Thirty graduate from St. Vladimir’s Seminary
[SVS Communications/Yonkers, NY] With jubilant ceremony, thirty seminarians from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary received their diplomas at Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 22, amid a throng of family, friends, and fellow classmates. Eager, hopeful, and grateful, the Class of 2010—among them 12 priests—celebrated the end of their formal studies and the beginning of a variety of ministries in service to the Orthodox Church in North America and abroad.
Highlights of the joyful day included the Valedictory address by Fr. Andrew Cuneo, and the Salutatory address by seminarian Michael Soroka. The seminary Board of Trustees also bestowed two honorary doctorates: one upon Mr. Albert Foundos, a member of the seminary’s Board; and the other upon His Grace, The Right Rev. Basil (Essey), bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Mr. Foundos gave the Commencement address titled “Where My Treasure Is.”
Please view the full story and gallery of Commencement 2010 photos here.
Much to the surprise of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, the faculty, trustees and students of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary bestowed on Sayidna the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa. In a gesture of brotherly love in Jesus Christ, His Grace, Bishop MICHAEL (outgoing seminary dean and now Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America) personally announced the award, recognizing Sayidna’s lifelong efforts to spread the Holy Gospel everywhere he has lived and shepherded. The honorary doctorate described Sayidna as a “loyal son of Antioch and devoted father in North America, illumined educator and patient shepherd, inspiring churchman and loving archpastor.” You can read the entire citation here.
Sayidna then had the honor and distinct pleasure of addressing the graduating class of 2010, their families and friends at the 68th Commencement exercises at St. Tikhon’s. At this institute of spiritual learning and refinement, Sayidna’s message centered on knowledge, but not the secular type that traps us in this world and deprives us from the life to come. Sayidna reminded the gathering that “the Theologian is one who prays.” His Grace’s message often cited that pillar of spiritual knowledge, the ecumenical teacher St. Basil the Great. Though this archbishop of Caesarea did not abhor secular learning, Sayidna quoted him as saying “the arrogance of philosophy has nothing in common with humility.”
Also, click here for a selection of articles on this historic gathering.
Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, of St. Paul Antiochian Church of Emmaus, PA, has published his initial impressions of this week's North and Central American Episcopal Assembly, where he is present in an auxiliary role, on OrthodoxHistory.org.
It was a pretty hot day in Manhattan yesterday. Despite the discomfort, though, the Orthodox Christian hierarchy of North America seemed to be in pretty decent spirits.
I’m here in Manhattan at the 2010 Orthodox Episcopal Assembly of North America in an auxiliary role. I don’t get to attend the actual meetings, though I’ve been at some of the meals and have spent time with the hierarchs and others present in the halls of the hotel. Since this is such a genuinely historic occasion, we thought it might be of interest to readers to provide an informal witness to how things have been proceeding, to what it’s like to be here.
Fr. Andrew continues his reflection, with this second part.
His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic has graciously provided the first pictures of the 2010 North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. Click here to view the gallery.
Make sure to check back over the course of the Assembly as this gallery is updated.
Images of the Assembly are also available via this gallery provided by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
The Archdiocese encourages all her members to pray for the gathering of the bishops of North and Central America at this week's Episcopal Assembly in New York, NY. May our Lord through the Holy Spirit guide our hierarchs, and may His will be done.
In their announcement for the Assembly, the Orthodox Church in America offers this petition:
O All Merciful God! Grant our Hierarchs gathered in Episcopal Assembly to grow in wisdom and strength, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to increase in love for each other, deepening Christian fellowship so that conciliar decisions may build up a canonically united Orthodox Christian Church of the Americas. May their work be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and may the Spirit of unity and love, of compassion and mutual respect, inspire each to contribute toward the building up of the Body of Christ for the glory of Thy name, for Thou hast ordered us to do all things for Thy glory. Bless Thy people, uniting them for the building up of Thy Holy Orthodox Church of the Americas. O generous Creator; hear us and have mercy. For Thou art a merciful God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has published the opening remarks of Archbishop Demetrios, Assembly Chairman.
Antiochian clergy and faithful from around the country joined with other Orthodox Christians at St. Luke's Orthodox Mission in Anniston, Alabama from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, May 16 to participate in the 17th Annual Ancient Christianity and Afro-American Conference, sponsored by the St. Moses the Black Brotherhood.
