On November 15, many Orthodox Christian families will begin a journey to the Feast of the Nativity which is celebrated as Christmas in the US and Canada, on December 25. The Feast is preceded by a fast which, while not as strict as Lent, is observed as a kind of winter lenten season in preparation for the coming of Christ at His birth.
Christians who grew up celebrating western Christmas observed four Sunday of Advent, a period of preparation for the celebration on December 25, but Orthodox Christians commemorate the six Sundays of Advent which fall in the forty days of preparation.
The Orthodox Advent calendar is a helpful teaching tool; homemade calendars or ones ordered online can aid parents as they assist their children in preparing for the Feast of the Nativity. Doors opening each day highlight art, saints or scriptures that tell the story of the season, and kids often look forward to seeing what is behind the next door as the countdown to Christmas continues.
Order a ready-made Orthodox Advent calendar from Light and Life Publishing.
His Holiness, Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, 98, fell asleep in the Lord as a result of heart failure on Tuesday morning, November 6, 2012. He had been hospitalized for the past month.
According to an announcement issued by the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the 13-member Holy Synod will meet to make funeral arrangements and choose a locum tenens until the convocation of a Church Council within the next four months to elect Patriarch Maxim’s successor.
Charles Ajalat, the former chancellor for the Antiochian Archdiocese as well as an Order of St. Ignatius member, is the featured guest during the first week of Orthodox Christian Network's (OCN) flagship program, "Come Receive the Light." Charles joined Fr. Chris Metropulos, executive director for OCN, to discuss how he has attempted to bear witness to Christ throughout his life through both philanthropic efforts and one-to-one evangelism.
A co-founder of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), Charles has been active in many Orthodox organizations, including the Order, and also helped form the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS). "People should be giving much more," noted Ajalat. "And how do we take action? It should be through the Orthodox Church.
"We need to do more in America," he noted in the interview. "We need to combine our efforts because together, we are strong. FOCUS, for instance, now has thousands of volunteers. We are Orthodox, and we are here to help."
"Trust in the Power and Love of God" is the theme of OCF's 2012 College Conferences
Register NOW for the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) College Conference!
Each year during Christmas Break OCF College Conferences host hundreds of college students from across North America for four days of fellowship, prayer, and some of the best Orthodox speakers around! Be sure to register early to get the early bird discount!
Here are the 2 locations for College Conference 2012:
East Coast College Conference
Antiochian Village | Bolivar, PA
West Coast College Conference
St. Nicholas Ranch | Dunlap, Calif.
Check out OCF's website to register and find more information!
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who went about doing good and healing all our infirmities, I ask you to bless all the people who have suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Strengthen those who are injured, gather those who are lost and give courage to all to rebuild their lives once again.
O Lord, You suffered and died for me and you understand suffering.
Give them the strength in body, courage in spirit and patience in pain.
Calm their fears and increase their trust in You and hasten to their aid.
I also pray for the safe keeping of our nation from famine, earthquakes, floods, fire and civil war.
I entreat You, O Lord our God, to hear my prayer.
Bless me to help those in need and give me courage to be Your face to all those suffering.
Through the prayers of the Holy Father Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and save us.
Supplication to the Mother of God
(taken from the Small Paraklesis)
For those in great sorrow you are joy, and for the oppressed, a protection, and for the hungry, their food, comfort unto those estranged; You are a staff to the blind, visitation of all those sick, and to those held by pain shelter and a comforting, and to the orphaned, an aid; Mother, of our God in the highest, You who are the Spotless One, hasten, save your servants from their sin, we ask of you.
Contributed by Fr. George Shalhoub, Basilica of St. Mary, Livonia, Michigan
October 31, 2012
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — At the request of the Maryland Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has deployed members of its Emergency Response Network "Frontliners" to a Disaster Recovery Center in Princess Anne, Maryland to provide trauma counseling to survivors of Hurricane Sandy and to assess the emerging needs of families returning to storm-ravaged homes and coastal communities.
As the storm moves further inland, emergency response crews are starting to assess the damage and restore critical services while people try to return to their normal daily lives. IOCC is in contact with the Orthodox Dioceses and disaster response networks throughout the East Coast to assess the damage in local communities. IOCC emergency response personnel will continue to monitor the situation and respond with emergency relief to storm survivors in need.
IOCC has already received initial requests for anticipated shipments of emergency relief items from its ecumenical partners for communities recovering from Hurricane Sandy. IOCC is urging Orthodox Christian parishes to assist by assembling emergency relief items and by making financial donations.
