Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — As the conflict in Syria continues to escalate, disrupting the lives of more than one million Syrians, displacing 56,000 people from their homes according to UN estimates, and leaving thousands of families without access to food and urgently needed medical care, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is intensifying its current response efforts to meet the surging humanitarian needs for emergency medical aid, food and basic necessities for Syrian families displaced in their own country.
Working in partnership with the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) in Syria, IOCC is coordinating with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and other local relief partners to reach and distribute aid for the affected families in hard hit regions such as Homs, as well as to provide humanitarian relief to displaced families who have made it to relatively safer areas like Damascus. IOCC and GOPA recently delivered much needed medical supplies such as bandages, surgical gloves, sterilizers, stethoscopes, and surgical kits for distribution to Al-Hosn Hospital in the Homs area, a non-profit hospital affiliated with the Orthodox Church that provides charity care, and to other underequipped hospitals and clinics in the Homs region.
The Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black recently held their Annual Ancient Christianity Conference at Antiochian Village, from May 25-May 27. His Grace Bishop Thomas was a featured guest; audio of the Opening Addresses and Sessions is available on Ancient Faith Radio.
The Brotherhood posted the following letter of thanks from Vice-President Carla Thomas:
Greetings in Christ,
Dear Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Thomas,
How refreshing it is to have the Lord's shepherds to be so supportive of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black.
The 2012 BSMB Annual Ancient Christianity Conference was held at the Antiochian Village 5/25-5/27. The conference is supported by a grant from Christ the Saviour Brotherhood. 75 men, women and children attended the conference. The lectures are available on Ancient Faith Radio.
The Synod of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America will convene their regular Spring meeting on June 8 and 9, at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA. In addition, the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, the Antiochian Village Council, and the Order of St. Ignatius' Governing Council are all meeting over the weekend as well.
We ask all of the faithful to pray for our hierarchs, clergy, and lay leaders who will participate in these most important meetings. May they be blessed for the glorification of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and His Holy Church.
Brookline, MA - June 1, 2012. The North American OCF Office has launched an exciting new program to reach out to incoming first-year Orthodox college students at colleges and universities throughout North America, named The First Forty Days. As its name implies, during the first forty days of the 2012 fall semester, local OCF student leaders and chaplains will work to make personal contact with all new incoming students. They will be given information regarding the OCF chapter on campus and nearby Orthodox parishes. The intent of this program is to foster a personal connection with our students so that young college students will stay connected to Christ and His Church during their years in post-secondary education.
To accomplish this, OCF needs the help of all Orthodox Parishes in North America. In the coming weeks, OCF will be gathering the contact information of all incoming college freshman students in all of the Orthodox parishes across the continent. Each parish is asked to provide the North American OCF Office with some basic information concerning their high school graduates who will be attending college in the Fall on a downloadable spreadsheet, which is available here.
The staff at Antiochian Village writes:
You may have heard that a tornado hit the Antiochian Village Camp and St Thekla Monastery on Friday, June 1st at approximately 5:20 PM. Thanks to our gracious and loving God, the members of our staff were in St Ignatius Church at the time praying the Paraklesis to the Mother of God when the tornado struck. No one was hurt. However there is extensive damage at the camp. We have hundreds of trees down and eighteen of our buildings were impacted by the tornado and tree debris. We have already started the clean up process. We have much work to do to get the camp back in shape. Please keep us in your prayers. We will provide updates as we have more information.
The staff update from June 3 reads:
Thank you for your love and support as we bounce back from the tornado. We have received many offers of help in the clean-up process. Under the advice of our insurance company, at the present time we are NOT accepting volunteer help. We are using professional services as much of the initial work can be quite hazardous. If we get to a point where we can use volunteer help, we will put a call for your assistance. Thank you again for your outpouring of love. We are so thankful to God for our safety and all of the wonderful people who are ready to pitch in.
The staff update from June 10 reads:
The 2011 annual report for the Committee for Pastoral Practice is available here. This committee is charged with the important tasks of identifying the different answers the various jurisdictions have given to sacramental and pastoral problems, and for figuring out a way to provide a single answer for all of the Orthodox churches in North America. This includes such issues as how the Church handles marriages, divorces, and the reception of converts. This committee will try to find a resolution that is in accord with the Church's theology and her canonical practice. Ultimately, however, this committee will not make any decisions. Its proposals will be presented to all the bishops of the Assembly, who can then determine the best approach. Of course, some of these issues can only be settled by the Mother Churches, and it is this committee's responsibility to help the Assembly develop recommendations for the expected Great and Holy Synod which will include all Orthodox bishops throughout the world.
