For twenty-five years, the Orthodox ministry Project Mexico has been harnassing the energy of young people by sponsoring home building projects for Mexico's poor. Hundreds of needy families have moved into homes constructed for them with the help of nearly 10,000 volunteers. Sponsored by parishes from around the country including many from the Antiochian Archdiocese, and by Orthodox organizations such as the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), group building weeks for 2013 are already filling up. (Sign up for a summer home building week.)
There are two types of homebuilding groups hosted by Project Mexico each summer: small groups, and Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) groups. During the weeks dedicated to small group participation, teams from one, two, or three parishes construct a single home for a needy family, spend the afternoons interacting with the boys of St. Innocent's, and learn about the local culture through a visit to Rosarito. During Basic Training weeks, Project Mexico hosts larger groups who construct between four to seven homes in one week. Each evening, volunteers listen to inspiration speakers, and on Sunday builders enjoy a day of fellowship and fun at St. Innocent’s.
On Saturday, August 25, 2012, Fr. Nabil Hanna and about 350 parishioners and friends of St. George Orthodox Church, Indianapolis, joined together for the service, "Founding a New Church," and the subsequent groundbreaking ceremony. Presided over by His Grace Bishop Anthony, the service took place on the new property where the parish will relocate once the new building is completed, in the neighboring community of Fishers, Indiana.
On September 19, construction commenced as the big diesel engines fired up in the earth moving machines. Construction continued despite the rain and the foundations were poured and progress was made, all under the able supervision of the construction manager, Mr. David Mouck. Forms for the lower level walls were up and filled with concrete.
On Saturday, November 17, the lower level slab was blessed and the Cross, icons, photos, prayers and mementos were placed into the foundation, under where the altar will be, before the workers poured the concrete for the floor. Next the bell tower was poured. Completion is expected by the summer of 2013.
The Orthodox Christian Translation Society (OCTS) has announced the publication of their first book, Place Your Hope in the Lord: The Poetic Spiritual Life of Father Lazar. The title, which brings forward the spiritual teachings of the former abbot of the famous Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro (a pilgrimage destination for thousands from around the world), was originally published in the Serbian language.
The OCTS website explains that their organization "exists to bridge the gap between cultures and languages through the translation of Orthodox texts and to help translators share their unique skills with the Orthodox world. Unlike other publishers and bookstores, we are a non-profit organization committed to the entire process of creating high quality Orthodox translations....We accept proposals from skilled translators, and then select projects to support. Once a project is chosen, OCTS commits to support that project financially from beginning to end."
That project support, continues OCTS, can include the translation of a work, any necessary editing, and then the book's subsequent publication with its marketing and distribution aspects. Translators are offered financial compensation for their labors as best befits the project, and the circumstances of the translator.
A board of directors and an advisory board guide the process for OCTS. Antiochian bishop His Grace Bishop Basil of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America serves on the advisory board, while several of the directors are active members of Antiochian parishes. Read about the OCTS team here.
On December 10, 2012, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that since mid-November, "piece by piece," Soleiman Shalhoub has been installing a stone iconostasis at St. George Orthodox Church. Last January, he began the project with the aid of fifteen employees, sketching out his designs and then carefully carving the Syrian stone quarried from mountains in the Holy Land.
“There’s no one else who does this kind of work,” Shalhoub said, noting that his technique has been passed down through his family for generations. Six tons of stone traveled by ship to New York in 1,700 pieces, arriving at about the same time as Hurricane Sandy made landfall. It was then transported via truck and train to Cedar Rapids.
Members of St. George's community have assisted with the project, providing meals and labor. The parish will celebrate with an open house in the spring once the icons are mounted in the completed stone iconostasis. "The finished piece, which will include red oak doors also designed by Shalhoub, will be unlike any other piece of art in Iowa," noted the Gazette.
The Treehouse in Wichita, Kansas was created to fill a unique niche, helping economically challenged moms and children with basic necessities and programs. As an Orthodox Christian-based, not-for-profit organization, the Treehouse offers compassionate physical and emotional support, and positive Christian relationships with other moms. Over the years, vital support for the ministry has been provided by the Antiochian Orthodox community in the greater Wichita area, from His Grace Bishop Basil, the Very Rev. Paul O’Callaghan, the people of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, and many other Orthodox Christians both clergy and lay. It is also one of the many outreach efforts supported by the Order of St. Ignatius.
The Treehouse provides diapers and formula, parenting education, spiritual support and an inexpensive thrift store with books, toys and clothes up to kindergarten size. Women are referred to the ministry by other partner organizations in the Wichita area, and from their first encounter with Treehouse staff, experience support and encouragement. Groups dedicated to the topic of parenting, and one-on-one mentoring relationships, help women with limited resources become capable, nurturing mothers, thus aiding both mother and child.