The conference spanned three days and included many church services and lectures. Notable speakers included His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH; Priest Moses Berry, President of the St. Moses the Black Brotherhood and rector of Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Mission in Ash Grove, MO; Dr Carla Thomas of Thomas Properties, LLC; Nun Katherine, superior of the St. Xenia Metochion, Indianapolis, IN; Priest Paisius Altschul, Executive Director of Reconciliation Services and rector of St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church, Kansas City, MO; and author, iconographer and rector Fr. Jerome Sanderson.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH celebrated the Hierachical Divine Liturgy on Saturday, May 15. More than a dozen clergy from across the United States concelebrated with him, from the Greek, Bulgarian, Antiochian, OCA, Moscow Patriarchate and Serbian jurisdictions.
On Sunday, May 16 His Beatitude celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the feast remembering the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. Joining His Beatitude were clergy from neighboring jurisdictions and nearby parishes.
The St. Moses the Black Brotherhood hosts chapters in Detroit, MI and Anniston, AL.
By Sara Tomczyk/IOCC Ethiopia
Addis Ababa — Lidya grew up on a small farm in southern Ethiopia and spent sunny afternoons playing barefoot in the fields. At 13, she began noticing a slight swelling in her feet. For a year Lidya hid this swelling from her family and school friends under long skirts. However, the swelling continued and a painful oozing wound appeared between her toes.
Lydia was afflicted by a debilitating disease called podoconiosis, a condition caused by the exposure of bare feet to alkalic clay soil that causes open sores and ulcers, infection, and burning, itching, or swelling of the feet and lower legs.
Like so many who suffer from her affliction and the misconceptions that surround her disease, Lidya's mother reacted harshly and blamed Lydia for bringing a curse upon their family. Yet, for Lidya and approximately one million people who are affected by podoconiosis in Ethiopia, a simple pair of shoes and daily foot treatments can change all of this.
Lydia fell into despair after realizing she must stop going to school and would never marry. Her mother forced her to stay inside the house and hide from the community. Then Lidya's father heard about a relative who also suffered from the condition and arranged for this relative to show Lydia how to wash her feet with soap and water and taught her the importance of shoes and socks. Within four months, the oozing stopped, and the outgrowths on her feet disappeared. She returned to school and raised awareness about the condition and its treatment among her classmates.
"So many Ethiopians, especially the children, face a host of dreadful diseases," said IOCC Ethiopia Country Representative Sigurd Hanson. "The numbers are brutal and stark, but most of these diseases are preventable."
Matthew Namee has published the following reflection on historic efforts to bring together American Orthodox Christians, and the upcoming North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. The article is also available at OrthodoxHistory.org, and as a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.
We’ve tried this before. Over the past century or so, there have been no fewer than five attempts to bring the various ethnic Orthodox jurisdictions in America into some measure of administrative unity. Next week, from May 26-28, we embark upon a sixth effort — an effort which, compared to its predecessors, seems remarkably promising.
From May 15-24, a group of young adult Orthodox Christians are making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land under the guidance of Fr. Mark Leondis (GOA) and His Grace Bishop Savas of Troas.
An entry from Monday, Day 2, reads: "We took a 45 minute drive to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration of Christ took place. We drove up to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, where we were greeted by bells in honor of the Bishop. Some of the men (Jim, Paul, Matthew, Alex, Chris and George) decided to wear shorts -- so they humbled themselves with a sarong (borrowed from the women), so that they could enter. We took mini-buses up the mountain and it took us 10 minutes . . . to think that Jesus and His closest companions, walked up the mountain, just amazed the pilgrims.
Following the visitation to the mountain where Jesus was transfigured, we went to the river where Jesus submitted and humbled Himself to be baptized by his cousin John the Baptist. We stepped into the water up to our knees and read from Scripture and chanted hymns of Epiphany, and each received a blessing in the name of the Trinity. Some of the pilgrims decided to enter the water fully (Christina, Giselle, Alex, Ivonne, Stella and Leanora). Very interesting was to see the Gospel narrative from Mark 1:9-14, in dozens of languages (some of which we never have heard) -- for example, have you ever heard of "Fang?" or "Tagalog?" It reminded us of Jesus' command in the last verses of Matthew (28:10), 'Go and baptize all nations.'"