In addition, the Committee for Legal Affairs, which is chaired by Bishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, held its initial meeting by conference call on April 25, 2012. The work of the Committee is being facilitated by seventeen judges and lawyers who currently act as consultants. The Committee is scheduled to hold a face to face meeting in Atlanta on July 10, 2012.
Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries for the Antiochian Archdiocese, is alerting high school students to the launching of a new scholarship program sponsored by The Reagan Foundation. The Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Debate Series, which will award $35,000 in scholarship funds to outstanding high school debate students across the nation, will begin in June. The Series is designed to provide an avenue for high school students across the country to develop their civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions as they research, discuss, and engage in public debate. This program is designed to align with and leverage the energy of Election 2012.
The competition will consist of three distinct rounds. First, local debates will take place on high school campuses nationwide between June and September of 2012. School champions will advance to regional championships held in September and October of 2012. Regional championships will be held at university campuses from east to west. Those champions will then be flown to the National Championship at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on October 27, 2012 and compete for $35,000 in scholarship awards.
For more information, visit the Antiochian Archdiocese's Scholarship page.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip wishes to remind all Lebanese citizens residing in the United States that they must register by December 31, 2012, in order to qualify to vote in the Lebanese 2013 elections. All necessary information can be easily accessed through the website of the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C.
Update 6/1/12 - His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
MAY SHE BE GRANTED PARADISE! Eleven priests and two deacons served with me the Trisagion Prayers and Funeral for Kh. Lilija Veronica Vreeland on Wednesday and Thursday at St. George Church in Kearney, Nebraska. Hundreds of layfolk from all over the diocese and elsewhere filled every available space on the ground-floor and balcony of St. George Church for these divine services and, led by Kearney's very fine chanters, beautifully sang congregational responses at the divine services. May Khouriya Lilija's memory be eternal, and may you and your families be granted long life.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
Khouriya Lilija Veronica Vreeland, retired from St. George Church in Kearney, Nebraska, reposed at 1:50PM on Sunday, May 27th after a long and heroic battle with cancer. May she be granted Paradise! Condolences to our brother Fr. Philip and the children and grandchildren.
The schedule of divine services for Khouriya Lilija is as follows:
WEDNESDAY, MAY 30th Visitation at St George Church 5:00-7:00PM Trisagion Prayers of Mercy 7:00PM Reception will follow in the parish fellowship hall.
THURSDAY, MAY 31st Funeral at 10:30AM Interment at Kearney Cemetery Mercy Meal will follow in the parish fellowshiop hall.
Please join me in praying a rope for Khouriya Lilija's respose, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, grant rest to the soul of Thy departed servant." May her memory be eternal, and may you be granted long life.
In Christ Who is our Resurrection and our Life,
The Saint George Orthodox Military Association (SGOMA) has announced the inauguration of the Saint George Catechetical Program. Interested individuals can now support the troops and sailors of the Armed Forces with the gift of carefully selected Orthodox books. Notes the SGOMA website, "It has been a slow and long process but SGOMA has been developing a Catechetical Program for our military to teach our Orthodox Christians the Holy Faith in more detail...this is also a program for inquirers to use to learn the Holy Faith."
In coordination with Light & Life Publishing, SGOMA has assembled two small "libraries"of books which can be donated through the Catechetical Program. The soldiers' and sailors' names have been compiled and approved by Saint George Orthodox Military Association, and SGOMA will be match each "library" to an appropriate recipient. Light & Life will then ship the books to wherever the military member may be serving, either in the United States or overseas.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes to His Eminence Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA:
Christ is Risen!
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing into eternal life of His Eminence, Metropolitan CONSTANTINE just two days after celebrating his 40th anniversary in the holy and sacred episcopacy. Please know that the his loss is not only felt among the clergy and faithful of your God-protected archdiocese, but throughout Orthodox America. Having worked with Metropolitan CONSTANTINE in both SCOBA and the Assembly of Bishops over many years, I knew him to be a faithful servant in the vineyard of the Lord. On behalf of our local synod of bishops, and the clergy and faithful of our Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, we express our most sincere condolences to the hierarchy, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Be assured that we will remember him in our prayers for the next 40 days.
