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IOCC Expands Assistance to Gaza’s Families

IOCC will provide 6,000 families in Gaza with food, blankets, and hygiene supplies through a new $750,000 grant from ARD, Inc. through funding by the US government. (photo credit: IOCC Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza)

(Gaza City, Gaza) – International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will provide 6,000 families in Gaza (about 42,000 people) with food, blankets, and hygiene supplies with a new $750,000 grant from ARD Inc. through funding by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). IOCC is targeting the neediest, including those who have been displaced or are living in war-damaged  homes, have experienced the death or injury of a family member, or who have a primary bread winner that is unemployed as a result of the conflict.

The deadliest conflict in Gaza in four decades has killed 1,300, wounded 5,300, and displaced more than 26,000. IOCC’s Jerusalem-based staff responded quickly to the crisis, coordinating efforts with local organizations and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem to deliver fortified biscuits and milk to 23,000 children and adults residing in shelters and affected communities throughout Gaza. IOCC also assisted beleaguered hospitals and shelters by providing thousands of quilts and hygiene kits.

Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry Announces New Director

The Board of Directors of OCPM with new director Chaplain Patrick Tutella

February 10, 2009

Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM), the official prison ministry of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) announces the appointment by the Board of Directors of its first full-time Executive Director, Chaplain Patrick Tutella. Chaplain Tutella, who has been in prison ministry for thirty years, is a member of the St. Matthew parish (GOA) in Blandon, Pennsylvania. For the past twelve years, he has been the Supervisory Chaplain for the Berks County Prison in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

At a board meeting which took place in Wichita, Kansas February 6 and 7, Chaplain Tutella and the Directors charted a strategic plan for the next twelve months that includes the following key components: 1) development of a training program for parishes that would like to be involved in prison ministry, 2) the expansion of OCPM’s correspondence ministry, and 3) a convocation for Orthodox prison workers and volunteers to be held in the summer of 2009. Also present at the board meeting was His Grace, Bishop Mark of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest of the Antiochian Archdiocese, who provided his spiritual guidance and support.

Bishop THOMAS and Orthodox Scholars Attend Bioethics Conference in Japan

by Reader Herman Engelhardt and Brian Partridge

Bp. THOMAS with Metropolitan DANIEL of Japan

A major challenge confronting Orthodox Christians across the world is the impact of the dominant secular culture on how physicians act and patients are treated. This influence is reflected in the use of abortion and the increasing acceptance of physician-assisted suicide across the world. This secular culture and its bioethics touch the lives of patients, physicians, and nurses everywhere. We no longer live in a normatively Christian context.

To address these issues in Japan, a country that is only one percent Christian, a group of Orthodox Christians led by the Right Rev. Bishop THOMAS spent December 5th-15th of 2009 meeting with Japanese scholars and attending academic meetings concerning issues of bioethics. The group consisted of Father Iulian Anitei from Holy Protection of the Theotokos Romanian Orthodox Mission in Houston, Texas; Reader Herman Engelhardt from St. George Antiochian Church in Houston, Texas and professor at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine; and Brian Partridge from All Saints of America Antiochian Church in Homer, Alaska and director at The Center for the Study of Culture, Ethics and the Environment. All members of the group serve in various capacities on the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Christian Bioethics, now entering its fifteenth year of publication. Christian Bioethics is published by Oxford University Press.

Memory Eternal: Daad Saliba-Shalhoub

Mrs. Daad Saliba-Shalhoub, 54, niece of Metropolitan PHILIP and sister-in-law of Fr. Elias Shalhoub of St. Mary/West Palm Beach, FL, fell asleep in Christ this morning in Beirut, Lebanon.  The funeral is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, December 20th) in the village of Douma.

Our condolences to Metropolitan PHILIP and Fr. Elias. May her memory be eternal!

Memory Eternal: Fr. Richard Ballew

Fr. Richard Ballew: Memory Eternal!Fr. Richard Ballew of St. Athanasius Church in Sacramento, California fell asleep in the Lord the morning of Saturday, December 13, 2008. His services will be held at:

St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church
9165 Peets Drive
Elk Grove, CA

Tuesday, December 16th: The Funeral Service for a Priest at 7:00PM
Wednesday, December 17th: Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at 8:30AM, followed by Trisagion Service and Burial.

Condolences may be sent to Khouria Sylvia and the Ballew family c/o

May his memory be eternal!

Metropolitan PHILIP Hosts Metropolitan JONAH at the Archdiocese Headquarters

Left to right: Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Very Rev. Joseph Allen, Mr. Charles Ajalat, Metropolitan PHILIP, Metropolitan JONAH, Bishop ANTOUN, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Very Rev. Ellias Bitar, Very Rev. Michael Ellias.

On the evening of December 10th, 2008, the newly elected primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH was hosted for dinner by Metropolitan PHILIP at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey. This was the first visit for His Beatitude since his election as the First Hierarch of the OCA. He was accompanied by the OCA Chancellor, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs.

All of the following people attended the dinner: Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Very Rev. Joseph Allen, Mr. Charles Ajalat, Metropolitan PHILIP, Metropolitan JONAH, Bishop ANTOUN, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Very Rev. Ellias Bitar, Very Rev. Michael Ellias.

