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Discovering Medieval Monasticism in Georgia: A Guided Tour

12th century royal cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, Mtskheta regionMonastary Tour 2009

Seeking: World travelers, medievalists, musicians, self-educators, spiritual pilgrims, and adventurers of all varieties for an immersion experience at the crossroads of Europe and Asia: welcome to Caucasus Georgia!

In its fourth season, join an exploration of Georgia's oldest monasteries, founded in the sixth century by Christian ascetics from Syria. Be among the first westerners to rediscover the ancient architecture, frescoes, and acoustics of these remarkable monuments, set amidst rolling vineyards, towering peaks, and the desert vistas of the Caspian basin. Led by chant team Luarsab Togonidze, John A. Graham, and Aurelia Shrenker, this unique tour seeks to investigate the sounds and wonders of medieval Georgia, while presenting the world-famous hospitality and charm of modern Georgia.

Tour Dates: June 25th – July 5th, 2009

For more information, please visit the Georgian Chant web site.

Archdiocese Synod of Bishops Meets in Boston, MA

His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East presided over a meeting of the Archdiocese Synod of Bishops on Friday, October 31st, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts.

From left to right: Bishop MARK, Bishop THOMAS, Bishop JOSEPH, Metropolitan PHILIP, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV, Bishop ANTOUN, Bishop LUKA (Patriarchal Auxiliary Bishop), Bishop ALEXANDER.

Bishop BASIL could not attend due to a previous commitment in Houston, Texas.

His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV

California Orthodox Bishops Issue Statement on Proposition 8

A Statement of the

Orthodox Christian Bishops of California

in support of Proposition 8:

A Constitutional Amendment to Restore the Definition of Marriage

The decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, unilaterally redefines the sacred institution of marriage in a manner unprecedented in human history — and alien to our Christian tradition. We, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, were saddened by this decision which constitutes a direct attack upon the longstanding role and freedom of religion in American life. A majority of the justices declared not only that same-sex couplings must be allowed to exist at those couples’ discretion as “marriages,” but that the state of California is forbidden to refer to these couplings as anything but “marriages.”

Orthodox Christianity holds in high regard the God-ordained institution of marriage and the family. The Orthodox Church must and shall remain true to its faith and tradition, and affirm that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, given by God to one another for mutual support, encouragement, love and the ability to bear children.

From Metropolitan PHILIP: New Policy Regarding Archdiocesan Seminarians

September 29th, 2008
To: Diocesan Bishops
From: His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP
re: Future Seminarians


Beloved Brothers in Christ,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you are all in good health.

After much discussion and thought, I have decided to extend the period that a person must be Orthodox before being considered to be accepted as an Archdiocesan seminarian from three to five years. This decision was based on many factors including the ever-increasing number of seminarians applying each year to the Antiochian Archdiocese, the reality that the more time they spend in the parish before coming to the seminary, the better seminarians and pastors they will likely be, and the mere fact that we want them to be deeply rooted in the life of the Church and the local parishes before embarking on this journey. This decision is retroactive to August 15th, 2008 as we are already getting requests for next fall and we want to be fair to everyone.

Please communicate this new policy to your respective clergy as soon as possible.

Your Brother in Christ,

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Addresses European Parliament

BRUSSELS, Belgium – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew delivered a major address to the Plenary Assembly of the European Parliament during the formal sitting of the assembly in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, September 24, 2008.  His All Holiness was introduced by Mr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament.  The Press Release of the European Parliament highlighting His All Holiness’ address is given in full below, as well as a link to the address in its entirety.

"We are all brothers and sisters", Ecumenical Patriarch tells MEPs

Addressing a formal sitting of the House as part of European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I, spoke of the value of the European project in promoting peace and tolerance, the importance of accepting minorities and the need for the EU to accept Turkey as a member. He also underlined his church's efforts to encourage respect for the environment.

Introducing the Ecumenical Patriarch, EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering stressed that "The European Union is a community based on values, the most fundamental of which is human dignity. In this respect religious freedom is central to human dignity". He linked this to the separation of church and state, as anchored in the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Pöttering described the Patriarch as "a beacon to your followers in the Orthodox world" and pointed out that recent EU enlargements had brought in the Orthodox countries of Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania. He added "The late Pope John Paul II used the metaphor of Europe breathing again with its two lungs after the downfall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. We could also use this metaphor to refer to the richness in the enlarged EU brought through the different perspectives of Western and Eastern Christianity".

Archbishop Demetrios Receives Holy Relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

NEW YORK – Archbishop Demetrios of America received yesterday, September 22, 2008, at the Archdiocese headquarters, the Holy and Sacred Relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the best known Russian Orthodox saints of the 19th century and a popular saint in Greece.

