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Reflection on the 2009 Archdiocese Convention

by Fr. William Olnhausen, pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Cedarburg, WI – the article was published in the Church’s Sept. 2009 newsletter:


It was 114 in Palm Desert California the day I arrived & well over 100 every day. Lord have mercy. But our delegate Mike Hubergot off the plane, breathed it in & said "I love it!"

Cheryl Haska also represented St. Nicholas. Our teens Nicole Haska, Abe Newhouse, Lydia Newhouse & Ana Treptow & coach Mary Beth Newhouse, our Midwest Bible winners, represented our Diocese at the national Bible Bowl - which didn't go as well as at the Midwest, but they are still one of the top teams in the Archdiocese. Be very proud of them! It was fun to have so many St. Nicholas people there.

Our Antiochian Archdiocese is doing well financially & spiritually: united, growing, enthusiastic, dynamic. Since 1988 this little Archdiocese has established over 125 new missions, most of which are now self-supporting churches. His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP at age 78 is in fine form & delivered a brilliant keynote address. The worship services, more than 2 hours daily, were well attended and beautifully celebrated. (I am now accustomed to services with 3 metropolitans, 7 bishops, a congregation of 1,000 & a choir of 50!) The many departments of the Archdiocese are doing really good things. Our clergy are high quality.

Metropolitan PHILIP Addresses Archdiocese Convention

Click here to listen to audio of His Eminence's address on Ancient Faith Radio


Be ever mindful of the fruits of your labor

Your Eminence, Your Graces, Beloved Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees, Members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Members of the Antiochian Women, Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Members of SOYO, Parish Councils and the Faithful of our God-protected Archdiocese:

The theme of our convention this year is taken from the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom: “Be mindful, O Lord, of those who bear fruit and do good works in thy holy churches and who remember the poor.” The prayer of the Anaphora continues, “Reward them with thy rich and heavenly gifts; give them things heavenly for things earthly; things eternal for things temporal, things incorruptible for things corruptible. Be mindful, O Lord, of those in the desert, the mountains and in caves; be mindful, O Lord, of all those who live in chastity and godliness.” And in the Ektenia of fervent supplication at Vespers, we sing, “Again we pray for those who bear fruit and do good works in thy holy and all-venerable temple, for those who serve and those who sing.”

Department Report to the 2009 Archdiocese Convention

The Department of Missions and Evangelism

V. Rev. Peter E. Gillquist, chairman


2007-2009 Bi-Annual Report to the 49th Convention of the

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Prepared June 8, 2009


1. New Missions.  Since His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP established a full-time Department of Missions and Evangelism in 1988, the Archdiocese has founded 117 new Eastern Rite missions throughout the United States and Canada, of which 62 have grown to full parishes.  At present we are developing 5 mission projects, and exploring the possibilities for mission starts in over a dozen additional cities and towns.

Photographing Life in the Antiochian Archdiocese

Archdiocese member and Order of St. Ignatius Historian Judy Braun has put together a collection of photo albums open to all Antiochians. On her Public Gallery, browsers can currently find eight albums from the Archdiocese convention. Headings include the Oratorical Festival, the Board of Trustees Luncheon, and the Grand Banquet. All can be viewed at:

“I love taking pictures and I love editing them!” notes Judy, for whom photography is a serious hobby. “Originally, I had 1,500 photos of the Convention that needed editing.” Mother of three and grandmother of two, Judy attends St. Athanasius Church in Goleta, California, where she often photographs weddings and parish events. Her work can also be viewed on the St. Athanasius website.

Judy plans on adding to the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese (“AOCA”) Picasa page, as she attends and photographs different events in the life of the Archdiocese.


Oratorical Festival Winners

At the 2009 Archdiocese Convention in Palm Desert, attendees were treated to the excellent speeches prepared by the diocesan oratorical festival winners. An expert panel of judges deliberated before choosing the grand prize winner for the Senior Division, Joel Schaefer.

Click here to read or hear Joel Schaefer's winning speech.

