Parish Life Conference Season Ends; Archdiocese Convention Begins July 24
When asked for a statement summarizing the Parish Life Conference season just ending, Fr. Michael Ellias, co-chair of the Dept. of Conventions and Conference Planning, said humorously, "Thank God they are over!" PLC host parishes breathe a sigh of relief when the conferences are successfully completed, and Antiochian Christians who attend know why: they are a huge undertaking, requiring years of planning and legions of volunteers. This year's lively PLC's, which as always could be described as family reunions but on a large scale, were packed with events, starting with morning services and extending beyond evening vespers. The conferences took place over two long weekends, June 15-19 and June 28-July 3.
Fr. John K. Teebagy, pastor of the Church of St. John of Damascus, host of a PLC in June, describes the Worcester and New England Conference. "This year the Church of St. John of Damascus of Dedham, MA hosted the 73rd Parish Life Conference of the Diocese of Worcester and New England at the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis, MA, which is located on beautiful Cape Cod and served as the summer White House for President John F. Kennedy. For the second year in a row, the diocese was pleased and honored to welcome His Grace Bishop Thomas as our presiding hierarch.The conference included all of the events usually associated with a PLC, including daily liturgical services, the Bible Bowl, Oratorical Festival, awards brunch, organizational meetings and the very popular and traditional Grand Hufli on Saturday night. We were especially pleased to welcome Dr. Anthony Bashir, a member of the archdiocese Board of Trustees. Dr. Bashir presented an 'Enlivening to Christ' session dealing with conflict and reconciliation in the parish.
Whenever we gather in the name of Christ’s Church, our gathering is crowned by the celebration of the Eucharist, and the Hierarchical Liturgy celebrated by Saidna Thomas and the clergy of the New England Deanery was no exception. As it was the Sunday of All Saints, Saidna, in his homily, reminded of all of us of our calling to be called a saint of the Church. By living the life God created for us, being united to God in prayer and emulating the life of those saints gone before us, we too have that possibility."
Conferences mirror the regional areas they serve: parishioners from the Dioceses of Charleston and New York enjoyed the sights and sounds of Baltimore's Inner Harbor thanks to the hosting and hard work of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church of Baltimore. In southern California, two parishes co-hosted the Diocese of Los Angeles gathering, St. Mark Church, Irvine and St. Barnabas Church, Costa Mesa.
The appealing invitation for the Diocese of Miami's PLC read, "It's His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos and it's the Mississippi River. It's the Bible Bowl and it's Beale Street. It's the Home of St. John Orthodox Church and it's the Birthplace of Rock & Roll. It's the 2011 Parish Life Conference for the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, it's in Memphis, and you're invited." In the meantime, the Diocese of Ottawa promised "4 days of family fun, fellowship and spiritual growth" and conference attendees found that to be true in the Delta Meadowvale Resort and Conference Centers in Mississauga, Ontario. Midwesterners enjoyed gathering with Metropolitan Philip as their honored guest, at the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest's 64th Parish Life Conference hosted by St. George Antiochian Church of Cleveland, Ohio. Down in Shreveport, Louisiana, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church extended a warm southern welcome to the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.
Barely able to catch a breath after the end of the PLC season, Antiochians are gearing up for the granddaddy of all conferences and conventions, the upcoming 50th Biennial Convention in Chicago, IL, from July 24-31.