The Archdiocese headquarters in Englewood, NJ, weathered Hurricane Sandy without significant damage. Please continue to pray for all those suffering throughout the region in the wake of the storm.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) Recently, His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, issued an appeal for humanitarian assistance to all Syrians who have been victims of violence in their country. "Syrians, in spite of their religious backgrounds, have the right to live in their country with pride and dignity. It is important for us as Orthodox Christians to help whoever extends their hand to ask for assistance regardless of their background."
In that spirit, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a member of the ACT Alliance, is working in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), to respond to the urgent needs of thousands of internally displaced Syrian families. Katia, age 20, is one such person. Her days as a kindergarten teacher in Sabil, Syria, are a distant memory, since eight months ago, she and her family fled their home to escape fighting in the neighborhood, and have been displaced ever since. Left with no job and nothing to do, Katia turned to a local church for guidance, and is now helping assist other Syrians who were driven from their homes by the conflict that has engulfed Syria.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
Please join me in praying a rope for the repose of the soul of Khouria Shirley Schneirla, who fell asleep in Christ on Thursday, October 4, 2012, at age 89. She was the wife of the highly esteemed Fr. Paul Schneirla, to whom condolences may be sent via email@example.com
The daughter of Dorothy Downing Dillon Page and Donald Ormsby Page, Kh. Shirley was born on June 27, 1923 in New York City. A longtime resident of Far Hills and New York, she was the great-granddaughter of John Forrest Dillon, one time chief justice of the New York Supreme Court, and the granddaughter of William H. Page, attorney and a former president of the New York Athletic Club. She received her early education in France and England, attended the Hewitt School in New York, and was graduated in 1941 from the Wickham Rise School in Washington, Connecticut.
Khouria Shirley married William Sutfin Schneirla in June, 1942. Converts to the Orthodox Church, her husband was ordained into the priesthood of the Church and was both pastor for 50 years at St. Mary’s in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and a professor of Old Testament at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. She served on various church, inter-Orthodox, and ecumenical committees and initiatives. She was the mother of Dorothy Downie Orrill (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Peter Christian Schneirla, and the late William Sutfin Schneirla, Jr., and the sister of the late Donald Ormsby Page, Jr. May Kh. Shirley be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.
Have you considered supporting the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch? The "philanthropic arm" of the Archdiocese is an organization of men and women who maintain on an annual basis proper spiritual credentials and financial commitment. It was created to establish an organization of Antiochian laity who would function at the highest level of ministry for Christ and the Church. It is a spiritual movement manifested through financial giving.
The Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese will hold their fall meeting from October 26–28, 2012.
We ask all of the faithful to pray for the 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.
On October 9, 2012, His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston received a missions report from the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church of Göteborg, Sweden. Last summer two Swedish Orthodox Christians, Herman Fields and Mikael Fälthammar, had participated in a two-week residency at the Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania as part of the St. Stephen's Course, in the Antiochian House of Studies School of Orthodox Theology. "We were immensely blessed," wrote Mr. Fields and Mr. Fälthammar, "by meeting many Orthodox brothers and sisters in the United States.
"We want to express a special thank you to Fr. Joseph (Allen), Adn. Peter (Boulukos), Cheri Mullins and all the faculty of the House of Studies," they continued, "as well as to our hosts His Grace Bishop Thomas, and Paul Finley, for all your help and hospitality. We felt rejuvenated and encouraged by two intense weeks of spiritual fellowship and learning."
The rest of the newsletter reported on the work of the Swedish mission. "In the heart of Göteborg, we are very blessed to be able to borrow a basement venue, under a large church.
Fr. Anthony Yazge, Director of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Department of College Ministry, has asked all Orthodox Christians in parishes, and parents of college students, to submit names of current college students to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) database. "OCF, the college ministry of the Orthodox Churches in the United States, is developing and maintaining a database of all Orthodox college students," he noted. "The purpose of this database is to assist the church in keeping our students connected to Christ and His Church.
"Students that are listed in the database will receive regular communication from OCF regarding programs and ministries such as annual College Conferences and Real Break. Their contact information will be shared with the OCF chapters of the schools they are attending and/or the closest Orthodox Church as a means of offering support and encouragement to students while they are attending school. We ask that you visit the OCF webpage to submit your college student's information. Let's keep our young people connected to Christ and His Church!"