"Come Receive the Light," the flagship program for the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN), is featuring an interview with The Right Rev. Bishop John (Abdalah), Diocese of Worcester and New England. In the podcast "Christmas and Loss," Fr. Chris Metropulos, Executive Director of OCN, asks Bishops John to offer thoughts out of his own personal experience, to those who have suffered a great loss in the past year and are dealing with the holidays while still in grief. "We need time to adjust," notes Bishop John. "It is normal and healthy to experience depression, anger and frustration, because we've experienced something we don't like, and we didn't want."
Bishop John emphasizes that people are unique in the way they process loss. "Each of us is different and should be given the respect to figure out what really does work out best for us." He also notes that as Christians, we aren't alone, even when it feels that way. "When you suffer a loss, you feel alone, and isolated. Christ comes to us, to join us in our misery, showing us that our misery is temporary, that He cares about us and loves us—the light at the end of the tunnel is the empty tomb."
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Sana was only three weeks away from graduation when a mortar hit her family's home in Homs, Syria. She fled quickly into the night towards Jordan with her mother and four siblings, carrying only a small bag filled with water bottles, bread and homemade jam. Now a refugee, the tears come easily when the girl thinks about the home they had to leave and the schooling she was forced to sacrifice.
"I wish I can continue my studies here in Jordan, but I have no certificates, no money, no documents or IDs," said Sana. "All we have is a paper given to us at the border that gives us permission to be in Jordan," added her mother.
Dust from blowing desert sand covers a growing sea of tents at the Za'atari camp that are now home to Sana and thousands of Syrian children and families are basic, with no electricity and no sanitation. There is little left of the comforts of home and the rhythms of the life they knew in Syria.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a member of the global ACT Alliance, recently provided new school uniforms to 6,000 school-aged refugee girls living in the camp and in Jordanian host communities. The uniforms provide a measure of comfort to the children like Sana who have had to endure exhausting journeys to arrive at the camp and many who have been witness to the horrors of war.
Father Joseph Purpura, chairman of SOYO and of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, writes:
Help us reach the $55,000 goal NAC SOYO needs to raise for the 2013 SOYO/PASO Special Olympics Sports Camp at Antiochian Village! We are 80% there, and we thank the 152 parishes that have sent in their 2012 Special Olympics Awareness Day Collection money. The total we have received as of December 1, 2012, is $44,128.80.
If your parish did not take the collection please consider making a donation, and if your parish has collected a donation but hasn't submitted it yet, please send in your check for the full amount collected as soon as possible. Checks should be made payable to "NAC Teen SOYO Special Olympics" and mailed to:
NAC Teen SOYO Special Olympics
Department of Youth and Parish Ministries
PO Box 389
Westwood MA 02090-0389
We thank you for your help with this ministry of NAC Teen SOYO!
Helping Our Orthodox Youth Follow and Represent Christ
Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church + Austin, TX
Janury 24-26, 2013
Download Flyer (PDF)
The 11 Annual Orthodox Christian Camp & Youth Worker Conference provides an arena for Orthodox youth workers from different jurisdictions to share and provide resources. The conference will include keynote and guest speakers, educational presentations, break out sessions and fellowship. All Orthodox parish and diocese youth workers, camp directors and staff, and OCF chaplains are invited to attend.
Father Apostolos Hill, the keynote speaker, has served in the Orthodox Church for the last twenty years as cantor, youth director, catechist, deacon, and priest. Currently, Fr. Hill serves as Proestamenos of St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Prescott, AZ. He has been actively involved in youth ministry serving the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, the camping ministry in Denver's Greek Metropolis, Ionian Village, with OCF Real Break Ministry leading trips to Greece and Guatemala, and with youth street ministry.
St. Herman Middle School Retreat at Antiochian Village
- For students in grades 5 – 8
- "Reading the Holy Scriptures: Weaving Ourselves into the History of God's Love," with Fr. Noah Bushelli
- Retreat package: $90.00 per student, including lodging and meals at the Conference Center
On Tuesday, November 27, 2012, His Grace Bishop Gregory became the fourth ruling bishop of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA and Canada, through the laying-on-of-hands by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The consecration and enthronement took place at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown, PA, and was attended by more than 500 clergy and faithful, including members of Bishop Gregory's family, as well as long time friends and faithful of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.
The Antiochian Archdiocese extends her prayers for the ministry of Bishop Gregory, and congratulates the newly consecrated hierarch, as well as all of the faithful of the diocese. A photo gallery of the consecration may be viewed, along with His Grace's enthronement address.
St. Athanasius Academy was founded in 1976, and serves the Antiochian Archdiocese through providing research, education, and outreach. The Academy offers a unique correspondence study program which not only serves students-at-large, but also reaches those behind bars in a prisoner education program.