Click here for an interview with Joel Schaefer. For more audio from the 2009 Oratorical Festival, please visit Ancient Faith Radio.

The Oratorical Festival is a program sponsored by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine. It was designed to serve as an avenue for our youth to learn, enhance and share the knowledge of their faith based on a given topic by giving an oration. For some youth, it is a door into the life of the Church, and for others, it is an expression of their continuing experience of Christ and His Church.

Reflections on the 2009 Archdiocese Convention

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

In response to a popular wish for more information on the subject, it will be useful, I believe, to share my impressions of the recent Archdiocesan Convention. By way of organizing these reflections, I want to consider the varying expectations of those who attended the Convention. After all, those sundry expectations necessarily established the individual criteria for judging whether or not the Convention was a success.

I begin with Metropolitan Philip, who has presided over several such conventions during his long service as our Archbishop. As a steady listener and reader of everything he has to say, I was able to identify only one personal expectation mentioned by the Metropolitan---to wit, that everything at the Convention be public and transparent. He several times spoke of “the light of the sun” to describe what he wanted to prevail at that gathering.

By that criterion, Metropolitan Philip must be pleased by what transpired. He not only insisted on total openness of information at the Convention; he also took direct and effective steps to insure that such a policy would prevail. Chief among these was his provision that each part of the Convention would be broadcast over Ancient Faith Radio.

Metropolitan Philip should receive proper recognition and credit on this point, because the provision for radio coverage required a measure of resolve on his part. I violate no confidences by mentioning there were influential individuals at the Convention who endeavored to undermine the Metropolitan’s policy.

I am very glad he resisted those efforts, because scores of Antiochian Christians all over the country are already listening to those radio recordings and drawing their own conclusions about the Convention. Indeed, I encourage everyone to do so.

A Report from the Antiochian Women Annual Meeting

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America held their annual meeting at the 49th Archdiocese Convention in Palm Desert, California, on Wednesday, July 22, 2009. The meeting was well attended by the Diocesan Presidents, their Spiritual Advisors, and their delegates, along with the Officers and Coordinators of the North American Board of the Antiochian Women. The meeting was presided over by NAB President, Cindy Nimey. The Antiochian Women’s Hierarchical Overseer, Bishop JOSEPH, was also present. The meeting opened with a message from Bishop JOSEPH which revolved around the work of the Antiochian Women and that they must always stay the course of service and spirituality. The Antiochian Women not only worked through their business agenda, but networked and shared their successes at the Diocesan and Local levels.

Click here to listen to audio from the assembly on Ancient Faith Radio.

2009 Archdiocese Convention Concludes

The 2009 Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in Palm Desert, California concluded over the weekend of July 25-26. After Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, the day was taken up with events such as the Oratorical Festival and other youth activities. Attendees enjoyed a banquet and dance on Saturday evening, followed by a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning.

Click here to view more photos of the final days of the convention. The entire Oratorical Festival and the closing banquet program may be heard on Ancient Faith Radio.

Metropolitan PHILIP Addresses Antiochian General Assembly

Click here to listen to Ancient Faith Radio's broadcast His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP's address to the general assembly at the 2009 Archdiocese Convention on Friday, July 24.

The address ran for well over 45 minutes, and covered a wide range of topics, including Metropolitan PHILIP's response to what he termed criticisms of his leadership, particularly those involving finances.

General Assembly Continues on Friday, July 24

Today is the second day of the General Assembly of the Archdiocese Convention. Douglas Cramer and Ginny Nieuwsma, of the Dept. of Internet Ministry, will be updating this post with news from the assembly throughout the day. Ancient Faith Radio will be posting audio segments of the General Assembly throughout the day as well. Please check back as the day progresses for updates.

2:05pm: Extensive discussion continued during and following the report from the Dept. of Legal Affairs. Scheduled new business regarding the 2013 Convention and the appointment and election of Archdiocesan Trustees concluded the General Assembly, which adjourned at 2:00pm with concluding prayers led by Bishop JOSEPH.

