For the final installment in the Orthodox Christian Network's (OCN) May "Come Receive the Light" series about Sex and the Christian, OCN Executive Director Fr. Christopher Metropulos interviewed Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. In the interview, Fr. Joseph spoke about the holiness of Christian sexuality, and how it is meant to enrich the marital life of couples.
"We have the Scriptures given to us as...a wealth of information on how God intends us to live out our lives," emphasized Fr. Joseph in the interview. "God places before us so many of the answers but we go seeking for information from our culture and end up at a dead end. We have to first begin with God's Word—it is lifegiving."
Fr. Patrick Cardine of St. Patrick Church in Warrenton, Virginia writes:
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Work on the new building has commenced, the foundation trench has been dug and we are proceeding onto the next phase. Also the Fauquier Times Democrat ran a nice article in the paper today. Part of the article may be viewed at www.fauquier.com/news/article/fauquier_parish_breaks_ground_for_new_church.
Below are some pictures of the site blessing. It was a wonderful day and we missed all who could not be with us.
God Bless you,
St. Patrick Church's original building was burnt to the ground in July 2012 in a fire set by an arsonist. For more information on the parish's building project or to make a donation, please visit the St. Patrick Orthodox Church Building Project web page.
His Grace Bishop Basil, Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, writes:
Dear to Christ, Fathers and Brothers:
Christ is risen. I have heard from Fathers John and Jeremy of St. Elijah in Oklahoma City and they are still waiting to hear from one woman with whom they have not been able to make contact. Father James reports that all at St. Benedict in Wichita Falls, Texas are safe, as are those from St. Antony in Tulsa, Oklahoma (including the Skiatook area) according to Fr. George. The people at Holy Ascension in Norman, Oklahoma and St. James in Stillwater, Oklahoma, are safe as well.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) writes,
IOCC has been in contact with the Orthodox community in the Oklahoma City area as well as its ecumenical partners and is assessing the emerging needs for an appropriate response.
IOCC is delivering emergency clean-up buckets, personal hygiene kits and blankets that will be distributed through the University of Oklahoma and Holy Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church in Norman. Members of the IOCC Frontline together with Fr. Justin McFeeters of Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church are also on campus to provide emotional and spiritual care for the hundreds of adults and children staying there. IOCC will continue to assist in this critical activity while displaced people remain housed at the University.
Seventeen graduates from St. Vladimir's Seminary are now being sent out as priests, deacons, and lay ministers in service to the Church. At the Saturday May 18 Commencement Exercises, the Seminary awarded diplomas in three programs: 1 Master of Theology, 8 Masters of Divinity, and 8 Masters of Arts degrees. Graduates represented a broad range of ecclesial jurisdictions and included both Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christians; four priests and one deacon were among the graduates. Antiochian graduate Mr. Richard Mitry Ajalat received a commendation for service to the community.
Additionally, the Board of Trustees awarded three honorary degrees to accomplished Orthodox Christians, two of whom are members of the Antiochian Archdiocese. The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas (Ozone), auxiliary bishop for Brooklyn, Antiochian Archdiocese, presented the degree to Anne Glynn Mackoul, a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.
Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has issued the following release:
NEW YORK – In response to the reports in Turkish and world media about an assassination plot against His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Demetrios of America today wrote to President Obama urging him to exercise his good offices to ensure the safety of His All Holiness.
Noting the continuing crisis in Aleppo, Syria, where the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Hierarchs remain missing, kidnapped by terrorists, the Archbishop asked the President to protect His All Holiness, as the 1,700 year presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) is the highest Christian presence of a Christian leader in a Muslim country.
Houston, Texas, and the parish of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, are playing host to the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, with Southern-themed events planned for every age. Since June 1st is the last day for Early Bird Registration, and June 28th is the last possible day to reserve a room, the time to act is now. In the meantime, there's still time to sign up for a Parish Life Conference (PLC) in your diocese; these kick off in early June and continue until the first week in July.