Bishop Mercurius of Zaraisk, the head of the Representation of the Patriarchate of Moscow in the United States presented to Archbishop Demetrios the relics, sent directly from Moscow and by the express wish of Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia.

The bestowal of the Relics came as the culmination of a request from the St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Ariz. The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, observing the canonical order of the Church, transferred the Relics to the Archbishop, who will make provision for the bequest to the Monastery.

Bishop Mercurius and his staff, Fr. Alexander Abramov and Mrs. Yulia McGregor, were received by the Archbishop, Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, and the clergy and staff of the Archdiocese in the Archdiocesan Chapel of the Apostle Paul with a Doxology. In presenting the Relics to the Archbishop, Bishop Mercurius expressed the fervent desire of the Russian Orthodox Church that this bestowal be a token of fraternal love and a cooperative spirit. Archbishop Demetrios received the relics, venerating them and the Icon of St. Seraphim in which they are embedded. After the ceremony, Archbishop Demetrios again expressed his thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church and spoke of his own love for St. Seraphim of Sarov, noting the joy and welcome that the Saint had for all people.

Enthronement of Metropolitan John of Central & Western Europe

bishop-webHis Eminence John (Yaziji), formerly Titular Bishop of al-Hosn, was enthroned as Metropolitan Archbishop of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe at the Cathedral of St Stephen in Paris on September 20th and 21st.

His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius IV presided at Saturday's Enthronement and Sunday's Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.  Several other bishops from the Antiochian Holy Synod traveled to Paris for the Enthronement including Metropolitans George (Khodr) of Mount Lebanon, Antonios (Chedraoui) of Mexico, Damaskinos (Mansour) of Brazil, Paul (Yaziji) of Aleppo - the brother of Metropolitan John, Basil (Nassour) of Akkar, Saba (Esper) of Hauran, and Silouan (al-Moussi) of Argentina.  Also in attendance were Metropolitan Emmanuel of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of France and the other members of the Assembly of the Orthodox Bishops in France (l'AEOF - consisting of hierarchs from the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Moscow, Serbia, and Romania), as well as Bishop Athanasios of Limassol from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

To view a video of the Enthronement Service,  go to:

For English-language coverage of the Enthronement, go to:

For Arabic-language coverage of the Enthronement go to:

Ike Updates from Texas and Louisiana

Here are some updates from Bishop BASIL on the parishes in the path of Hurricane Ike.  From the reports that have come in so far, all clergy and their families are safe, and their homes are mostly unharmed, with only minor damage (at least, as can be determined now). Several priests have not been able to travel to their churches or contact their parishioners, so please continue your prayers for our Orthodox brethren as they clean and rebuild.

Donations for the hurricane relief effort can be made through the I.O.C.C. (International Orthodox Christian Charities) here, or through many other charitable groups.

Letter from Met. PHILIP on Balamand Scholarship Fund

September 17th, 2008

To all Pastors and Faithful of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

Greetings and Blessings in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

As you all know, we will be blessed this Fall with a visit from our Father in Christ His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. His Beatitude will be with us in Boston, Massachusetts during the weekend of Friday, October 31st through Sunday, November 2nd in conjunction with the Fall meeting of the Archidiocese Board of Trustees. His Beatitude will preside over a very special banquet to be held on Saturday, November 1st, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of The University of Balamand and the establishment of a new scholarship fund which will assist needy and worthy students at the university. This scholarship is being established by The Balamand Educational Foundation and they have chosen to name the scholarship "The Metropolitan PHILIP Educational Scholarship Fund" to benefit needy and worthy students.

The University of Balamand, which was founded by His Beatitude, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV, in 1998, has always held a special place in his heart. In addition, this Archdiocese has given strong support to this unique institution since its inception. There would be no better way to honor His Beatitude on this visit than for our parishes and missions to make a voluntary donation to this new scholarship fund.

New Mosaic Icons at Cathedral Attract Attention


St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS has recently been featured on local news broadcasts covering the installation four new mosaic icons on its exterior facades.  The icons are beautiful reproductions of well known, ancient icons, including images of Christ, the Theotokos, and St. John the Forerunner from the 12th century mosaic from Hagia Sophia, which can be seen here and the 13th century icon of the Great-Martyr George in the Church of St. George Struga on the shore of Lake Ochrid in Macedonia, which can be seen here

The mosaic icons are done by Bruno Salvatori, a master mosaicist from Florence, Italy.  Mr. Salvatori is the same artist who has done the five mosaic icons that adorn the exterior of the Cathedral's eastern apse.

A video on the new mosaics, produced by the local NBC affiliate, can be seen here: (cut and paste link into your browser).