Praying that his soul is resting with the saints and that his memory be eternal, I remain,
Your Brother in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA Consistory Office of Public Relations writes:
Metropolitan Constantine of Blessed Memory: 1936-2012
Dearly Beloved Brother Hierarchs, Clergy and All Orthodox Faithful:
It is with a profound depth of sadness that we hereby inform you of the repose, in the morning of 21 May, 2012 in the 76 year of his earthly pilgrimage, of His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine, the Ruling Hierarch of the Central Eparchy and the Primate of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
His Beatitude was stricken with a serious illness just a few weeks ago and was released only three days ago from a local Pittsburgh hospital, which enabled him to participate in the celebration of his 40th anniversary of Archpastoral ministry among the faithful of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. This celebration took place at the Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, PA with the presence of his brother Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchs and visiting bishops of other Orthodox jurisdictions, his family from the United States and his beloved spiritual children, the clergy and faithful of the UOC of the USA, South America and Europe.
Christ is Risen!
Spring finally arrived after a long bout of fluctuating weather, represented here by a late, heavy snow in April. The storm was definitely beautiful, yet it presented other problems. As the large, pristine flakes of snow dropped and veiled the monastery in brilliant white, I thought and prayed about the newly installed package of bees, the garden that was half dug, and the enormous rhododendrons I had pruned, still in a preflower stage. Recalling Psalm 148, I trusted that everything would be all right: “frosts and snow” and “all flying and creeping things” praising the Lord together. On a hive check, I pressed my ear against the cold wood and could hear the buzzing of the community within the hive working together to maintain a comfortable temperature. In fact, they were probably warmer than I was as I made my way around the property with a snow shovel attempting to relieve the trees of their unwanted burden. Within a few days the weather was warmer and I returned to the garden to plant lettuce, corn, carrots, onions, herbs, and sunflowers. Some soil waits, prepared for the planting of the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, peas and company in June.....
Recently, the public discussion about marriage and about the propriety of its redefinition has once again become prominent. It is a discussion that is certain to continue for a long time yet. In light of this, the Assembly reaffirms the ancient and unchanging teaching of the Church and invites the faithful to read the important statement below, issued by the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) in 2003 and as relevant and binding today as when first published.
SCOBA Statement on Moral Crisis in Our Nation
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
As members of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), representing more than 5 million Orthodox Christians in the United States, Canada and Mexico, we are deeply concerned about recent developments regarding “same sex unions.”
The Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, 2000 years of church tradition, and canon law, holds that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage is blessed by God as a sacrament of the Church. Neither Scripture nor Holy Tradition blesses or sanctions such a union between persons of the same sex.
Holy Scripture attests that God creates man and woman in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27-31), that those called to do so might enjoy a conjugal union that ideally leads to procreation. While not every marriage is blessed with the birth of children, every such union exists to create of a man and a woman a new reality of “one flesh.” This can only involve a relationship based on gender complementarity. “God made them male and female… So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mark 10:6-8).
[YONKERS, NY / SVOTS COMMUNICATIONS] St. Vladimir's Seminary Chorale delivered a stunning performance of sacred music in the heart of Manhattan on Monday evening, May 7th. With artistic execution and prayerful potency, the singers filled the warm and inviting space of St. Malachy's Chapel with a sound fitting for heaven—and needful on earth.
Through a multi-media presentation titled "ORIENT: Sacred Song and Image" the chorale combined word and image to create an evangelical message that proved to be both spiritually powerful and aesthetically absorbing. The performance employed a variety of iconographic projections and liturgical compositions from the Orthodox Christian tradition, seamlessly matched to create a joyous yet profound experience for concert goers, who listened in rapt attention to the 22-voice chorus and expressed their appreciation to the chorale with a long lasting and standing ovation.
Included in the audience was a special guest, His Grace The Rt. Rev. Nicholas, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and Resident Assistant to Metropolitan Philip of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.
Matushka Robin Freeman, a staff member in the Advancement Office at the seminary who holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, created the concert format and conducted in its premiere at IU's Jacobs School of Music in 2010. She served as one of the concert conductors for the New York City premiere, along with Hierodeacon Herman, lecturer in Liturgical Music and Chapel Choir Director at the seminary.
