On November 7, 2013, His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita and Mid-America addressed the 430 guests gathered for St. Vladimir's Seminary's 75th Anniversary Gala, a black tie dinner hosted by the Board of Trustees at Glen Island Harbour Club, New Rochelle, NY. A 1973 alumnus of the Seminary, Bishop Basil noted that in speaking for the event, he had come home to "the place that made me all that I am."
The Seminary, he continued, has had a "sustained impact in Orthodoxy throughout the world." Most of the Archdiocese's hierarchs are alumni of St. Vladimir's Seminary, and the current student body numbers many Antiochian students as well.
St. Vladimir's launched the "Bishop Basil Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music" in 2010, when the Board of Trustees presented His Grace with an honorary doctorate and announced the creation of the program in his name. The Seminary's Alumni Association Board Chair Gregory Abdalah (Class of '08) has noted that, "Bishop Basil has had a great influence on the development of Byzantine Music in English.
Music Learn is proud to announce the release of Kh. Gigi Baba Shadid's latest Orthodox Christian music CD, Fight the Good Fight. Teacher, Antiochian youth worker, and songwriter, Gigi's passion is teaching with music; this is Gigi's fifth music CD, and the first one written primarily for teens and adults. Her other projects include: Fruits of the Spirit (2004), Celebrate the Feasts (2007), Middle School Math Music (2008), and The ABC's of Orthodoxy (2011).
Church school teachers and parents throughout the United States, Canada, and many parts of the world have been enjoying her music for the past ten years. It has proven to be an effective tool for teaching and reinforcing the eternal truths of Christ and His holy Church. "This new CD is filled with essential questions for our salvation," noted Gigi.
Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) is pleased to announce the addition of video podcasts to our audio programming. AFR started as an audio resource with a single streaming radio station. We then began featuring audio podcasts, as well as a second streaming station for our talk programming. Today we are the leading provider of Orthodox audio podcasts in the world. As of this week, we now also offer video podcasts, recognizing the portability of mobile devices and the demand for video content. We have plans for this area to grow in the same way that our audio podcasts have grown as we develop partnerships with more and more content providers.
The first of our video offerings is "Coffee with Sister Vassa." This is a ten-minute weekly program hosted by Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin, a nun of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) and liturgiologist at the University of Vienna in Austria. Presented with a light dose of humor, the program offers engaging reflections on the Orthodox Church calendar of the current week, the lives of the saints, scriptural passages, and Orthodox tradition.
Coming soon is our second video podcast "Be the Bee."A joint production of Ancient Faith Radio and the GOARCH Department of Youth and Young Adult ministries, this brief weekly video podcast will focus on the various ways in which God has infused all of creation with goodness and beauty. The title refers to the metaphor of the bee and the flies that was used by Elder Paisios to describe how Christians should approach life. The host of the program is Steven Christoforou, the GOARCH Youth Protection / Parish Ministries Coordinator.
In September 2013, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America launched an extensive back-to-school program in 28 cities across the country, providing new shoes, backpacks, and school supplies to 193,000 children from homeless and working poor families. One aspect of this program, "Operation Lace Up," provides shoes for needy kids, and recently San Diego's Channel 6 reported on the NFL San Diego Charger players as they participated in the FOCUS-sponsored program at a local distribution center.
"We are equipping and preparing the poorest children in the country at a time when they are the most vulnerable—on their first day of school," says program manager and FOCUS Orange County Center Director Jacob Lee. "FOCUS' distributions will insure that children have the basic provisions they need to attend and participate in school."
In the meantime, St. Herman's Orthodox House of Hospitality (FOCUS, Cleveland) hosted "An Evening with Fr. Thomas Hopko" on November 4, 2013. One of the highlights of the evening was a video introducing the ministry, featuring Director Paul Finley and several of the men served by the House of Hospitality.
On Friday evening, November 1, 2013, the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York commemorated our father among the Saints, Raphael (Hawaweeny) the Bishop of Brooklyn, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America. A series of services for his feast day included Great Vespers with Artoklasia, the Festal Matins, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn.
Deacon George Nashawati of St. Ephraim Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas, announces a fundraiser concert benefiting the people of Syria. "Hope, Humanity, Healing - A Benefit Concert for Syria" will be held on Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at 7:00 in the evening at St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston. The admission cost is $15 per person, and all concert proceeds will be distributed to the suffering people of Syria through the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, and the St. Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus.
