The following is the New Year’s letter offered to the teens of the Antiochian Archdiocese by Fr. Joseph F. Purpura, the chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry. In it, he describes his hopes and prayers for the youth of the Archdiocese in this new season.
As we enter the year of our Lord 2013, a flood of thoughts flow through my mind concerning you the young people of this great archdiocese. For many years I have been blessed to lead the youth efforts across this North American Archdiocese. First as a Regional Spiritual Advisor from 1981-1985, then as the North American Council of SOYO Spiritual Advisor from 1985-1991 and then as Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry from 1990 to present. In each of these thirty-five years of priesthood and youth work, I have been keenly aware of three things:
First, that our task is to pass the faith down to each of you.
Second, to instill in you a love for Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church and to enable you to live a righteous life in Jesus Christ.
Third, to raise generations of disciples and leaders for Christ’s Holy Orthodox Church and these North American nations in which we reside.
With each passing year and with each successive generation of young persons placed before us, I continue to be amazed and filled with joy at just how blessed our archdiocese and Holy Orthodox Church here in North America is to have so many dedicated, loving, and Christ-centered young persons in our midst. So often the media is filled with all that is wrong in our society, especially among young people, yet all we need to do is look at you, the youth of this archdiocese, and know that God is present and working in you.
From the Diocese of the West:
It is with extreme sadness that we inform you that our beloved brother in Christ, Father Polycarp Whitcomb, Pastor of St. Athanasius Church in Sacramento, California, fell asleep in the Lord on Friday, January 4, 2013. His Eminence Archbishop Joseph has asked the parishes to remember him in your prayers for the departed for the next 40 days and to hold a special Trisagion for his eternal life. The funeral arrangements will be announced once they are set. May God receive him in His Heavenly Kingdom and may his memory be eternal.
Des Plaines, IL – More than 60 parents, clergy and youth leaders attended a breakfast forum titled “How To Talk To Your Kids…and save your child from substance use/abuse” on Saturday, December 8 at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Des Plaines, IL, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY), the forum hosted people from seven Orthodox jurisdictions representing fifteen parishes in the Greater Chicago area.
Following a prayer and welcome from OCCHY Director Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, and brief introduction to OCCHY by Project Coordinator Gordana Trbuhovich, the program began with a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) video presentation, featuring Dr. Nora Volkow. Three dynamic speakers followed, beginning with Fr. Athanasios Papagiannis, LCSW, a licensed social worker and assistant priest at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago. Father Athanasios stressed positive and spiritual relationships in his presentation, “You and Your Child." “The way you bend the young branch,” Father stated, “is the direction in which the tree will grow."
The Western Rite Vicariate announces the publication of ORDO 2013. This booklet is the official liturgical guide for all Western Rite parishes in the Vicariate. It contains directions for reciting the Divine Office and celebrating the Mass according to the calendar and use of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. It contains rubrics for both the Rite of St. Gregory with the Monastic Diurnal, and the Rite of St. Tikhon with The English Office.
The ORDO 2013 is available in both print and electronic formats. Copies may be purchased at the St. Luke’s Priory Press Store on Lulu: www.lulu.com/spotlight/frfenton.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The conflict that rages on in Syria has severely crippled the country's power plants as well as damaged major roads needed to transport heating fuel during the coldest time of year, while violence, sanctions and instability in the region have led to critical fuel shortages. As thousands of displaced families and elderly throughout Syria struggle to stay warm on nights that dip below freezing, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding with winter relief to more than 30,000 Syrian families.
Through your generous support and support from the ACT Alliance, IOCC in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) distributed diesel stoves and electric heaters to several areas in Syria. Families living in areas with access to fuel but no power received diesel stoves, while families facing fuel shortages but still have electricity received electric heaters.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — More than 80 representatives of the nation's Orthodox Christian service organizations joined together at the White House on December 14, 2012, to discuss strategic service alliances with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The White House Conference on Orthodox Christian Engagement was hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement in conjunction with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and facilitated by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
Present to discuss the role of Orthodox Christians in social outreach, disaster response, and community development in the United States were Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas and liaison to IOCC from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
On Friday, December 21, 2012, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip continued an annual tradition at the headquarters for the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, NJ, by hosting the choir of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Little Falls, NJ. The night of caroling and fellowship, a tradition of some forty years, featured the St. George choir directed by Christine Lynch.