"Come Receive the Light," the flagship podcast of the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN), is running a series in May about Orthodox parenting. Notes Father Chris Metropulos, OCN's Executive Director, "I don't know about you but I never took a course in parenting either in high school or college but I did learn a great deal from my parents and I must confess I am learning about it every day as I watch our six children and now two grandchildren grow and mature."
The scheduled topics are:
Speaker: Dr. Philip Mamalakis
Topic: Parenting with a Purpose
This week, we begin our monthly theme of parenting with Dr. Philip Mamalakis. What is the relationship between our parenting and our faith? Dr. Mamalakis reflects on the connection between the Divine Liturgy and our everyday parenting goals, like getting kids to bed on time.
Speaker: Dr. Nick Yphantides
Topic: Fueling our Kids to Excel
When does our journey of parenting begin? Hear what Orthodox doula Maria Armstrong thinks. Plus, how can we fuel our kids to succeed in life? Dr. Nick Yphantides talks about the connection of food to our children’s physical, mental and even emotional health.
Speaker: Dr. Allena Barbato
Topic: Self-Expression and Self-Esteem
We continue our month-long look at parenting with Dr. Allena Barbato, who will offer some guidance about children and self-expression. Where should we encourage our kids to express themselves, and where do we draw the line?
Speaker: Dr. Ary Christofidis
Topic: Respect your Parents: Not Just for Kids!
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) announced today that applications are being received for the position of North American Chaplain. The position is being increased to half-time, and will be held by an Orthodox clergyman who will also have the ability to continue to serve a parish or other ministry.
Fr. Michael Nasser, OCF’s current North American Chaplain, shared his thoughts on this development: “With OCF’s new leadership and with a fast-growing awareness among parents and clergy of how vital this ministry to our students really is, I couldn’t be happier that the next North American Chaplain will have more time to be dedicated to this great work.”
OCF is currently restructuring to better guide and support the hundreds of OCF chapters spread out across North America. The new North American Chaplain will work across all Orthodox jurisdictions, providing resources and assistance to the chaplains who work directly with the students on campus.
Antiochian priest Fr. Andrew Damick, an author, blogger and podcaster, is now recording and posting his weekly homilies to his podcast, Roads From Emmaus: Exploring the Intersection Between Place, Communion, and Revelation.
In his homily on Thomas Sunday, Fr. Andrew discussed the difference between the story of Christ and our own story in the world, and on Myrrh-bearers Sunday, Fr. Andrew spoke about our motivation for acts of piety.
Pastor of St. Paul Orthodox Christian Church of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, Fr. Andrew is also the author of the Conciliar Press book, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy. He describes his perspective on his blog, Roads from Emmaus, this way: "Much of what you might read here will focus on Christian localist themes of place, incarnation, limits, and real communion. I love my home, and I’m firmly of the belief that loving one’s home is a critical element in Christian life and particularly for evangelism."
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of Akron, Ohio, celebrated 95 years and dedicated its new Family/Youth Center the weekend of April 27. Presiding over the busy schedule of events, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip joined parishioners at the hafli on April 27, at a banquet on April 28, and also celebrated liturgy with the community on Sunday, April 29.
Reporter Kathleen Folkerth of Akron Leader Publications, noted that "Mimi Hicks, president of the Ladies Society, gave Mahashie (Fr. Louis Mahshie) a $25,000 check for the Family/Youth Center building fund, bringing its total donation to $100,000." The Center was built to accomodate the growing and active youth group of St. George, recently named the Teen Club of the Year during a recent youth convention.
from the St. Vladimir's Seminary website:
View the Concert Program by clicking here!
Join us for an exquisite evening of liturgical music sung in the traditional styles of Orthodox Christian churches worldwide. In a multi-media program that interweaves luminous icons, sacred texts, and a rich a cappella sound, the St. Vladimir's Seminary Chorale will perform ORIENT: Sacred Song and Image at the famous St. Malachy's,"The Actors' Chapel," in the heart of Manhattan, at 239 West 49th Street, New York City. This stirring concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The concert program will include pieces from the broader Orthodox tradition sung in their original languages— Greek, Georgian, Estonian, Slavonic—as well as choral music by Orthodox composers written for the concert hall. Two visual projections—one of images of Orthodox icons and the other of translations of musical texts—will run simultaneously as the chorale sings. Icons, music, and text will expound one another, just as they do within the Orthodox liturgy. The concert will combine the best elements of a professional choral performance with the depth and authenticity of the Orthodox liturgical experience, resulting in a truly beautiful multimedia artistic performance, and a full, authentic vision of the Orthodox Christian faith.