"Young Bob Packet....always the teacher with a collection of historical hysterical! Beloved by high school and college students alike! Who better to volunteer to guide our teens and clergy wives through the one and only WWI Museum in Kansas City during the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America Parish Life Conference." Diocese of Wichita, June 5-8, Kansas City
"Fine dining, New Orleans style, means lots of tasty seafood! Tour the city, the river, and the bayous of New Orleans, LA." Diocese of Miami, June 12-16, New Orleans, LA.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship's (OCF) Executive Director Jennifer Nahas announces that "we have posted applications for our 2013-2014 Student Leaders to serve on the Student Advisory Board. We are looking for talented, committed students who are passionate about OCF to help guide the direction of Orthodox campus ministry, implement programs and bring the student voice into decision making. We look forward to putting a board in place that is representative of the variety of Orthodox jurisdictions and traditions we have in North America.
"Your recommendations would be incredibly helpful. Please, if you know of a college student who could lead, inspire and serve Orthodox Campus Ministry, encourage them to apply online. Another option is to pass along their name to our North American Chapter Relations Coordinator, Christina Andresen, at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The leader of one of the largest humanitarian efforts in Syria has been named 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by InterAction, an alliance of more than 180 U.S.-based international relief organizations. Samer Laham is a driving force inside Syria, providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need without regard to religious, ethnic, or political affiliations. Under Laham's leadership of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) based in Damascus, Syria, GOPA has worked tirelessly to provide more than $31 million in emergency aid to displaced Syrians as well as ongoing assistance to Iraqi refugees, including educational support, vocational training, small business development, and crisis counseling.
With the outbreak of violence in Syria that has inflicted hardship on millions of its citizens, Laham has courageously led his staff of 120 to provide food, medical supplies, crisis counseling, and other services essential to survival for people in need across the country. In the face of bombardments, fighting and constant fear, Mr. Laham and his staff have persevered to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 300,000 vulnerable Syrian children, families and elderly.
The Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS) recently released a new title in The Chrysostom Bible Commentary Series. 2 Corinthians: A Commentary, is authored by The Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, professor of Biblical Studies and Languages at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. Books in the Chrysostom Series are not so much written in honor of John Chrysostom as they are published to continue and promote his legacy as an interpreter of the biblical texts for preaching and teaching God's congregation.
In this volume, Dr. Tarazi explains that previous studies of 2 Corinthians are plagued by "the unwarranted premise that the Corinthian correspondence contains different letters sent out on different occasions...The premise sounds convincing," Dr. Tarazi writes, "because several times one hears reference to Paul having written to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 2:2-3; 7:12), if not outright to "letters" (1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 7:8; 10:9-11)...However, when one deals with the New Testament books as literature, then one will realize that reference to something 'written' is a mere literary stratagem to draw the hearer's attention to the importance of what is being 'said.'"
Father Paul is also the author of a three volume Introduction to the Old Testament, a four volume Introduction to the New Testament, and the Chrysostom Bible Series. His Audio Bible Commentaries on the books of the Old and New Testament are available on the OCABS website.
Psalms 99:2 commands us to “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with great joy.” St. Michael Church in Van Nuys, California did just that when it came together on the weekend of January 12-13, 2013 to honor and celebrate the 30 years of joyous service in the holy priesthood of their pastor, the Very Rev. Timothy Baclig.
The festivities began with the celebration of Great Vespers, presided by Archbishop Joseph with several clergy from throughout southern California in attendance. We then proceeded to our community center ballroom that was decorated with an elegant Hawaiian theme in honor of Fr. Timothy’s birthplace.
It was a joy for our parish to have Fr. Timothy’s son Michael, daughter-in- law Rebekah, and his grandchildren “home” with us for the weekend. Additionally, we were delighted to welcome several members of the Baclig family, many who came from Hawaii, including his brother and sister-in-law Andy & Rosemary Baclig, Jr., his sister Carol Bissen, along with Father’s nieces, nephews and cousins.
Reporter Billy Shields of Global News, the news and current affairs division of Global Television Network in Canada, posted a news story on April 28, 2013 titled "For Arab Orthodox church, Middle East turbulence hits home." The news post noted that St. George's recent Palm Sunday celebration was dampened by the concerns of the faithful for the kidnapped bishops and the ongoing turbulence in Syria.
The parish, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, is headed by Economos Antony Gabriel of the Antiochian Heritage Foundation. “Today I asked for the people when they made their procession, to pray for peace, to pray for these bishops,” said Fr. Antony. ”We don’t want to see the church destroyed, and we don’t want Christians to leave the Middle East.” Reporter Shields noted that some of St. George's parishioners "...hail from the area Aleppo, where bishops Paul Yagizi and Yohanna Ibrahim were kidnapped."
