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Available on YouTube: Watch the Speech of Oratorical Festival Winner Salena Ibrahim

Fr. Mousa Haddad of St. Mary Orthodox Church, Palos Heights, IL writes:

In the Oratorical Festival of the 52nd Convention of the Antiochian Archdiocese, held in Boston, MA, Salena Ibrahim of St. Mary Orthodox Church competed against all the winners from the other dioceses and impressed the judges once again with her amazing speech, winning first place!

Great job​. We are very proud of you!!! It takes a lot of hard work and determination to prepare for these competitions, and to compete at the diocesan and archdiocesan level. May God bless you and be with you always​. Mabrouk!!!

View Salena's speech on YouTube.

View all Photo Galleries: Convention and Patriarchal Visit 2015

The editors of Antiochian.org have created an aggregate of the photo galleries published during His Beatitude Patriarch John's visit. Go here to view the collection of galleries, "Convention and Patriarchal Visit 2015."

Memory Eternal! + Marie Ansara

Marie Ansara, 89, has returned to her heavenly home on July 28, 2015 in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She was born on November 22, 2015 in the town of Aita El-Fokhar, Lebanon where she grew up in a loving family with 6 siblings. For the past 38 years she made Michigan her home where she was surrounded by wonderful family and friends. She is survived by her brother Andrew Ansara and her two sisters Violette Matta and Nazek Kehdy. She was a tremendously devoted and loving aunt as well as great-aunt to many nieces and nephews. After a long battle with illness she is finally reunited with her beloved parents, brother and sisters who preceded her in death and whom she served with immense care and passion.

Marie was a lifelong member of St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Livonia Michigan where she will be laid to rest. The viewing will be held at the church on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 from 5-6 pm for immediate family. Visitation will follow from 6-8 pm.

The funeral will be held on Thursday July 30, 2015, at St. Mary's Church with final viewing from 10-11 am and funeral services will begin at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request that donations in her memory be made to "St. Mary's Building Fund".

May she rest in peace and may her memory be eternal!

Michigan SOYO Teens Participate in Pan-Orthodox Mission Outreach

The young members of our parish—the SOYO of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Livonia, MI—just returned from a trip that made history. We were all so blessed to participate, support, and watch this holy work take place!

On July 18, our twelve teens: Ibrahem Alrabady, Melissa Ansara, Celine Barghout, Pascal Barghout, Hani Kandalaft, Marisa Khamis, Joseph Nicolas, Michael Nicolas, Elena Saliba, Natalie Samaan, Katerena Sirhan, and Kaila Ziadeh, and two trip leaders, Christina Stavros and Michael Ansara, traveled four hours north on the first ever, 2015 SOYO Summer Mission Trip, to help "build up" the first Orthodox church in Traverse City, MI, the Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church. To our knowledge, this is the first mission trip, ever, in the history of our parish and, perhaps, the first time one mission parish has offered to help a mission parish in another Orthodox jurisdiction build their church.

New York Times Article Tells Story of Middle East's Suffering Christians

On July 22, 2015, The New York Times published an extensive story by journalist Eliza Griswold, detailing the history and current situation for Christians in the Middle East. In the article, titled "Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?", Griswold tells the stories of families relocated and villages torn asunder; of people killed, injured, or traumatized. The writer's narrative helps the reader grasp the enormous political and philanthropic challenges faced by the Christians of the region.

Read the full story

Memory Eternal! + The Very Reverend Gordon Walker

Memory Eternal!

The V. Rev. Gordon Thomas Walker, pastor emeritus of Saint Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, reposed in the Lord early in the morning of July 23, 2015. May his memory be eternal!

Father Gordon was instrumental in the movement toward and the reception of the former Evangelical Orthodox Church into the Orthodox Church and was ordained into the priesthood by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory in 1987. Father Gordon served as the senior priest at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin, TN, from 1987-1996, after which he served in the archdiocesan Department of Missions and Evangelism for a number of years before fully retiring.

Services for Fr. Gordon were presided over by His Grace Bishop Thomas and conducted at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, Franklin, TN.

