Memories: The Elevation of Father Fouad Saba

His Grace Bishop Antoun with the newly-elevated Father SabaHis Grace Bishop Antoun with the newly-elevated Father SabaAlthough the actual elevation of a Priest to the dignity of Archpriest may take only a few minutes, the preparations for this sacred event begin far in advance. Ten years in advance. Once a seminarian is ordained to the Diaconate and later to the Priesthood, he then faithfully serves the Church as pastor, teacher, confessor, spiritual father, and other less notable yet equally important roles over the course of ten years before he can be considered for Elevation to the dignity of Archpriest. During each of these ten years, the Priest will lead his parish through the beautiful seasons of the Church calendar, cultivating a spirit of love and unity. There will be scores of homilies delivered during Sunday Liturgies, the joy of baptisms, the sorrow of memorials, countless hours of counsel, discovering a leak in the Church roof, discovering a second leak in the Church roof, fundraising to fix the leaking roof. Through all this the Priest will gain the love and respect of his parishioners. As an outpouring of gratitude and deepest appreciation, those parishioners will in turn voice to their Bishop the desire to have their Priest elevated to the dignity of Archpriest in recognition of his devotion to the Church and Her members.<--break->

Blessed Namesdays to Bishops Antoun and Anthony!

January 17th is the celebration of St. Anthony the Great and the namesdays of His Grace Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and of His Grace Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo. May God grant them many years!

Apolytikion of St. Anthony the Great, Tone 4 

Thou didst become like the zealous Elijah in his condition, and followed John the Baptist in his upright ways, becoming a dweller in the wilderness and an establisher of the universe by thy prayer, O Father Anthony. Wherefore, intercede thou with Christ God to save our souls.

Memory Eternal! + Mrs. Selwa Hiresh

Fr. John Hamatie brought Holy Communion to Selwa on her 95th birthdayFr. John Hamatie brought Holy Communion to Selwa on her 95th birthdayThe Central Florida community of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of downtown Orlando is saddened to share the news of the passing into eternal rest of one of the communities eldest and dearest members, Mrs. Selwa Hiresh, originally of Lebanon.

Mrs. Hiresh, aged 95, lived a life focused on her love of Jesus Christ and living in the way that God would have wanted her to have lived.

Selwa had the most beautiful smile and everyone who ever met her instantly became friends with this dear classy lady.

She and her late husband +Michel had been blessed to have had four children: Mitri, (LouLou), Samia (Kamal), Sammy (Karen), and Lillian (Farid). Selwa was blessed with ten grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and the dearest of friends. Selwa for many many years attended St. George's and always wanted to go to church to light a candle. She loved church.

Memory Eternal! + Nicholas Ramacciato

Nicholas Ramacciato reposed in the Lord on November 4, 2015. Nick and his beloved wife Francis had been married for over 52 years. They have a son, Nicholas Jr., a very successful businessman in Central Florida.

Originally from the Bronx in New York City, Nick and Francis had made Orlando home for the last thirty-five years. They had been in the restaurant business for many years, having owned and operated various Italian restaurants, before retiring to Orlando. 

Nick was one of the kindest, most gentle gentleman you could ever meet; at the same time he spoke his mind without any limits. That's how he came to become a part of the St. George family. Almost 25 years ago on a summer afternoon, Nick sparked up a conversation with St. George's pastor, the Very Reverend Fr. John Hamatie. Father John and Nick became friends and some years later Nick and Francis converted to the Holy Orthodox Christian faith.

Preparations Continue for the 53rd Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese Convention: Miami, July 23-30, 2017

Saint George Cathedral in Coral Gables, Florida will host the 53rd Biennial Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in South Florida, July 23-30, 2017. Please join us! Visit often the 2017 Archdiocese Convention Website and like the 2017 Archdiocese Convention Facebook page for updates and more information.

If you missed the Miami 2015 Video Presentation in Boston, view it on now on YouTube. Don't miss the special guest appearance by His Grace Bishop Antoun.

Your Miami family awaits you in 2017!

ac2017miami.org
2017 Convention on Facebook

2016 Diocese of Miami Parish Life Conference

The 2016 Diocese of Miami Parish Life Conference will be hosted by St. Andrew Church in Pensacola, Florida. Dates are Wednesday to Saturday, June 15-18, 2016.

Please check back for more information.

Memory Eternal! + The Very Reverend Gordon Walker

Memory Eternal!

