Diocese of Toledo News
from the December 2011 issue of The Word:
The Very Reverend Father John Estephan, retired priest of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, completed his earthly journey on May 1, 2011, at the age of 92. He has left behind hundreds of families forever grateful to him for his strength, compassion, commitment and love.
He is survived by wife of 62 years, Khouria Soad, and their five children: Salam, Salwa, Sanaa, Soad, and Elias, and their families, including 14 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. He faithfully served St. George from 1962 to 2002, during which period he led our parish through two major renovations and the addition of a stunning, award-winning banquet and conference center.
As the leader of the oldest Orthodox church in West Michigan, Father John was always a forward thinker, encouraging women to read the epistle and serve as ushers at St. George. In addition to being our spiritual leader, Father John was a well-known leader in Grand Rapids, where he was often interviewed for news articles about our faith and the Middle East.
Beloved in Christ,
Greetings in the name of our incarnate God and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!
When Augustus became supreme ruler of the earth, the multiplicity of rule among men ceased. And when Thou becamest human from the spotless one, the worship of many heathen gods also ceased. Then the cities came under one worldly rule; and the nations believed in one divine supremacy. The nations were enrolled by an order of Caesar; but we believers were enrolled in the name of Thy Divinity, O our incarnate God. Wherefore, great are Thy mercies, glory to Thee. (Vesperal Doxastikon for the Nativity)
We are once again reminded by this beautiful hymn that the Good News of the coming of the God-man Jesus Christ into the world is a message not just for certain people, but for all people. We are also reminded that Christ’s Gospel is what unites us all together, no matter what our color, culture, birthplace or language may be. Likewise, the incarnation calls us forth from all our former delusions and idolatry to worship only the one true God, Who has become incarnate as a human being just like us, yet without sin.
As we celebrate the great feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, let us be again inspired to become evangelists and apostles bearing the Gospel to everyone around us; to pray and work together in true unity with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what they look like or where they are from; and most especially always to turn away from anything that keeps us from dedicating ourselves totally to the worship and service of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Yours in Christ,
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
The Fall Session for the St. John Chrysostom Academy will start on Wednesday, October 19th and last until December 14th. This Fall's course is the "The Letter to the Romans," and will be offered on Wednesdays from 7:30-9:30pm at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 1220 S. 60th Court, Cicero, IL 60804. The St. John Chrysostom Academy is an Adult Lay Educational Ministry of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine at St. George.
Download the Registration Form, attached here, and please feel free to distribute to your parishioners. Thank you!
Also, for more information about ongoing Biblical studies and resources, visit the newly redesigned website of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS).
The event, described by the flyer as "Midwest Fellowship and Fun," will take place over the weekend of October 28-30, 2011, with an informal clergy gathering kicking off the weekend on October 28th.
A full schedule of services will be observed, and SOYO, Christian Education, Antiochian Women and the Fellowship of St. John will all hold meetings.
WESTWOOD, Massachusetts - The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY), Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura and Kathleen A. Purpura announce the award of a five-year grant for its Greater Chicago Coalition. OCCHY – Cicero/Greater Chicago was awarded a $125,000 Drug Free Communities Support Program FY 2011 grant by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Coalition serves the Villages of Lincolnwood, Niles, and Skokie, IL, as well as the eighty-plus Orthodox parishes of the Greater Chicago area. ONDCP and SAMHSA offer the potential of an additional five-year extension of the grant. Under the excellent guidance of the Very Rev. Nicholas Dahdal, Pastor, the Grantee is St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Cicero, IL.
Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth is a national alliance founded by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth, and Kathleen Purpura, Youth Consultant and Executive Director of OCCHY, trained with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), worked with the White House Director of Drug Free Communities and also the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
CICERO, IL [Synergy] — Orthodox Christian Synergy, the Chicago-area Pan-Orthodox association, will host its 17th annual Symposium at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Cicero, IL, on Saturday, October 15, 2011. Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko will address the symposium theme, “Orthodoxy and Homosexuality.”