Father Gordon is survived by his wife, Kh. Mary Sue Walker and five children: Tom, Deborah, Melissa, Grace and Jaquelilne and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Read a tribute to Fr. Gordon, "Memory Eternal, for a Quiet Giant in American Orthodoxy," by journalist Terry Mattingly

OCA's All American Council Adopts Resolution of Solidarity with Suffering Middle East Christians

From Oca.org:

Thursday morning, July 23, 2015, and during the AAC's fifth Plenary Session, delegates to the 18th All-American Council adopted a resolution expressing the Orthodox Church in America's solidarity with Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East and calling on governments to do everything possible to ensure their safety.

Presented by Dr. Paul Meyendorff and adopted by acclamation, the text of the resolution reads as follows.

"Whereas recent developments in the Middle East have caused great suffering to Christians in the area, leading to numerous deaths, desperate living conditions and mass movement of refugees, we, gathered at the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta, Georgia, express our solidarity and support for all suffering peoples in the area, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we call on our respective governments to take vigorously all possible political and humanitarian measures to ensure their safety and the survival of Christianity in the lands where it first took hold."

In a video produced by International Orthodox Christian Charities, introduced by Rada Tierney, the plight of the three million refugees and persons displaced from Syria and the measures being taken by the Patriarchate of Antioch and IOCC to alleviate their suffering were highlighted. In response to a recommendation by Archpriest John Zdinak, delegates spontaneously donated nearly $12,000.00 to assist IOCC in its ongoing ministry in the Middle East.

Convention Audio: Oratorical Festival, Bible Bowl, Addresses of Patriarch John and Metropolitan Joseph, and More!

St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA hosts the 52nd Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in Boston July 19 - 26, 2015. Ancient Faith Radio, in partnership with the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and with the blessing of HIs Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, is happy to bring you recordings of the convention to help keep you informed about this important meeting of the Church.

Listen now!

Patriarch John X to Speak about Christians in Middle East

His Beatitude Patriarch John XHis Beatitude Patriarch John XThe Most Blessed John X (Yazigi), Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, will be visiting St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary on Monday, July 27, 2015, to receive an honorary doctoral degree conferred by the seminary Board of Trustees and Faculty Council. The degree will be awarded at a public academic convocation at 6:00 p.m. in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building, during which His Beatitude will also give a presentation about the current circumstances of Christians in the Middle East. A public reception will follow.

“As Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary,” said Alex Machaskee, “I am extremely pleased that we are conferring an honorary doctorate on His Beatitude John X, patriarch of Antioch and All the East.”

The 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America Opens in Atlanta, GA

Photo: Oca.orgPhoto: Oca.orgHierarchs, clergy and faithful from across the US, Canada and Mexico journeyed to Atlanta, GA over the weekend of July 18-19, 2015 for the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon was warmly welcomed on Saturday, July 18, at the Council's venue, the Atlanta Hilton.

The All-American Council (AAC) will officially open with the celebration of a Service of Prayer at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 20, after which Metropolitan Tikhon will call the Council to order. In the plenary session, a video presentation highlighting the AAC's theme, “How To Expand The Mission," will be presented. As well, Metropolitan Tikhon will conduct an open forum, and delegates will hear the reports of the Very Rev. John J. Jillions, OCA Chancellor, and the Very Rev. Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary.

Read more on Oca.org.

Patriarch from Syria Arriving Today to Preside over Biennial Convention in Boston

July 16, 2015

The head of one of the oldest Christian churches on earth will arrive in the United States today to preside over the 52nd biennial Convention of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

The Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, His Beatitude Patriarch John X, will come from Damascus, Syria, for a pastoral visit to his spiritual children in the United States and Canada. The Convention will be held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts from Monday July 20 through Sunday July 26.

Hellenic College Holy Cross to Welcome Patriarch of Antioch and Teen SOYO Leadership

His Beatitude Patriarch John XHis Beatitude Patriarch John Xfrom www.hchc.edu:

Brookline MA - His Beatitude John X, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, will visit the campus of Hellenic College Holy Cross on July 20, 2015 as he opens the 52nd Antiochian Archdiocesan Convention to be held next week in Boston. The historic convention will be the first presided over by His Beatitude since his election as Patriarch in December of 2012, as well as the first convention since the election of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph as the primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. His Beatitude will be greeted by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, V.Rev. Christopher T. Metropulos, President of HCHC, as well as members of the Board of Trustees, the faculty, staff, and student body.