The V. Rev. Gordon Thomas Walker, pastor emeritus of Saint Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, reposed in the Lord early in the morning of July 23, 2015. May his memory be eternal!

Father Gordon was instrumental in the movement toward and the reception of the former Evangelical Orthodox Church into the Orthodox Church and was ordained into the priesthood by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory in 1987. Father Gordon served as the senior priest at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin, TN, from 1987-1996, after which he served in the archdiocesan Department of Missions and Evangelism for a number of years before fully retiring.

Services for Fr. Gordon were presided over by His Grace Bishop Thomas and conducted at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, Franklin, TN.

Father Gordon is survived by his wife, Kh. Mary Sue Walker and five children: Tom, Deborah, Melissa, Grace and Jaquelilne and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Read a tribute to Fr. Gordon, "Memory Eternal, for a Quiet Giant in American Orthodoxy," by journalist Terry Mattingly

Memory Eternal! + Fr. Peter Jacobsen

The Very Reverend Peter A. Jacobsen, an archpriest of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, died on May 27, 2015 in Orlando, FL with family members at his side. Father Peter was 84 years of age and had recently moved to Orlando after having served as rector of St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church of Silver Springs, FL. Prior to joining the Orthodox Church seventeen years ago, Father Peter served as an Episcopal parish priest for over 30 years.

Father Peter was born in Buffalo, NY on October 4, 1930 to Asta and Arthur Jacobsen. The family moved to Floral Park, NY where he graduated from high school, then continued his education at New York University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. Father Peter also earned a Master of Music Education degree from Holy Names University in Oakland, CA.

Father Peter was an active musician and conductor, having played violin in both the Bridgeport (CT) and Hudson Valley (NY) Symphony Orchestras, as well as serving as the conductor of the North Fork Chamber Orchestra of Long Island. Father Peter was a professor at Sullivan County Community College (NY) where he taught music, humanities and philosophy, conducted many choral concerts, and directed several well received Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.

Bishop Antoun Celebrates Palm Sunday in Jacksonville, FL

Archpriest Fr. Kamal Alrahil and the community of St. George Church in Jacksonville, Florida welcomed His Grace Bishop Antoun during the weekend of April 3rd-5th, 2015. He was warmly received on Friday April 3rd at the airport and was immediately taken to St. George Church Hall for a Lenten cover dish offered by the Ladies Auxiliary, who were making Palm Crosses.

On Saturday Morning, His Grace presided over the Divine Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday. A Lenten luncheon was prepared by the Sunday school and Teen Soyo. The youth and Sayedna enjoyed a lengthy question and answer discussion. That evening he presided over Vespers followed by dinner offered by the Parish Council.

On Palm Sunday Bishop Antoun presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, which was well attended by approximately 400 faithful people who gathered from the greater Jacksonville area to celebrate the Feast with Sayedna, who is greatly loved in our church community. On that day, Sayedna ordained our own son, Subdeacon Eric Bateh, to the holy Diaconate. Afterwards a Luncheon in honor of Eric's ordination was offered by his parents Ted and Jackie Bateh in the church hall to the whole community.

New Podcast with Antiochian Priest Discusses the Church's Life Today

Ancient Faith Radio's newest podcast, The Life of the Church Today, debuted on February 16, 2015. Host Fr. Steven Ritter, priest of St. James Orthodox Church in Buford, GA, is planning to use the podcast to consider a wide range of issues that arise in the Orthodox Church: current events, theological opinions, and esoteric topics that many people ask about and which are infrequently or inadequately addressed. It is meant to further discussion and bring to light the multifaceted human face of life in the Orthodox Church today.

Father Steven is the author of the book That Your Joy May Be Full - Learning from the Authentic Orthodox Theology of the Spiritpublished by Regina Press. A veteran writer for Fanfare Magazine, American Record Guide, and Audiophile Audition.com, he is also a church music composer. His Buford parish, a mission of the Archdiocese, is possibly the last mission established by Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory, in the fall of 2013. 

St. Paul Church Founders’ Weekend Celebrates 18 Years in Naples, Florida

Metropolitan Joseph addresses the communityMetropolitan Joseph addresses the communityParishioners of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Naples, Florida, are just now beginning to wake up from a dream ... that our newly enthroned Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America blessed us with his presence this past weekend!

Awaiting the arrival of His Eminence, Fr. Joseph and Subdeacon Rassem El Massih at the Hilton Hotel were His Grace, Bishop Antoun, Archpriest George and KH Nouhad Shalhoub, Archpriest Elia and KH Odette Shalhoub and Archdeacon David Nimer and our Council Chairman, Dr. David Thomas. The Greeters disbursed very quickly in order to allow an interval before the scheduled dinner that evening.

