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Herman Acker Ordained to Holy Priesthood

Fr. Noah Bushelli writes:

Our long-term deacon at St. Philip Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania, Herman Acker, was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by His Grace Bishop Thomas on October 9, 2016. Fr. Herman has been celebrating forty days of liturgies with the solemnity, joy, focus, and calmness for which we love him. It has been a joy and a blessing and an honor for me to serve with him these ten years and then to guide him and serve him as he spreads his pastoral wings wherever God's will blows him through the voice of our Bishop Thomas and the confirmation of our Metropolitan Joseph. Fr. Herman's recent teaching to us after these liturgies has been about the reality of God's presence in our life when we receive the Holy Eucharist and also about growing in prayer by faithfully following the liturgical forms that have been handed to us. I've been reflecting on each liturgy as a celebration, a remembrance, and a proclamation of Christ's life (1 Corinthians 11:26). May God grant him, Kh. Veronica, and their boys many blessed years of health, prosperity, spiritual vigor, and apostolic labor!

Remembrance and Ordination at St. Philip Church + Souderton, PA

Fr. Noah Bushelli writes:

And of His fullness we have all receive, and grace for grace. (John 1:16)

We are always overflowing with God's grace, but sometimes we don't realize it. Recently, though, at St. Philip Church (Souderton, Pennsylvania), God's generosity has been too much for even my hard heart to ignore. 

First, we recently said goodbye to our beloved founding pastor, Fr. Boniface Black. He was a great man with a big heart and many years of pastoral and missionary success.

Episcopal Visit and Elevation at St. Paul Church + Emmaus, PA

The parishioners of St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania had the supreme joy of combining their annual visit from their beloved father and chief-pastor His Grace Bishop Thomas with the elevation of their pastor Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick to the rank of Archpriest over the weekend of October 1st and 2nd, 2016 in recognition of his service to the parish and the Church as a whole. The pastoral visit began with Bishop Thomas' meeting with the men of the parish for breakfast on Saturday morning, and then with the women for lunch at midday. That evening, Fr. Andrew celebrated Great Vespers as Bishop Thomas presided from the throne.

The next morning Orthros was chanted and Bishop Thomas served Hierarchical Liturgy. Concelebrating were Fr. Andrew; the V. Rev. Archpriest Olof Scott, dean emeritus of St. George Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, where Fr. Andrew served his first two years as a priest; as well as Rev. Dn. David Keim of All Saints Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Fr. Andrew was received as a convert to Orthodoxy in 1998. Also assisting were seminarians Marshall Goodge and Joseph Clark. Shortly before the final dismissal, Bishop Thomas prayed over Fr. Andrew before giving him a pectoral cross, accompanied by shouts of "Axios! Mustahiq! He is worthy!" from the assembled congregation and visiting family. In his address following, Bishop Thomas stressed that archpriests are meant to serve as exemplars to other clergy, and their parishes as exemplars to other parishioners throughout the archdiocese.

Address to the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation 18th International Conference

Keynote address given October 15th, 2016 by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) 18th International Conference:

On behalf of my 270 parish communities of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese in North America, I thank you for your invitation to address the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation 18th International Conference.

I am grateful to the Board of Directors of the Foundation for bestowing upon me this special award, which I accept on behalf of all Antiochian Orthodox Christians in North America, who have and will continue to support their brethren in the Holy Land during these difficult times.

The theme of this conference "Forging a New Bond of Solidarity for Equality, Prosperity, and Peace," shall be addressed by distinguished scholars and academic speakers. However, I, as a religious leader, would like to make this presentation based on spirituality.

Metropolitan Joseph Offers Encouragement, Solutions for Christians Struggling in Holy Land

Although a shadow of death constantly hovers over them as a religious minority in the Holy Land and the Middle East, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph shared a saying of Christians living there: "We live in a land that has already experienced resurrection, so we always have hope." During his recent visit to Washington, D.C., Sayidna Joseph accepted an award for the Antiochian Archdiocese and gave the keynote address to the 18th International Conference of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF).