To follow the travel blog, click here.
Working Committees, Archdiocesan Synod, Board of Trustees, and North and Central American Episcopal Assembly to Meet
May 17, 2010, Englewood, NJ
Over the course of the next two weeks, several meetings that are critical to the future of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and all Orthodox faithful in North and Central America, will take place.
Beginning on Wednesday May 19th and Thursday May 20th, two working committees of this Archdiocese will meet in Englewood, NJ. Both committees were appointed by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP in October 2009, and are chaired by His Grace Bishop JOSEPH. The Constitutional Reconciliation Committee will meet on Wednesday May 19th. The goal for this committee is to reconcile any remaining differences between the current Archdiocesan Constitution (approved by our General Assembly at a special meeting which was convened in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2004), and the Constitution that was approved by the Holy Synod of Antioch in October 2004. The second committee is chartered to study the current “Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities” (originally approved by the Archdiocesan Synod on June 4, 2004, and amended on July 23, 2008). The committee will recommend changes to this manual in light of all of the events that have transpired since the last amendments were made.
The Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops will convene their regular Spring meeting in Englewood, New Jersey on Thursday May 20th in the evening, and will continue on Friday May 21st in the morning. Among the agenda items to be discussed will be the North American Episcopal Assembly which will convene in New York City on May 26th. In addition, each of our hierarchs will give a report on important developments in his diocese since the last meeting.
Journey To Orthodoxy announces the launch of a new, content rich website for inquirers, newcomers and those looking into the Orthodox faith.
The launch of a new website at www.journeytoorthodoxy.com, fills a void in online material for inquirers and those struggling to find and enter the Orthodox Church.
“A lot of thought, research and time went into making it easy to use and filling this site with rich content, especially for the newcomer to our Orthodox faith,” said Fr. John A. Peck, designer and president of Journey To Orthodoxy.
This website is rich with content, notably a multitude of conversion stories by converts to the Orthodox faith from a multitude of traditions.
“For the inquirer, the journey home to the Orthodox faith can seem a lonely journey at first, but they will soon know that the path to Orthodoxy is a well worn road, and that there are many before them who can help,” Peck said.
“We’re hoping that it will quickly become into the ‘go-to’ site for inquirers and catechumens,” said Fr. Hans Jacobse, a partner in the creation of JTO. “We are confident that people will find the Journey To Orthodoxy website to be inspiring, and navigating the site a good experience, and the articles rich and rewarding to read.”
Parishes can benefit from the Journey To Orthodoxy site as well. There are graphic links for JTO which webmasters can use, and the entire experience points towards contacting the local Orthodox Christian parish.
Announcement from the Ecumenical Patriarch Secretariate in Mexico, April 7, 2010:
In conformity with the canonical responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the diaspora, and sharing the vision of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW, the Holy Metropolis of Mexico is pleased to announce that, in an unceasing and continuing mission outreach ministry effectively being pursued by the Holy Metropolis of Mexico for these past twelve years, with active ministries in Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and following months of catechetical and pastoral preparation by the Mitered Archimandrite Andrew Vujisi, Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Holy Metropolis, and upon the written request and petition of Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos, leaders of a religious community in Guatemala, the heretofore Orthodox Catholic Church of Guatemala (OCCG), has been canonically received into the Holy Metropolis of Mexico.
In announcing this exciting development, His Eminence Metropolitan ATHENAGORAS of Mexico expressed his great pleasure in welcoming the OCCG which was received in its entirety, including their former clergy, seminarians, lay ministers, catechists and affiliated membership into the canonical family of the Orthodox Church. Following their official reception, the leaders of OCCG, Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos traveled to Mexico City where on the weekend of March 19-21, they were ordained to the Holy Priesthood, receiving the title of Archimandrite.
During Commencement at St. Vladimir’s Seminary on Saturday, May 22, 2010, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary will award a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, to His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL (Essey).
His Grace is a 1973 alumnus of St. Vladimir’s. "He has served tirelessly to build up Orthodox Christianity in America and has contributed greatly to the field of liturgical music," reads the seminary announcement. The institution has invited the public to join in the graduation events, and to commemorate this "honorable and dedicated servant of God" in the Commencement exercises which begin at 2 p.m. on the campus of St. Vladimir's, in Crestwood, New York.
