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Translating Vision into Life

In our Christian lives, we are charged with translating vision into real life.  If this were not so, then we would have Gospels with no Church, no Saints, no icons.

Recently, His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip blessed the hiring of DSA Architects to work with Mother Alexandra in translating the vision for the Convent of Saint Thekla into viable plans for the buildings to house a monastic community and provide a place and space for prayer and work.  

On November 1, 2010, Mother Alexandra met with Douglas Shoop at the Antiochian Village.  They toured the building site and met to discuss details for the production of 3D renderings and schematic drawings.  Please continue to pray for Mother Alexandra and for women to consider joining her in living the monastic life at Saint Thekla Convent.  Also, please remember Douglas Shoop in your prayers - that God will guide his talents and bless the work of his hands.

Annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage Focuses on Everyday Life

Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip

The annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage was held on September 24-26 at the Antiochian Village. Bishop Thomas was the presiding hierarch, and Mother Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla was the main speaker of the weekend. Both of them talked on the theme of “Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip."

The main emphasis of the pilgrimage’s theme was in learning how to live an average, workaday life in a holy, Orthodox manner. Along with the talks by His Grace and Mother Alexandra, four small group discussions were led by clergy from the area. The topics included “Confession: Setting and Resetting the Course," “The Eucharist: What’s In Your Lunchbox?," “Holy Unction: First Aid and Urgent Care” and “The Walk: A discussion of the New York Times Best-Seller by Richard Paul Evans."

Family Camp Children Visit the Convent of St Thekla

On the weekend of May 28-31, 60 families were in attendance at the Antiochian Village Family Camp for a weekend of prayer, fellowship and fun in the sun. As part of the Morning Program on Saturday, the children were able to visit the Convent of St. Thekla in groups. It was a beautiful day, and they were able to walk down while enjoying the sights and sounds of the woods surrounding the Convent. During their visit to the St Thekla Chapel, Mother Alexandra spoke about importance of prayer and how God helps us through prayer. To the children's delight, the bird that nests next to the chapel was also present sitting on her eggs. No news yet of baby thrushes.

Diocese of the Midwest Antiochian Women's Retreat + May 14-16, 2010

The Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest invite women to the fifth annual retreat Friday-Sunday, May 14-16, 2010 at Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery located at 3389 Rives Eaton Road in Rives Junction, Michigan. 

Download retreat flyer (PDF)

Mother Abbess Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla at Antiochian Village will present the retreat, “Create in Me a New Heart,” focusing on the Holy Spirit in our lives.  She will bring together reflections on the actions of the Holy Spirit through salvation history from the Scriptures and the Fathers with emphasis on our practical, daily synergy with the Holy Spirit.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Publishes Iconography Article with Mother Alexandra

The icon illustrates an ancient understanding of Jesus' resurrection as the gift he offers to all humanity on a renewed Earth. While all Orthodox churches are filled with icons, the Resurrection icon in the camp chapel at Antiochian Village retreat and conference center is one of the largest in Pennsylvania and possibly the United States.

"An icon is theology in color," said Mother Alexandra, founder of the Convent of St. Thekla, which also is on the grounds of Antiochian Village in Bolivar, Westmoreland County. The center, which also houses a museum and bookstore, is a ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

On Pascha Sunday the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published Orthodox Icons Are Seen As "Theology in Color", with extensive comments from Antiochian monastic Mother Alexandra. Click here to enjoy the article in full.

An Unusual Visitor to Antiochian Village

On March 3, 2010, an unexpected and out of the ordinary visitor arrived at the edge of the Antiochian Village property. A small black bear was sighted in a tree. A Game Comissioner was called in. He sedated the bear and gave it a mask to protect its eyes and mouth while being moved.

The Game Comissioner confirmed that this is out of the ordinary. After examination, it is clear that this young bear is ill and thin. He came out of hibernation early, and finding no food, he tried to locate some in the neighbor's garbage.

The Game Commission assured Mother Alexandra that sleeping beauty will be medicated, fed, and released somewhere good for bears.