The White House has released the following statement:
Statement by the President on the Occasion of Orthodox Easter
This weekend, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to members of the Orthodox Christian community here in America and around the world as they observe Holy Friday and the Feast of the Resurrection.
For millions of Orthodox Christians, this is a joyful time. But it’s also a reminder of the sacrifice Christ made so that we might have eternal life. His decision to choose love in the face of hate; hope in the face of despair is an example we should always strive to follow. But it’s especially important to remember this year, as members of the Orthodox community have been confronted with persecution and violence, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. For centuries, the region and the world has been enriched by the contributions of Orthodox communities in countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. As a nation, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting universal human rights including the freedom of religion. And in this season of hope and restoration, we celebrate the transformational power of sacrificial love.
Memory Eternal! + George Chalhoub, 1930 – 2013
The Right Rev. Archmandrite George Chalhoub fell asleep in the Lord on Holy Tuesday, April 30, 2013.
He was born in Douma, Lebanon in 1930 to Wadih and Bahije, the second of eight children. From his childhood he felt the call to the priesthood and was responsible for starting the Youth Movement in Douma. On January 4, 1952, he left his home to enter the Balamand Monastery and school. In that same year, he was tonsured a reader during Great Lent, and on August 6, The Feast of Holy Transfiguration, he was ordained a deacon by the hand of the late Metropolitan Elia Karam of Mount Lebanon at the Church of Holy Transfiguration in Dhour Chweir while spending the summer at St. Elias Patriarchal Monastery.
In 1953, he became the deacon for the late Patriarch Theodosius VI, Metropolitan of Tripoli at that time. In 1956 when the Metropolitan was elected as Patriarch of the see of Antioch, Deacon George accompanied him to the Patriarchate in Damascus to serve as his personal secretary.
On March 12, 1959, he was ordained to the priesthood and elevated to the rank of Archmandrite by the Patriarch at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus, and was the given the title of Protosangelos of the Patriarchate.
The Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East reports:
His Beatitude, John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, presided over the Divine Liturgy of Palm Sunday in the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. His Grace Bishop Ghattas (Hazim) the abbot, Bishop Ephraim (Malouli) and many priests and deacons took part. A large congregation of the faithful, a number of other religious persons, civil dignitaries and the Balmandian family, (that is to say: the university, the school and the Institute of Theology), filled the monastery. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, a precession with the icon of the Palm Sunday took place. His Beatitude, the clergy and the people carried the candles supplicating the Virgin Mary and chanting “to thee O Champion Leader” as an expression of the condemnation of all the Church, in the mother countries and beyond, of the abduction of Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi), Greek-Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo and Alexandretta and their dependencies, and Metropolitan John (Ibrahim), Syriac-Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo and as a supplication for their return and for the return of all kidnapped persons and refugees to their own homes and for the peace and an end to all violence. His Beatitude also invited all the faithful to make the period of the passion and resurrection as a time for expressing the unity of the Church whose members are gathered in fervent commitment to the truth. He also called for the resurrection of the heart as the best expression of the resurrection of humanity in this land. In conclusion, His Beatitude wished that service, love and courage would be a path toward the joy of the resurrection; a joy which cannot be taken away.
To see the Patriarchate's announcement in Arabic, please see the attached PDF.
It was a holy and historic day in Beirut. More than 1,000 hierarchs, clergy and lay people packed the incense-filled nave of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral on February 17, 2013, including both the President and Prime Minister of Lebanon, as well as government officials from the U.S., Russia, and other countries around the world.
Joining them were International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Board Chairman, Michael “Mickey” Homsey, and IOCC Executive Director, Constantine Triantafilou, who had both traveled from the United States to attend at the invitation of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. All were there to witness the same milestone, the first Divine Liturgy served by His Beatitude, John X, the newly elected Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.
His predecessor, Patriarch Ignatius of Blessed Memory, spent more than three decades serving as the spiritual father of the Orthodox faithful in Syria. Patriarch Ignatius’ leadership provided a wellspring of inspiration and comfort to Orthodox Christians throughout the Middle East, especially during troubled times. Without His Beatitude’s grateful assistance, IOCC's humanitarian efforts in the region would not have been fully realized.
