The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has appointed the Sixth Sunday of Pascha May 20, 2012, as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday in all Orthodox parishes of North America. As the official prison ministry of the Assembly of Bishops, Orthodox Christian Prison Ministries is grateful for the designation of this important day, when all Orthodox Christians are called to unite in prayer for those in prison and their families. Please mark your calendar, pray, and consider supporting OCPM on Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday.
Kory Warr, Chairman of OCPM, writes:
"The ministry of OCPM continues to grow at an incredible pace. When I took over the correspondence ministry a couple of years ago, we received somewhere around 25 letters per month; now, we receive close to 200. Every two weeks, I send out a general letter to over 300 men who are in prison. I also correspond personally with around 70 men. Our correspondence is on substantive matters of faith; it is decidedly not small talk.
Sameeh Ramez El-Khoury, brother of Fawaz El-Khoury, passes away in Lebanon.
We are saddened to announce the passing into eternal life of Sameeh El-Khoury, the brother of the Vice-Chairman of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, Mr. Fawaz El-Khoury. Sameeh passed away on February 29th in Lebanon. He is survived by his wife Afaaf and four children, Edgar, Hamid, Michel and David and their families, along with his mother Rose and brother Hamid and Fawaz and their families. The funeral will take place in the village church of St. George in Qalhat El-Koura on March 3. You may send condolences to Fawaz and Jo-Ellen at: email@example.com.
May his soul rest with the saints and may his memory be eternal!
Real Break Houston offers college students and young adults a chance to provide relief to those who have lost their homes in recent natural disasters.
Orthodox College Fellowship (OCF) is teaming up with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to build homes in Houston, Texas for families who have lost everything to the devastating hurricanes and flooding along the Gulf Coast.
This is also billed as a great opportunity to connect with other college students and young adults from across North America.
The trip cost of $550 covers lodging, food, transportation and materials while in Houston.
OCF Executive Director Jennifer Nahas urges, "please come to Houston and build a house!!! From March 24 through March 31st, OCF students and alum, along with Habitat for Humanity and IOCC, will be working on helping a family affected by the Hurricanes in Texas. Thanks to a donor, we can now offer this trip for $550. Please, chapter leaders, tell your chapter and your friends. WE NEED YOU!"
For more information, contact John Mahfouz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fr. Joseph Purpura, Antiochian Archdiocese Youth Director reports, "We have reached our fund raising goal--thank you!" The Special Olympics Awareness Day goal of $50,000 has been superceded, with the amount currently standing at $50,165.03.
"We thank all of you for the contributions that will make the August 2012 SOYO/SOPA Special Olympics Camp possible," notes Fr. Joseph.
Kh. Suzanne Murphy writes:
Your Eminences, Your Graces, Reverend Fathers, and Dear Sisters in Christ:
I am sending out this e-mail to you with the sad news of the repose of Violet Robbat’s sister, Diana Beattie.
Diana had been bravely battling ovarian cancer, but yesterday (Wednesday, February 22nd) she was called by our Lord to end her temporal battle and to find eternal rest in Him.
Calling hours are scheduled for Sunday afternoon, 4:00pm until 8:00pm, February 26th, at St. John of Damascus Church in Dedham, MA; her funeral will be at the Church on Monday at 10:00am.
In lieu of flowers, Violet has said that donations may be made to St. John of Damascus Antiochian Orthodox Church (300 West Street, Dedham, MA 02026); or to the Foxboro Massachusetts Public School System, in care of “The Diana Beattie Memorial Fund” (60 South Street, Foxboro, MA 02035).
May her Memory Be Eternal!
Kh. Suzanne Murphy
Memphis, TN (CCT)--Christian Churches Together in the USA has completed its sixth annual meeting (February 14-17, 2012) in Memphis, Tennessee. Some 85 church and organizational leaders (representing 36 African American, Catholic, Historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal and Orthodox churches and 6 Christian organizations: American Bible Society, Bread for the World, Evangelicals for Social Action, Habitat For Humanity, Sojourners and World Vision) met to discern together how CCT should respond to racism and poverty now.
V. Rev. Olof Scott, the Chair of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Faith Relations and Dean of the St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, attended the 2012 Annual Meeting.
A joint statement released at the gathering's conclusion, "One in Christ for the Sake of All," responds to the question: How might the Holy Spirit use the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, to help the church live the Gospel more fully and proclaim it more faithfully?
Theme: Reflections on the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian
The Fellowship of St. John the Divine invites you to a Lenten Retreat at St. Mary’s Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Featuring keynote speakers Dr. Anthony Bashir, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Boston MA, Co-Chair, Department of Lay Ministry; and Dr. John Dalack, clinical psychologist and Co-Chair, Department of Lay Ministry.