According to Michele Hagerman, Synergy President and member of the Diocese of the Midwest’s Holy Resurrection Church, Palatine, IL, “the scope of this symposium is a frank presentation about homosexuality as an issue of Orthodox faith and life facing the faithful. The intention is to focus on how Orthodoxy understands the phenomena of homosexuality, how Orthodox Christians with same-sex attractions are to deal with their condition, and how Orthodox Christians, especially clergymen and family members, are to relate to Orthodox Christians and all people who are same-sex attracted, rather than focusing on related cultural, social, or legal issues.”
Father Thomas will offer two presentations: “Theological Vision: Orthodox Christian Faith and Human Sexuality” and “Spiritual Practice: Orthodox Christian Life and Homosexual Attraction and Behavior.”
Thursday, July 21, proved to be a day of celebration for many reasons. In addition to being the last day of a sizzling heat wave across the Midwest, an excitement filled the air in the courtyard of St. George Church, Cicero, Host Parish of the historic 50th Archdiocese Convention beginning this Sunday, July 24th. Balloons and banners, posters and streamers, food and music, people young and old, witnessed a great announcement! Fireworks lit up the sky brightening the smiling faces as they all heard:
The Convention begins this weekend!
The Committee gathered to celebrate several years of tireless planning and a very anticipated week-long journey called the Archdiocese Convention. The full schedule is available at www.archdioceseconvention2011.org and awaits the entire Archdiocese.
Now that summer is in full swing, His Grace Bishop Thomas reminds all families that camp season is here! Urges His Grace, "Visitors to Antiochian.org should be linking onto the Camp website in order to see the children of their Diocese enjoying the Antiochian Village Camp."
Go here for regular Camp updates and new photos.
Fr. Joseph Antypas, the Archpriest of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Troy, Michigan, has released Reflections on the Field of a Local Parish. In his book, Fr. Antypas speaks not only from a deep theological knowledge of the Church, but also from a lifetime of pastoral experience of over 35 years of ministry. The book tackles various theological, liturgical, pastoral and contemporary topics of interest for every clergy and laity. Fr. Antypas examines such topics, not only in a theologically profound approach, but also in pastoral and practical manners.
Says His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, "The topics which the V. Rev. Father Joseph Antypas discusses in his book...are of utmost importance. St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his letter to the Ephesians, speaks about the harmony and perfect Christian relationship among the members of the Church. As a matter of fact, the congregation must work together, like a symphony, in order to ascend harmoniously to the Throne of God and bask in His Eternal Light. It is not enough to be baptized in the Church. Your baptism is a process of renewal which must permeate your soul all your life."
May 27-29 was a weekend like no other! For months we prepared for this holy consecration event…not knowing what to expect. But we knew we had to be ready! We built a new iconostasis! We had new icons written for the occasion! We re-constructed the altar area to be suitable for Orthodox worship! And we built a new altar table! And now the weekend was upon us. Sayidna Philip was to consecrate the Church of the Virgin Mary in Alsip, Illinois!
Words cannot express the extent of our happiness at having His Eminence, Sayidna Philip consecrate our Holy Church. It was the wishes of our Pastor, the Rev. Father Mousa Haddad, and the entire congregation that he visit us. Also, since this would be his first visit to our community, it was befitting that he would consecrate our house of worship. Committees worked hard to prepare for this holy and historic visit. We welcomed Sayidna Philip and we were honored to have Sayidna Antoun also join us for this historic weekend. Also, we were grateful for the presence and assistance of Archdeacon Hans El-Hayek.
Take a moment for an audio visual meditation on the theme, "The earth is the Lord's and its fullness, the world and all who dwell therein," Psalm 23. This presentation of the photos, artwork, and words of the children in the Diocese of Toledo from the Creative Festivals 2010 is brought to you by the Department of Christian Education, and the Fellowship of St. John the Divine.