Both Homsey and Triantafilou had met with Patriarch Ignatius during a visit to Syria last year shortly before his repose, during which they were humbled to receive His Beatitude’s blessing for IOCC’s ongoing humanitarian work in Syria, and his praise for the organization serving as a beacon of hope for so many struggling families.
Memory Eternal! + George Amouri, 1919 – 2013
Our brother in Christ, George Amouri, was called to heaven on April 24, 2013.
Most everyone in the Antiochian Archdiocese knew George not only by his quick and ever present smile, but by his devotion to his family, his church and, especially, his music.
George was perhaps the most respected of all choir directors, serving in that role for an amazing 40 years at St. George Church of Washington, D.C. He was recognized by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip for his outstanding contribution to the lifting of joyous sounds for over four decades.
George spent his time on the piano in his family room, trying new music to introduce and teach to the St. George Choir. He organized youth choirs, directed church talent shows and led the choir, every year, to retirement homes at Christmas to spread God’s loving sounds to those who could no longer attend service. And, of course, George always had his choir ready for the big choir competition at the Eastern Region Conventions. He was so proud of his group of singers.
George was a loving dad, grandad, great grandad, uncle, brother, brother in law…he was all of these. But more than that, he was a loving mentor, an inspiration to all who he touched, and a great friend to any and everyone. His actions spoke so much louder than his quiet countenance. He lived a life of compassion, generosity and understanding. He accepted all for who and what they are; always ready to lend a helping hand, a couple of bucks, a quick smile or a song. He brightened everyone’s day….every day. We will truly miss him.
George lovingly joins his wife, Georgette, to sit at the right hand of our Father in Heaven.
Rest in peace, George. We will hear and remember your glorious sounds forever.
Every year on Palm Sunday, a special Patriarchal tray offering is conducted in Antiochian parishes. The Palm Sunday special tray collection is for the benefit of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and is used at the discretion of the Patriarch to benefit people, churches, and programs of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the Middle East.
Now, more than ever, this material support is crucial, as our brothers and sisters in Syria are suffering such great hardship because of the violence that has gripped the country.
A significant portion of the funding that is required by the Archdiocese comes from the assessments and Special Trays which are paid by each parish to the Archdiocese on an annual basis.
For more information go here.
Chesterton, Indiana— Available now at Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) are six reflections on the first three days of Holy Week by Fr. Thomas Hopko. These podcast episodes are brand new to the internet radio station and a perfect way to prepare for the final Orthodox church services prior to Pascha.
Father Thomas is Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and the author of numerous books and articles, including Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction, published by Conciliar Press. His six reflections examine the significance of the Scripture readings and verses that are the focus of Holy Week. AFR has collected these reflections on a single page of its website.
Seeking to deepen and enrich the faith of Orthodox Christians around the world, AFR offers streaming audio programming and on-demand podcasts. It features liturgical music from a variety of Orthodox traditions, as well as prayers, readings, lectures, and interviews.
From Thursday to Sunday, April 4-7th, Orthodox homeschooling families from across the country traveled to Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA for the fifth annual Saint Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling Conference. The conference kicked off Thursday evening with the Akathist "Service to the Mother of God Nurturer of Children," then dinner followed along with a group photo and ice-breaker games. Workshops for both parents and children (ages 3-18) filled both Friday and Saturday, and the four days ended with Sunday's Hierarchical Divine Liturgy served by His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic on Sunday.
Some of the workshop sessions offered were: a series of iconography workshops for the teens with iconographer, Michael Kapeluck; "The Poetic Way of Teaching Classics" for parents by Dr. James Taylor, from St. Raphael Orthodox Online Homeschool; "Saint Brigid and Secret Giving" for the 5-6 year olds with Jane G Meyer, Orthodox children's author; and "Illustrating the New Testament" by author and publisher of the History Portfolio series, Barbara Shukin.
The National Youth Directors of several different Orthodox Jurisdictions, together with the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), have collaborated to offer several resources for clergy and lay people to help minister to our youth and young adults in light of the recent public violence in and around Boston.
The resource packet contains a cover letter from several youth directors, three reflections on the attacks by adults, ten tips for speaking to your youth groups and church school classes about public violence, and ten suggested steps for equipping your youth group or OCF chapter to respond to these tragedies. Additionally, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) has made available its online study guide “A Christian Response to Terrorism.” This study guide, originally compiled after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, provides prayers, scriptural references, and discussion questions to use with youth and young adults.
