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OCN Internships Announced for 2011

OCN is pleased to offer, to both under-graduate and post-graduate college students, a series of internships during 2011. All internships may be done locally or remotely, and all last for six months; internships may be renewed.

Some of the internships are in: Audience Insight and Research, Audio Engineering, Communications and Marketing, Design, Multimedia, Reference Library, Social Media Desk, and Religion Desk.

Each applicant is requested to send a letter of interest, a resume, a writing sample where specified, and a letter of recommendation from his or her parish priest, to OCN's Executive Director at FrChris@stdemetrios.org. To learn more visit OCN's website. Click here for a full list of internships.

Memory Eternal! + Lucia Camille Baba, July 14th - December 22nd, 2010

His Grace Bishop Basil writes,

Dear to Christ, Fathers and Brothers:

MEMORY ETERNAL! The child of God Lucia Camille Baba, five month old daughter of Father Anthony & Khouriya Ramia of St Anthony Church in Spring, TX, reposed late last evening of complications arising from Trisomy 18 (also known as Trisomy E or Edwards syndrome).

The Funeral for a Child will be served tomorrow morning, December 24th, at 11:00 AM at St. George Church in Houston, TX. Condolences may be sent to Father Anthony and Khouriya Ramia at franthonybaba@gmail.com.

Please join me in praying a rope for the repose of Lucia's soul, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, receive in peace the soul of Thy child Lucia." May God grant Paradise to Lucia and consolation to her parents, grandparents and all the Baba and Ibrahim families.

In Christ Who is our Resurrection and our Life,

His Grace Bishop Basil

Donations in Lucia’s memory may be made to St. Anthony Church in Spring, Texas, for the iconography in the new church temple. To read about Lucia's life, go here.

St. Katherine College To Host Kaleidoscope Days, Jan. 20, 22

Saint Katherine College, a new independent Orthodox Christian institution slated to begin classes in the fall of 2011, will host "College Kaleidoscope Days" for high school juniors and seniors at its Encinitas, CA campus Thursday and Saturday, January 20th and 22nd, 2011. The event will feature presentations on goal setting, discerning a "good fit" when selecting a college, fun activities, lunch, and more. For more information log on to the college’s web site.

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer Documentary Available On Demand

On December 15, the documentary "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" was posted on Comcast and Verizon Fios Video-On-Demand in a pre-theatrical release. In early 2011 it will debut in theaters and will eventually be available on DVD.

A companion book, “Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: Experiencing the Presence of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality,” will be published February 8, 2011 by HarperOne.

The film and book begin with a visit to St. Anthony's in Upper Egypt, the oldest existing monastery on earth, where Father Lazarus explains what the prayer is and how to use it. The authors' voyage continues to St. Catherine's monastery, in existence near Mt. Sinai since the fifth century, and to monastic communities in Eastern Europe: Romania, Ukraine and Russia.

Traveling with cameras and crews to ancient lands of peace and solitude, the Very Rev. Dr. John McGuckin, Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen (Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies, Union Theological Seminary/Columbia University), and Dr. Norris J. Chumley, a media producer and columnist for Beliefnet, visited hermits, priests and nuns in caves and monasteries to record their use of this ancient mystical prayer.

The film's beautiful cinematography captures the heart of Orthodox faith and worship.

OCN's Homepage Features Podcasts with Nativity Themes

Orthodox Christian Network is featuring several podcasts in the week leading up to Christmas, that focus on holiday themes. In "Teens and Technology," Dr. Ary Christofidis discusses the new dominance of tech toys under the Christmas tree, and looks at the potential pitfalls this can cause. In "Battling Over Nativity Scenes," the Just Thinking podcast with Fr. Chris Metropulos and journalist Terry Mattingly, discusses how Christmas for most is now defined by shopping and commerce. "Is there a better way for us to celebrate a Christmas filled with the Love of Christ rather than battling over where we place our Nativity Scenes?" they ask. "Message in our Christmas Carols," is a segment of the Theologically Thinking podcast, in which Fr. William Chiganos examines the messages found within the traditional Carols enjoyed in December. Other podcasts tackle the topics of stress, and recovering the joy and peace found in the faith.

 

Friends of the Hogar Rafael Ayau and AFR, Release "Hymns of the Hogar"

Hogar Rafael ChildrenHogar Rafael ChildrenAncient Faith Radio announces that the CD "Hymns of the Hogar" is now available here.