For questions regarding the concert, please visit St. Joseph's website, contact the church's office at (713) 973-7001, or send an email to email@example.com. Artists at the benefit concert will include: Lama Nashawati DeVries (my sister) and Tracey Parker: Duo Piano; Bassam (Deacon George) Nashawati: Violin; Mariam Haddad and Christine Yacoub: Voice; The St. Romanos Pan-Orthodox Chorale; and Osama Raad: drums. The program will include classical and liturgical music in addition to some Arabic songs made popular by Fairuz.
On October 19, 2013, the 19th Annual Synergy Symposium titled "The Book of Revelation" was hosted by St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois and its rector, Archpriest Nicholas Dahdal, Economos. Orthodox Christian Synergy sponsored the event, which featured speaker Fr. George Dragas, Professor of Patristics at Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Orthodox Christian Synergy is a pan-Orthodox organization of clergy and lay representatives from greater Chicago's Orthodox Christian parishes seeking to spread the Orthodox Christian faith. Synergy works together with its parent organization, the Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Greater Chicago, with the blessings of the Chicago-area Orthodox hierarchs. The audio of the Symposium is available on Ancient Faith Radio.
Father Athanasios Emmert, fell asleep in Christ this past Wednesday, October 23rd at the age of 78. While a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese he served parishes in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Canada, Connecticut, Massachusetts. From 1975 to 1985 he served at St. George Church in Chicago-Cicero, Illinois. In his last years, Father Athanasios served in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver.
The schedule of services for Father Athanasios are as follows:
Monday, October 28th
6:00PM Visitation at St. George/Cicero, IL
7:00PM Trisagion Prayers of Mercy
Tuesday, October 29th
9:30AM Divine Liturgy at St. George/Cicero, IL, followed by the Funeral Service
Interment at Elmwood Cemetery/River Grove, IL
May his memory be eternal!
Ancient Faith Publishing has posted their 2013 Christmas catalog, featuring a variety of new products, including customizable greeting cards, handpainted keepsake ornaments and ornaments from Russia and Greece, and an array of new icons. A recent release, Meditations for Advent: Preparing for Christ's Birth by Vassilios Papavassiliou, takes the reader through the hymnography, scripture readings, and iconography of the forty days leading up to the Nativity of Christ.
Traditionally one of the most popular Ancient Faith offerings for the Advent season, the Icon Calendar for 2014 features the parables and miracles of Christ and the iconography of Dmitry Shkolnik. The 11" X 12" full-color calendar displays large calendar boxes for recording important reminders. Major saint and feast days traditionally celebrated in Orthodox countries around the world are listed, according to the New Calendar.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center's 2014 mission team opportunities are now available! All Orthodox Christians seeking to share in a journey of faith and fulfill the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ are invited to participate on teams, which will focus on:
Offer a living witness of Orthodoxy through evangelism, religious education, seminars, Bible studies, and retreats. Share the Orthodox Faith with youth, adults, catechumens, clergy, ministry leaders, and the faithful. Clergy, students, teachers, seminarians, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and Bible study leaders are urged to apply.
Preach the Gospel of Christ through evangelism in cross-cultural environments, offering the opportunity to hear and embrace the Good News. Live as Orthodox witnesses so others may come to know the saving love of Christ.
University of Florida Professor Emeritus Dr. Kevin McCarthy recently published Antioch on the Orontes: An Illustrated History, the story of the namesake city of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. The 280-page book contains over 200 illustrations of the city that was so vitally important in the history of Christianity. Many of the photos were taken by the author when he lived in the city during the period when he was researching the book.
"Archpriest Thomas Zain of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn and the Vicar General of the Antiochian Archdiocese, helped me with the book," notes Dr. McCarthy. "I wrote it to let more people know about the importance of a great city, ancient and modern Antioch, that many Americans are not aware of."
Over the course of his academic career, the professor of English lived in the Middle East in various locations. For one year he taught at the Lebanese National University in Beirut as a Fulbright Professor of English in the 70s, and for two years in the 1980s at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a Fulbright Professor of English.