Notes Paul Goetz, Director of the The Prisoner Education Project/Correspondence Studies Program for prisoner-students, "We maintain about 85 students with a waiting list, and we offer the program as a free scholarship program. Since 1996, we have studied with over 1,000 students. A prisoner-student in good standing needs to submit one lessons every other month, and our current pace is over 120 lessons per month. Our questions are not true/false, but we require essay answers to probing questions...and then we provide detailed responses to correct or complement their efforts."
In another outstanding project, the Academy provided the impetus and scholarship for The Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms. Additionally, St. Athanasius also publishes booklets in the "Timely Topics" series, as well as the "Booklets for Children" series.
Read an interview with Paul Goetz, Director of the St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology.
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has announced that registration is now open for their Real Break program. Explains the OCF website, "The Real Break program provides an alternative to the 'traditional' Spring Break. It exists to provide the most authentic experience possible, modeled as a full Christian lifestyle, which includes fellowship, prayer within community, witness and service. OCF organizes both domestic and international trips to give college students the opportunity to serve those less fortunate and to do something 'real' for themselves and for God. OCF’s Real Break has been running since 2000 with over a thousand students participating in these life-changing trips. Past trips have included: Mexico, Guatemala, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Raphael House, St. Basil Academy, Greece, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Romania, Buenos Aires, Alaska, and more."
Seven Real Break trips are planned for March, 2013, serving communities in Guatemala, New Orleans, Toronto, LA Skid Row, Honduras, Constantinople (Istanbul), and Mexico. Students can register online, and view both an introductory video and a short fundraising tutorial.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) in St. Augustine, FL, has announced that applications are now being accepted for the Center's 2013 short term mission service teams. The announcement explained, "In 2012, 135 Orthodox Christians shared their faith through loving service as part of an OCMC Mission Team. They witnessed baptisms, healed the sick, strengthened the foundations of the Church, and brought the love of Christ to people around the world. They answered the call to make disciples of all nations. Is 2013 your time to share in this journey of faith?....Next year, team members will have the opportunity to share the Orthodox Christian faith by offering evangelism, catechism, healthcare, construction, and youth ministry in seven countries around the world."
Mission Team dates and opportunities kick off with a teaching team to Kenya at the beginning of March, and continue nearly every month thereafter until the last team, focused on healthcare in Tanzania, completes its mission in October. For more information and to submit an application, visit the OCMC Mission Team webpage.
The 24–page Conciliar Press Christmas catalog is available online here in its online version on the Press website, or as a PDF here. A wide variety of products are available, including Christmas cards, ornaments, icons, gifts for kids and young adults, gifts for under $10.00, crosses and jewelry, music, and other items such as prayer books, censers, ceramic holy water bottles, wall plaques, incense and incense holders, and keychains.
The ever-popular icon calendar for 2013 depicts the work of Christ, seen and unseen, and foreshadowed, in the Old Testament. The calendar is sized at 11" X 12" and each icon is depicted in full color. Major saint and feast days traditionally celebrated in Orthodox countries around the world are listed, according to the new calendar.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip wishes to thank all of those people who conveyed their best wishes and prayers to him for his Name Day (Apostle Philip, November 14). He also would like to wish all of the clergy and faithful of this Archdiocese a most blessed Thanksgiving, and a spiritually rewarding Advent Season.
The Antiochian House of Studies School of Orthodox Theology has updated information available on their Pastoral Marriage and Family Counseling Certificate Program. Learn more about this two year training program for clergy, parish staff or Christian Education persons each having an M.Div degree or diploma through the House of Studies and three years' parish experience. It is designed to prepare parish staff in counseling individuals, couples, and families in the parish and larger community.
A busy Commencement Weekend of November 16-18, 2012 begins a year-long celebration of St. George Cathedral's sixty years of ministry in the Miami community. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip will preside over the weekend's events, which begin Friday evening, November 16, with a welcome reception. On Saturday, November 17th, the Grand Banquet will kick off at 6:00 p.m. at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Distinguished hierarchs and guests will enjoy the music of renowned singer Osama Neimy, and violinist Gaby Dahrie.
Additionally, on Saturday during the day, a Youth Luncheon for His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and visiting hierarchs will be held with the students of Sunday School, members of SOYO and the Fellowship of St. John, in the Cathedral Hall.
Finally, on Sunday, November 18th, Metropolitan Philip will preside at the Divine Services beginning with Orthros at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at 10:30 a.m. The induction of new members into the Order of St. Ignatius will take place immediately after Liturgy. Everyone is invited to enjoy a Thanksgiving Luncheon to be held following the services, at the Cathedral Hall.