In May 2010, Ancient Faith Radio, at the request of the Friends of the Hogar Rafael Ayau, recorded the children of the Hogar Rafael Ayau in Guatemala City singing the Orthodox Christian Hymns for Matins and Vespers as they do in their daily lives at the Hogar.

The CD includes 25 tracks. All proceeds from the sale of the CD will support the Capital Campaign Building Fund to bring construction of a new home for the children, Hogar San Miguel, to fruition. The children are in desperate need of a safer place to live away from the dangers surrounding the current orphanage.

The CD's are priced at $22 - $18.00 plus $4 for Shipping and Handling. 

Dome Is Raised at St. Anthony the Great, Spring, TX

The New St. Anthony Church in Spring, TexasThe New St. Anthony Church in Spring, TexasHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

"ALF MABROUK! A THOUSAND BLESSINGS! The central dome was raised today atop the new church temple being built by the congregation of St. Anthony the Great Church in Spring, Texas where Fr. Anthony Baba is proistamenos."

New Friends of Indonesia Website Chronicles Growth of Church

Several Antiochian Christians have been instrumental in forming the Friends of Indonesia, an organization dedicated to furthering the Indonesian mission efforts of Fr. Daniel Byantoro. Antiochian priest Fr. Gordon Walker serves as Board Chair, along with Treasurer Cal Oren, parishioner at Holy Cross in Linthicum, Maryland. 

Recently, Friends of Indonesia launched a website that gives the history of the Orthodox Indonesian Church, introduces the clergy and parishes to readers, and hosts photo galleries of the ongoing growth of the Church there. Explains Board Chair Fr. Gordon Walker, "We hold firmly to the Orthodox missionary imperative that the Church grows in each local culture according to the truths those cultures already hold. We labor to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Indonesian people in ways that respects and affirms their cultural distinctiveness, and build a Church that will reflect and strengthen the rich cultural heritage they already possess. It is hard to overstate the miracle happening in Indonesia. Our hope is that you might become inspired as we are and join us in this effort."

Classical Orthodox Education Gathers Momentum; January Symposium Announced

Capitalizing on a wave of interest in Orthodox classical education and learning, Eighth Day Institutes in Wichita is hosting their first Eighth Day Symposium conference at the end of January. The Symposium, "Imagination and Soul: Harry Potter, Twilight and Spiritual Formation," will feature noted speaker John Granger, dubbed by Time magazine as the "Dean of Harry Potter Scholars." Additional speakers from across the country will discuss these topics: "Holy Knowledge: Classical Education and the Church Fathers," "The Advent of Superman? Classical and Modern Education," and "Why Bother with Books?" Go here to register for this free event.

Wichita is also looking into the prospects of forming a new classical Orthodox school which will meet at St. George Cathedral. “We’re Orthodox,” His Grace Bishop Basil said in a recent interview. “We have something that’s true. We have something precious to offer that’s different than every other school.” With the Bishop’s blessing, a steering committee has been established and the committee leaders will present a strategic plan for the school by January 2011.

Further west, Antiochian Christian educators in Idaho have founded the Classical Learning Resource Center.

Anne Van Fossen, Classical Orthodox Christian Educator

Anne Van FossenAnne Van FossenRecently, antiochian.org interviewed Anne Van Fossen, classical educator and co-founder of the Classical Learning Resource Center, about their Orthodox online school offering classes in Greek and Latin, Philosophy and Critical Thinking.

1. A quote on your website reads, "In order to be thirsty enough, hungry enough to seek God diligently and uncompromisingly, we must form our souls carefully and continuously." Create for us a thumbnail sketch of the Classical Learning Resource Center--what is your "raison d'etre" and how are you structured?

The earlier part of the quote you mentioned points out that great literature, art, and music can awaken within us a hunger and thirst for the good things of God. They can awaken us to beauty, truth, and a desire in our souls for our true home with God. We live in a world that works to distract us from that home and attempts to delude us into believing that suffering and carnal pleasure is all we have to hope for. Great literature, art, and music awaken this hunger and thirst for that which is good, true, and beautiful.

As to our structure, the Classical Learning Resource Center exists to promote good education that puts students in contact with this great literature. We are not a school and do not attempt to cover every subject area. Our goal is for the CLRC to come alongside of educators to assist them whether they are homeschooling parents, public or private school teachers, or anyone seeking to provide or procure a good education.

We offer live, interactive, real-time, online classes for all ages from young children to adults. Students need access to the internet, inquisitive minds, and a schedule that allows some time for additional work between weekly classes.