Fr. Metropulos noted the historical nature of the visit and remarked: “We are honored to have His Beatitude visit us on the Holy Hill. For many decades, HCHC has been a partner of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the formation and training of many of her clergy and lay leaders. We look forward to continuing to strengthen this relationship under the leadership of both His Beatitude and His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph.”

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Appoints Antiochian Priest Adrian Budica to Faculty

The Reverend Adrian Budica has been appointed to the faculty of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, as Supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and Director of Field Education. The appointment of Fr. Adrian, a seminary alumnus (M.Th., ’10), is effective July 1, 2015.

“We welcome Father Adrian, with his extensive pastoral experience and extraordinary educational credentials,” said The Very Reverend Dr. John Behr, seminary dean. “His chaplaincy roles at four major urban hospitals, his priestly service at a large cathedral, and his missionary mind, charitable heart, and sharp intellect will be gifts to our seminarians as they train in pastoral care.”

Father Adrian has been certified as an Associate Supervisor by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). He presently is pursuing two other certifications: as a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and as a CPE Supervisor (“Full”) with ACPE. He anticipates certification by both bodies in the fall of 2015.

Since completing his initial ACPE supervisory training in record time, successfully meeting with two regional committees and two national committees for certification, Fr. Adrian has been serving on the Administrative Board of the ACPE Eastern Region. For his work with ACPE, he was recognized as an “Emerging Leader 2015” at the recent ACPE National Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

New AFR Podcast Highlights Antiochian Village Summer Camp

Ancient Faith Radio is pleased to announce the launch of a new podcast, featuring updates from staff, clergy, and campers of Antiochian Village Summer Camp. It Takes A Village features homilies, stories, and reports from the daily life of Summer Camp for parents and friends to experience a bit of the life-changing ministry that happens there. The first episode features His Grace Bishop Thomas sharing a homily during the first session of camp this summer. The podcast, found at www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/avillage, will continue throughout the year to encourage alumni and friends of the camp to continue in their faith journeys.

Syrian Refugees Surge into Serbia Seeking Asylum

Syrian refugees gather outside of the police station in Presevo, Serbia, where they are waiting to be registered for assistance. IOCC is providing meals to the weary travelers as well as to local people in need. photo: Nenad Preleveic/IOCCSyrian refugees gather outside of the police station in Presevo, Serbia, where they are waiting to be registered for assistance. IOCC is providing meals to the weary travelers as well as to local people in need. photo: Nenad Preleveic/IOCCBaltimore, MD (IOCC) — One thousand miles separate Syria and Serbia, but the desperation to flee their war-torn country is driving thousands of refugees from Syria, as well as some from Afghanistan and other countries to make the long and dangerous journey. Their trek is a combination of boats, buses, trains, and walking. Many land in Greece first. From there, they head north on foot, walking hundreds of miles through the Balkans to the European Union. In the past six months, more than 37,000 refugees have endured rough terrain, temperatures hovering near 100 degrees, a lack of food and water, and violent attacks from predatory gangs along the way to reach Serbia.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Serbia is receiving by far the largest percentage of refugees seeking international protection in southeastern Europe. The refugees are using the route through Serbia to reach their desired final destination of Western Europe. Now Serbian authorities face an emerging crisis as they struggle to care for the growing masses of exhausted, hungry, and injured refugees making the arduous journey to hoped-for asylum.

St. Vladimir’s Seminary to Confer Honorary Degree on Patriarch John X

(L to R) Fr. John Behr, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Patriarch John, Fr. Chad Hatfield (photo: Dn. G. Hatrak)(L to R) Fr. John Behr, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Patriarch John, Fr. Chad Hatfield (photo: Dn. G. Hatrak)[SVOTS Communications / Yonkers, NY] The Most Blessed John X (Yazigi), Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, will be visiting St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary on Monday, July 27, 2015, to receive an honorary doctoral degree conferred by the seminary Board of Trustees and Faculty Council. The degree will be awarded at a public academic convocation at 6:00 p.m. in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building, during which His Beatitude will also give a presentation about the current circumstances of Christians in the Middle East. A public reception will follow.

"As Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir's Seminary," said Alex Machaskee, "I am extremely pleased that we are conferring an honorary doctorate on His Beatitude John X, patriarch of Antioch and All the East."