Hurricane Ike Threatens Texas Parishes

From Fr. John Mefrige of St. Ephraim Church in San Antonio, TX:

The oncoming projections of Hurricane IKE places its path DIRECTLY over San Antonio.  Despite being 150 miles from the ocean  it is possible that we could experience 100 mile an hour winds should this make landfall as a category 4 or 5. Presently it is predicted to make landfall between Port O'Connor and Corpus Christi as a category 3 on early morning this Saturday. At present there is a 40% chance of Tropical Storm Force winds hitting us. For more information and up to the minute coverage see:

Despite the incoming track of Hurricane Ike, we WILL have Saturday Great Vespers and Sunday morning Services at the usual time. However you are urged to pay close attention to the weather and follow appropriate emergency measures, especially all evacuation orders. Services are only going to be held because Fr. John does not need to drive to the Church as the parish house is next door.

If there are any parishioners that feel that their homes will not be able to weather the storm they are directed to follow official evacuation orders or to PORT SAN ANTONIO where FEMA and Emergency Authorities are holding evaquees. Fr. John Khouriee Janet and the girls will be riding out the storm in the church which is a concrete structure.

From Deacon Elias of St. John the Divine Church in Lake Charles, LA:

Memory Eternal! Fr. Thomas Moffat

The servant of God, Fr. Thomas Moffatt, fell asleep in the Lord at his home in Anchorage, Alaska, early Tuesday morning on September 2nd.  He was buried at the Cemetery of St. John Orthodox Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska, on Saturday, September 13. Please remember Fr. Thomas in your prayers.   Condolences may be sent to Lynn Moffatt & Family, 7151 Beaumont Cir., Anchorage, AK 99502.

Chaplain Congratulated by President for Help in Hurricane Relief


Orthodox chaplain Fr. Mark Sahady (pictured left) was congratulated by President Bush for helping minister to  evacuees from the Hurricane Gustav in San Antonio, TX.  Fr. Mark organized the Chaplain Corp at Lackland Air Force Base (near San Antonio) to greet the evacuees when they arrived and to give them pastoral care while they were waiting to be sheltered. 

Fr. Mark says, "I also was involved three years ago with Hurricane Katrina doing the same thing and also caring for them [the evacuees] in the shelters.  This time the organization was much better and everything went much smoother.  It was very impressive how quickly and smoothly the evacuees were cared for this time."  

Memory Eternal! Dn. Marc Work

dn marc-web After a courageous battle with ill health, Deacon Marc Work of St Timothy/Lompoc, CA fell asleep in Christ on Friday, September 5th.  He will be buried Tuesday, September 9th, with the funeral scheduled to begin at 10:00AM.

Deacon Marc is survived by his wife Shamassy Brenda and their three children.  Condolences may be sent to them at 1117 West Airport Avenue - Lompoc, CA 93436.

May his memory be eternal and may we be granted long life!

DOWAMA Clergy, People, Churches Safe from Hurricane Gustav

His Grace, Bp. BASIL reports that the clergy, people and churches in western Louisiana and eastern Texas have escaped unscathed from the damage and flooding of Hurricane Gustav. Praise God!

Please Pray for Joanne Bitar

His Grace Bishop Thomas requests the prayers of the faithful for Joanne Bitar, the wife of Fr. Elias Bitar of St. George Church in Little Falls, NJ, who is undergoing serious medical treatments this week. May our Lord and His saints be with her and her physicians as they labor for her healing!

Metropolitan PHILIP Celebrated in Documentary Film

Strength Through Unity is a 30 minute long documentary film celebrating the life of our Metropolitan Philip. First shown on June 7, 2008 at a gala in Montreal, hosted by St. George Montreal for Saidna, the documentary and Divine Liturgy service have become available for the entire Archdiocese through this DVD.

Memory Eternal! Fr. Nifon Abraham


Fr. Nifon Abraham, retired from St. George Church in Norwood, Massachusetts, fell asleep in the Lord today, August 22, 2008. His Grace, Bishop ANTOUN will be in Norwood Aug. 25-26 for funeral services.

The schedule of services is as follows:

  • Monday, Aug. 25 
  • 10:00 am Reading of the Gospels begins
  • 4:00 pm Wake for Fr. Nifon
  • 7:00 pm  [First] Funeral Service for a Priest
  • Tuesday, Aug. 26 
  • 9:00 am Divine Liturgy 10:30 am [Second/Usual] Funeral Service

Burial will follow at Highland Cemetery in Norwood. The traditional meal of mercy will be at the Apollo Restaurant in Norwood.

Notes may be sent to Kh. Effie, at 301 Michols St., Norwood, MA 02062. Or you may email Fr. Joseph Kimmett at and he will print out emails for the family.

May his memory be be eternal and may God grant you long life.

The Fall Gathering of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest to be held October 16-19, Indianapolis, IN

The Fall Gathering of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest will focus on ministering to our teens and college students. His Eminence Metropolitan ISAIAH, SCOBA Overseer of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, and Fr. Kevin Scherer, Executive Director of OCF, will be present for the dedication of the new OCF offices in Indianapolis.