Second Annual Pan-Orthodox Clergy Retreat + Dunlap, California

On December 7-9, clergy from all over the west gathered for their second annual retreat at the Holy Monastery of the Theotokos, the Life Giving Spring, in Dunlap, California. Led by four bishops, His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos [Greek Archdiocese]; His Grace, Bishop Joseph [Antiochian Archdiocese]; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin [OCA]; and His Grace, Bishop Maxim [Serbian Patriarchate], clergy of all jurisdictions enjoyed the beautiful facilities of the St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center, listened to speakers, and worshipped together. Clergy came back to their parishes refreshed and edified by the teaching on the topic "Physician Heal Thyself--Orthodox steps of spiritual transformation" with Retreat Master Archimandrite Meletios (Webber), Abbot of the St. John the Wonderworker Monastery in Manton, CA.

Bishops Leading WorshipBishops Leading Worship
His Grace Bishop Joseph addresses clergy
Clergy worshipping in monastery churchClergy worshipping in monastery church
Retreat Participants

St. George of Orlando Parish Feeds Hundreds During Weekly Outreach

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando, Florida was founded in 1968. During the V. Rev. Fr. John Hamatie's thirty-seven year tenure the parish purchased and remodeled their church building, and also bought the office building and parking lot behind the Church. The parish has been a presence downtown since 1974, when the community established the annual tradition of Diving for the Cross in Lake Eola Park. Then in 1976 the parish celebrated their first liturgy in the church downtown, on the Fourth of July.

In 2009 in conjunction with the Ephraim Project, Fr. John began to put St. George's parking lot to good use during the week, when he established a weekly feeding for those he calls "our homeless brothers and sisters." Volunteers arrive earlier in the day to prepare food for between 150 and 200 people every Friday; meals are served in the outdoors in the same place that parishioners park on Sundays. "The Blessings deriving to us for over the last year of feeding 200 homeless men, women and children every Friday behind the Church is perhaps one of our greatest spiritual 'highs.' To be actually fulfilling a command of the Lord to love those closest in proximity is a wonderful thing."

Tenth Orthodox Institute Season Concludes

Orthodox Institute SessionA successful season for the Orthodox Institute, an innovative and highly regarded Christian Education training program pioneered by Antiochian Christian Education Director Carole Buleza, concluded with a three day Institute at Antiochian Village in November. Institutes took place in cities both in Canada and the U.S. St. Michael's Church in Van Nuys, California was the site for the first Institute on September 18; subsequent Institutes were hosted in Edmonton on October 2, then Harrisburg on October 9, Ontario on October 23, and finally at Antiochian Village on November 4-7. Noted iconographers and speakers taught sessions that fit into one of three tracks: Church School Director, Teacher Training, or Orthodoxy. Participants came from all regions and jurisdictions.

Besides racking up the miles, Director Carole Buleza also met with many teachers across the country, and she commented on the spirit of pan-Orthodox cooperation present this year, enabling her to reflect afterwards that this year's Institute "was a decisive event for Orthodox Christian Education." (See an Institute photo gallery here.)

Attendees offered these retrospectives:

This past November the halls, meeting rooms and dining hall at the Antiochian Village were alive with the language of iconography. At this year’s Orthodox Institute, the 10th anniversary, the theme was icononography; the history of icons; the stories they tell; praying with icons and using them as a tool for teaching. The three-day institute began with a keynote address by Frederica Mathewes-Green, who spoke of her personal experience with icons and her journey to Orthodoxy; this was followed by two days of workshops on icons, which included presentations by the well-known iconographer/illustrator, Niko Chochelli, iconographer, Cheryl Pituch and authors, Anton Vram and Chrissie Hart and the staff of the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education.

Saint George Church of Troy, MI, Hosts Pan-Orthodox IOCC Fundraiser

OCA.org Report

St. George of TroySt. George of TroyDETROIT, MI [COCC] -- A fall benefit concert sponsored by the Council of Orthodox Christian Churches of Metropolitan Detroit [COCC] raised more than $5,000.00 for International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC].

The concert of "Music from the Twelve Great Feasts” was presented by the Orthodox Choir of Metropolitan Detroit on Sunday, October 17, 2010 at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Troy, MI.

The choir was conducted by Artistic Director Vickie Kopistiansky, who also conducts the choir at Holy Trinity Church [OCA], Detroit. Archpriest Paul Jannakos of Saint Mary Magdalene Church [OCA], Fenton, MI, provided commentary.

