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Featured Parish: St. George Church + Cicero, Illinois

The Miraculous Lady of Cicero, IllinoisFrom the St. George Church web site:

Orthodox Christians from the Middle East began to arrive in Illinois in the early part of the 20th century. At first, they were served by itinerant priests from Michigan City, Indiana, and later from Spring Valley, Illinois. However, for decades, there were never enough families in Chicago to constitute their own parish. Many in the Chicago area worshipped in the local Greek Churches or belonged to the common Melkite/Maronite parish of St. John the Baptist.

In 1960, several families petitioned the late Metropolitan ANTONY (Bashir) to send them a priest to serve the Divine Liturgy. Services were held at the Syrian-Lebanese Club House on Washington Boulevard and Laramie Avenue on Chicago's West Side or in rented quarters. Among the first priests to serve on a weekend basis was the Rev. Fr. Philip Giffin, who commuted from Buffalo, New York. Later, priests from the Greek Diocese of Chicago served periodically at St. George. The Rev. Fr. John Newcombe served as the first resident priest for the parish from 1965 to 1966.

Archdiocese Synod of Bishops Meets in Boston, MA

His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East presided over a meeting of the Archdiocese Synod of Bishops on Friday, October 31st, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts.

From left to right: Bishop MARK, Bishop THOMAS, Bishop JOSEPH, Metropolitan PHILIP, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV, Bishop ANTOUN, Bishop LUKA (Patriarchal Auxiliary Bishop), Bishop ALEXANDER.

Bishop BASIL could not attend due to a previous commitment in Houston, Texas.

His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV

Why Does the Church Exist?

On Saturday, Nov. 15, Fr. Alexander Atty will conduct a workshop at St. George Church, Indianapolis, IN. All are encouraged to attend and learn about the work that Christ gave His Church to do and about the role of clergy and laity in this work. Note that attendance in at least one parish council workshop is a prerequisite for nomination for parish council. However, attendance is encouraged regardless of whether participants intend to seek to serve on the council. As we learn more about the work Christ calls us to do and role each is to play, we have the potential to work together in peace and harmony for the building up of the Body of Christ.  The workshop will start at 10 a.m. and will finish by 3 p.m.

President Calls for Constitutional Amendment Protecting Marriage

Click here to read the complete text of Federal Marriage Amendment - H.J. Res 56 


For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 24, 2004

Remarks by the President
The Roosevelt Room
10:43 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Eight years ago, Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

The Act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342 to 67, and the Senate by a vote of 85 to 14. Those congressional votes and the passage of similar defensive marriage laws in 38 states express an overwhelming consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

President George W. Bush delivers a statement regarding the sanctity of marriage in the Roosevelt Room Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004. In recent months, however, some activist judges and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage. In Massachusetts, four judges on the highest court have indicated they will order the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender in May of this year. In San Francisco, city officials have issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California family code. That code, which clearly defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, was approved overwhelmingly by the voters of California. A county in New Mexico has also issued marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. And unless action is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation, more defiance of the law by local officials, all of which adds to uncertainty.

10 Members Join the Order of St. Ignatius

10 members join the Order in Los Altos Hills, CA: October 26, 2008

Submission Guidelines

Articles submitted for consideration should contain a brief biography of the author. The Word is not able to accept advertisements from sources other than the archdiocesan office, with the exception of diocesan conference announcements. Each conference committee is allowed three quarter-page ads per year. Communities in Action submissions should include a high-quality photograph with a caption, and an endorsement by the pastor of the community. Letters to the editor should be signed and kept to a maximum of 150 words. All submitted materials become the property of The Word, are subject to editing for space and content, and cannot be returned. It is preferred that submission be e-mailed to

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The Word
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The Western Rite Commission

The Western Rite Commission consists of:

The Western Rite Vicariate is administered by

Featured Author of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Fr. John Oliver

Fr. John Oliver Fr. John Oliver is the priest of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is the author of numerous articles and essays, and of Touching Heaven: Discovering Orthodox Christianity on the Island of Valaam, published by Conciliar Press. A graduate of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, he joined the faculty as instructor in Old and New Testament and American Religious History.  He and his wife Lara have three daughters and one son.

Fr. John Oliver also broadcasts the Hearts and Minds podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.


The Story

by Fr. John Oliver
Touching Heaven

The curtains fill with faint breeze and tease away from the open window, then hang still again. I cannot sleep. In several minutes the clock beside my bed will ring as I have programmed it to do. I hear no sound but the soft rustle of swaying leaves. Time has passed unnoticed. It is night-one hour before the Easter Pascha Liturgy.