Seminary Dean, the Very Reverend Dr. John Behr, added, "It is our joy to welcome Patriarch John to our campus, and it is our honor that he is willing to accept a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa from our school." Father John also mentioned that His Beatitude is known to him through a personal connection: he is a fellow monk at the Monastery of St. Paul on Mount Athos (Agiou Pavlou), the same monastic community at which Fr. John's brother, Fr. Evdokimos, resides.

New Report Looks at Orthodox Christian Fellowship's Collegiate Ministry

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America released a new study report today. The report focuses on Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), the official collegiate campus ministry program of the Assembly.

"The study was completed via surveying the students participating in 130 OCF chapters nationwide," notes the study's author, Assembly Research Coordinator Alexei D. Krindatch. "It offers solid insight into the lives of the Orthodox students on the campuses of US colleges and universities."

OCF plays a critical role in the lives of young Orthodox adults who study at US colleges and universities. Strong OCF chapters can provide a vital connection for youth to the Orthodox Church and stem the tide of students who leave the Orthodox Faith while in college. Key questions were asked: What types of challenges do OCF chapters face? What are their needs? What does it take to be a successful and vibrant OCF chapter? The report answers these and other questions from the viewpoints of active student OCF leaders.

Read the full report here.
Access summaries and links to all of the Assembly's research reports here.

Syrian Refugees Risk Lives To Find Safety In Greece

June 30, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Summer is the height of tourist season in the Greek isles, but Amina, 35, isn't on the island of Chios with her husband and three young sons for a vacation. The Syrian refugee family is in flight from Damascus. Their long and arduous trek took them through Lebanon and into Turkey, where they hiked a grueling 200 miles across the country to reach a boat that would carry them to safety in Greece.

Also part of their group were several Syrian youth under 18 traveling alone or with distant relatives, like Sahir, 17, a member of Amina's extended family. They travel at great risk with the hope to reach Western Europe and register as underage refugees, which would allow their parents to join them.

The eastern Aegean isles have been inundated by the flow of Syrian refugees arriving by sea. The island of Chios, which lies just four miles from Turkey, has received more than 7,000 newcomers since last March.

Diocese of the Midwest Concludes PLC in Grand Rapids, MI

Concelebrating PLC clergy at St. Nicholas Church, Sunday, June 28Concelebrating PLC clergy at St. Nicholas Church, Sunday, June 28Father Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL reports:

Our 2015 Midwest Diocese Parish Life Conference took place June 24 to 28, at the Beautiful Amway Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Thank you to Fr. Daniel Daly and the people of St. Nicholas Church in Grand Rapids for hosting us!

Read about the winning Bible Bowl team.

2015 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference Concludes

DOWAMA Clergy preparing for Saturday's Divine LiturgyDOWAMA Clergy preparing for Saturday's Divine LiturgyHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Many years and most sincere thanks to Fr. George and Khouriya Raghad Shawareb and the congregation of St. Elias Church in Arvada, Colorado for hosting the most enjoyable 2015 DOWAMA Parish Life Conference on June 10-14, 2015.

The Diocese of Wichita's auxiliary organizations will be headed by the following persons for the 2015-2016 year:

  • Fr. Richard Petranek, proestos of the Council of Deans
  • Mr. A.B. Bayouth, president of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine
  • Mr. Munir Pavez, president of SOYO
  • Mrs. Deanna Bottei, president of the Antiochian Women
  • Mr. Barry Busada, chair of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch

Next year's PLC will be hosted by St. Antony Church Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Nativity of the Forerunner St. John the Baptist + June 24

O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, we honour thee lovingly but cannot extol thee worthily; for by thy birth thy mother's barrenness and thy father 's dumbness were unloosed; and the Incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world.

--Troparion, Tone 4

View a festal page dedicated to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

Read Fr. Joseph Huneycutt's thoughts on the importance of the feast.

Listen to Fr. Patrick Reardon's homily.

Economos Antony Gabriel of Montreal Retires After 54 Years of Parish Ministry

Fr. Antony receives a medal from Queen Elizabeth IIFr. Antony receives a medal from Queen Elizabeth IIEconomos Antony Gabriel, longtime pastor of St. George Orthodox Church in Montreal, Quebec, has retired after nearly 54 years of priestly ministry in the Antiochian Archdiocese. In Fr. Antony's farewell address to St. George's Annual General Meeting on Tuesday June 16, 2015, he thanked the many dedicated people who worked alongside him to create a cohesive community in the heart of this vibrant Canadian city. "I may have led the parade, but you were the marchers...in the life of St. George," he said gratefully.