FOCUS "House of Blues" Benefit Concert Draws a Crowd

House of Blues ConcertHouse of Blues ConcertThe Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) reports:

Over 1000 people attended the Dec. 3rd House of Blues at Downtown Disney charity concert benefiting FOCUS Orange County and two other local charities. FOCUS Orange County was given 15 minutes of stage time to share the work FOCUS Orange County is doing and collected 150 cans of food for the food pantry at El Dorado Motel, which makes the food available to the many working poor families staying at its motel and the neighboring Valencia Motel.

In November, FOCUS Orange County began its weekly meal ministry at the Valencia, where 100+ meals are served each Sunday night by FOCUS volunteers. Working poor families may also receive clothing items that have been donated.

Stocking the El Dorado’s food pantry is just one more way FOCUS Orange County is working with area Orthodox churches to make sure that working poor families will not have to choose between food or shelter this Christmas.

Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday

A word from Metropolitan Philip:

“I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say 'Amen' at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.” ( l Corinthians I4: I5-I 7).

Beloved In Christ,

As we gather together each day and each week to participate in the liturgical life of our Church, and celebrate the mysteries of our Faith, we realize that none of this would be possible if it were not for the presence of our faithful chanters, choir directors and choir members. They are there not simply to sing the hymns and responses for us, as if we were coming to listen to a concert of Orthodox music each week. Rather, they are there to help guide and lead us all in our worship of God, as we give thanks to Him who given us this life through our own perfect offering and sacrifice of praise.

Katie Wilcoxson Serves As OCMC Missionary in Tanzania

Katie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatherine Wilcoxson, daughter of Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas, has always wanted to find ways to serve. "In Tanzania," says OCMC's website,  "Katherine is dedicating her training and experience as a registered nurse to the Orthodox Church’s Resurrection Hospital. Because Tanzania is one of the many African countries plagued with treatable diseases and poverty, this ministry of preventive healthcare and health education is vital." 

Now that she's newly settled in her mission assignment, Katie took a moment to tell her story. 

From an early age I have loved helping others. During middle school and high school, I was the youngest regular volunteer at the local food bank. The year I graduated from high school, I learned about the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). In 2000, I went on my first OCMC short-term trip to Alaska. In the following two years I also went on short-term trips to Guatemala and Tanzania. I had a real connection with the people of Tanzania, and I knew I would return as a long-term missionary.

Antiochian Priest Launches Patristic Nectar Publications

Fr. Josiah Trenham, priest at St. Andrew Orthodox Church of Riverside, California, recently launched a website "dedicated to sharing the sweet teachings and timeless traditions of the early Christian writers." States the site' introduction, "Patristic Nectar Publications is a non-profit California business created to advance the cause of the Orthodox Christian faith by the publication of materials for catechesis designed both for the edification of Orthodox believers and the illumination of a wide array of non-Orthodox inquirers. Our publications are marked by zealous fidelity to the mind of the Orthodox Church as expressed in the writings of the Holy Fathers and produces a wide range of patristic audio books in order to bring the wealth of Sacred Tradition to a generation attuned to listening rather than reading."

At Patristic Nectar Publications, browsers can listen to audio presentations of timely topics such as "An Address on Vainglory and the Proper Upbringing of Children" by St. John Chrysostom, and "The Soul After Death," by St. John Maximovitch of San Francisco. The site also hosts sacred music selections, Fr. Josiah's Arena blog, the Arena podcasts, and information about St. Andrew parish.  

St. Nicholas Cathedral of Los Angeles Profiled in LA Times

St. Nicholas CathedralSt. Nicholas CathedralOn December 4, an article in the esteemed Los Angeles Times featured St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral, see of His Grace Bishop Joseph. The piece, titled "At 60, a church blends Arabic, English and Spanish," described the Cathedral's outreach into the community of Latino families that live in the parish's neighborhood, and the adaptive liturgical schedule that includes an 8 a.m. Spanish liturgy, followed by the 10 a.m. Arabic and English liturgy.

"We are in this neighborhood, we want to do outreach to our neighbors," Father Michel Najim, Cathedral Dean, explained to the Times reporter. "When you live in a community that has a cultural background, [we] need to open up to other cultures and other denominations."

The article describes how at the Cathedral's Mediterranean festival in June, tacos are sold alongside the traditional Middle Eastern foods of falafel, shawarma and kebabs. About 1,500 families are members at St. Nicholas.

Go here to read the article in full.