1:05pm: Reports followed from the Dept. of Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Ministry, and from Charles Ajalat concerning the new Pan-Orthodox charitable ministry FOCUS North America.

12:50pm: Metropolitan PHILIP's presentation was followed by the report of the Dept. of Finance. Many comments from the floor followed, initiating a lengthy back-and-forth discussion with Metropolitan PHILIP, Robert Laham, the bishops, officers of the Archdiocese, and others, around the topic of the need for and nature of financial audits of the Archdiocese. Much of the discussion centered on the technical details of auditing, what entities would need to be audited, the costs of auditing, auditing requirements and pros and cons, and more. The discussion was closed when a motion was approved to accept the Dept. of Finance report.

General Assembly Begins on Thursday, July 23

Today is the first day of the General Assembly of the Archdiocese Convention. Douglas Cramer and Ginny Nieuwsma, of the Dept. of Internet Ministry, will be updating this post with news from the assembly throughout the day. Ancient Faith Radio will be posting audio segments of the General Assembly throughout the day as well. Please check back as the day progresses for updates.

4:00pm: Reports were delivered by the Dept. of The Word, after which Fr. John Abdalah was presented with bound sets of recent issues of the magazine with a special inscription from Metropolitan PHILIP; the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America; the Dept. of Lay Ministry; and the Dept. of Convention Planning. These were followed by a rousing presentation from Fr. Joseph Purpura of the Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries, recognizing the central role of our youth in the Archdiocese, and from Amanda June Sahawneh, President of NAC Teen SOYO. Gifts prepared for Metropolitan PHILIP by Teen SOYO are to be presented tomorrow, as His Eminence has not been present at the Assembly after lunch.

Antiochian Women General Assembly Audio Available

Audio from Wednesday's general assembly of the Antiochian Women at the 2009 Archdiocese Convention is now available on Ancient Faith Radio.

Click here to listen to the morning session.

Click here to listen to the afternoon session.

New Direction for Conciliar Media

John and Tonya MaddexJohn and Tonya MaddexThe 2009 Antiochian Convention in Palm Desert coincided with the announcement by Conciliar Media Ministries that the ministry is discontinuing AGAIN and The Handmaiden magazines in their current printed forms, as well as moving the base of operations for Conciliar to the Chicago area.

Said CEO John Maddex, “We are embracing new technology that will reduce our costs by utilizing digital and audio formats where possible. While such decisions are difficult, these adjustments represent a necessary pruning and will result in a new lean model of operations with a continued strong evangelistic emphasis.”

Images from Tuesday Evening Vespers

All the Antiochian hierarchs were in attendance at Vespers on Tuesday evening. His Grace Bishop THOMAS gave the final blessings. The homily was provided by Fr. John Salem of St. George Church in Houston, Texas.

Click here to see more photos from Tuesday Vespers.

2009 Archdiocese Convention Audio on Ancient Faith Radio

Ancient Faith Radio is on the job at the 2009 Archdiocese Convention in Palm Desert, California. Visit AFR's site to listen to key speeches, events, divine services and other gatherings. Highlights so far include a pre-convention interview with Co-Chairman Don Meena about the work that went into planning and preparing this year's conference; an interview with Fr. Consantine Nasr of St. Elijah in Oklahoma City; plus recordings of Vespers and Divine Liturgy.

Click here to listen!

2009 Archdiocese Convention Begins

The 2009 Archdiocese Convention began on the morning of Sunday, July 19 in Palm Desert, California. Events commenced with the celebration of orthros and Divine Liturgy, as well as a Teen SOYO leadership workshop. Divine Liturgy commemorating the Prophet Elias was celebrated on Monday morning, and Monday's schedule also contained a variety of youth activities.

The Convention will continue through Divine Liturgy on Sunday, July 26. Please check our 2009 Convention page here on for continuing updates and images. For any registration and logistical information, please click here.

Click here for more photographs from the convention.