On Saturday, May 8, 2010, Archimandrite MICHAEL [Dahulich] was consecrated as Bishop of New York and New Jersey for the Orthodox Church in America, at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Jersey City. His Grace formerly served as a dean and professor at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and other members of the Holy Synod of Bishops presided at the consecration Divine Liturgy.
The weekend's events commenced on Friday, May 7. Prior to his consecration, on the evening of May 7, clergy and faithful celebrated Bishop-elect MICHAEL'S formal Nomination with Great Vespers. Then on the following day, over 600 attended Saturday's consecration banquet.
On Sunday, May 9, Bishop MICHAEL celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, 59 East Second Street, New York, N.Y. at 9:30 a.m.
Additional information and photographs will be posted on oca.org as they become available.
All of the clergy and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese exclaim Axios! to Bishop MICHAEL, and pray that the Lord will bless his episcopacy!
YONKERS, NY [OCA/SVOTS] — During the month of June 2010, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary here will offer a wide array of educational opportunities to the public. Registration fees will be waived for participants signing up by May 15th. Among the programs being offered are the following:
JUNE 3-9 — Iconography Workshops
Two master iconographers, one painting in the Russo-Byzantine style and the other painting in the Greek-Cretan School tradition, will offer iconography workshops. Protodeacon Nazari Polataiko of the Saints Alipij and Andrei Rublev Icon Studio, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, and Khouriya Erin Mary Kimmett, Norwood, MA, will limit each of their classes to 12 students. Iconographers with experience ranging from novice to master are welcome. Additional information is posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0603-iconography-workshops-upcoming.
JUNE 10-12 — Summer Symposium
“Hellenism and Orthodoxy” will be the theme of the annual Summer Symposium. His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will deliver the public keynote lecture on Friday, June 11, at 7:00 p.m. Orthodox clerics and scholars from Turkey, Greece, and North America will round out the program. Additional information is posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0610-s....
JUNE 13-19 — Summer Academic Program
Archpriest John Behr, renowned Professor of Patristics and SVS Dean, will teach a course titled “From Gospel to Creed.” The course will examine key Christian figures and explore the historical and thematic paths that led to the formulation and promulgation of the Creed of Nicaea. A course description and requirements, schedule, registration, and fees are posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0613-s....
Exploring the Passions that Drive Us and the Virtues that Can Save Us
With Guest Speaker Paul Karos
June 11-13, 2010 + Antiochian Village
All men, single, married, and of all ages are welcome to attend this Pan-Orthodox Retreat. Group discount available for groups of 10 or more. Bring your parish men’s group!
Questions? Call 724.238.3677 x425 Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, schedule or to register, please download the event brochure (PDF).
Guest speaker Paul Karos led a wonderful Men’s Retreat for us in 2009, “Man of the House”, and is returning again by popular demand! Paul is an Orthodox Christian husband and father of three children residing with his family in the Minneapolis area.
[New York, NY] -- On May 8, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., composer Nicholas Reeves presents Deliverance Through Devotion: The Triumph of Orthodox Music Over Oppression, an evening of music and lectures at St. Vartan Cathedral, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY. The Canticum Novum under the direction of Harold Rosenbaum will perform works by Andriasov, Pärt, Murov, Popovici, and Schnittke. The evening honors the work of artists from five different ethnic backgrounds, Armenian, Estonian, Russian, Romanian, and Jewish, whose works were banned or controversial due to their connection with or influence from the Orthodox Church.
In the shadow of oppressive atheistic ideology such sources as Matthew the Evangelist or the Armenian saint Gregory of Narek were employed by Murov and Schnittke at the price of official ridicule or censure. Other composers' careers were stifled for their overtly Christian themes (Pärt) or were forced to remove the sacred text altogether (Popovici). In one case, Andriasov's, the fame for his ethical writings among dissident circles and accolades from the Catholicos of Armenia, coupled with his audacity to refuse the Lenin prize for music composition, incensed the Soviet authorities to wreak academic sabotage on his wife and impel exile. Yet, these artists responded to the inhumanity of an impersonal regime not with anger or violence, but with beauty and truth.