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in no wise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
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!
We are again drawn to contemplate and stand in awe at the holy Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the God-man and our Savior. This year, I pray that we will not mark Pascha as a mere remembrance on the calendar, a happy annual festival that is anticipated and enjoyed but whose power does not provoke us to a radical change in ourselves, a challenge toward holiness and perfection in the Holy Trinity. Indeed, I think many times we enjoy these delightful feasts but have so “institutionalized” them within ourselves that we do not actually let them touch us.
Fundamentally, Christ’s Resurrection is a cataclysmic event. It marks not merely the beginning of a religious movement, but truly the utter reversal of history, the moment that death itself was turned back, when the ultimate catastrophe befell the powers of darkness and bright hope came again into the world. When the God-man died, as St. Basil tells us, “the Author of life could not be held by corruption.” And so He rose again! And so we can be saved from death and from all corruption.
May we ourselves be not simply emotionally moved or cheered by this Gospel; may we never be the same! If even time and history could not stand to remain as they were, how can we ever be content with a mere recollection of past events? Let us once again shout out in victory to the Conqueror of death, casting aside all of our earthly entanglements and entering with Him into that glory that will never fade.
Yours in Christ,
The Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest invite women to their sixth annual retreat Friday-Sunday, May 13-15, 2011 at Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery, located at 3389 Rives Eaton Road in Rives Junction, Michigan. On Saturday, Kh. Maggie Hock will present the retreat program on the Holy Myrrhbearing Women. She will talk about who the Myrrhbearing Women are, what they did in the early Church and how we can be “Myrrhbearing Women” today. Kh. Maggie is North American Director of the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries.
For more information, including schedule and registration form, please download the retreat flyer (PDF).
Twenty-six presbyters and three deacons from the Midwest Diocese enjoyed three stimulating days of prayer, reflection and rejuvenation March 1-3 at the Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan.
As we kept with the nuns—and their heavenly, harmonious Byzantine chant—the full monastic cycle of offices, His Grace, Bishop Thomas, led the gathered clergy with his wit and words of encouragement. We also drew inspiration from the nuns as they radiated their joy in the Lord. They also gave us a tour of the new temple, presently under construction, standing at the center of the Monastery quadrangle. The nuns astounded us as they related how they have been doing much of the work themselves, including making forms and pouring concrete.
Teen SOYO of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest proudly announces the launch of its newly designed Website: www.midwestSOYO.org.
Burr Ridge, IL – The Third Annual Pan-Orthodox Sanctity of Life Prayer Service and Presentation was attended by Orthodox Clergy and faithful from the Chicago area. The event was held on Sunday, January 30th, 2011, at Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church and was organized by the Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Greater Chicago (OCCA).
After the prayer service, the Church community hosted a fellowship for all those in attendance which was highlighted by a presentation, given by Linda Couri, a former employee of Planned Parenthood, who has both professional and personal experience with abortion issues, who presented an inside perspective on the Pro Choice mindset.
She eloquently spoke about this approach which more often than not has become the manner in which society is run. What are the values, goals and motivations behind those who are Pro-Choice and what can we do to best address this complex and often hostile audience?
The Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan was blessed in the month of February 2011 to have several world renowned influential Christian leaders visit its community. Over the course of two weeks, the parish hosted Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, a world-renowned Orthodox bishop and theologian from Cambridge, England, Bishop Augustin Ahimana, an Anglican bishop from Rwanda, and Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglia, a Catholic priest from Syria.