On February 21, Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, sent a letter to the US Secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton, requesting the immediate release of Jovan, the Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, who has been imprisoned under false accusations by the schismatic organization in F.Y.R. Macedonia.
On December 12, 2011, while attempting to enter the F.Y.R. Macedonia, Archbishop Jovan was arrested on the border in Medzitlija and taken to the “Idrizovo” prison near Skopje. He was sentenced on false charges in 2010 to a prison term, but since the court process was performed in his absence, he has a legal right to request a repeat of the procedure and to be granted a new court hearing in which he can defend himself. He was also arrested on November 16, 2010, at the Bulgarian border, at the request of the Macedonian bureau of Interpol, with regard to this same court sentence, but the court in Bulgaria released him, holding that the court verdict of F.Y.R. Macedonia was not on account of any guilt in accordance with criminal law, but rather on account of persecution for religious reasons, a persecution which the Archbishop has undergone for nine years.
Archbishop Demetrios of America, addressing the Secretary of State “in the name of the 65 Hierarchs who are part of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America,” mentioned the unfortunate situation of the Archbishop of Ohrid and added that “his arrest has a history of several years, from the time the schismatic church of FYROM (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) started persecuting Jovan, the canonical Archbishop of Ohrid.” Moreover, he pointed out that “the church of the FYROM is not recognized by any of the canonical Orthodox Churches throughout the world.”
The Summer 2012 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, and contains:
- A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
- A message from His Grace Bishop Antoun
- The Living Waters of Mid-Pentecost by Diocesan Spiritual Advisor Fr. Stephen Rogers
- A message from Diocese of Miami Antiochian Women President Dorothy Tampary
...and more! Click here to download (PDF)
(Baltimore, MD) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the global humanitarian relief organization of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, has named five prominent Orthodox community leaders as the recipients of its Compassion at Work Award: Antiochians Charles R. Ajalat and Dr. George J. Farha, as well as Andrew A. Athens, George M. Marcus, and John G. Rangos, Sr.
The five visionary men were selected to receive the inaugural award for their extraordinary philanthropic contributions to the organization's mission and its continued success over the past 20 years.
In announcing the recipients, IOCC Board Chairman, Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey said, "As International Orthodox Christian Charities celebrates 20 years of delivering humanitarian service to those in need around the world, it owes a debt of gratitude to these men whose faith and philanthropic spirit served as the catalyst in developing IOCC as the humanitarian arm of the Orthodox Church in North America and as a unified ministry for the Orthodox community to express its faith in compassionate and tangible ways."
Three of the five award recipients, John G. Rangos, Sr., Andrew A. Athens and Charles R. Ajalat, founded the organization in 1992 and all five men, including George M. Marcus and Dr. George J. Farha, have served on the IOCC Board of Directors and are honorary IOCC board members.
The honorees will be recognized at the IOCC 20th Anniversary Gala on May 8, 2012, in Washington, DC. Mike Emanuel, Chief Congressional Correspondent for FOX News Channel, will serve as emcee for the gala, and Chris Hillman, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and founding member of the Byrds, will perform during the gala dinner.
On Bright Tuesday, April 17, 2012, Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England and a number of Antiochian clergy with their wives and children gathered at the Greek Metropolis of Boston at the invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Methodius to enjoy a meal with him and his clergy. This annual Bright Tuesday meal had been a tradition of the Greek Metropolis for many years, but the invitation to the Antiochian Bishop and clergy was unprecedented and warmly received. Some attendees expressed the hope that this gathering would presage many more opportunities for Orthodox Christians in Boston, clergy and laity, of different jurisdictions to come together for fellowship.
More than 150 dental procedures were performed this month as part of a new FOCUS dental care initiative in Orange County, California. Working in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC) School of Dentistry and AYUDA, an international organization that provides dental care to underserved communities, FOCUS volunteers provided vital dental care, free of charge, to patients of all ages.
The services included teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, and extractions. Each patient also received instruction on how to practice and maintain proper oral hygiene.
“This partnership with AYUDA and USC was a great success,” said FOCUS Center Director Jacob Lee. “We’re really pleased to provide this service to families who live in motels. Good dental health is absolutely critical to overall well being.”