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Oratorical Festivals

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2017 Oratorical Festival


"My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Mark11:17)

2017 Oratorical Sell Sheet (PDF)

Scriptural Source:

Mark 11:17 Jesus quotes from Isaiah 56:7, and we find versions of this quote in Matthew 21:13, Luke 19:46, Isaiah 2:3, Romans 12:1, Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 2:5, Malachi 1:11, John 4:21, 1 Timothy 2:8, Jeremiah 7:11, John 2:14-22, etc.

Last year the quote was from Joshua, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). The theme was about each household choice to serve the Lord. This year's theme builds upon the individual families' choice to serve the Lord and what happens when they come to God's House, which our Lord reminds us is a house of prayer for all nations.

Comments on the Topic:

The topic is from the Gospel of Mark which Jesus quotes both from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:8-11 speaking in terms of what is and is not to happen in God's House - the temple - The Church. It begins with the statement that first and foremost it is a place of prayer - a place to worship the Living God and secondly it is for all nations - all people who choose to serve the Living God. Once one chooses to serve God and to follow His way - all who do so are welcomed. As the Scripture says, "For as Many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3: 27-29). Paul further writes, "but Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:9-1). Saint John Chrysostom in his homily on Galatians 3:27-29 clearly shares that no matter where we came from, anyone who has been baptized in Christ is no longer what he was by birth, "He that was Greek, or Jew, or bond man yesterday, carries about with him the form, not of angel or Archangel, but of the Lord of all, yes he displays in his own person the Christ. And if you are Christ's, then you are of Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise" of God. (Saint John Chrysostom Commentary on Galatians)

Oratorical Instructions

Expound on our conference theme and share its meaning and purpose with the audience, based on your reading of the Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, modern day Orthodox Theologians, and your experiences in the Church and in your life. Keep the following in mind as you develop your Oration:

  • Our Conference Logo depicts the Archdiocese Logo with Saints Peter and Paul holding the Church in their hands, with this year's conference theme, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations" (Mark 11:17) inscribed below the archdiocese logo, giving the connotation that this Archdiocese likewise is to be known as a place of prayer for all people of all nations.
  • What does this understanding, that our archdiocese is first a place of prayer, mean to you and what impact has that had on you and your family?
  • What does this understanding, that all people who follow Christ are welcomed in this archdiocese, mean to you and what impact has that had on you and your family?
  • What does this understanding mean to you in your ability and willingness to invite your Orthodox and non-Orthodox friends to come and see your Church and potentially become members of your local church community?
  • What responsibility does this year's conference theme impose upon you and the members of the Church, as we work on our salvation and live out our Orthodox faith here in North America?
  • Share your personal understanding of what it means to you that God's House, your local church building and community, and one's own home are each a house of prayer first and foremost.
  • How does this change your understanding of your own home, apartment, or Dorm room, that even these places are to be a house of prayer? How does this understanding practically affect your daily routine at home as to how you organize your home or room?
  • How does this affect the meaning of your local Church to you, to your family and to your community?
  • How does this influence your daily life, in what you think, do, and strive to become?
  • Delve into both the Old and New Testament texts, especially Mark 11:17, Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 21:13, Luke 19:46, Isaiah 2:3, Romans 12:1, Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 2:5, Malachi 1:11, John 4:21, 1 Timothy 2:8, Jeremiah 7:11, John 2:14-22, etc. and share your understanding of what both The Old and New Testament mean by "My House shall be a house of prayer for all nations".
  • What message do you want the Bishops, priests and faithful members of our Church to hear and learn from this year's Conference theme, taking into account both parts of the theme, "My House shall be called a House of Prayer," as well as the ending of that statement, "for all nations" or all peoples?

Recommended Reading

  • The Holy Scriptures - Old and New Testament
  • The Fathers of the Church
  • Modern Day Orthodox Theologians

You may include:

  • Your life experiences
  • Your family's experiences

Downloads and Resources

Diocesan Contacts

Updated 6-14-16
Before you begin working on your Creative Festival entries, please check the individual rules for your Diocese at the bottom of this page.

Archdiocese Oratorical Coordinator
Julie Abboud
87 Woods Road
Little Falls, NJ 07424


Oratorical Coordinator*

Ottawa, Eastern Canada, and
Upstate New York

Bruna Salhany

New York and Washington D.C. /
Charleston and the Mid-Atlantic

Laila Ellias

Toledo and the Midwest

Ms. Fabiola Sweis

Worcester and New England

Brendan Ferguson
47 Cedrus Ave.
Roslindale, MA 02131

Miami and the Southeast

Samantha Gay
Festivals Coordinator

Wichita and Mid-America

Deadline for Bible Bowl Teams and Oratorical entries is May 31st.

Grace Tannous

Los Angeles and the West/Eagle River and the Northwest
Deadline Date: June 10th

Amanda Sahawneh

* Oratorical Submission Deadline is Two Weeks before each Parish Life Conference. Contact each diocesan coordinator for more details.

The Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals topics are developed and printed by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry with the blessing of the Metropolitan.

2017 Bible Bowl Sell Sheet (PDF)2.92 MB
2017 Oratorical Sell Sheet (PDF)3.6 MB