Metropolitan Joseph didn’t have a trumpet fanfare announcing his entrance into any event but rather chose to quietly appear in the company of His Grace Bishop Antoun, our pastor, Archpriest Joseph Shaheen, and visiting clergy!

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Founder's Day with Florida Community

Photo: Naples Daily NewsPhoto: Naples Daily NewsSt. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Naples, Florida's celebration of its 18th annual Founder's Day over the weekend of February 21 and 22 included a dinner, group talks, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy graced by the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. The Metropolitan was joined by His Grace Bishop Antoun and their host, Archpriest Joseph Shaheen.

Several hundred people filled the church for Sunday's Liturgy, with dignitaries in attendance from around the United States. In his remarks to the Florida community, Metropolitan Joseph said Christians must refuse the path of violence, instead choosing the harder road of forgiveness.

"We will not be hostages, and we will not be puppets for anyone, and we stand for peace. ... We do not condone violence. We want open dialogue and peaceful resolution to any issues."

Nativity Outreach to the Homeless Hosted by St. George in Orlando

By Archpriest John Hamatie, St. George Orthodox Church, Orlando

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a man of traditions. All of us have fond memories and traditions of the Nativity of Our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus—also known as Christmas. I remember that as a child, I would not allow myself to be at home when the Christmas tree was taken down. In fact, I keep two trees up throughout the year-one Orthodox (decorated with small paper icons), and one secular. We also invite those who are alone to join us at Christmas dinner.

One tradition is the annual Christmas party for the homeless held at our Church of St. George in Orlando every December. On Friday, December 19, 2014, we had the joy and privilege to gather with over 400 homeless men, women and children and 111 volunteers to rejoice in the Lord. We hosted a band and set up tables with linens in our parking lot. The whole event was Christ-centered, as are all the feedings of the homeless at St. George's.

Consecration of St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, Franklin, TN

On Sunday, October 19, 2014, His Grace Bishop Antoun—with His Grace Bishop Thomas assisting—consecrated the beautiful new temple of St. Ignatius Orthodox Church (Diocese of Miami and the Southeast), in the greater Nashville area. Archpriest Stephen Rogers and St. Ignatius clergy served in the joyful Hierarchical Liturgy. Congratulations to the entire community! (View the photos by Joel Smith)

"A Tribute of Love": October 22-26, 2014

"...Put on LOVE, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:14

In that perfect harmony rooted in love, Saint George Cathedral in Coral Gables, Florida joyfully and gratefully offered "A Tribute of Love" during the historic and memorable weekend of October 22-26, 2014.

Saint George Cathedral was honored to host His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, who presided over the Fall 2014 Archdiocese meetings of the Bishops, Board of Trustees, the Order of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, and the Antiochian Village Council.

Prayers for Our Bishops and Board of Trustees at Fall Meeting

Your prayers are requested for our Antiochian Bishops and Board of Trustees members preparing to convene in Florida for meetings from October 23-26, 2014. With the blessings of Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and The Right Rev. Bishop Antoun, Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, The Rev. Fouad Saba and St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Coral Gables, FL are hosting the Hierarchs and Board of Trustees meetings. The historic meetings will be the first ones in which Metropolitan Joseph presides for both the Board of Trustees fall meetings, as well as the gathering of the bishops.

On Saturday evening, a banquet will be held honoring the newly selected Metropolitan, and offering tribute to His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory. A Sunday Hierarchical Liturgy will be followed by "The Stewards Luncheon," with the Board of Trustees as guests of honor.

Bishop Antoun Reflects on His Life in the Archdiocese, Metropolitan Philip, and Metropolitan Joseph

Bishop Antoun at the Antiochian Village LibraryBishop Antoun at the Antiochian Village LibraryThis reflection from the September, 2014 edition of The Word magazine begins with a brief introductory explanation by the Editor, Bishop John Abdalah.

We were at the Antiochian Village in July, 2014, for the Clergy Symposium, sitting in front of the portrait of Patriarch Alexander (Tahan), the Patriarch who ordained Bishop Antoun to the diaconate in 1951. Bishop Antoun began to reminisce about the late Patriarch and his ordination. Metropolitan Philip served this Patriarch as his Secretary and Deacon. Sayidna Philip found this portrait at St. John of Damascus Parish during a pastoral visit. "How important it is for us to remember those godly men who went before us, forming our spiritual lives through their witness and teachings," remarked our senior Bishop Antoun.

Sayidna Antoun has served the Archdiocese of North America for 60 years. He is part of the history of our Church, witnessing its growth and changes as a priest and bishop, as a pastor and as an administrator, as an immigrant and as an American. As we experience our transition from the leadership of Sayidna Philip to that of Sayidna Joseph, we are blessed to hear Bishop Antoun's reflections, visions and hopes.


I served as a teacher in the Orthodox School in Damascus, and later as the Principal of St. John of Damascus School in Syria. I then moved to San Paolo, Brazil, and served the Church there as a deacon before coming to the United States, where I studied at St. Vladimir's Seminary. Almost right away I was reunited by phone with my longtime friend, Metropolitan Philip, who was then a priest in Cleveland, Ohio. Because I missed my friend Fr. Philip, I went to visit him there. I had asked how long a trip Cleveland would be from New York. He told me it would be a few hours: just tell the Greyhound Bus [people] you want Cleveland and they will bring you here. The trip took overnight! I found my friend Philip waiting for me in the Church.

In Time for the Dormition Fast: Taste & See II Cookbook

The Dormition Fast is almost upon us. Now is the perfect time for a new Orthodox fasting and feasting cookbook! Plus, for this month, it's ON SALE! Save $2 on every cookbook ordered by Thursday, July 31. Orders must be placed online via PayPal or mailed and postmarked by July 31 to receive the discount.

Taste & See II: More American Orthodox Cooking is a sequel to the much loved Taste & See Cookbook published in 1999.  With the help of 150 contributors at 63 parishes in 27 states across America, this cookbook has been published by the Women of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The Taste & See Cookbooks have been created to help American cooks prepare meals that conform to traditional Orthodox fasting guidelines while appealing to an American palate. Preparing meals during the fast should be as simple and stress-free as possible to allow ourselves more time for prayer, almsgiving and attending the services.

Bishop Antoun Visits Campers at the Village

Friendships and memories for a lifetime: His Grace Bishop Antoun visited with Antiochian Village's Session Three campers and counselors on July 21, 2014, following the close of the 18th Biennial Clergy Symposium.

St. George Cathedral Raises $100,000 for Charity

"Feed My Sheep"

Cathedral Dean Fr. Fouad Saba reports that in this last year, St. George Cathedral in Coral Gables, FL heard loud and clear this call of the Lord. In less than 10 months, the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast's Cathedral has collected and distributed near $100,000.00 in monetary aid and supplies. Some of the recipients include:

  • IOCC (relief in Syria and Middle East)
  • Al-Kafaat Foundation
  • Miami Rescue Mission
  • Children's Home Society
  • Hope for Women Society
  • Children's Relief Fund (Lebanon and Palestine)
  • IOCC (Hygiene Kits)
  • Orphans in Syria (Antiochian Women Annual Project
  • Miami Department of Children Services
  • Food for Hungry People Program
  • Special Olympics (Archdiocese record collection)
  • Local School (200 Backpacks)
  • Local homeless shelters
  • Local needy families (Good Samaritan Program)

Gallery Features Highlights from Unity Conference

From June 25–28, 2014, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East His Beatitude John X joined with the Fathers of the Holy Synod to call the faithful from around the world to the Hill of Balamand for a conference on Antiochian unity. Appropriately, the Conference concluded with the joyous celebration of the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Antiochian Church. (Read the text of Patriarch John's homily.) 

Antiochian.org has assembled a collection of photographs highlighting the Unity Conference. Additionally, the Patriarchate of Antioch's website has published photo galleries and written reports of the historic events in both Arabic and English, and galleries are also available on the Patriarchate's Facebook page. The sizable North American delegation, pictured here with Patriarch John X, was composed of bishops, priests, key department heads, and organization leaders. Members of the group will begin returning home on Monday, June 30.

Memory Eternal! + Angela Nasr

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Memory Eternal! Angela Nasr of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, fell asleep in Christ late last evening, June 27th, 2014. She was the daughter of the late Fr. Zacharia and Kh. Nasra Nasr; and sister of Kh. Nawall Elias of Jacksonville, Florida; Fr. Constantine Nasr of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Kh. Ellen Antypas of Troy, Michigan; and Fr. Elias Nasr of Syracuse, New York. The funeral will be served on Tuesday, July 1st at St. Philip Church in Fort Lauderdale.

May she be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.