Mother Alexandra Visits St. Petersburg, Florida

The weekend of February 19-21, 2010, Mother Alexandra visited St. Nicholas Church in St. Petersburg, Florida.  She presented two talks, “Monasticism and St. Thekla Convent,” explaining the history of monasticism, the monastic presence, and the monastic life, ministry and plans for construction of the Convent of St. Thekla at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania; and “Great Lent: Renewing Our Hearts and Minds,” discussing our journey as Orthodox Christians as a whole throughout our lives and also on a daily basis, highlighting Lenten themes, the sacramental life, personal prayer, and communion with God and each other.

During her visit, she was able to reconnect with some Antiochian Village campers and looks forward to seeing them this summer. She attended the services at St. Nicholas Church and also traveled with parishioners to Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers in Tarpon Springs.   Mother Alexandra thanks Fr. Michael and Kh. Virginia Massouh and the faithful of St. Nicholas for their friendship and hospitality.

Mother Alexandra Visits Norwood, Massachusetts

Marilyn Robbat, Fr. Edward Hughes, Kh. Erin Kimmett, Mother Alexandra, Mary Lou Catelli and Fr. Joseph KimmettMarilyn Robbat, Fr. Edward Hughes, Kh. Erin Kimmett, Mother Alexandra, Mary Lou Catelli and Fr. Joseph KimmettOn Saturday, January 30, 2010, over 70 faithful gathered at St. George in Norwood, Massachusetts for a day of retreat, “Back to the Future with St. Ignatius of Antioch” sponsored by the Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Worcester and New England. Attendees included not just the women of AOCWNA, but even some of the teens who met Mother Alexandra at camp at the Village this past summer. The day began with Divine Liturgy followed by refreshments and included a fine Middle Eastern luncheon prepared by the women of St. George.   Mother Alexandra presented two talks, drawing from the life and experiences of St. Ignatius of Antioch to provide reflections for daily Orthodox Christian living. The wisdom of the Saint provides real and practical direction for us today, if we take the time to read and hear his words.

On Sunday, January 31, Mother Alexandra attended the post holiday gathering of the Order of St. Ignatius at the Sheraton Four Points. As the afternoon’s speaker, she gave an overview of the plans for the Convent of St. Thekla, which have been fermenting over many years as a part of the growth of the Antiochian Village. Numerous women have contacted her since last summer, and some have come to visit, both encouraging signs for the blossoming of a monastic community. Presently, the site survey has been completed and now the work with architects can begin, so that by God’s grace the convent might begin construction of its new home.

Click here to see more pictures.

Antiochian Marthas of St. George, NorwoodAntiochian Marthas of St. George, Norwood Mother Alexandra speaking at the Order of St. Ignatius dinnerMother Alexandra speaking at the Order of St. Ignatius dinner

Additions to the Convent of St. Thekla Chapel

Mother Alexandra writes:

Recently, some additions were made to the Convent of St. Thekla Chapel with the arrival and installation of lampadas and a silver cross.  The cross belonged to Archimandrite John Namie, who was Camp Director at the Antiochian Village from 1978 to 1988. May his memory be eternal.  As for the lamps, these beautify the chapel and remind all who pray herein of the constancy of faith required in our Christian lives.  May our lamps be found burning brightly! 

Mother Alexandra Speaks at Middle School Nativity Retreat

Over 20 youth attended the Middle School Nativity Retreat at the Antiochian Village Conference Center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania from December 11-13, 2009, where they learned more about God, themselves, their faith and each other. The theme, "In His Image", was presented by Mother Alexandra in three presentations: an informal discussion, a comprehensive look at the identity of Jesus Christ, and a reflection on how we can be living icons. Mother used many images of icons via Powerpoint to illustrate and aid in reflection. Other activities included indoor wacky and not-so-wacky games, a service project, craft opportunities, outdoor football, sledding, a camp fire with Christmas caroling, and a night hike. Fr. Anthony Yazge led the group in worship and in games, crafts, and teaching about almsgiving. On Saturday morning, there was a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Herman with a Supplication Service. Great Vespers was celebrated on Saturday evening and Orthos and Liturgy on Sunday morning, both in Ss. Peter and Paul Chapel. We wish to also thank Barli Brown who coordinated the retreat and chaperoned; Marek Simon, who led the night hike; and all of our chaperones: Paul and Debra Finley, Tad Klopcic, Anna Stickles, and Alex Vernet. Even if you don’t see a bright safety green “I am a Living Icon” T-shirt, remember that we are living icons and God is glorified in His Saints!