CHICAGO, IL, 5/04 -- The spring meeting of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship Board of Directors was held at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral April 22-23, 2010.
Board members discussed a wide range of topics and evaluated the delegation of day-to-day responsibilities, due to the recent vacancy of the executive director position, in order to ensure the normal operations of the OCF offices in Fishers, IN. Ongoing preparations for programs -- College Conference, Real Break, College Student Sunday, and Day of Prayer -- will be overseen by various board members. A search committee was formed to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the executive director position and to develop a formal search process, which will begin at a later date. Father Mark Leondis, OCF Board Chair, serves as the Interim executive director.
A report prepared by Brigham and Nahas Research Associates, summarizing student focus group surveys carried out in December at the East Coast College Conference at Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania, was reviewed. Seventy of the 238 student participants volunteered to take part in the surveys, which provided valuable insight into the effectiveness of the OCF ministry. Board members initiated a process to strategize methods of utilizing the results of the report, which was performed in cooperation with the Office of Vocational Ministry at Holy Cross School of Theology.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral (OCA), Washington D.C., invites all Orthodox parishes in the U.S. to add the names, ranks, and photographs of their US military veterans to the newly established Orthodox Veterans Memorial website, a 21st century extension of the cathedral's continuing commitment to praying for our Orthodox fallen.
"Our chaplains serve Orthodox of all jurisdictions and, as such, our War Memorial will honor all Orthodox Christians whose names have been submitted to be honored," wrote His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, in a letter to the faithful and friends of Saint Nicholas Cathedral. "We must never forget their sacrifice and those who have, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently stated in his Gettysburg Address, 'given their last full measure of devotion.'"
The Orthodox Church has a longstanding tradition of dedicating churches to the memory of Orthodox Christians who have fought and died in defense of Church and country. Saint Nicholas Cathedral, modeled after the 12th century Church of Saint Dmitri in Vladimir, Russia, was built in the early 1960s as the National War Memorial Shrine. A decade-long effort to raise funds for the cathedral's construction had been blessed by the Holy Synod of Bishops in 1949. The cathedral was dedicated in 1963 to the memory of Orthodox Christians who died fighting for freedom in the Russian Revolution, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War. A bronze dedicatory tablet hangs at the entrance of the cathedral, and a book listing the names of the fallen, collected from parishes across the nation, is kept in the altar. Each year, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, these names are read aloud during the Divine Liturgy.
The cathedral's new Veterans Memorial web page features a growing list of Orthodox veterans by jurisdiction and parish.
FOCUS North America Executive Director and CEO Fr. Justin Mathewes has released the first annual report for the year 2009. As he said in a letter to ministry friends and supporters, "We are excited to share with you our 2009 Annual Report. We have had an amazing and blessed first year. Thank you so much for making FOCUS North America a living reality.
In the annual report, you will find updates on our programs such as the Youth Equipped to Serve Program and our Parish Education Program, our FOCUS Centers, and our Partner Ministries. Also in the annual report, you will find reports from our chairman and founder, Mr. Charles Ajalat, and me about our hope and aspirations for the future and our 2009 financial report.
Thank you again for helping the poor and needy here in North America. Your gifts are helping to restore the living icons all around us."
The report can be viewed here.
Baltimore, Md. (IOCC) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will once again be calling on Orthodox volunteers from throughout the United States to build homes for families whose lives were devastated by Gulf Coast hurricanes.
The program will give teams the opportunity to serve one-week stints in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, an area that suffered the loss of more than 48,000 housing units in Hurricane Katrina according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Opportunities to serve begin on May 2 and end on August 1.
"I came down with my 17-year-old son," said IOCC volunteer Jim Kostaras, an architect from Boston who served on a team in Louisiana during the summer of 2009. "It was a great opportunity for us to come to New Orleans and to meet great people from Orthodox communities from across the U.S. and to put our faith to work in a meaningful way," he continued.
Volunteers don't have to be skilled – just energetic. Activities include siding, roofing, framing, landscaping and support. Over 550 Orthodox volunteers have helped build 200 homes with IOCC since the program's inception in 2006. "We are at the vanguard of a national effort to engage Orthodox volunteers in a variety of opportunities right here in the U.S.," says Pascalis Papouras, IOCC's US Program Coordinator.