Retreat begins at 10am with Morning Prayers followed by a Continental Breakfast. Session I with Drs. Bashir & Dalack followed by Lunch Session II followed by Dessert Q&A and ending with Closing Prayers around 4pm.
To register or for more information call the church at 718-238-8008 or email Jenna Zraick at: email@example.com For directions to St. Mary's, visit www.smaoc.org. There is no registration fee but donations are greatly appreciated.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has appointed Fr. Kenneth DeVoie to the Department of Missions and Evangelism as a full time mission priest. Fr. Kenneth was formerly the pastor of Emmanuel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Warren, Massachusetts. Fr. Kenneth has significant experience in “church planting” and the establishment of new church communities, and his expertise will certainly benefit the missionary efforts of our Archdiocese. We welcome Fr. Kenneth to the missions team of the Archdiocese.
In today’s secular society, which is often filled with meaningless rhetoric, it is encouraging to report that the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America is progressing toward its stated goals.
Recent achievements include the official incorporation of the Assembly on October 18, 2011 as the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America (ACOB). (It was formerly known as the “Episcopal Assembly” of North and Central America.) Last month an historic teleconference of the Assembly’s committee chairmen was held, bringing together representatives of all Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. On January 24 and 25, 2012, the Secretariat—which holds monthly teleconferences—held its second annual face-to-face meeting in Riverside, CA.
The Secretariat meeting in Riverside was hosted by Fr. Josiah Trenham of St. Andrew’s Church, and included Bishop Basil (Secretary of the Assembly of Bishops), Archbishop Antony (Treasurer), Bishop Andonios, Bishop Maxim, Fr. Mark Arey, Fr. Nicholas Ceko, Hierodeacon Benedict (Armitage), Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, and Messrs. Alexei Krindatch, Alex Machaskee, and Eric Namee.
Applauded at the Secretariat meeting was “Conversations With Our Bishops,” which is a series of audio interviews of the Assembly’s 53 member hierarchs conducted by Fr. Trenham. The interviews provide a broad swath of perspectives to the Church-at-large on the significance and work of the Assembly. Seventeen interviews have been completed so far, and new interviews are regularly made available on the Assembly’s website.
The Archdiocese has another department?
How much does it cost?
What is it for?
What’s in it for me?
Even before these questions, maybe you asked, “Why do we need an Archdiocese? Our church is doing just fine on its own.” This is the very reason and purpose for this Department – to “re-energize” the Laity of our Archdiocese regarding the Hierarchal nature of our faith and its relevance to our future viability in this country.
V. Reverend Economos Antony Gabriel, Chair of the Department offers the following:
“What is so unique about the Antiochian Archdiocese is that it was established by the Laity. In 1885 St. Raphael came to the United States, consecrated in 1904 in Brooklyn, and then proceeded to establish 30 parishes. He died young as did other Bishops that succeeded him. Metropolitan Philip is the longest serving Bishop in the history of the Archdiocese. The legacy of this Archdiocese will be that we have embraced the spirit of going forward; standing still is death. We must continue to do everything in our power which comes from God to continue our forward progress not for our own glory or the glory of the Metropolitan, but for the glory of God and in honor of our founders who came to this country penniless. When Metropolitan Anthony died in 1966 the Archdiocese consisted of 66 parishes. Now we have 265 parishes. If the Church is not a missionary Church then it is dead. The ministry of the Laity is more important than that of the Priests. The Priests are confined to the parish, but the Laity has the whole world as its parish.”
On October 6, 2011 members of the Department of Planning and Development met with Metropolitan Philip at the Archdiocese to discuss the strategy behind the Department’s exciting plans to re-energize the visions and legacy of the Metropolitan Philip and our God-protected Archdiocese.
February 17, 2012
Ten years ago, five determined and dedicated IOCC supporters cycled their way across the U.S. to celebrate IOCC's tenth anniversary of service providing humanitarian assistance worldwide. The Race to Respond riders raised funds for those in need and put IOCC on the map with the new Orthodox Christian supporters they encountered through cities and towns across California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
Lead rider, Jim Angelus, is ready to repeat this feat and is seeking a crew chief to drive the pursuit vehicle and two cross-country cyclists to join him again in honor of IOCC's 20th anniversary of humanitarian service. This time, the cross-country route will take the cyclists along the northern tier of the country from Seattle, Washington, through Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, covering approximately 3,000 miles in 33 days.
Cyclists must have prior experience in training and participating in strenuous long distance events. Much like the 2002 ride, cyclists will have to endure the psychological and physical demands of approximately 33 days of continuous cycling at approximately 90 miles per day.
The tentative timeline for this cross-country cycling event is June 26 – July 31. This timeline includes travel and time prep time in Seattle. Cyclists will be responsible for costs incurred on this cross-country trek, approximately $4,000. This includes travel expenses, equipment, accommodations and food, as well as the shared cost for a crew chief that will be providing SAG. Those interested should contact Jim Angelus at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.
Matthew 25:35 – Judgment Sunday
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On behalf of the Holy Eparchial Synod of our Holy Archdiocese of America, I am writing to you, the faithful members of our Holy Orthodox Church here in the United States, this heartfelt appeal for our brothers and sisters in Greece. The financial crisis that has rocked Europe and deeply affected Greece has reached proportions where the suffering of innocents and the ordeal of common people cry out for urgent and substantive help. So many of our families have roots in Greece and many of us have relatives and friends who are now experiencing privation unknown in that country since the time of the harsh occupation of the Second World War.
The Board of Directors of FOCUS North America announces the appointment of Nicholas J. Chakos as its new Executive Director. Chairman Charles Ajalat said, “The Board of Directors is extremely blessed and excited to have found such a great leader to take FOCUS North America to the next level.”
Nick Chakos has over 15 years of experience and demonstrated success in Orthodox non-profit leadership, fundraising, strategic planning, and program development and evaluation. He is both an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the recipient of the Miron Cross, the highest distinction given by the Romanian Orthodox Church to civilians for outstanding social service to Romania. Nick has been with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) for 13 years, occupying positions such as Interim Director of Development and as a member of the Executive Team. Prior to IOCC, Nick worked for Tanzanian Development Association, a division of the Orthodox Church in Tanzania. Nick is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and is passionate about domestic social action.
Mr. Chakos is expected to join FOCUS on February 16.
[SVOTS Communications, Yonkers, NY] On Monday evening, May 7, 2012, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary is hosting an evening of liturgical music sung in the traditional styles of Orthodox Christian churches worldwide. In a multi-media program that interweaves luminous icons, sacred texts, and a rich a cappella sound, the St. Vladimir's Seminary Chorale will perform ORIENT: Sacred Song and Image at the famous St. Malachy's,"The Actors' Chapel," in the heart of Manhattan, at 239 West 49th Street, New York City. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The concert program will include pieces from the broader Orthodox tradition sung in their original languages—Greek, Georgian, Estonian, Slavonic—as well as choral music by Orthodox composers written for the concert hall. Two visual projections—one of images of Orthodox icons and the other of translations of musical texts—will run simultaneously as the chorale sings. In this multi-media concert, icons, music, and text will expound one another and combine the best elements of a professional choral performance with the depth and authenticity of the Orthodox liturgical experience.
The chorale will be directed by Hierodeacon Herman, Lecturer in Liturgical Music and Chapel Choir Director at the seminary, and Matushka Robin Freeman, who created the concert format and conducted in its premiere at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2010.
Tickets are $25, and may be purchased online. Limited seating will be available at the door (cash only) the evening of the concert.
St. Katherine College hosted the first annual President’s Gala on January 28th. Approximately 300 guests enjoyed hearing the College chorale, readings from prize-winning poet and Visiting Professor Scott Cairns, and the first public performance of a piano composition by music Instructor Nazo Zakkak. The attendees represented clergy and people from all of the Orthodox Christian traditions as well as those of other faiths. Underwriters for the event included corporations, businesses, and individuals who are committed to the vision of an Orthodox Christian college. An Ancient Faith Radio audio summary of the event is available here.
Saint Katherine College began its second year of operation on January 9, 2012. Classes resumed for 11 traditional and 4 part-time students. The first year was marked by continuing expansion of course offerings and facilities. Most students are taking courses in the College's Core Integration series, mathematics, biological science, and theology, as well as electives in areas ranging from music theory to business ethics. Recently the school was awarded competitive grants to fund original research at the College.
Syria is in the news a lot these days, but what kind of work is being done by the Church in light of the current circumstances? Listeners may be surprised. In this edition of Ancient Faith Presents, Samer Laham, the Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Patriarchate of Antioch in Damascus, discusses the ongoing humanitarian work of the IOCC in the country.
The Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS) announces it has released the second and final MP3-DVD volume in Fr. Paul Tarazi's groundbreaking Orthodox Audio Bible Commentary. Ordering information is available on the OCABS website.
As each verse of the Old Testament is read aloud and carefully explained, listeners can hear the story of the Bible unfold in its entirety, while learning relevant historical, linguistic, and literary facts. As attested to by Orthodox liturgical tradition, Scripture is meant to be read aloud to people of all backgrounds. Unfortunately, differences in language, culture, and historical circumstances often obscure the Bible for contemporary listeners. Throughout this series, the speaker repeatedly highlights poetic and literary connections from the original languages, overcoming the problem of translation and helping listeners to encounter the Old Testament as it was heard in its orignal setting.
The approximate running time is 75 hours.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has issued the following statement of protest:
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience.
In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care. We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.