A ministry supported by the Order of St. Ignatius and many individual Antiochian parishes, Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage have opened registration for their popular summer Home Building Work Trips. The Website explains, "We host two types of home building groups each summer: small groups and Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) groups. During our small group weeks, 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 experience the local culture with a trip into Rosarito. During OBT weeks, we host larger groups who construct between four to seven homes in one week, we have speakers each evening who present on a variety of topics, and on Sunday we have a day of fellowship and fun at St. Innocent's."
On October 14, 2013, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), in its program "Ancient Faith Presents," released a podcast interview with IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian in which the Director discusses the difficulties faced by Syria's swelling refugee population. IOCC is supporting one of the largest established efforts to provide aid to Syrians torn by civil war, and is one of the only international operations on the ground in Syria, working closely with His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch. There are 1.8 million refugees who now live in the countries surrounding Syria.
"I was in the region about 2 weeks ago," notes Mr. Ohanian in the interview. "The most obvious thing I saw is that the needs are growing and becoming greater. This is a kind of conflict where there is no end in sight, and there's a constant flow of people who are avoiding conflict areas, migrating within Syria to safer areas, or leaving to a neighboring country.
"This humanitarian catastrophe and the need for resources are far, far greater than what we at IOCC have in place," he continues. "It is stretching everyone's capacities and the needs are unimaginable. We have not seen a scale of this kind of need since...arguably, the Second World War. Almost one third of the Syrian population is in need of assistance."
The month of October has been designated as Orthodox Awareness Month by Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) to foster an awareness of the richness of the Orthodox Faith on college campuses across North America through fellowship, education, worship, and service. Many students throughout the continent have little knowledge of the Orthodox faith, or that there is an active Orthodox group on campus. By devoting a month devoted to different activities and events, OCF serves the purpose of educating collegians about the beauty of the Orthodox faith and its presence on college campuses across the U.S.
In a new post on the blog Conversations on Orthodoxy, the tables are turned on the men behind the microphone, as Producer Mark Bradshaw interviews John and Bobby Maddex, Ancient Faith Radio's CEO and Operations Manager, respectively. As the Conversations Website notes, "John is the founder of Ancient Faith Radio, and now the CEO of Ancient Faith Ministries, which includes Ancient Faith Publishing (used to be Conciliar Press). We discuss how AFR got started, what it takes to run the network and produce the shows, new languages and podcasts, the live call in shows, and future plans and thoughts on video."
"Ancient Faith Radio is one of the most successful outreach tools we have," notes the host in his brief introduction. "I sat down with John and Bobby to get a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run Ancient Faith."
Listen to the interview at Conversations on Orthodoxy.
The official Website of the Department for External Relations, Russian Orthodox Church reported:
On 8 October 2013, the commemoration day of St. Sergius of Radonezh, after the Divine Liturgy and a thanksgiving celebrated in the Laura of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill met with the delegation of the Syrian hierarchs who attended the service.
The delegation includes Bishop Isaac of Apameia, vicar of the Damascus diocese (Patriarchate of Antioch); Archbishop Joseph Absi (Melkite Greek Catholic Church); Bishop Armash Nalbandian (Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin); Archbishop Mor Silwanos Butros (Peter) al-Ni'meh (Syriac Orthodox Church); and Archbishop Samir Nassar (Maronite Church).
Taking part in the meeting were also Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations; Archbishop Niphon of Philippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR vice-chairman; and hieromonk Stefan Igumnov, a staff member of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Orthodox Relations.
On November 11, 2013, at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC, the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration will sponsor a conference with the theme “On Earth as it is in Heaven: Putting Orthodox Theology and Ecology into Practice.”
The conference brings together Orthodox hierarchs, clergy, and informed laity to explore the many facets of this issue. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese will be the first keynote speaker. Dr. James Hansen, famed scientist and director emeritus of the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA), will open up the afternoon program with a second keynote address.
The title of the conference reflects a striving to align lifestyle and actions with Orthodox theology. Registration is a sliding scale of $20 to $200, and participants may contribute according to their ability. Scholarships are available for those who need assistance. For further information, visit the Website of the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration or contact the OFT office at (707) 573‑3161 during afternoon and evening hours.
Fr. Anthony Yagze, Chair of the Departments of College Ministry, and Camping, encourages all youth in the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate in the YouTube challenge. "It's an interesting opportunity for young people!" he notes.
Welcome to the 2013 Orthodox Church in America (OCA) YouTube Challenge!