The two Metropolitans engaged in lively and serious discussion, and shared many common visions for the future of the Orthodox Church in North America.

It is our prayer that this was only the first of such gatherings to discuss and address issues that are critical to the Orthodox Church on this continent.

Patriarch ALEXY II of Moscow + Memory Eternal

His Holiness Patriarch ALEXY II + Memory Eternal!From the web site of the Moscow Patriarchate:

His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, 79, died on 5 December 2008.

Session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will take place on December 6 to elect Patriarchal Locum Tenens who will chair the Memorial Commission.

The Holy Synod will announce the time of the funeral of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy.

Click here to view video coverage of the Patriarch's funeral from Russia Today.




Metropolitan PHILIP writes to the U.S. Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S.:

Beloved Brother in Christ:

I greet you in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life of all who repose in him.

It is with great sadness that I awoke this morning to the shocking news of the passing into eternal life of His Holiness ALEXY II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The loss of this great man is not only a loss for the Church of Russia, but for the entire Orthodox world. I recall with great fondness the two occasions I had to be in his presence, once on his visit to the United States in the early 1990s when we hosted him at our Archdiocese Chancery and the second when I accepted his kind invitation to visit Russia in 1997. It was during this trip in 1997 that I came to realize the greatness of his leadership and vision for the Church of Russia and the Orthodox world at large. Having met with him at the Danielov Monastery and having served with him in the historic Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin and again at the dedication of the awe-inspiring Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow (that he was instrumental in rebuilding as a symbol of the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church after more than 70 years of oppression), I felt assured that the Church would continue to thrive under his leadership.

Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement Meets at St. Vladimir's Seminary

Leaders of the various OISM groups gather around an icon of St. John [ST. VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY / YONKERS, N.Y.] From November 21–22, 2008, members of the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement (OISM) met on the campus St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS) in Yonkers, NY, for their semi-annual meeting. Since the 1960s OSIM has provided a forum for Orthodox Christian seminarians of various jurisdictions to enjoy fellowship and prayer, and to form bonds that will extend into their future ministries. It is run entirely by students from the participating seminaries, with support from each seminary’s respective faculty and administration.

Thirty students—from St. Vladimir’s Seminary; St. Herman's Seminary of Kodiak, AK; Holy Cross Seminary/Hellenic College of Brookline, MA; Holy Trinity Seminary of Jordanville, NY; and St. Tikhon's Seminary of South Canaan, PA— gathered in fellowship on the SVS campus and studied the life of St. John of Kronstadt, which provided the theme for the weekend meeting. The seminarians celebrated an Akathist to the saint in the seminary chapel and attended a related lecture delivered by Hierodeacon Ioaseph of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville.

Discovering Medieval Monasticism in Georgia: A Guided Tour

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

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

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

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

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

Archdiocese Synod of Bishops Meets in Boston, MA

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

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

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

His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV

California Orthodox Bishops Issue Statement on Proposition 8

A Statement of the

Orthodox Christian Bishops of California

in support of Proposition 8:

A Constitutional Amendment to Restore the Definition of Marriage

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

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

From Metropolitan PHILIP: New Policy Regarding Archdiocesan Seminarians

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


Beloved Brothers in Christ,

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

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

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

Your Brother in Christ,

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Addresses European Parliament

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

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

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

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

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

Archbishop Demetrios Receives Holy Relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

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

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

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

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

Enthronement of Metropolitan John of Central & Western Europe

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

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

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

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

For Arabic-language coverage of the Enthronement go to:

Ike Updates from Texas and Louisiana

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

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

Letter from Met. PHILIP on Balamand Scholarship Fund

September 17th, 2008

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

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

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

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

New Mosaic Icons at Cathedral Attract Attention


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

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

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

Hurricane Ike Threatens Texas Parishes

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

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

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

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

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

Memory Eternal! Fr. Thomas Moffat

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

Chaplain Congratulated by President for Help in Hurricane Relief


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

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

Memory Eternal! Dn. Marc Work

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

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

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

DOWAMA Clergy, People, Churches Safe from Hurricane Gustav

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

Prayers for Deliverance from Hurricanes

As you saved your apostles from perishing in a storm by calming wind and waves on you command, so now keep us safe and sound in this hurricane season.  Grant us favorable and benign weather.  Protect us from the unpredictable elements of nature.  Steer us from storm, flood, fire, illness, injury, disaster and sudden death.  Preserve us from all evil and harm for we, though sinful, are nonetheless the work of Your hands.  And You together with your Father who has no beginning and Your all holy good and life giving Spirit are our God in whom we live, move, and have being. Now and ever and unto ages and ages. Amen.

Seeing how your holy and powerful maternal intercessions and safe haven for the storm tossed, count us worthy of your prayers during this season of uncertain and threatening weather.  Beg your divine human Son to grant us mercy, forgiveness, health, safety and salvation over the coming months.  For He is sure to listen to you, His mother, the woman whom all generations call blessed.  Amen.

As the Lord gave you control over droughts and rainfall to prove His power to the wayward and unbelieving, plead with Him to keep stormy weather, heavy rains and destructive winds away from us. Help us with your heavenly intercessions for we know the prayer of a righteous man like you is powerful and effective as God is wondrous in His Saints. Amen.