On Friday night, October 14, 2016, His Eminence gratefully received the "Living Stones Solidarity Award" as HCEF honored the Archdiocese's long history of caring for Palestinian Christians seeking spiritual support in North America. "This award is not bestowed only upon me as a Metropolitan," Sayidna said, "but upon our Archdiocese, which encompasses faithful believers from all cultures, nationalities, and races."

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + October 18, 2016

Ephesians 5:25-33
Luke 9:44-50

Ephesians 5:25-33 (NKJV)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

2017 Winter Camp St. Raphael

Wounded by Love
with Fr. James Coles
Download Flyer (PDF)

WHEN: JANUARY 13-16, 2017
WHERE: CAMP ST. RAPHAEL (CAMP TAKATOKA)
WHO: 7TH GRADERS-HIGH-SCHOOL SENIORS
COST: $125 CAMPER $100 ADVISER
REGISTER ONLINE: WWW.WINTERCAMP.EVENTBEE.COM

The Diocese of Wichita Winter Camp 2017 (WAMP) will take place at Camp St. Raphael in Wagoner, Oklahoma from January 13th-16th, 2017, and the guest speaker will be Fr. James Coles. Registration will be online at www.wintercamp.eventbee.com.

Questions? Contact DOWAMA Youth Director Erin Ghata at erin.ghat@gmail.com.

2017 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

2017 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat
February 7th-10th, 2017
Spiritual Life Center + Wichita, KS
Theme: Witnessing to Our Faith before the World

Featuring guest speaker Metropolitan John (Pelushi) of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania

DOWAMA'S 45th Annual Clergy Brotherhood Retreat will be held at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas, Tuesday-Friday, February 7th-10th, 2017.

The guest speaker will be Metropolitan John (Pelushi) of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. The theme for the retreat will be "Witnessing to our Faith before the World" which His Eminence will address in seven talks. 

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + October 12, 2016

Ephesians 3:8-21
Luke 8:22-25

Galatians 3:8-21 (NKJV)
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

October 12, 2016 + The Virtue of St. Martin of Tours

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue of Ohrid: Lives of the Saints, October 12th

By what virtue have the saints been most exalted and glorified in the eyes of heaven and men? Primarily by their humility and service. Even before his baptism, while he was still an officer, St. Martin had a servant whom he considered more a brother than a servant. He often served this servant unashamedly; in fact, he even rejoiced in it. Again, when St. Hilary wanted to ordain him a priest, he refused this honor with tears, and begged the bishop to let him simply be a monk in some remote place. Once, St. Martin was traveling from France to Pannonia to visit his parents. While he was crossing over the Alps, murderous robbers captured him. When one of the robbers raised his sword to behead him, Martin showed no fear, and remained motionless; he did not beg for mercy but was completely at peace, as if nothing were happening. The robber, amazed at such behavior, lay aside his sword and asked Martin who he was. Martin replied that he was a Christian, and hence, he was not afraid-for he knew that God, according to His great mercy, is always close to men, especially in times of danger.

Fr. Andrew Damick Elevated to Archpriest

AXIOS! On October 2, 2016 His Grace Bishop Thomas elevated Fr. Andrew Damick to the dignity of Archpriest at Fr. Andrew's home parish of St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. May God grant him many years!

October 5, 2016 + On the Good That Is Shown

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue of Ohrid: Lives of the Saints, October 5th

There be many who say, Who will show us any good? (Psalm 4:6).

My brethren, great is God's goodness. What words can express that goodness? Great is the goodness of the Heavenly Kingdom with its fiery angels, wonderful saints, and the sweetness of Paradise. Who can describe this goodness? Immortal life, close to God and the angels of God, in the company of the saints and the righteous, is a great good. Another great good will be our meeting with our kinsmen and friends in the heavenly world; with our parents, our children, and our most beloved ones, who by their departure left us in sadness and grief. Who will show us all that good? Many asked this in King David's time, and many ask even today. Who will show it to us, so that we may believe and hope?