For more information please see the attached flyer. Server Change

Update, August 12: For the most part our server switch has gone off well, thank God. We're still working on a couple of issues related to the Department of Sacred Music, and the creation of new content. Thank you for your patience.

Original Post, August 5: This website will be moving to a new server and host beginning on August 6. Our team at the Department of Internet Ministry apologize in advance for any inconvenience. We expect the change to be invisible to site visitors. However, we ask that anyone who posts content to this website refrain from doing so on Wednesday, August 6 after 2pm Eastern time. All should be well by Thursday morning. We'll be bringing additional information about new features and projects over the weeks to come.

Douglas Cramer


Update for All Email Users

Update, July 21 2008: This post is being brought to the top of the news section again for the benefit of any email users still experiencing problems.

Support for all people with email addresses transitioned on May 9 from the Department of Communications and Information Technology to NST, an excellent technology services provider selected to manage hosting of email accounts and the website.

Everyone who wants to continue using an email address who did not respond to NST's Friday, May 9 email that day will now need to contact NST's support phone line at 877-678-8080 ext. 3, in order to reset their account. This is necessary if you have an email address set up in your email client, or if your emails are forwarded to another email address.

If you need any additional assistance, you can also contact Fr. George Kevorkian at the Archdiocese offices at 201-871-1355.

Orthodox Education Day at St. Vladimir's Seminary is October 4

icon130-2CRESTWOOD, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary has chosen “Holy Icons, Sacred Arts” as this year’s theme for Orthodox Education Day (OED), an annual campus celebration of liturgy, fellowship, ethnic food, and instruction in the faith.

Keynote speaker will be Dr Vasileios Marinis, the Kallinikeion assistant professor of Byzantine Art in the Department of Art and the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College. Dr Marinis received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds degrees from the University of Athens, University of Paris I-Sorbonne, and Yale University. His research focuses on architecture and ritual in the Byzantine world and on Byzantine women, and his OED remarks will concentrate on iconography.

More information regarding the day’s schedule, icon exhibits, and icon workshops will be forthcoming. Presently, St Vladimir’s is inviting local parishes to participate in OED by sponsoring an ethnic food booth. To sponsor a booth, or for further information, please contact Special Events Coordinator Tanya Penkrat at 914-961-8313, or

About the Icon: Theotokos with Child Emmanuel, painted by Tamara Elchaninov, will be among the many types of icons displayed at St Vladimir’s Seminary campus October 4, 2008, as part of the Orthodox Education Day theme “Holy Icons, Sacred Arts.”

Memory Eternal! Fr. David Lynch

imageOn Sunday, June 29, our brother Fr. David Lynch, 72, retired from St. Augustine Church of Denver, CO, fell asleep in Christ. Condolences may be sent to Kh. Martha Lynch the Lynch family at

His Grace Bishop BASIL passed on these thoughts from Fr. David's daughter Margaret:

"The long battle for my dear father has come to an end.  At 5:30pm this evening, Fr. David (Charles) Lynch, fell asleep in the Lord.  He ran the good race and crossed the finish line.  He was surrounded by his family and Fr. Pat Reardon who offered prayers for him the whole day and at the moment of his departure.  We gave dad our love and told him to tell everyone already departed hello and that we see him again when it's our time.  He is now in the Loving Hands of the Lord Whom he has served his whole life. He made us so proud with how hard he fought to come back; we were proud to stand by him as he worked so hard day after day to recover.  One thing I know for sure is this didn't happen for lack of prayers, faith, hope or love.  Your outpouring of love and concern has been a cushion for us; we couldn't fall completely down during this because we kept hitting this cushion around us.  And it was an encouragement to him.  Every card, email and message was passed onto him and we heard from a lot of people; that was so good to hear for him to hear from so many people."

The following information regarding funeral arrangements has been released:

Funeral Arrangements for Fr. David (Charles C.) Lynch (1936-2008)


Wednesday July 2, 4:30pm-8:30pm
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church
1449 N. Quentin Road
Palatine, IL 60067


Wild Fires Threaten St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California

His Grace Bishop Maxim of the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church urges all Orthodox faithful to offer prayers for the protection of the St. Herman of Alaska Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Platina, California. Wild fires are quickly approaching the Monastery grounds and the Monastery is in great danger of being burned down. The monastic community has been evacuated and are seeking refuge in the neighboring parish of Redding, CA. For updates as they are available, visit this page.

Update Wednesday, June 25, 2008: Fr. Damascene informed His Grace Bishop Maxim that he called Platina this morning and was told that the fire is not spreading in the direction of the Monastery. Fr. Damascene and Monk Paisius have left for Platina to talk with firefighters and forest rangers. The other monks will remain in Redding until further notice.