On October 20, 2012, the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is teaming up with Illumination Learning to host a meeting of Orthodox Christians, via a virtual conference center. The speakers presenting at this webinar come from varying backgrounds, and include:
•Dr. Albert Rossi, who teaches pastoral theology at Saint Vladimir's Seminary in New York, and will be presenting on "You are the Light of the World";
•Fr. Stephen Powley, the Assistant Director of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, who will be presenting on "Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone: One of the keys to a purposeful Orthodox life";
His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos, His Eminence, Archbishop Joseph, His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin and His Grace, Bishop Maxim, invite all clergy in the West to the Fourth Annual Pan-Orthodox Clergy Advent Retreat
- Topic: “The Sacrament of Confession: Contemporary Pastoral Challenges and Questions”
- Retreat Master: Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis
- Location: Sacred Heart Retreat House and St. Joseph Campus, 920 East Alhambra Road, Alhambra
- Phone: 626.289.1353
What is "Village at Home"? Antiochian Village's website explains, "In an effort to stay connected to our campers and introduce young people to the camp experience, we have established our Village at Home program. In short, we visit a parish, at the invitation of their pastor, and run a modified day of camp at the parish. We ask the host parish to extend invitations to neighboring churches with hope of exposing as many young people to the Antiochian Village camping program. We recruit former staff members to join us for the day to assist with the program. The day somewhat mimics a day of camp."
The third Sunday of October, October 21, 2012 is Special Olympics Awareness Day (SOAD) across the Antiochian Archdiocese. On Sunday, October 21st, your local teen group will seek financial help from Antiochian parishioners in funding the 2013 Special Olympics Sports Camp to be held at the Antiochian Village August 9-17, 2013. Next summer we will be celebrating our 32nd Annual Special Olympics Sports Camp. This ministry is sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO. Our teens work very hard for this ministry and rely on the generosity and support of the faithful of our Archdiocese and the Order of St. Ignatius.
We Need YOUR HELP!
Please publicize this day. Special Olympics Awareness Day bulletin inserts are attached below, one set for October 14th and the other for October 21st. Please include these inserts in your bulletin. Also attached are a letter to Antiochian clergy and an address to be delivered in church by teens on Special Olympics Awareness day. Your enthusiastic promotion of such a worthwhile ministry will go a long way in producing fruitful results from our faithful.
On October 9, 2012, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) posted an interview with Carole Buleza, the Antiochian Archdiocese's director of the Department of Christian Education. In the interview, Mrs. Buleza and AFR Operations Manager Bobby Maddex discussed the 2012 Orthodox Institute, the pan-Othodox conference for educators and parish leaders, scheduled for November 1–4th at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
"Why did you choose this theme?" asked Mr. Maddex, referring to the Institute's title: "Culture. Morality. Spirituality. A conference to survey current cultural views, beliefs of the Church, and the challenges facing young people."
"We've had requests to have an entire conference dedicated to understanding moral issues, since the issues pervading our culture are seemingly not in keeping with the Orthodox faith," responded Mrs. Buleza. "We have to understand this culture we live in, and also, we can't appreciate the Orthodox stand on these issues without a real grasp and adherence to our spirituality. These moral challenges are facing our teens, but are also impacting all of us."
Carole explained why each speaker is uniquely qualified to address the issues faced by educators and families today, not the least of which is that each of the featured presenters are parents of teens, and thus are currently dealing in a very practical way with the issues that will be discussed at the Institute. She noted that topics such as social media, transgender issues and homosexuality, substance abuse, and effective communication with youth, will be addressed by the Institute's instructors.
Margaret Abraham, age 83, passed away peacefully on Friday, October 5th 2012. Margaret was born on December 4th, 1928, in Grand Rapids, MI. She was preceded in death by her parents, Nicholas and Rose Howard and her sister, Laurece Kaleel. Margaret will be deeply missed by her husband Wade, an honorary member of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board of Trustees; her children Dan (Kathy) Abraham, former Chair of the Order of St. Ignatius; Marilyn (David) Vaillancourt, Diane (Patrick) Coleman, Linda Abraham, Janet (Mark) Ansara, and her grandchildren, Andrew, Lindsey (Patrick), Maggie, Joseph, Benjamin, George and Rosie. She will also be fondly remembered by her sisters, Mary Howard, Gladys Howard and her brother Dr. George Howard from Charleston, West Virginia, and a large extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews.
Margaret dedicated her life to being a proud and loving wife and mother. She was a life-time member of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church where she served in many capacities. As a devoted and loyal friend to many, she touched the hearts of all who knew her. Margaret brought love and laughter to her church family as well as friends in the community and always reached out to those less fortunate.
Funeral Services will be held 11:00 A.M. Monday, October 8, 2012 at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, 2250 E. Paris SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Interment is in Woodlawn Cemetery. The family will greet relatives and friends Sunday at the funeral home from 2-4 & 7-9 pm with a Trisagion Service at 8pm; and also from 10-10:45 am in the chapel at St. Nicholas on Monday. The family wishes that in lieu of flowers, please make donations to St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.