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + October 5, 2016

Galatians 6:2-10
Luke 6:46-7:1

Galatians 6:2-10 (NKJV)
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Recent Ordinations and Elevations + October 2016

From the October 2016 issue of The Word:

Ordained

ABERNATHY, Deacon Paul, to the holy priesthood by Bishop Thomas on August 27, 2016, at St. George Church, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. Fr. Paul continues to be attached to St. George in Bridge ville, while also serving the Mission Station of St. Moses the Black, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

ATTY, James, to the holy diaconate by Bishop Anthony on September 4, 2016, at St. George Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

CROWE, Thomas, to the holy diaconate by Bishop Basil on Sunday, August 21, 2016, at St. Antony Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is assigned to that parish.

Elevated

SHAWAREB, Priest George, to the rank and dignity of Archpriest by Bishop Basil on September 4, 2016, at St. Elias, Arvada, Colorado.

October 2016 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

St. Peter and St. Paul
Prisoner-Education Study Program

As we look ahead, our Academy prisoner-study program is taking a turn. Working with thousands over 20 years, a shift of emphasis is needed. It will help us better know them and their walk to prison. With this, we can work with them in renewing and restoring their relationship with Jesus Christ, the I AM. It offers a good way to bring them to the fullness of the Lord's Incarnation – His divine Word and unchangeable Wisdom. We will use our verse-by-verse, detailed study of Genesis, the Gospel of John, and Book of Romans, as key. We hope you agree.

A common reality for most of our prisoner-student, is living in the sufferings of broken trust; a harsh reality often in the innocence of childhood – a happening outside their choosing. And as their world fell apart, they moved ever further from the Lord, drawn by false hopes and empty promises of man's wisdom. The outcome: Their troubles followed them to prison - to the bars of the prison cell - now living in surroundings I can not even begin to understand.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

Protection of the Theotokos + October 1

Most holy Mother of God, today we Orthodox joyfully celebrate thy coming among us. As we gaze at thy icon we cry with compunction: Shelter us under thy protection, deliver us from evil, and pray thy Son Christ our God to save our souls.

+ Troparion of the Feast, Tone 4

Today the Virgin is standing before us in the Church praying for us with the choirs of Saints. Angels worship with Hierarchs, Apostles rejoice with Prophets, for the Mother of God intercedes with the Eternal God for us.

+ Kontakion of the Feast, Tone 3

Father Justin Patterson writes: "This feast of the Protection of the Theotokos is neither one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church nor is it a commemoration of any events in the earthly lives of our Lord or His Mother. So why does the Orthodox Church—here in twenty-first-century North America—keep this feast?" Read his reflection here.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + September 28, 2016

Galatians 3:15-22
Luke 5:33-39

Galatians 3:15-22 (NKJV)
Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

September 28, 2016 + On How the Holy Spirit is Sent

from St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359 (Homily 24, 1-2)

A short while ago, with the strong eyes of faith, we beheld Christ ascending, no less clearly than those accounted worthy to be His eye-witnesses. Nor are we less favored than they. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed", says the Lord (Jn. 20:29), referring to those who've found assurance through hearing, and see by faith. Recently we saw Christ lifted up from the ground bodily (Acts 1:9). Now, through the Holy Spirit sent by Him to His disciples, we see how far Christ ascended and to what dignity He carried up the nature He assumed from us. Clearly He went up as high as the place from which the Spirit sent by Him descended. He Who spoke through the prophet Joel showed us whence the Spirit comes, saying "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28), and to Him David addressed the words, "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit; they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth" (Ps. 104:30). It follows that at His ascension Christ went up to the Father on high, as far as His Fatherly bosom, from which comes the Spirit. Having been shown, even in His human form, to share the Father's glory, Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father and is sent by Him from Heaven. But when we hear that the Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son, this does not mean that the Spirit has no part in Their greatness, for He is not just sent, but also Himself sends and consents to be sent.

Wonderful Oktoberfest Celebration in Taybeh

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

We were very blessed to have passed a peaceful and successful Taybeh Oktoberfest this past weekend. I am extremely grateful for your prayers. We had thousands of people attend the two day event and honored by the presence of the American Consul General to Jerusalem at the opening celebration along with many other dignitaries. Glory be to God that it was another amazing festival in the village.