I dress, then move quietly through the house. There is nothing to take to the temple but the usual-joy from the astonishing events that will unfold this night, guilt from another Lent of scattered effort, and hope of meeting Christ, who welcomes the eleventh-hour people. Somehow, though, feelings are irrelevant. Indeed, something infinitely more interesting is moving toward center stage. The dark corners in every fold of the universe rumble in anticipation as the priest readies his vestments and the choir arranges the hymns.

I pat my pockets, listening for the familiar jingle of coins and car keys. The money is needed for a meal at an all-night restaurant; the keys for transporting my hungry body there after the Liturgy. I walk through the living room, brushing with my fingertips the wall holding the icon of the Mother of God. Traveling light, I open the front door and step into a humid Florida night. Faint blue-and-white shades of television screens flicker from nearby homes. It is the only evidence of life I can see, and I imagine that they shine upon the bodies of sleeping men and women.

Keeping Students Connected to the Church

by Fr. Kevin Scherer

“Keeping Our College Students Connected to the Church” is a tagline for Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). You’ll find it throughout our literature and even on our stationery. It says concisely what we believe to be our primary mission. I’ve spent hours thinking about it, talking about it, and wrestling with it. To be honest, I think it needs some unpacking, some clarification.

When I see the word “keeping,” I wonder whether some people unconsciously expect OCF to handcuff students to the church pew—because we know what’s best for them! The word “keeping” conveys the idea of preservation. The question is: What are we preserving? It’s helpful, I think, to reflect on the why, what, how, and who of keeping students connected to the Church.

If I were to ask you why we should keep our students connected to the Church, you would probably respond by underscoring the importance of community. We want our students to remain connected to the communities we value—our families, ethnic identities, and religious heritage. Deep down inside, all of us know that communion is what life is all about: communion with family, friends, and God. In fact, we know that our fundamental human need is to be in communion with one another.

Featured Author of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Fr. Kevin Scherer

Fr. Kevin Scherer Fr. Kevin Scherer is the executive director for both Orthodox Youth Outreach (OYO) and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), and the former pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Orinda, CA. He lives with his wife and three daughters in Spokane, WA.


A Call to Serve

by Fr. Kevin Scherer


Today, most of us in the Church are familiar with the old adage that ten percent of the people do ninety percent of the work. The real statistics may be even grimmer. The Church is full of burned-out priests and stressed-out parishioners who regularly make real sacrifices for the good of the local parish, only to find that their personal offerings are met with indifference and criticism. 

Discouragement and even despair run rampant in the Church. Year after year, the Church loses more and more good workers because they simply refuse to put up with the stress anymore. Despite the best strategies and creative ideas of these few, most of the members of the average parish seem comfortable with a passive role and unwilling to change. Who can blame the workers who have given up? Many of them have suffered personal health problems and family strife due to the stress of their commitment. In many cases, priests even feel guilty asking for help, because they know what eventually awaits the eager response of the innocent and naive.

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart, For They Shall See God

by Kh. Maggie Hock

WHEN PARENTS AT THE TIME OF CHRIST brought their children to Him for a blessing, the disciples rebuked them. However, our Lord commanded them, “‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them” (Matthew 19:13–15). Christ did not dismiss the children because of their youth and inexperience; instead, He brought them close and honored them with His blessing.

Everything about a little child speaks of his innocence and trust. Their refreshingly innocent spirit inspires us as parents to live a life that honors their trust. Children love with their whole heart, a love that inspires us to see God’s unconditional love. And little children believe completely in their parents’ ability to protect them, which inspires us to live a life that provides the direction and security required for their healthy growth and maturity.

A child’s very nature provides a context in which parents are inspired to provide the best possible life experiences for them. A natural synergy develops in the parent-child relationship. As the parent loves and provides for the child, the child returns that love and motivates parents to do their best job in representing God’s love in the context of this intimate human experience.

Parents are for the child the first door to the Kingdom of God. By the way the parents live a godly life, they provide the first example of God’s love and care. Saint Theophan the Recluse (The Path to Salvation) advises that “the upbringing in the home is the root and foundation of everything that follows.” Setting a right foundation, then, is the first priority of the parent for the child. When an infant has such a beginning in life, there is little that can change his belief later as he matures. The foundation of belief becomes a part of the concrete, so to speak, that hardens and forms the person the child grows into.

About Kh. Maggie Hock

Khouriya Maggie Hock is the North American Director of the Antiochian Department of Marriage & Parish Family Ministries. A fully licensed and credientialed Psychotherapist and Mediator (LMHP, CPC, LPC), specializing in crisis and trauma, individual, marital, parenting, group therapy and corporate dynamics. Degrees: B.A. Organizational Management, M.A. Management, M.S. Counseling with a Superior Scholar designation at Creighton University. She in currently completing a Psy D.