In addition to the OCA, these materials have been provided by collaboration between the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, the Ukrainian Church of the USA, and the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia.
[Yonkers, NY/ SVOTS Communications] From May 26 to June 26, 2013, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary will be offering six continuing education programs, of varied and unique interest, including a class for academic credit. Register before May 15, 2013, to have the $50 registration fee waived!
Sunday, May 26–Sunday, June 2, 2013
“A Journey in the Sacred Arts: Iconography Workshop for College-Age Youth,” designed for college-age students and endorsed by Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), — Khouria Erin Kimmet, Annunciation Press Icons, iconographer and workshop leader
Friday, May 31–Saturday June 1, 2013
“Conference on Poverty” — The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, SVOTS chancellor/CEO and conference coordinator’ and participants Jay Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and Susan R. Holman, adjunct lecturer at Episcopal Divinity School and senior writer at Harvard Global Health Institute
Midwest Antiochian Women’s Retreat
Friday-Sunday May 17-19, 2013
AT DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD ORTHODOX MONASTERY, 3389 RIVES EATON ROAD, RIVES JUNCTION, MICHIGAN.
1. reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
2. formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage: They attended worship this morning.
FR. JOHN KONKLE from the Dormition Monastery as he discusses Orthodox worship with us.
The Classical Learning Resource Center (CLRC), operating under the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Joseph, Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, has updated its selection of classes for the 2013-2014 school year. The distance-learning school's founders, John and Anne Van Fossen, are Antiochian Orthodox Christians based in Idaho. Read more about the school's philosophy and Orthodox roots in Anne's 2010 Antiochian.org interview.
The CLRC listed the following learning opportunities in their announcement:
Classical Greek and Latin:
Once again, we’ve expanded our Classical Greek and Latin program with more Latin 4 Kids classes and more advanced classes for middle school, high school, and adults. We now teach Latin classes for students as young as 6 years old all the way up to a second year college level. CLRC Greek classes are now available for students as young as 12 years old and continue to a second year college level. We also offer tutoring in both Greek and Latin and a wide variety of study aids and suggestions for all those who wish to acquire proficiency in these wonderful languages and to gain access to the beautiful literature they have been used to write.
April 16, 2013
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Within hours of the deadly series of explosions that left three people dead and more than 100 injured at yesterday's Boston Marathon, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston called upon International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Frontliners – the emergency response network of IOCC – to be dispatched to several Boston crisis counseling centers set up overnight. Four Frontliners, Orthodox clergy experienced and trained in emergency response, will take on the task of assessing the needs of those affected by the tragedy and providing crisis counseling at local emergency care centers set up throughout the city.
Bishop John Abdalah, Diocese of Worcester and New England, expressed his thanks to Metropolitan Philip and all of the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese for their support and love. "Many of our faithful were running and participating in the marathon while others watched the events develop through the media," he noted. "All of us in New England are grateful for the love and support of our Archdiocese."
"Let us not be deterred by this cowardly act of hatred," said Metropolitan Methodios, "but stand united in the exercise of freedom and justice, as we pray for peace and love to reign in our society."
IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou will continue to coordinate the emergency response; all the Orthodox faithful have been asked to assist in the emergency response by donating blood at the local Red Cross donation centers throughout the region.
Saint Michael the Archangel Orthodox Christian Church, a Western Rite congregation in the Antiochian Archdiocese, hosted The Right Rev. Bishop Basil (Essey), Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, for its first Divine Liturgy in its new church temple in Park City, KS, on April 7, 2013. This service on the third Sunday in Lent was a significant milestone in the life of the parish which has experienced many challenges and successes in the nine years of its existence.
St. Michael’s began when Fr. John Flora and a group of his former Episcopal parishioners sought to become members of the Orthodox Church. Father John and 37 members were accepted as catechumens by Bishop Basil in the narthex of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita on Dec. 31, 2003.
During the time St. Michael's parishioners were catechumens, they attended services in the Cathedral and later held morning prayer services in the chapel at St. George. Father John was ordained on Pascha, 2004, and St. Michael’s then celebrated Divine Liturgy in the cathedral chapel until it moved into a rented space of its own in March 2010.