May her memory be eternal!
"Oh your mark, get set, go!" Antiochian Village's annual 5K Trail Run will benefit the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, and many runners have registered to participate in the event, slated for Saturday, October 6, 2012. Special Olympics PA provides year-round training and competition in 23 Olympic-type sports, to more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. One hundred percent of the AV5K Trail Run registration fee goes to Special Olympics.
Antiochian Village is an ideal setting for this event. At this time of year, spectacular fall color will welcome runners and walkers of all ages on a moderately challenging wooded course. Prizes and refreshments will be awarded at the finish line.
The run comes just two weeks before Special Olympics Awareness Day, which is sponsored by SOYO and aimed at raising funds to underwrite the Village's summer Special Olympics program.
Registration will be open the day of the Run at 9 a.m. in the Village Conference Center.
YONKERS, NY [SVOTS Communications] Enter the worlds of Narnia, Middle Earth, and Panem on Saturday, October 6, 2012 on the campus of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, as the school celebrates its annual open house and fall festival, “Orthodox Education Day.” This year’s theme—“Inklings of Glory: Godward Journeys with Lewis and Tolkien”—opens doors to literary treasures with Judeo-Christian themes, including the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and the blockbuster movie and phenomenal book, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
What can crowds expect? Expert presentations about British authors Lewis and Tolkien; an icon exhibit of saints of the British Isles, with a special print display of icons by Sr. Joanna [Reitlinger], instructor of famed iconographers Fr. Gregory Krug and Leonid Ouspensky; Irish dancers from the Inishfree School of Irish Dance; book discussion groups for teens and young adults on The Hunger Games, and for older adults on The Abolition of Man; a concert of sacred music; and a children’s activity tent, with games and handicrafts—plus fabulous international foods!
Services for the day will include Divine Liturgy, an Akathist dedicated to St. Anna (served in front of the weeping icon of St. Anna from St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA), a Panikhida (memorial service) for departed loved ones, and Vespers. His Eminence The Most Rev. Tikhon, archbishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, will preside at the liturgical services. As usual, the chapel and campus bookstore will be open to the public throughout the day.
Admission to the grounds is free; directions and a full program schedule may be viewed here.
St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara, California, is hosting their second annual Liturgical Arts Festival on Friday, October 19, and Saturday, October 20, 2012.
The Presenters Scott Cairns—Poet, Author, 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, and Professor; and the Rev. Fr. Andrew Cuneo—C.S. Lewis Scholar (D.Phil, Oxford University), and Professor of English Literature at St. Katherine College, will speak both Friday and Saturday.
The parish will also host an icon exhibit and tours of the church, and both evenings will end with a reception and book-signing offered by the featured speakers.
The festival is produced with the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has bestowed the Antonian Gold Medal upon renowned journalist Helen Thomas. For the occasion, a banquet will be held in her honor at Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church Hall in Potomac, Maryland on Friday, October 12, 2012. The event will commence with cocktails at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:30.
The evening will feature an invocation by Very Rev. Fr. George Rados of Ss. Peter and Paul, an introduction by Economos Antony Gabriel of St. George, Montreal; remarks by friends of Helen Thomas; the presentation of the Award; and a benediction by Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Rahal of St. George, Washington D.C. Other special guests will include Ambassador Ted Kattouf, Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, Hon. George Salem, Warren David (President of ADC), and former White House Interpreter Camille Nowfel.
Proceeds from the dinner will go to the Antiochian Heritage Foundation in Helen Thomas' honor. For reservations please contact either the Law Offices of Albert Mokhiber at 703-391-9898; or Mona at Ss. Peter and Paul Church at 301-765-9188.
Pilgrims gathered for the annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage at the Antiochian Village from September 21-23, 2012, joined by presiding hierarch His Grace Bishop Thomas, and the Abbess of the Convent of St. Thekla, Mother Alexandra. The Pilgrimage began on Friday evening with Great Vespers, followed by dinner, a showing of the Oscar nominated movie "The Help," and a discussion led by Fr. Anthony Yazge, Antiochian chair of the Department of Camping.
On Saturday, the Pilgrimage continued with a Hierarchical Liturgy at St. Ignatius Chapel at the Camp, followed by fellowship at brunch and an afternoon of activities which included workshops and discussion on "The Family and the Media" and "The Sacraments." Pilgrims also attended the Supplication Service to St. Thekla with anointing with oil from the Shrine in Maíaloula, Syria, and enjoyed a Chapel tour with Village Director Paul Finley. Afterwards, there was time for prayer, rest and reflection, and an opportunity to tour the Antiochian Heritage Museum.