The first event took place on February 18th, 2011. Fr. George Shalhoub hosted a lecture luncheon for world renowned scholar, professor, and contemporary Eastern Orthodox academic author, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware during his visit to the Detroit area. Joining Metropolitan Kallistos was Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Diocese of Detroit, and Bishop Irineu, Auxiliary Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, along with close to fifty clergy from various Orthodox jurisdictions from throughout Michigan and the entire Midwest. Metropolitan Kallistos spoke to the clergy about the necessity of Orthodox Christian unity and cooperation here in America, and on diversity in general, and how we as Christian leaders in America, need to recognize not only the diverse nature of our country regarding the Christian faith, but we need to work towards creating ways to help open the doors of communication between all Christians. In addition to visiting the Basilica, Metropolitan Kallistos visited several other Orthodox churches in the Detroit area and addressed the body of Sacred Heart Catholic Major Seminary, on the topic of current and future Orthodox/Catholic dialogue.
This year’s Midwest Basketball Tournament was by far the largest ever with over 400 teens and young adults from across the Midwest gathering together in Canton, Ohio. 16 churches sent a total of 30 teams that competed in 3 divisions: junior (12-15), senior (15-18) and young adult (19-26). On Friday night, the participants gathered for the Midwest Teen SOYO delegates meeting and for a lively discussion led by guest speaker Alex Younes from Toronto, Canada. The topic of his discussion was ‘A New Commandment.’
After Morning Prayers on Saturday morning the teams embarked from the hotel to 4 different basketball gyms where they competed throughout the morning and afternoon. Following Great Vespers, the Awards Banquet and Hafli was held with over 500 in attendance. A Farewell Brunch was held after Sunday Divine Liturgy and the participants departed for their homes with no doubt a few more friends than they had when they arrived. A special thank you to all the volunteers from St. George in Canton who take pride in hosting this annual tournament and to all the participants who journeyed from 7 different states to be with us on this special weekend.
Don’t forget about the upcoming Midwest Parish Life Conference from June 15-19 in Cleveland, Ohio! Visit www.stgeorgecleveland.com for more information. We hope to see everyone in attendance!
On the weekend of December 17-19, 2010, His Grace Bishop Thomas made a pastoral visit to the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan. On Friday evening the Bishop's dear friends, Ken and Kathy Harb, hosted a gathering at their home to officially welcome His Grace to the Detroit area. On Saturday morning, Fr. George Shalhoub hosted a brunch for the area clergy in the St. Mary Cultural Center, and Fr. James King and his family hosted a dinner for the Bishop prior to Great Vespers.
The highlight of the weekend was the Divine Liturgy on Sunday Morning, where Bishop Thomas, on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, ordained Fr. James King to the Holy Priesthood. This was the first time in the forty year history of the Basilica that anyone had ever been ordained to the priesthood, and the community came out in full force to witness the event. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, His Grace inducted twelve new members into the Order of St. Ignatius. Following the Liturgy, a special banquet was held in the St. Mary Cultural Center in honor of the newly ordained Fr. James, his wife Audrey, and their children. The banquet was generously attended by the entire Basilica of St. Mary community.
We wish to thank all those who helped to make the weekend such a special occasion for the community, and especially Bishop Thomas for his love, spiritual guidance, and for blessing us with his presence.
Antiochian professor Dr. Brad Nassif is encouraging the Orthodox faithful in the Chicago area to attend North Park University’s Zarley Lectures on February 22-23, 2011. This year's lectures will feature Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Professor Emeritus in Eastern Orthodox Studies, Oxford University, and Bishop of Diokleia. Metropolitan Kallistos is highly regarded as a world renowned theologian of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Topics will include: "Word and Silence in the Philokalia" and "Orthodox and Evangelicals: What Do We Have to Learn From Each Other?" The lectures are free to the public and will begin at 7:00 pm both nights in Anderson Chapel, on the campus of North Park.
The Bible and Theology Department at North Park hosts the annual lecture series. Notes Dr. Nassif, "It was my turn to invite a speaker. The choice was obvious. The occasion of Metropolitan Kallistos' coming dovetails nicely with the release of a book that will be published next year sometime. It's titled The Philokalia: Exploring a Classic Text in Orthodox Spirituality, edited by Brock Bingaman and myself, and published by Oxford University Press. We have a stellar cast of contributors including Metropolitan Kallistos, Fathers John McGuckin, Andrew Louth and John Chrysavghis, among others."