The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) is the official prison ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. It was started in 1991 by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, who asked Antiochian priest Fr. Duane Pederson to establish a prison ministry for the Antiochian Archdiocese. The ministry continued unabated until 2005, when His Eminence offered the Archdiocese’s prison ministry to the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA). OCPM became an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops after that body was established in 2009.
On July 26, 2012, at the Fourth Annual National Convocation in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the board and the staff of OCPM awarded Fr. Duane Pederson the Matthew 25:36 award, recognizing his lifetime of dedicated service to those in prison, and to those among the homeless population. Award presenters noted Fr. Duane's forty-plus years of prison ministry outreach, as well as his role in the founding of OCPM.
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, His Eminence, Archbishop Tikhon, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, was elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) during their 17th All-American Council at Holy Trinity Church in Parma, Ohio.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, on behalf of the hierarchs and all of the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, extends his best wishes and prayers for Metropolitan-Elect Tikhon, that the Lord will grant him many years, and that the Lord will richly bless our brothers and sisters in the OCA.
On Sunday, November 4, 2012, the 118th Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa of the Holy See of Saint Mark, Bishop Tawadrous, was selected in Cairo, Egypt. Thousands of Coptic Orthodox Christians gathered at St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the culmination of a nine–month process to choose a successor to His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, who had passed away in March 2012.
Bishop Tawadrous, 60, was chosen from a slate of three candidates. The Bishop studied medicine in his youth and managed a pharmaceutical factory until the mid-eighties, when he was consecrated in 1985. Three years later he joined the monasic ranks and was subsequently named a bishop in 1997.
At the announcement that Bishop Tawadrous had been chosen, "the atmosphere was wonderfully joyous in the cathedral, as people not only here but all over the world raised their hearts asking God’s selection for our new Pope and Patriarch,” said His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom. "There was such a euphoric reaction when the name of Bishop Tawadrous was announced."
The bishop is slated to be enthroned at the Cairo Cathedral on November 18.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the entire Antiochian Archdiocese pray that God will grant many years to the new Coptic Patriarch, Bishop Tawadrous, and express the sincere hope that his leadership will be blessed and fruitful. Axios!
We wish to announce that, effective October 31, 2012, Mr. Paul Finley completed his term as the Director of the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center. Paul and his wife Deborah have resided at the Village since 2006, and are both well known and loved by all who have made their acquaintance.
The Heritage Center evolved in many positive ways during Paul’s tenure as director, and we pray that it will continue to be a beacon of spiritual renewal for all who visit.
We express our heartfelt thanks to Paul for his tireless efforts and to Deborah for her support and encouragement, and we pray that the Lord will bless them and their family abundantly as they embark on the next leg of their journey.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
MEMORY ETERNAL! Khouriya Jean Blazovsky Chromiak, 84, wife of the late Fr. John Chromiak (who served St. Nicholas Church in Bridgeport, CT; St. George Church in Allentown, PA; St. Michael Church in Greensburg, PA; and St. Elias Church in Atlanta, GA), fell asleep in Christ on Monday, November 5th at her home in Rodeo, NM and was buried on Friday, November 9th by Fr. Anthony Sabbagh of St. George Church/Allentown, PA. She is survived by children Sonia and John McGuinn of Lake Villa, IL; Johanna Chromiak of Rodeo, NM; Angeline and Todd Sears of Bradenton, FL; Nadine Chromiak of Decatur, GA; son, John Chromiak of Tuscon, AZ; twelve grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Please join me in praying a rope for the repose of her soul, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, grant rest to the soul of Thy newly-departed servant." May Khouriya Jean be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.
On Friday October 12th, 2012, the Antiochian Heritage Foundation hosted its first annual Person of the Year Award Banquet. The purpose of the gathering was to honor renowned journalist Helen Thomas by bestowing on her the Antonian Gold Medal, the highest honor of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. The event took place at Kogok Hall in Ss. Peter & Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church, Potomac, Maryland. The following is an account of the evening given by committee member Tammy Ilyas Alvarez:
It was an event to remember for both the honoree, Journalist Helen Thomas, and the many faithful friends, admirers and family members who were there as a testament to this most deserving member of our community. Many present had traveled great distances including from overseas to participate in the tribute. Among the many attendees present were distinguished VIP’S from the White House and the State Department, as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps and visiting clergy.
The electrifying evening was both emotional and exciting. More than 300 guests greeted Helen as she maneuvered her way through the crowd of well wishers gathered to congratulate her on receiving an honor, which has only been bestowed on a very select, deserving few.
The Very Reverend Father George Rados, Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul gave the invocation. Throughout the evening, a professionally produced video gave us a glimpse of the life and work of the famous Helen Thomas. The speakers paid tribute to Helen Thomas and her remarkable accomplishments as a pacesetter for women during an era when women’s qualifications and talents were not recognized as equal to those of their male counterparts. Helen defied the odds without allowing adversity to stand in her way.