In September of 2012, Fr. Antony was honored for his dedication and commitment, when His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presided over a weekend of festivities hosted by St. George in commemoration of Father's 50 years of holy priesthood. Although Fr. Antony is retiring from active parish ministry, he will continue to serve as Chairman of the Antiochian Heritage Foundation.

 

Assyrian Children Bear Scars Of War, Face New Challenges In Exile

Cynthia, 9, and her classmate, David, 8, are among 128 Assyrian refugee students receiving IOCC assistance to continue their schooling in Lebanon: photo: Ramzi Haidar/IOCCCynthia, 9, and her classmate, David, 8, are among 128 Assyrian refugee students receiving IOCC assistance to continue their schooling in Lebanon: photo: Ramzi Haidar/IOCCJune 18, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Desperate to flee the onslaught of violence surrounding his village near Hasakah, Syria, Charbel remembers how frightened he was when his family barely escaped their home before they saw it destroyed by their attackers. The 14-year-old Assyrian boy left behind all of his possessions, friends, and school, but still carries his memories of Syria before the war and a wish to become a dentist someday.

Cynthia, 9, lived through similar terror when she and her parents were forced to quickly leave their home in the Syrian village of Tel Arbosh at dawn as the sounds of shooting could be heard in the distance. She is not sure what happened to her house or the family's belongings. Cynthia says she feels safe in Lebanon, but misses her school in Syria where she excelled at reading and writing in her third grade class.

Assyrian Christians, an ethnic minority group who speak a modern form of the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, are being forced out of lands they have occupied for millennia. More than 1,000 Assyrian families from Syria have found safety behind Lebanon's borders after being targeted last February in attacks on villages stretching along the southern bank of the Khabour River. Their attackers burned homes and churches, murdered a fleeing 16-year-old boy, and abducted more than 200 Assyrian Christian men, women and children from their homes.

Executive Committee of the Assembly of Bishops Meets with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Istanbul—On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew warmly received the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America at the Phanar in Constantinople.

During the meeting, which took place in a spirit of open exchange in the personal office of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the hierarchs reviewed with His All-Holiness the work of the Assembly of Bishops, especially as it relates to the overall work of its committees. Particular attention was given to the work of the Committees for Pastoral Practice and Canonical Regional Planning. The hierarchs also discussed a number of challenges and opportunities in the formulation of a proposed plan for the restructuring of the Orthodox Church in the United States.

Joining the Ecumenical Patriarch, Elder Metropolitan John of Pergamon discussed the mission of the Assemblies of Bishops as originally envisioned at their inception in Chambésy in 2009. Both the Ecumenical Patriarch and Metropolitan John commended the efforts of the U.S. hierarchs, and acknowledged their work as a model for inter-Orthodox cooperation.

Present at the meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch and Elder Metropolitan John of Pergamon were the following members of the Executive Committee: Archbishop Demetrios (Ecumenical Patriarchate, Assembly Chairman), Bishop John (Moscow Patriarchate, Second-Vice Chairman), Metropolitan Antony (Treasurer), Bishop Longin (Patriarchate of Serbia), Archbishop Nicolae (Patriarchate of Romania), Metropolitan Joseph (Patriarchate of Bulgaria), Bishop Saba (Patriarchate of Georgia). Also present were Bishop Maxim (Coordinator for Committees) and Metropolitan Tikhon (OCA).

Ready, Set, Go! Village Kicks off First Camp Session

Staff training week at the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA, is complete, and Session One has started! Meet the 2015 summer staff on the Village's website. 

The Village's Facebook page reported on Day One this way:

Three words to describe Monday's weather: hot, humid, and rainy. But such could not dull the spirit of our campers, as they were active as ever. We started off the morning with breakfast, giving everyone an extra hour to sleep in. This provided them with the energy they needed to remain attentive in their first sessions of morning program! Some attended "Ask Abouna," doing a Q & A with our lovely session priests, Abouna James King from St. Mary in Livonia, MI, and Fr. Noah Bushelli from St. Philip in Souderton, PA. Our chanting cabins went to the Conference Center for their morning practice, and the rest of the campers were scattered about the camp, and the challenge course.