Kh. Maggie has worked for many years counseling and redirecting the lives of chronically ill and addicted homeless, felons and prostitutes, serving as the Director of Recovery Services for the Siena/Francis House in Omaha, Nebraska.  She worked for Fr. Flanagan’s Boys Town as a Crisis Counselor and Parent Training Expert. Kh. Maggie has counseled countless individuals in crisis on their International Crisis Line where the mission is “Any problem, any age, any time.” She maintains an active Psychotherapy practice counseling from an Orthodox Christian perspective.

Recently Kh. Maggie was awarded the St. Catherine of Siena Award for healing work with the homeless. She is a member of International Who’s Who Historical Society for “having demonstrated exemplary achievement and distinguished contributions to the business community.” Kh. Maggie was a writer on the Orthodox Study Bible- Old Testament Project and past Chairperson of the Communication Committee for the OCMC Board of Directors. Kh. Maggie has been married to the V. Rev. Fr. Don Hock for over thirty-eight years parenting five children and enjoying seven grandchildren. They have been serving the St. Mary Orthodox Parish in Omaha since 1992. Previously they served as missionaries to Western Europe where they ministered in numerous multicultural communities.

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What kinds of content does the Department of Internet Ministry welcome for publication on the website of the Archdiocese?

Please send us informative and inspirational articles, stories, news, events, and resources that pertain to the people and ministries of our Archdiocese. Articles can also relate to other pan-Orthodox institutions, but only if there is a clear Antiochian connection or relationship. Stories should have the blessing of your bishop, priest, or ministry leader.

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Placing Impossible Standards on Ourselves

by Fr. George Morelli

Chaplain's Corner

Sometimes we set up unrealistic goals and objectives for ourselves that are impossible for us to attain. This does not mean that we should not aim high, that is: to work at achieving all we are capable of achieving. In fact, this is an important motivating factor in our lives. However, failure will follow if we strive to attain goals that are of themselves unrealistic based on a true assessment of our talents. Unrealistic goals are barriers to achievement and in the end serve to block motivation and frustrate hard work.

What do the Converts Want?

By Terry Mattingly

It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies to tell the difference between a Southern Baptist church and an Orthodox church. You can get some pretty good clues just by walking in the door and looking around. But there are some similarities between the two that might be a little trickier to spot. For instance, let me tell you about what life is like on Sunday nights in a Southern Baptist congregation.

Baptists worship at several different times during the week -- at least they did in the old days when I was growing up as a Southern Baptist pastor's son. One of those times is on Sunday nights. Back in the early 1980s, I was active in a church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in which the typical Sunday morning crowd would be about 200 to 300 people, which is rather small for a Baptist church, but fairly normal for an Orthodox parish. Then the crowd on Sunday night would be from 40 to 45 people.

Now, that ratio should sound familiar to many priests who lead Vespers services. But the similarities don’t stop there.

Before the age of 30, I became a deacon and the finance chairman of that church -- which, in the Southern Baptist way of doing things, meant that I was the only person, not excluding the pastor, who saw the annual pledge cards. I was the only person in the congregation who knew who was giving what.

Featured Author of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Terry Mattingly

Terry Mattingly Terry Mattingly is a syndicated journalist and teacher who focuses on religion. He directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and also writes the weekly “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service, which is sent to about 350 newspapers in North America. His writing also appears in The Lookout,, Again Magazine, among numerous other publications. He leads the website that critiques the mainstream media's coverage of religion news.

Terry Mattingly and his family are members of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland.

Visit Terry Mattingly's home page.


What do the Converts Want?

By Terry Mattingly

It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies to tell the difference between a Southern Baptist church and an Orthodox church. You can get some pretty good clues just by walking in the door and looking around. But there are some similarities between the two that might be a little trickier to spot. For instance, let me tell you about what life is like on Sunday nights in a Southern Baptist congregation.

Baptists worship at several different times during the week -- at least they did in the old days when I was growing up as a Southern Baptist pastor's son. One of those times is on Sunday nights. Back in the early 1980s, I was active in a church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in which the typical Sunday morning crowd would be about 200 to 300 people, which is rather small for a Baptist church, but fairly normal for an Orthodox parish. Then the crowd on Sunday night would be from 40 to 45 people.

Now, that ratio should sound familiar to many priests who lead Vespers services. But the similarities don’t stop there.

Before the age of 30, I became a deacon and the finance chairman of that church -- which, in the Southern Baptist way of doing things, meant that I was the only person, not excluding the pastor, who saw the annual pledge cards. I was the only person in the congregation who knew who was giving what.