An Unimaginable Experience

By Mary Salim, Antiochian Village Camper

St. George Church, Little Falls, New Jersey

“Just thirteen insignificant days at camp, out of the seventy-five days of the carefree summer, will fly by with hardly any memories,” was what I said to myself the entire time before I reached the Antiochian Village, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I dreaded the mere thought of having to go, and the activities that I eventually would do with absolute strangers. You need to know this if you’re going to see how beautifully I was surprised. 

I was presented with many joys to the eyes: the countless trees wavering in the winds, flowers blooming, shaking shrubs in which little animals lived, different-colored stones in the earth, the hills screening the horizon, and singular birds soaring through enormous blue skies. Being in the midst of God’s wonderful creations moved me; I felt blessed and in harmony on God’s good earth, as if I were in His beautiful Garden of Eden. This peaceful scene struck me as a preview of heaven, a foresight of our ultimate destination, to be one with God in Paradise.

Abiding in God This Nativity Season

By Fr. John Abdalah

In a discussion about donuts at coffee hour, a parishioner asked me what he gets from the Church besides donuts! “Opportunities,” I replied. "The Church gives you the opportunity to be the Christian you were baptized to be."

From the Director’s Desk

Greetings in the name of Our Lord,

I finished reading the book Soul Searching recently and believe that it has a great deal to say to those involved with the catechesis of children and youth. The authors, Christian Smith and Melissa Lundquist Denton, conducted a research project to find out about the religious and spiritual lives of today’s youth. The subject of my essay “Christianity’s Mis-begotten Child” is one of several topics treated in the book. Although the researchers surveyed mainly Protestant youth, the results are important to us too, as we live in a predominantly Protestant culture. My title ties the secularization of Christmas to the beliefs expressed by the majority of youth surveyed.

One major finding of the researchers was that today’s Christians are very inarticulate about their faith.

Two Antiochian Christians Publish "The Nativity of Christ" for Children

St. Stylianos Books was founded by Lily Parascheva Rowe to publish books she has written with illustrator Roland J Ford. Both attend Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum MD. In looking for children's books for her children, Rowe found that there wasn't much Bible story material available in English to give her children something to return to again and again--without the need for parental revisions or additions in order to make the Bible story books truly Orthodox.

Astounded by the overall lack of material in English for Orthodox children, Lily started writing books which combine elements from iconography and the hymnography of the Church, while interweaving these things with the Traditional narrative of the Church. "The main difference a reader will notice between these books and typical Bible story books is the completion of the narrative," she explains.

St. Vladimir's Seminary Presents Premiere Performance of St. Matthew Passion

St. Vladimir's Seminary's website has announced that the Seminary will be presenting a premiere performance of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev's moving St. Matthew Passion choral work, which blends the Church's liturgical texts with St. Matthew's Gospel story.

Reports the site, "On Monday, February 7, 2011, St. Vladimir’s Seminary will present the U.S. English-language premiere of the piece at 7:30 p.m. at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 405 West 59th Street, New York City.

Maestro Carlo Ponti, Jr. will conduct the performance, with The Salomé Chamber Orchestra, famed soloists soprano Mary Mackenzie, mezzo-soprano Ana Mihanovic, and tenor Timothy Parsons, and the New York Virtuoso Singers led by Harold Rosenbaum, under his baton. As a prelude to the season of Great Lent, the composition will convey the Gospel account—using scriptural texts interspersed with texts of the liturgical services of the Orthodox Church that are normally sung during Holy Week—in the forms of music recitative, choruses, fugues, and arias.

The composer, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, who is Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations and an episcopal member of Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, will also be present at the premiere. His musical expertise and reputation are renowned; he studied composition at Moscow Gnessins School of Music and subsequently at the Moscow State Conservatory. In 1987 he was ordained priest, and since 2002 he has been a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church."

Go here for the full story and ticket information.

Advent Reflections by Fr. Thomas Hopko on Antiochian.org

Once again during the Nativity season, Antiochian.org brings our readers a collection of excerpts from The Winter Pascha by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

"When the winter begins to make way into the Northern World, the Church of Christ begins to celebrate a 'splendid three-day Pascha'." Thus Father Thomas Hopko begins the first of forty meditations for the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, ending with the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple on the fortieth day after Christ's birth. A protopresbyter in the Orthodox Church and Dean Emeritus at St. Vladimir's Seminary, Fr. Hopko is a popular speaker and podcaster, and the author of numerous articles and books. In this book, Fr. Thomas draws upon the rich liturgical life of the Church as well as contemporary writers, to present thoughtful meditations focused on the preparation and celebration of Christ's birth.

Many thanks to the SVS Press staff for their kind permission and assistance. Go here to order a copy of The Winter Pascha.

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