The carolers arrived at the door of the Archdiocese singing the hymns and carols of the season, until ushered in by Metropolitan Philip. They continued the mini-concert of liturgical and secular religious carols while the Metropolitan and his guests, including Bishop Nicholas, St. George's pastor Fr. Dimitri Darwich, and area clergy and friends listened, and then joined in the singing.
Memory Eternal! Prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the handmaiden of God, Kh. Joanne Bitar, wife of Archpriest Elias Bitar (retired) of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Little Falls, NJ. Khouria Joanne fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday morning, December 30, 2012, after a long battle with cancer.
A long time volunteer at Antiochian Village, and a beloved mother to Katrina, Sister Ignatia, Martha, Michael, and Antony, Kh. Joanne will be laid to rest at St. Nina's Monastery in Union Bridge, Maryland.
The service times at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 237 Long Hill Rd., Little Falls, NJ, are as follows:
Wednesday, January 2: Viewing and Trisagion service, 5-9pm
Thursday January 3, Funeral at 9:00 a.m.
May Kh. Joanne's memory be eternal!
The following liturgical calendar has been prepared by the Department of Liturgics and Translations for all official Archdiocese needs.
Church Calendar for the Year 2014
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press recently released Turning East: Contemporary Philosophers and the Ancient Christian Faith, a compilation of autobiographical essays written by philosophers who have become Orthodox Christians. The book's editor, Rico Vitz, is an Antiochian Orthodox Christian who attends St. Barnabas Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa, California. He is also the Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Azusa Pacific University and has authored Reforming the Art of Living: Nature, Virtue, and Religion in Descartes’s Epistemology as well as various articles and chapters in other books of philosophy.
Several of the contributors in Turning East, including Richard Swinburne (Oxford) and Tristram Engelhardt (Rice University), are internationally recognized scholars in their respective fields of philosophy of religion and bioethics. Although Turning East is written in an academic tone, it is still accessible to almost any reader and provides fascinating insight, not only into the Church itself, but into the lives of interesting people.
His Grace Bishop Anthony writes:
Your Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Beloved in Christ,
Christ is in our midst!
My father Anthony Michaels fell asleep in the Lord on Tuesday December 17th, the commemoration of Daniel and the three holy youths: Ananias, Azarias, and Misail.
Funeral arrangements for Anthony Michaels are as follows:
Friday, December 21st
5:00 - 7:00 pm - Visitation
7:00 pm - Trisagion Prayers
Saturday, December 22nd
11:00 am - Funeral
Lunch to follow
St. Simon Orthodox Church
226 E. Harding Ave.
Ironwood, MI, 49938
I ask your prayers for the repose of his soul and your continued prayers for my family. May his memory be eternal.
December 15, 2012
Dear Teens of the Antiochian Archdiocese,
Please keep in your prayers all of the children and adults killed this past Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.
There are no words to describe the why of these senseless killing of innocent children and adults.
Our hope, trust, and comfort is found in God the Father who so loved us that He sent His own Son to become one of us, to die on the Cross, and to rise from the dead, making a way to the Kingdom for us so that we might have life in abundance.
May the approaching Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bring you comfort and peace as we contemplate the tremendous and unending love of God for each of us. May His love and His presence bring you great comfort in the coming weeks and year.
Yours in Christ,
V. Rev. Dr. Joseph F Purpura
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Listen to "Who is the New Patriarch of Antioch?"
A December 19, 2012 report on the Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) podcast, "Ancient Faith Presents," offered insights into the background, qualifications, and personality of Patriarch-elect John X. As reported on Antiochian.org, His Eminence the Metropolitan Archbishop of Western and Central Europe was elected Patriarch of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East on December 17, 2012, during a special session held at the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.
In this exclusive AFR report, John Maddex interviewed two people who have longstanding ties with the newly elected Patriarch. The Very Rev. Joseph Allen, chairman of Theological and Pastoral Education at the Antiochian House of Studies, noted that he spent a number of hours with Patriarch-elect John when he visited the United States a few years ago and spoke at the Clergy Symposium at Antiochian Village. Father Joseph noted that Patriarch-elect John X will bring much to his new role, as one who is very well educated, possessing excellent English skills, liturgically talented, but also, a compassionate hierarch who has a heart for God and people. "He is strict for himself but forgiving in dealing with others—and he has a good sense of humor," said Fr. Joseph. "His election is a blessing to Antioch."
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.