The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has been involved with ecumenical dialogue since the advent of the Faith and Order movement in the 1920's. In the United States of America the Federal Council of Churches of Christ approached Archbishop Antony (Bashir), Metropolitan of the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York and North America, to join them in 1936. Metropolitan Antony joined the council for two main reasons: 1) membership would provide the necessary authenticity and exposure for Orthodox Christianity in the US, and 2) reassurance from the council that it would ask for no money for the archdiocese’s membership. This became the principle rule for our archdiocese’s ecumenical participation for many years, including membership in the newly-formed National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCC) in 1950.

In 1969, Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) led the change of the archdiocese’s name to the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of New York and all North America. In 1975, Metropolitan Philip and Archbishop Michael (Shaheen) of the Archdiocese of Toledo and Dependencies effected the union of the two North American Antiochian Archdioceses. The unified Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America continues to be involved in inter-Orthodox activities and ecumenically in several areas: 1) The Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA); 2) the newly-forming Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT); 3) Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation; 4) Orthodox-Lutheran Theological Consultation; 5) World Council of Churches (WCC) membership through the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

Since 1975, the archdiocese’s active involvement in ecumenism is based on several principles, which were best expressed in a report of the “Special SCOBA Commission on Ecumenical Relations” regarding membership in the NCCC, 1992, and which follow:

Appeal to Health Care Providers

The Hauran Connection

Dear to Christ Physicians, Dentists, Nurses, and Healthcare Providers,

The Hauran Connection is a sister diocese program between the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America (DOWAMA) and the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran in Syria. The DOWAMA Fellowship of St. John the Divine is collecting funds to support five programs of the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran: parish support, clergy support, a kindergarten program, a food box program, and a medical program. We believe that physicians, dentists, nurses, and healthcare providers within DOWAMA are capable of funding the medical clinic sponsored by His Eminence, Metropolitan SABA, and his Archdiocese. We seek your help.

What is needed?

v Salaries for two physicians: $4800 per year total

v Medical equipment and supplies

Upcoming Broadcasts on Come Receive the Light

Upcoming features on Orthodox Christian Network's Come Receive the Light broadcast:

Current Feature: Orthodoxy and Ecumenism
with Fr. John McGuckin.

Fr. John McGuckin, noted scholar and host of an OCN podcast series called "Turning to the Fathers," discusses important points of distinction between Orthodox Christianity and other Christian confessions, including the idea of "sola scriptura," the role of tradition, the communion of the saints and more.

October 17th: Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922
with Giles Milton.

Giles Milton, an international best-selling author, talks about his newest book, "Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922." Giles tells the largely unknown story of the destruction of Smyrna, an extraordinary, heterogeneous and tolerant city with a large Orthodox Christian population — a disaster that would prefigure the coming clash of civilizations between East and West.

October 24th: Time Management
with Dr. Albert Rossi.

Dr. Albert Rossi of St. Vladimir's Seminary offers some practical steps to help us set aside more time for family, relationships and meaningful spiritual growth in a busy world.

Smart Parenting XIV. Talking To Children About Same-Sex "Marriage"

By Fr. George Morelli


Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord (Romans 12: 9,11).



North American Board (NAB) Information

The North American Board ("NAB") is the governing board of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America on the Archdiocesan level and cover the continental United States and Canada.

The NAB is under the direction of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The NAB functions to provide consistency of information, programs, etc., throughout the Archdiocese by distributing materials to the seven Diocesan Boards. The Diocesan Boards – through their Officers and Coordinators – seek to help individual churches and missions establish women's groups in their communities, distribute materials from the NAB, and participate in the annual NAB "Project" as tasked to us by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph.

The NAB meets twice a year - in February/March for the Mid-Winter gathering, and in July (either at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center or at a convention site). All women throughout the Archdiocese are welcome to participate in these gatherings. Please contact your church's local chapter president for more information.

You are urged to reach out to any of the Officers and Coordinators listed below via email with suggestions, ideas, and recommendations.

Updated September 2017

Dianne M. O'Regan

Vice President/NAB Project
Kh. Suzanne Murphy

Recording Secretary
Sheryl VanderWagen

Fadia Juzdan

Public Relations
Melinda Bentz

Spiritual Advisor
Right Rev. Bishop John P. Abdalah

Immediate Past President
Violet K. Robbat

Metropolitan SABA to Speak at 2009 DOWAMA PLC

Met SABA and Bp BASILHis Eminence Metropolitan SABA, Archbishop of Bosra-Hauran, will be the keynote speaker at the 2009 Parish Life Conference of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. The PLC will be held during the fast-free week after Pentecost from June 10-13, 2009. The host parish will be St. Mary Church in Wichita, Kansas.

For more information on Metropolitan SABA and the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran, please visit The Hauran Connection, the web page for the Sister Diocese Program between Wichita and Bosra-Hauran.

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