"For the last three years, the Classical Learning Resource Center has focused on teaching live, real-time, online classes in Classical Greek and Latin. We’ve emerged as one of the best online sources available for Latin and Greek instruction. Our student body has approximately doubled for the third year in a row and our new students are just as engaged, inquisitive, and generally delightful as those continuing from last year!
The Classical Learning Resource Center is beginning to gear up for fall of 2012. We’re planning to offer several new classes and part of the purpose of this newsletter is to see how much interest there is in these new course offerings. We’ll continue with our full program of Greek and Latin classes with Latin 4 Kids classes for elementary school and the full 4 year sequence of Latin I, II, III, IV and Greek I, II, III, IV for middle school and high school students and adults. If you haven’t taken a Greek or Latin class with the Classical Learning Resource Center yet we encourage you to begin in 2012.
The Diocese of Toledo Fellowship of St. John the Divine invites all young adults (ages 18-40) to our spring Young Adult Retreat hosted at St. Mary Basilica in Livonia, MI, the weekend of March 30-April 1, 2012. His Grace Bishop Anthony will be our guest speaker for the weekend leading us in workshops about our faith, along with church services, good food, activities and fellowship time together to enjoy each others company. We invite all young adults (married or single) from our diocese and beyond to join us for this retreat. It is going to be a fun and spiritually fulfilling retreat in which we hope all young adults from our diocese will participate.
The retreat will take place at St. Mary Basilica in (18100 Merriman Road, Livonia, MI). Out of town guests may book lodging at the Detroit Marriott Livonia (17100 Laurel Park Drive North, Livonia, MI) where a block of rooms is reserved under the group code: FSJFSJD at a special rate of $96 per night.
The weekend will begin at 7pm on Friday March 30 with the Akatahist/Madeyeh service at St. Mary's, and conclude with a light luncheon after Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday April 1. The final schedule is attached.
The Fall/Winter 2011-2012 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the North American Board. And The Diocese of New York and the Archdiocesan District, And the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, and contains:
- A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph, Antiochian Women Hierarchical Overseer
- A message from His Grace Bishop John, North American Board Spiritual Advisor
- A message from His Grace Bishop Nicholas, Bishop of Brooklyn and Assistant to the Metropolitan
Rev. Fr. Basilios Nassar was born on January 1, 1982. He held a Bachelor's degree in Theology form St. John of Damascus Orthodox Institute of Theology at the Balamand University in Lebanon, and a Master's degree in pastoral care form the same university in 2004. He was fluent in Arabic, Modern Greek and the New Testament Greek, as well as a working knowledge of English and Hebrew.
He was ordained a deacon and a celibate priest by His Eminence Metropolitan Elias (Saliba) of Hama, Syria, then he served in his hometown, Kfarbahom, and in the Archdiocese of Hama.He taught Bible Study as well as Byzantine music to different age groups, and established many choirs throughout the Archdiocese. He was loved by youth and adult alike for his pastoral care and love, and that is the reason for his untimely death, as he was trying to help one of his parishioners who was wounded.
Fr. Basilios was at the Metropolis when he was informed by a phone call that a parishioner of his had been wounded and needed assistance. The Patriarchate of Antioch has reported that the 30-year-old priest was killed while giving medical aid to the wounded man.
His funeral took place on January 26th in the Church of Saint George in Hama. The blessed Father Basilios, known in the world as Mazin, was born in the Village of Kfarmpo in Hama. He was a teacher of Byzantine music in the school Saint Kosmas the Melodist which he had founded in the Metropolis.
Fr. Basilios was indeed a faithful shepherd. He will be missed by all who knew him in the Patriarchate of Antioch.
May he rest in peace and may his Memory be Eternal.
As of January 27, Fr. Stephan Close, Antiochian Chaplain assigned to Afghanistan's Kandahar Air Field Chapel, has written fifteen vivid letters to his Bishop, His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita. With permission, Antiochian.org is republishing the letters as journal entries, and the regular diary essays compose a moving first-hand account of his life in a war zone.
Fr. Stephan's colorful prose details all the sorrows and joys of a chaplain's life. "It's been a rough week," he writes in Entry 14, "with too many rockets and caskets and trouble and sorrow." Earlier, in his first encounter of the chapel at Kandahar, he explains, "I was able to serve Liturgy with the Romanians yesterday. Their chapel was one of the first constructions when they first came into theater at the beginning of the war (about 10 years now, Lord have mercy on us). It is not a prefab, but was purpose built-some of the interior supports are hewn and fitted, not nailed; a beautiful devotion of handiwork."
Camera-ready bulletin inserts regarding the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Real Break Program are available for download here.
The Real Break program provides alternatives to the “traditional ” Spring Break for college students. It exists to provide students with the most authentic experience possible, and is modeled as a full Christian lifestyle, which includes fellowship, prayer within community, witness and service. Now is the time for college students across the US and Canada to sign up for Real Break, as the first program begins February 25 and subsequent service weeks are available through March 24.