February is a season for conferences, as Orthodox Christians go indoors to escape the cold while enjoying fellowship and spiritual enrichment.
In a cyberspace gathering on February 11 and 12, the organization Illumination Learning ("Bringing Together Orthodox Christian Resources to Share with Each Other") will be hosting "Orthodoxy in the Home" in the first annual Orthodox Christian Online Education Conference. The line-up of speakers includes Fr. Luke Veronis, who will talk about how to teach children about missions; the sister singers of Eikona, who will discuss "Teaching Our Families the Hymns of Our Church"; and Antiochian priest Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, who will expound on how humor and the funny moments of family life are teachable moments too. Go here to register virtually, for this virtual conference!
The following weekend, February 18 and 19, The Climacus Conference will tackle great themes in philosophy, theology and literature in their series of lectures held at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Clothing, food, Plato, marriage, Dostoevsky, a movie screening and more, will be discussed by academic notables such as Vigen Guroian and by popular authors such as Conciliar Press writer Molly Sabourin.
That same weekend, the pan-Orthodox coalition North Texas Orthodox Missions, is sponsoring the 2011 Festival of Orthodoxy Conference in two Texas cities, Fort Worth and Dallas. Featured guests Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green and Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr. will speak to the theme, “From Conception to Dying: Orthodox Christian Views in Today’s World.” Go here for information and registration.
PITTSBURGH, PA (Jan. 25, 2011)—Speaking to over 450 people at the Jan. 25 FOCUS Pittsburgh fundraising dinner, Theodora Polamalu challenged those present to put their hope and desire to help those in need into action.
Theodora and her Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers husband, Troy Polamalu, are committed to caring for those in need. Theodora, FOCUS North America Advisory Board Member, said during her address to the crowd, “to treat every person as an icon of Christ is the foremost principle of FOCUS, the heart of its mission.”
Seeing that mission realized is what brought such a large crowd to the event, which was hosted by Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church’s Philoptochos Chapter and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Clergy Brotherhood. Through tickets sales, auction items, sponsorships and general donations, the event raised nearly $65,000 to further the good work of serving those in need.
DESCENDENT OF DANIEL BOONE SPEAKS AT THIRD ANNUAL EVENING IN THE EAST
Iowa City, IA – January 19, 2011 – On Saturday, February 5, St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Mission is hosting their third annual Evening in the East at Old Brick, 26 Market Street, Iowa City. The benefit runs begins at 5:30 PM, includes authentic cuisine from Greece, the Middle East, Romania, Georgia, and Russia, prizes, silent auctions, a performance by St. Raphael Church Choir, and this year will feature speaker Fr. Moses Berry presenting “Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience.”
Fr. Moses Berry is President of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black and founder of the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum. Fr. Moses is a descendent of frontier legend Daniel Boone through his son Nathan Boone and Nathan's slave Marie Boone. At a moment of crisis as a young man, Fr. Moses began a search for his religious heritage that took him from the church of his youth to the Orthodox Christianity found throughout northern Africa.
The Theophany celebrations of Holy Apostles Mission in Bowling Green, Kentucky were recently featured in the local newspaper, the Bowling Green Daily News:
A centuries-old ceremony was performed in Bowling Green on Thursday as members of the Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission gathered on the banks of the Barren River to participate in the Blessing of the Waters.
“We come here today to celebrate the Blessing of the Waters and in so doing, we join with our brothers and sisters around the world,” said the Rev. Michael Nasser, pastor of Holy Apostles....
“What we’re celebrating is the baptism of Jesus,” Nasser said. “For us, it’s not just an event that happened 2,000 years ago. It still affects us.”....
“This beautiful service reminds us that as Christ was a blessing to the waters of the Jordan and to the whole world, we should also be a blessing to our planet and not a curse, and especially to that part of the world right around us,” Nasser said.