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During October 12-16, His Grace, Bishop Thomas made his annual pastoral visitation to St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, as well as making other stops in the Eastern Pennsylvania area. During his visit to St. Paul's, His Grace presided over the divine services, including the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. While there, His Grace noted the numerous upgrades and expansions to parish life that have been made during the administration of the current pastor, the Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, who was assigned to the pastorate of the parish in July 2009.
Since 2009, St. Paul's population has grown by 46%, and annual pledges have grown by 180%. During this time, multiple weekday services (including, in many cases, daily) have been instituted, as well as a vigorous program of adult education.
On June 29, 2013, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the Holy See of Antioch, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip traveled to Glenville, Pennsylvania in York County to bless the property and house which will be the home of the nuns of the Convent of St. Thekla in America.
His Eminence was accompanied by His Grace Bishop Antoun, and several clergy from the area, including Fr. Peter Pier, the host pastor from St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church in York, Pennsylvania.
Approximately 50 people attended the blessing ceremony, many of whom were first time visitors to the convent property. The blessing was followed by a light lunch at the convent, and a dinner in the evening with the members of the Parish Council of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania.
On Sunday, His Eminence presided at his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. John Chrysostom Church in their newly constructed church building.
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America has completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla, a female monastic community. The property is located in Glenville, Pennsylvania and consists of 51 acres of land which includes a four-bedroom “move-in-ready” house, a two-story barn, and a three-car garage with an attached workshop. The property also has a pond, and includes 30 acres of farmland and seven acres of woodland.
The original plan for the Convent called for it to be built on a parcel of land which is on the main property of Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of doing this would be too high, especially given that it would have required that all the infrastructure (road, water, electricity, and sewage) be made available at the site. There was also the risk that environmental concerns (such as the discovery of endangered plant life or animals) could have seriously impacted the building plans. The purchase was funded by a combination of the money that had been raised by the Antiochian Women through their multi-year fundraising effort, an endowment fund that had been set aside many years ago for this purpose, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.
Pilgrims gathered for the annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage at the Antiochian Village from September 21-23, 2012, joined by presiding hierarch His Grace Bishop Thomas, and the Abbess of the Convent of St. Thekla, Mother Alexandra. The Pilgrimage began on Friday evening with Great Vespers, followed by dinner, a showing of the Oscar nominated movie "The Help," and a discussion led by Fr. Anthony Yazge, Antiochian chair of the Department of Camping.
On Saturday, the Pilgrimage continued with a Hierarchical Liturgy at St. Ignatius Chapel at the Camp, followed by fellowship at brunch and an afternoon of activities which included workshops and discussion on "The Family and the Media" and "The Sacraments." Pilgrims also attended the Supplication Service to St. Thekla with anointing with oil from the Shrine in Maíaloula, Syria, and enjoyed a Chapel tour with Village Director Paul Finley. Afterwards, there was time for prayer, rest and reflection, and an opportunity to tour the Antiochian Heritage Museum.
A wonderful event that will be taking place at Antiochian Village this autumn! As you may know, Antiochian Village is the burial place of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. Many people each year come to visit his burial place as they also attend the St. Thekla Pilgrimage. The 2012 pilgrimage will take place during the weekend of September 21-23. This pilgrimage is sponsored by our Convent of St. Thekla, with the assistance of the Convent's abbess Mother Alexandra, and will be overseen by His Grace Bishop Thomas.
In addition to the usual events of the pilgrimage, this year we will also have a deacon's retreat in conjunction with the pilgrimage. For information about this retreat, please contact Dn. Gregory Roeber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As Orthodox Christians, our lives are a type of pilgrimage, so why set time aside to attend the St Thekla Pilgrimage? The key is in "setting aside." We invite you "to set aside all earthly cares" and to join us in refocusing and refreshing ourselves in our Orthodox life. Like St Thekla, Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles, together we will pray at the Divine Liturgy and services, obtain guidance and direction from the Gospels for our lives at home, and enjoy fellowship with other pilgrims.
Through the intercession of Saint Thekla, may this Pilgrimage be blessed!
Questions? Please call 724-238-3677 x425 or email email@example.com.
The staff at Antiochian Village writes:
You may have heard that a tornado hit the Antiochian Village Camp and St Thekla Monastery on Friday, June 1st at approximately 5:20 PM. Thanks to our gracious and loving God, the members of our staff were in St Ignatius Church at the time praying the Paraklesis to the Mother of God when the tornado struck. No one was hurt. However there is extensive damage at the camp. We have hundreds of trees down and eighteen of our buildings were impacted by the tornado and tree debris. We have already started the clean up process. We have much work to do to get the camp back in shape. Please keep us in your prayers. We will provide updates as we have more information.
The staff update from June 3 reads:
Thank you for your love and support as we bounce back from the tornado. We have received many offers of help in the clean-up process. Under the advice of our insurance company, at the present time we are NOT accepting volunteer help. We are using professional services as much of the initial work can be quite hazardous. If we get to a point where we can use volunteer help, we will put a call for your assistance. Thank you again for your outpouring of love. We are so thankful to God for our safety and all of the wonderful people who are ready to pitch in.
The staff update from June 10 reads:
Christ is Risen!
Spring finally arrived after a long bout of fluctuating weather, represented here by a late, heavy snow in April. The storm was definitely beautiful, yet it presented other problems. As the large, pristine flakes of snow dropped and veiled the monastery in brilliant white, I thought and prayed about the newly installed package of bees, the garden that was half dug, and the enormous rhododendrons I had pruned, still in a preflower stage. Recalling Psalm 148, I trusted that everything would be all right: “frosts and snow” and “all flying and creeping things” praising the Lord together. On a hive check, I pressed my ear against the cold wood and could hear the buzzing of the community within the hive working together to maintain a comfortable temperature. In fact, they were probably warmer than I was as I made my way around the property with a snow shovel attempting to relieve the trees of their unwanted burden. Within a few days the weather was warmer and I returned to the garden to plant lettuce, corn, carrots, onions, herbs, and sunflowers. Some soil waits, prepared for the planting of the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, peas and company in June.....
From September 23-25, faithful traveled to the St Thekla Pilgrimage for the Patronal Feast of the St Thekla Monastery at the Antiochian Village for a weekend of prayer, refreshment, focus and fellowship. As pilgrims trickled in on Friday evening after busy weeks of work and the demands of daily life, they were offered hospitality and a time to unwind and transition in prayer at Vespers and then in fellowship and discussion following a movie. Saturday was a full day that began with Orthros and the Divine Liturgy, followed by brunch and workshops on Orthodox Family Life, Living Faithfully Though Crisis, the Sacraments, and a discussion of the book Miles to Go. After a break, we convened at the Shrine of St Thekla, located at the Village Camp and prayed the Supplication to St Thekla and were anointed with the miraculous oil from the lampada that burns in the Shrine of St Thekla in Ma’aloula, Syria.