Soliciting Convention Photographs for will have two people attending the Archdiocese Convention. Along with meetings, presentations and posting updates from the convention, we'll also be taking as many good digital photos for posting on this web section as we can. But since we won't be in attendance for the entire gathering, and can't be everywhere at once, we're eager to consider using any images other convention attendees may be able to submit to us. (There will also be a professional photograph chronicling the convention.)

Convention Planners Release Information on Local Meal and Service Locations for Attendees

A 10 minute WALK from the hotel (plan your walk for the early morning or late evening) 
Directions:  follow the marked pedestrian walkway along the hotel entrance drive; cross Country Club Drive at the light; turn right following the sidewalk; turn left at the entrance to the Desert Springs Marketplace.

Ralph’s (supermarket) – open from 6 a.m. to midnight every day; provides an excellent Boar’s Head Deli with salads, hot meals for less than $10, sandwiches, soup bar, salad buffet, fresh fruit, juices, cold beverages, Coffee Bean kiosk, full bakery and much more.  For discount at check-out provide cashier with Ralph’s member number: 6617990131

Liturgy Reminder for Early Arrivals

Should you be arriving in Palm Desert a day earlier:  We will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, July 19, together with Father David Kruse, and the Palm Springs Antiochian Mission of St. Raphael and those who will be attending the Pre-Convention Youth Leadership Meetings.  Orthros will precede Liturgy, beginning at 9 a.m.  On Monday, July 20th, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Elias with Liturgy, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa Reservation Information

Good news to all who were late in making their reservations after the deadline for a room at the Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa:  We have reached our goal of an additional 120 room night reservations.  Your room rate will be the same $133/night originally offered to early convention registrants.  Some rooms are still available by phoning the hotel at (760) 341-2211.

Metropolitan NIKITAS Leads Convention Guest Speakers

Metropolitan NIKITASMetropolitan NIKITASLearn more about the guest speakers attending the 2009 Convention:

Metropolitan NIKITAS, Convention Guest Speaker

The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch is pleased to be sponsoring the Convention Guest Speaker, His Eminence, Metropolitan NIKITAS, Director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Institute in Berkeley, California. The Patriarch Athenagoras Institute is affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley, and offers a Master of Arts in Orthodox Christian studies. It also sponsors the local OCF, one of the most active college fellowships on the west coast, houses a Rare Book Room and museum, and hosts educational programs and lectures. Metropolitan NIKITAS, who was born in the United States, served as the first Metropolitan of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (1996-2006) and worked closely with IOCC to provide relief to the victims of the tsunami within his archdiocese in 2004. While possessing sterling academic and ministerial credentials from his years of study and service, the Metropolitan is most well known as a refreshingly candid, engaging speaker. His Eminence Nikitas will address Convention guests on Thursday, July 23 and Friday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Convention Chapel.

Convention Planners Release Information Sheet for Attendees

All those who attend the Archdiocese Convention will be provided with the following Announcements sheet. It is also being made available here for your benefit.


Please be sure that your cell phone and/or pager are turned off or on “vibrate” while in the chapel.

The Convention Registration Counter will be closed during all chapel services.

In order to maintain a prayerful attitude during our services, please afford yourself enough time to enter the chapel before the start of services and plan to be properly attired.  Shorts and tank tops are not appropriate in the chapel.  It is also proper to observe a pre-communion fast before receiving Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy.  Priests are available to hear Confession at the front of the chapel prior to the beginning of Liturgy, Vespers, and Daily Orthros.

49th Annual Archdiocese Convention Releases Reports Online

For the first time, planners for the 49th annual Antiochian Convention have released online in advance of the Archdiocese Convention the official reports prepared by each department and ministry for delivery at the Convention. To take advantage of this valuable resource, you can download the reports as a single PDF file from the Convention website here.

Convention to Celebrate His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP's 50th Anniversary to the Priesthood

One of the occasions to be commemorated at this year's convention will be that of Metropolitan PHILIP's anniversary of his elevation to the priesthood. May God grant His Eminence many, many years!

Click here to learn more about His Eminence and explore his writings.