Youth and Young Adult (Ages 14-28) should respond with an original video by midnight on November 15, 2013, to the following question: "What is the Gospel?" Participants may wish to reflect on:
- The essential message of Jesus Christ
- What his actions and words tell us about humanity and divinity
- How the Gospel message can be preached in your particular environment (school, work, family, etc..)
Participants may wish to use their video to deliver a traditional speech, or find ways of more creatively answering the challenge through visual imagery and poetic license.
His Eminence Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West is leading a diocesan delegation on a holy pilgrimage to Greece and Serbia, and a daily diary and photo galleries of the trip are being posted on the Diocese of Los Angeles Website. On September 20, 2013 at the Los Angeles International Airport, Sayidna Joseph invoked the intercessions of St. Nicholas, the patron and protector of his Holy Cathedral and the protector of travelers, before the group embarked on the journey of more than 8,000 miles to Thessaloniki, Greece. Archbishop Joseph also called upon the intercessions of the Theotokos, asking for a spiritually uplifting two weeks of visiting some of the holiest churches and monasteries in the Orthodox Christian world.
Some of the sites included in the itinerary are the Souroti Monastery, St. Demetrios Church, and the Catacombs of St. John the Baptist. Read more details about the trip in the pilgrimage diary.
St. Luke Church in Erie, Colorado was consecrated by His Grace Bishop Basil on Sept. 28 with 318 faithful present including neighboring clergy. A joyous reception in the church hall followed. It was a wonderful day of thanksgiving to God.
The new temple had its first Divine Liturgy on Pentecost 2010. Since that time, a wood carved iconostasis from Bulgaria was installed along with additional iconography that now covers most of the ceiling under the dome.
The church has grown in numbers since its beginning in 1991 with 17 households using a small rental space in the old mining town of Lafayette, Colorado (a small community 10 miles from Boulder and 30 miles north of Denver). His Grace Bishop Antoun ordained Fr. David Mustian and chrismated the original founders who were all converts to Holy Orthodoxy. The church continues to have many converts, along with a good mix of life- long Orthodox members from various ethnic backgrounds.
Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Dean of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY, was interviewed at length on September 14 on the situation in Syria by Archimandrite Eugene Pappas of Hellenic Public Radio. The interview is available for listening below in its entirety.
The clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas to our Patronal Feast of the Elevation of the Cross from September 13-15, 2013. Along with His Grace Bishop Melchizedek (Orthodox Church in America), over twenty visiting clergy and many other well-wishers joined us in commemorating both the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Cross as well as Sayedna Thomas' 25th year of ordination. The weekend also saw the ordinations of Lt. Col. Kelvin Gardner (chaplain, USAF). In total, four services and a banquet were held. Also included in the weekend was the annual retreat of the deacons of the Eastern dioceses with renowned scholar Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Hellenic College Holy Cross celebrated its 75th Anniversary name day feast with a four-day Jubilee September 12–15, 2013. The event focused on celebrating the history of the community while continuing to highlight the School's significance as, in the words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, "the heart and the mind of our Church in America." Over the course of the 75 years of the school's existence, many Antiochian students have prepared for the priesthood or lay ministry in the Church through their studies at Holy Cross.
His Eminence presided over festal services as crowds overflowing from the Holy Cross Chapel watched on high-definition video screens under a tent. In the Vespers service on Friday evening, second-year seminarians received their crosses and Masters of Divinity candidates entering their final year of studies received their rasso [cassocks] as families, trustees, and Jubilee visitors came together in prayer, thanksgiving, and celebration.
September 26th is the celebration of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist St. John the Theologian and the name's day of His Grace Bishop John. May God grant him many years!
Apolytikion of St. John, Tone 2
O Apostle John, speaker of divinity, the beloved of Christ God, hasten and deliver thy people powerless in argument; for He on Whose bosom thou didst lean accepteth thee as an intercessor. Beseech Him, therefore, to disperse the cloud of the stubborn nations, asking for us safety and the Great Mercy.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip was interviewed this week by Boston's NPR radio station for their Here and Now program concerning the plight of the ancient Orthodox Christian communities of Syria. The interview is available for listening, and as a written transcript, both available here.
His Eminence in particular highlighted his concern for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria. (Read an appeal for the monastery from the Patriarchate of Antioch here.) Metropolitan Philip said in part:
"My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus."