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Diocese of Toledo News

Memory Eternal! + Edward S. Khouri

Fr. John Ojaimi writes:

EDWARD S. KHOURI, age 83, passed away peacefully and has returned to his heavenly home on September 18, 2015 at home in Parma, Ohio surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Aramoun, Lebanon, and immigrated to the United States in the year 1955. In 1962, shortly after his arrival to Cleveland, Edward founded the iconic Middle East Restaurant in Cleveland, which he owned for over four decades. His warmth, generosity and love for all will be greatly missed.

Edward became a close friend to our beloved Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory, since he was the priest at St. George of Cleveland. Their friendship continued and strengthened until the day when His Eminence joined the community of the saints.

Midwest Clergy and Laity Fall Gathering + October 16-18, 2015

The 2015 Midwest Clergy and Laity Fall Gathering will be held on the weekend of October 16-18, 2015 and hosted by St. George of Fishers, Indiana. There will be a 'Village at home' theme providing a similar schedule of events as those held at the Antiochian Village camp. Register early before October 1st for $35 and after for $40. There will be fun for all ages!

A flyer, registration form and a parental consent/teen code of conduct form are attached below to fill out and send. Please register soon! 

Bishop Anthony's Pastoral Greetings for the Church New Year

September 1, 2015
Church New Year or Indiction

Our own family circle is stronger and closer and as in a family, our lives revolve around and are involved with the cycle of feasts and fasts of the church. The beginning of the Liturgical year, September 1st, puts us into this rhythm of worship.

The church has established twelve great feasts, including Pascha (Easter), called the "Feast of Feasts". There are eight Feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ and four great Feasts of the Holy Mother of God, the Theotokos. There are also many important secondary feasts, such as the feast day for St. Nicholas on December 6th and St. Elias on July 20th. There are special Saints days for local churches like St. Herman of Alaska on December 13th, or St. Raphael of Brooklyn (1st Saturday of November) or St. John of San Francisco on July 2nd.

Diocese of Toledo SOYO Newsletter, September 2015

2015-2016 Midwest SOYO Board with His Grace Bishop Anthony2015-2016 Midwest SOYO Board with His Grace Bishop AnthonyThe Diocesan SOYO Board for the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest has released their September 2015 newsletter. They write:

"Christ is in Our Midst! He is and Ever Shall Be! The summer is now coming to a close, and most of us are returning back to school, and preparing for an amazing year of "Living the Orthodox Faith in Christ!" This summer was very busy for many as the 52nd Archdiocese Convention took place in Boston!

During the convention, we participated in Leadership Training to better serve you and your SOYO. Feel free to contact us and ask questions! We can help! It was a very successful meeting, as we discussed meeting etiquette and past, present and future events. We were very blessed to meet His Beatitude Patriarch John X and had a chance to ask questions! What a blessing!"

Read the full newsletter.

Assembly of Bishops to Convene Sixth Annual Meeting in September

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America will hold its sixth annual meeting September 15-17, 2015 at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel.

This year's meeting will include two sessions devoted to canonical regional planning. In the first of these sessions, the Assembly's 12 jurisdictional first hierarchs will have an opportunity to offer their comments on a proposal that has been prepared by the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning for submission to the Great and Holy Council in 2016. In the second session, the Assembly's hierarchs will engage in a facilitated discussion about the proposal. This year's meeting also includes a working session on pastoral practices of marriage and divorce.

On Tuesday evening, September 15, the Assembly will sponsor a pan-Orthodox youth gathering for high school and college students in the Chicago area. The event will provide an opportunity for dialogue between the youth and a panel of hierarchs. The hierarchs of the Assembly request the prayers of all clergy, monastics, and laity for a spiritually fruitful meeting.

View the agenda for Assembly VI
Download a flyer for the youth gathering

Memory Eternal! + Archpriest Louis Mahshie

Memory Eternal! Archpriest Louis Mahshie, longtime proistamenos at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Akron, OH, reposed early this morning, August 27, 2015. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time. Father Louis is survived by his wife Khouria Corinne and their children and grandchildren. Condolences may be sent to
Funeral arrangements are as follows:
His Grace Bishop Anthony will preside at all services, which will take place at St. George Orthodox Church, 3204 Ridgewood Road, Akron, OH 44333, or call (330) 666-7116.

Monday, August 31st
Visitation 3-8pm
Funeral for Clergy at 7pm

Tuesday, September 1st
Visitation 9-10am
Divine Liturgy followed by the Funeral Service 10am
A Meal of Mercy follows (a private, family interment takes place after the meal)

Overnight accommodations can be made at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn; call 330-867-5000.
For more information or questions, please contact assistant Pastor Fr. John Al-Assaf,

The Visit of Our Father in Christ, His Beatitude John X

By Fr. Joseph Antypas

During the recent visit of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, who was accompanied by a group of hierarchs and clergymen, it became clear to many people that the Patriarch is compassionate, serene, and that when he addressed audiences, he spoke from the heart. He addressed the faithful of our Archdiocese, whether individually or collectively, with warmth and compassion. He emphasized the bond of unity that holds all Antiochian clergy and laity who live in all parts of the earth. His appeals for Syria and the Arab world come from his heart. "We want peace; we do not want to be toys in the hands of the super powers. Leave us alone and we shall find a solution for our problems." His Beatitude repeatedly emphasized that Christians and Muslims have lived together for hundreds of years, in peace and tranquility. He stressed the fact that all assistance that is provided only to the Christians in Syria and denied to the Muslim population is not acceptable. "I am in peace only when my Muslim neighbor is in peace." He prayed fervently for establishing peace and harmony in the homeland.

Assembly of Bishops to Host September Youth Gathering in Conjunction with Chicago Meeting

His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland & the Mid-Atlantic, writes:

A Youth Gathering will take place on Tuesday September 15, 2015, during the Assembly of Bishops Meeting in Chicago. Please pass the word – All young people are invited.

When: Tuesday evening, September 15, 2015
Where: Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral - 5701 North Redwood Drive - Chicago, IL 60631
Who:  High school and college students from the Greater Chicago area with the bishops of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox bishops of the United States
What:  A dialogue between our Orthodox youth and the bishops of the Assembly

As of now I believe there will be:

1. A service – led by the Assembly of Bishops
2. Perhaps a discussion with the youth prior to the service to gather questions and prepare them for the event and help them to get to know each other
3. A Question and Answer period with a panel of bishops and the high school and college students
4. Food to follow

Please get this news out, and bring your young people to this event.

2016 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference

The 2016 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference will be hosted by the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan. Dates are Wednesday to Sunday, June 22-26, 2016.

Please check back for more information.

Midwest Diocese PLC Award Winners

The 2015 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference was held from June 24-28 and hosted by St. Nicholas Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Photos from the 2015 Diocese of Toledo Parish Life Conference

Award winners from the 2015 Midwest Diocese Parish Life Conference:


1st Grade

  • 1st Place: Emma Stahlbert, St. George, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • 2nd Place: Moe McArthur, St. George, Toledo, Ohio
  • 3rd Place: Gianni Khoury, St. George, West St. Paul, MN

2nd Grade

  • 1st Place: Grant Johnson, St. Matthews, N. Royalton, OH
  • 2nd Place: Elay Maalouf (2), St. George, Cicero, IL
  • 2nd Place: Phillip Haddad (2), St. Mary, Palos Heights, IL
  • 3rd Place: Marky George, St. George, Akron, Ohio

Available on YouTube: Watch the Speech of Oratorical Festival Winner Salena Ibrahim

Fr. Mousa Haddad of St. Mary Orthodox Church, Palos Heights, IL writes:

In the Oratorical Festival of the 52nd Convention of the Antiochian Archdiocese, held in Boston, MA, Salena Ibrahim of St. Mary Orthodox Church competed against all the winners from the other dioceses and impressed the judges once again with her amazing speech, winning first place!

Great job​. We are very proud of you!!! It takes a lot of hard work and determination to prepare for these competitions, and to compete at the diocesan and archdiocesan level. May God bless you and be with you always​. Mabrouk!!!

View Salena's speech on YouTube.

Memory Eternal! + Marie Ansara

Marie Ansara, 89, has returned to her heavenly home on July 28, 2015 in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She was born on November 22, 2015 in the town of Aita El-Fokhar, Lebanon where she grew up in a loving family with 6 siblings. For the past 38 years she made Michigan her home where she was surrounded by wonderful family and friends. She is survived by her brother Andrew Ansara and her two sisters Violette Matta and Nazek Kehdy. She was a tremendously devoted and loving aunt as well as great-aunt to many nieces and nephews. After a long battle with illness she is finally reunited with her beloved parents, brother and sisters who preceded her in death and whom she served with immense care and passion.

Marie was a lifelong member of St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Livonia Michigan where she will be laid to rest. The viewing will be held at the church on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 from 5-6 pm for immediate family. Visitation will follow from 6-8 pm.

The funeral will be held on Thursday July 30, 2015, at St. Mary's Church with final viewing from 10-11 am and funeral services will begin at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request that donations in her memory be made to "St. Mary's Building Fund".

May she rest in peace and may her memory be eternal!

St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle

His Grace Bishop Anthony has initiated a series of spiritual meditations on the Holy Apostles. The reflection by Fr. Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL, is the second in the series.

Few saints are as prominent in our Eastern Orthodox tradition as St. Andrew the Apostle. Various early traditions recount his missionary travels throughout Eastern Europe: what is now Greece, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia. Our "first among equals," the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, is known as the successor of St. Andrew. Indeed, St. Andrew is dear to the hearts and minds of many Orthodox Christians worldwide.

But before he became the patron saint of some of the most prominent Orthodox nations and sees, who was he? He appears in all four Gospels as one of the Twelve Disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel of St. John informs us that he was the first of the Lord's disciples, hence St. Andrew's title in Greek, "Protokletos" (First-Called). He is not as prominent a personality in the Gospels as some of the others, particularly his more boisterous brother Simon Peter. But St. Andrew is always there, just below the surface. And by observing the few times he rises to the surface of the Gospels, we can discern something about his personality, his close relationship with his Master, and his role as a guide and intercessor for the Holy Church today.

Michigan SOYO Teens Participate in Pan-Orthodox Mission Outreach

The young members of our parish—the SOYO of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Livonia, MI—just returned from a trip that made history. We were all so blessed to participate, support, and watch this holy work take place!

On July 18, our twelve teens: Ibrahem Alrabady, Melissa Ansara, Celine Barghout, Pascal Barghout, Hani Kandalaft, Marisa Khamis, Joseph Nicolas, Michael Nicolas, Elena Saliba, Natalie Samaan, Katerena Sirhan, and Kaila Ziadeh, and two trip leaders, Christina Stavros and Michael Ansara, traveled four hours north on the first ever, 2015 SOYO Summer Mission Trip, to help "build up" the first Orthodox church in Traverse City, MI, the Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church. To our knowledge, this is the first mission trip, ever, in the history of our parish and, perhaps, the first time one mission parish has offered to help a mission parish in another Orthodox jurisdiction build their church.

Diocese of the Midwest Concludes PLC in Grand Rapids, MI

Concelebrating PLC clergy at St. Nicholas Church, Sunday, June 28Concelebrating PLC clergy at St. Nicholas Church, Sunday, June 28Father Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL reports:

Our 2015 Midwest Diocese Parish Life Conference took place June 24 to 28, at the Beautiful Amway Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Thank you to Fr. Daniel Daly and the people of St. Nicholas Church in Grand Rapids for hosting us!

Read about the winning Bible Bowl team.

Congratulations, Team St. Mary!

Father Mousa Haddad of St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, IL writes:

It's a "Clean Sweep" at the Parish Life Conference in Grand Rapids, MI! We brought home the Bible Bowl and the Oratorical Trophies!

Team St. Mary had an incredible performance in Grand Rapids, MI, during the Midwest Diocese Parish Life Conference held from June 24-28, 2015.

On Thursday, St. Mary's Teen team won first place in the Bible Bowl Competition. Congratulations to the members of the team: Marlena Sweiss, Salena Ibrahim, and Matthew Ibrahim. Our team will represent the Midwest Diocese at the National Bible Bowl competition that will take place during the Archdiocesan Convention next month in Boston.

Bishop Anthony's Letter to Graduates

His Grace Bishop Anthony writes:

May 2015

Dear Graduates:

In the next few weeks, you will be experiencing a great milestone in your lives. As graduation approaches, we thank God for you and the accomplishments that have culminated in this great accomplishment. And as your parishes celebrate this entry into the next phase of your life, it is my joy to share in honoring your today. 

St. Paul told Timothy, who at the time was a very young man just out of his teens, to practice the traditions he has received from his mother and from the Church; and that the most important thing in his life was training in Godliness. For he said "Godliness profits in every way." We celebrate and are thankful for all of your heard work and for all of your accomplishments. But always keep in mind that your education and your dedication must be sealed with the consecration of the Holy Spirit, even as we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.

Midwest Antiochian Women Release May 2015 Newsletter

Bishop Anthony with Diocese of Toledo Antiochian Women President Sheryl VanderWagenBishop Anthony with Diocese of Toledo Antiochian Women President Sheryl VanderWagenThe Torch Newsletter is the official publication of the Antiochian Women, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. The May 2015 issue is now available as a PDF. In the issue, President Sheryl VanderWagen notes, "At this writing we are rapidly approaching mid-Pentecost. This quote from Fr. Stephen Rogers, gives us direction for our contemplation in the coming days: 'How wondrous is God's love! How grand His purposes for those who love Him! He has immersed us in the streams of eternal life. The living water that flows from the cross through the Church to Heaven itself is given by God to sustain us and nourish us in the fullness of eternal life.' Let us contemplate on those living waters as we go about our daily lives. Let us continue to remember those who are under persecution throughout the world and let us pray that the living water will also sustain them against insurmountable odds."

Read the latest issue of The Torch here.

Pentecost Letter from Bishop Anthony Encourages Support of Mission Parishes

In honor of the Holy Feast of Pentecost, Bishop Anthony encourages all churches in the Toledo Diocese to support our new missions. Missions are a sign of a living, and vibrant church, and evidence that the same Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles is with us today!

May 31, 2015
Great Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost

Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest:

Christ is in our midst!

We give thanks to God in all things as we enjoyed the blessings of the Great Fast, the Feast of Feasts, Pascha, and now our celebration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

As we read in the Holy Scriptures, our Lord asked the apostles and disciples to stay in the Holy City of Jerusalem until they received "power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The Holy Spirit gave them the power and grace to go and preach the Good News of His Resurrection. This "power" has been with the Church since that day and given to us!

This most-joyous feast represents the beginning of the Church's mission to carry the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth. From that day in Jerusalem, the Apostles followed our Lord's command to make disciples of all nations. This mission continues to this very day.

Of particular importance in the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest is the work of our nine mission parishes and our Diocesan Mission Council. Through our mission parishes, the love of God the Father and the Communion of His All-Holy Spirit in His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church have come to rest in the hearts and on the heads of so many in otherwise geographically and spiritually remote places throughout our Diocese.

Wonderworking Icon Travels to St. Willibrord Mission Station in Holland, MI

On the weekend of May 8-10, 2015, St. Willibrord Mission Station in Holland, Michigan, welcomed the wonderworking icon of St. Anna into our community. It was a tremendous blessing to have the Theotokos' mother present in this special way on Mother's Day weekend.

Archimandrite Sergius, the abbot of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, PA (Orthodox Church in America), accompanied the icon, and gave a series of talks throughout his three-day visit. He described his first-hand accounts of miracles worked through St. Anna's intercessions, and challenged the faithful to strive and make progress in their spiritual lives. He also spoke about the great importance the Orthodox faith places in the vocation of motherhood.

View more photos on St. Willibrord's Facebook page.

Thomas the Twin

With this article, His Grace Bishop Anthony has initiated a series of spiritual meditations on the Holy Apostles. The series begins with this reflection by Fr. Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL.

The Apostle Thomas, for the most part, lives in the background of the four Gospels. St. John tells us in his Gospel that Thomas was also called "Didymus," or "the Twin," but we really do not know anything about the origin of this nickname. Perhaps he had a twin brother or sister? The name "Thomas" seems to be derived from a Hebrew word which means "twin," so perhaps "Didymus" was simply his name translated into Greek. We know him colloquially as "Doubting Thomas," which is true up to a point, but still a rather unfortunate way to remember him! St. Thomas did at first doubt the Lord's resurrection, but only because he was not with the other disciples when the Lord first paid them a visit. When he met the Risen Lord, he believed!

Three times in St. John's Gospel St. Thomas rises to the forefront, and we can learn a great deal about him and about our own faith from these instances.

May 17: IOCC Syrian Relief Benefit in Grand Rapids, MI

The Syrian civil war is one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. Over 200,000 people have died including more than 10,000 children. You can help by contributing to an event to benefit the International Orthodox Christian Charities' Syrian Relief Fund. The event takes place on May 17, 2015 at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids, MI and will feature keynote speaker Mark Ohanian, who oversees approximately 300 relief workers on the ground in the Middle East including the IOCC's response to the Syrian civil war. Event donations may be made at

Download the flyer.

Listen: Bishop Anthony's Homily on the Feast of St. George

Listen to the homily here.

On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the community of St. George Orthodox Christian Church of Fishers, IN, hosted His Grace Bishop Anthony and area clergy for a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in honor of the Feast of the Holy Great-Martyr George. Bishop Anthony offered an inspiring homily explaining the meaning of the life of St. George, and how we can draw lessons from his life today. "My brothers and sisters, the Church is a military unit," exhorted His Grace. "We have to bivouac in the world, we have to travel in the desert...we have to fire with faith. 

"As St. George did when he confessed Christ before the soldiers—he showed them the courage of goodness and the morality of lasting love—that's what the world needs. Unless we face the fact that Christ is risen from the dead, we will never have the courage to live up to the possiblities of our own life. Each of us has a center and gift and unique talent to offer the world."

Memory Eternal! Bishop Anthony Presides at Funeral of Wade Abraham

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! !المسيح قام! حقا قام

His Grace Bishop Anthony led all of the attending clergy at the Funeral Services for Wade George Abraham of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, Grand Rapids, MI: the Trisagion Service on April 29th and the Funeral Service on April 30th.

His Grace was received by our gracious host V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Daly, pastor of St. Nicholas-Grand Rapids, MI, V. Rev. Elias Mitchell, retired pastor of St. Nicholas, V. Rev. George Alberts, former pastor of St. Nicholas, V. Rev. Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, pastor of St. George-Cicero, IL, V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Abud, pastor of St. George-Flint, MI, V. Rev. Fr. John Winfrey, pastor of St. George-Grand Rapids, Rev. Fr. Charles Hogg, pastor of Holy Cross-Dorr, MI, Rev. Fr. John Hogg, assistant pastor of Holy Cross, along with Archdeacon David Khorey, Dn. Clement Nicoloff, and Dn. Justin Adolphson all of St. Nicholas-Grand Rapids, MI.

His Grace spoke beautifully at both the Trisagion and the Funeral and also read a comforting letter from Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. Fr. Daly gave an inspired sermon reflecting on his friendship with Wade and how much he and all the faithful of St. Nicholas will miss him.

May Wade's memory be eternal with all of the saints.

Read the obituary for Wade George Abraham.

Antiochian Parish Hosts Commemoration: 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Gathering at the Basilica of St. Mary to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (Photo: Tom Beaudoin)Gathering at the Basilica of St. Mary to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (Photo: Tom Beaudoin)Father George Shalhoub, pastor of The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, writes:


For almost a half of century, our church community has grown to be a bridge among all people and this is a testimony of other religions and ethnic communities granting our community that honor.

On April 24, 2015, we hosted the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which over 2500 people gathered in the church, the Activity Center and outside as the relic from 1.5 million men, women and children were killed in 1915. Present was His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Archdiocese, His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel from the Romanian Orthodox Church of America, His Eminence Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Detroit Catholic Diocese and scores of clergy representing all denominations in our area.