Memory Eternal! + Dn. Bassam Alsweis

Fr. Joseph Abouid of St. George Church in Cicero, Illinois writes:

Dear Brethren in Christ,

It is with a deepened heart that we must inform you of the falling asleep into the Lord of our dear Rev. Dn. Bassam Alsweis. Deacon was an integral cog of our St. George community in Cicero and throughout.

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Cicero offers her sincerest condolences to the Alsweis/Sweis family on the falling asleep of the servant of God, Rev. Dn. Bassam Mikhael Alsweis, who passed into eternal life on Friday afternoon. Dn. Bassam was ordained into the Holy Diaconate in 2004 and has ever since served faithfully at our St. George Cicero parish.

Our sincerest condolences are extended to his wife, Sana, and their children, Natalie and Nicholas. Also, condolences are offered to his mother, Fadwa Sweis, brothers Basil and Khaled (in Jordan) and their families, sisters Manal Sweis and Nawal Sweis (also in Jordan). He is preceded in Christ by his father, Mikhael Sweis(†).

Funeral arrangement information is below:

His Grace Bishop Anthony Michaels will be presiding over the services on Tuesday and Wednesday (9/27 - 9/28).

A Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Tuesday the 27th at 7:00 p.m., followed by a Trisagion Service, and a mercy meal that will be offered by and held at St. George as well.

The Funeral Service will take place the next day, Wednesday the 28th, at 11:00 a.m. at St. George, followed by the burial at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleum (6001 W 111th St, Alsip, IL, 60803), and a mercy meal at St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church (6330 W 127th St, Palos Heights, IL, 60463) offered by the Fuheis Club.

Bible Bowl Information

For current Bible Bowl Information, please visit orthodoxyouth.org/bible-bowl.

Seeking Your Prayers for Taybeh Oktoberfest

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

We are in deep need of your prayers for God's will this weekend in our village. We pray and hope to pass this unique event peacefully and with God's blessings. For those connected with media, you are welcome to reprint, post or use our news in anyway to spread awareness of our existence. We have found a very strange thing to do in expressing non-violent action and peaceful resistance. Please pray for us that we might do things pleasing to the Lord because surely making the first micro-brewed beer on this side of the wall in a 99 percent Muslim population definitely has its sense of humor. Cheers from Taybeh for a lovely weekend to you too wherever you are and that might be in God's Heavenly Kingdom like our most dearest schoolmate Fr. Matthew Gilbert; memory eternal, may the Lord rest his soul in peace. We feel a great loss but always keep our hope in Christ.

Saints of Recent Decades: An Introduction

In our forthcoming blog posts, we will be focusing our attention on saints who have lived in recent decades. (We will use the term "recent" somewhat loosely, as some of them lived more than a hundred years ago, which most children consider to be very, very old.) Our intent is to provide a resource for you that can be used to introduce your Sunday Church School students to saints who they can see in icons but also (at least in most cases) in actual photographs as well. Seeing the photos can help the children to better grasp the reality of the saints' existence, that they are real people who actually lived and struggled just like we do to live an Orthodox Christian life. It is our goal that along the way, all of us will "meet" new friends as we learn about these saints who have walked the earth more recently.

Exploring Bedtime Routines and Other Rituals: An Introduction

This fall we will be focusing our attention on bedtime routines and other rituals. Over the summer we posted a survey that many of you took time to answer for us. Those answers will be a significant portion of some of these posts. The first question on the survey invited respondents to rate the importance of a bedtime routine in their family, on a scale of 1 (having no routine at all) to 10 (using the same routine every night). An overwhelming majority (more than 82%) rated routine at bedtime as having an importance level of 7 or higher. We were curious to see if the general public, beyond our Orthodox Christian Parenting community, considers a regular bedtime as truly important or not. We also wondered whether or not it is important to do the same sequence of events in preparing for bedtime every night. We did a little research, and here is what we found:

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + September 21, 2016

II Corinthians 13:3-13
Mark 4:35-41

II Corinthians 13:3-13 (NKJV)
Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

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