News


St. George in New Kensington PA Hosts 100th Anniversary Weekend

By Helen Murray

“Our Roots Run Deep” was the theme for St. George Orthodox Church’s 100th Anniversary Celebration which was celebrated with much joy and enthusiasm on the weekend of November 3, 2012.

The 100th anniversary celebration actually had kicked off a year prior, on November 5, 2011, with our Fourth Annual Sacred Arts Festival (see article on p. 28 in May 2012 issue of The Word magazine). It was a successful event and a great opportunity to share our Orthodox faith and Syrian heritage with the local community. The event included speakers, iconographers, vendors, our own bookstore, and a Byzantine choir concert.

Next, we remembered our heritage at our annual St. George Day Brunch held on May 12, 2012. At this annual feast day celebration, we recognize church school students, altar servers and high school seniors. Additionally, we recognized a couple of parishioners who were nominated for having admirably served the church.

Assembly of Bishops Convenes Meeting on Information and Technology

The Assembly of Bishops convened a meeting to share ideas and discuss collaboration between the Assembly’s communications team and the internet staff of member jurisdictions. The meeting was held on the campus of St Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, NY on March 6 and brought together representatives from the Assembly’s Secretariat, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, the Orthodox Church in America, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese. All of the Assembly’s member jurisdictions were invited to attend.

A main topic of discussion was how the Assembly’s website can be enhanced to include Orthodox news and resources on the Orthodox faith. The group agreed that the Assembly’s website and the jurisdictions’ websites can support each other in reaching the Orthodox faithful.

The group touched on other relevant topics including sharing parish information so that the Assembly's parish directory remains up-to-date; the creation of a clergy directory; the importance of providing the faithful with resources on internet safety for youth and adults; and mechanisms by which Orthodox news and information can be disseminated directly to parishes.

The group will meet periodically by phone to continue vital conversations related to information, technology, and faith.

Memory Eternal! + Leah Cowan

Mr. Paul Cowan writes:

Memory eternal for the handmaid of God Leah Cowan of St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston, TX. Leah ended her struggles with long time illnesses and medical complications at the young age of 44. She was born in September 1968 and was laid to rest at Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery in Kendalia, TX. Leah was surrounded by family and friends as she passed away Monday February 25, 2013, and leaves behind her husband Paul of 15 years, Michele Garey her cousin, who put her life on hold to help us these last 6 months (an angel in the flesh), her father Billy Graham and Donna Graham of Odenton MD, her step father Jim Landing and Brenda Landing of Houston TX, grandparents Jim and Evelyn Landing, Berdie Britton, uncles and aunts Howard and Yoko Garey and John and Martha Garey, cousins Lisa, Monica, Terry, Yolanda, Martha-Ann, Bobby, Michael, and her two dogs.

Leah worked in advertising most of her life but her passion was her vegetable garden and starting new business ventures. She had a successful nut-butter business as well as a profitable eBay business. She loved going to yard sales and networking with other vendors at craft shows. Paul would like to thank all those who have prayed for Leah at St. Joseph and literally around the world for her recovery. If you are of the mind to make a donation in her name, please send it to Fr. Joseph Honeycutt at St. Joseph Orthodox Church 10644 Hammerly Blvd Houston, TX 77043.

May God bless you for your prayers for the repose of my beloved wife, Leah.

 

OCF and AFR Provide Real Break Updates in Real Time

As part of a growing partnership between Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), audio field reports are being posted from select Real Break Trips on Ancient Faith Radio, including ministry to: Guatemala, Honduras, Constantinople, Mexico, Toronto, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. Tune in to AFR to listen on demand as they become available.

Other joint projects include the OCF Podcast, Special College Student Editions of Orthodoxy Live ( a live call in program) and coverage of other special OCF events.

Ancient Faith Radio seeks to deepen and enrich the faith of Orthodox Christians around the world with streaming audio programming and on-demand podcasts. It features liturgical music from a variety of Orthodox traditions, as well as prayers, readings, lectures, and interviews.

Riverside, CA Parish Hosts Symposium with Metropolitan Kallistos

Metropolitan Kallistos with Archbishop Joseph in Riverside, CAMetropolitan Kallistos with Archbishop Joseph in Riverside, CAOver the weekend of February 23-24, 2013, St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Riverside, CA and its Rector The Very Rev. Dr. Josiah Trenham, hosted the first Southern California Symposium of the Saints Cyril & Athanasius of Alexandria Institute for Orthodox Studies. Titled "Prayer in the Church Fathers," the event featured His Excellency the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, St. Vladimir's Seminary Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, Institute Director The Very Rev. Dr. Irenei (Steenberg) and The Rev. Daniel Meyer (Antiochian Archdiocese, West Chester, PA), addressing the topic "Prayer and the Church Fathers."

On Sunday, His Eminence The Most Reverend Archbishop Joseph concelebrated with Metropolitan Kallistos for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. A photo gallery of His Eminence serving with Metropolitan Kallistos is posted on the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West website.

Spring 2013 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Spring 2013 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, and contains:

  • A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph on the Feast of the Annunciation
  • A message from Diocese of Wichita Antiochian Women President Deana Bottei
  • A message from His Grace Bishop Basil
  • Do Icons Really Matter? by the late Archpriest Peter E. Gillquist

...and more! Click here to download (PDF).

Pan-Orthodox Sports Tournament and Fellowship Weekend in Akron, OH + May 17-19, 2013

A pan-Orthodox fellowship weekend for Orthodox Christian youth and young adults is being planned in Akron, OH for May 17-19, 2013.

Download flyer (PDF)

Organized through the efforts of a committee of young adults representing Greek, Serbian, Antiochian, Russian, Romanian, and other parishes throughout the region headed by Michael Pacurar, the event will include a round-robin soccer tournament, ethnic dance competition, corn-hole tournament, and international festival. The event is slated to coincide with the International Festival sponsored by the Presentation of Our Lord Orthodox Church in Fairlawn, Ohio.

In addition to Michael, weekend organizers include William Qaqish, Natalie Jovich, Victor Frunza, Maria Koulioufas, Peter Young, Mark Bleahu, Walid Qaqish, Roger Muresan, Laura Pancoe, Nicole Fatu, Bianca Rebrisorean, Bethany Avramaut and Kyra Tabak.

For additional information please contact Michael at PanOrthodox2013@gmail.com or 330.962.2969.

Update: IOCC's Ongoing Aid to Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugee Samira with her six children (Photo: Sarah Malian/Christian Aid)Syrian refugee Samira with her six children (Photo: Sarah Malian/Christian Aid)Baltimore, MD (IOCC)

Samira, 32, was eight months pregnant when she was forced to flee her home in Syria with her six small children. After a grueling 12-hour journey, Samira and her children arrived at a settlement in western Lebanon's Bekaa Valley with nothing other than her identity papers. They now live in a crudely constructed tent of wood and billboard vinyl, with a small diesel heater that does little to keep out the cold and damp. "I am not comfortable here," Samira says. "The situation is very bad for my children. I am worried about their health." Samira's youngest child, Ahmed, just a few weeks old, is underweight.

Expectant and new mothers are among the most vulnerable refugees fleeing Syria, faced with great risk to their own health and uncertainty about their newborn's survival under such precarious conditions. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a member of the ACT Alliance, is working to help protect the well-being of displaced Syrian mothers and infants by providing prenatal care for expectant mothers living in the harshest conditions, providing access to hospital deliveries in Bekaa, and following up with post-natal care. More than 150 expectant mothers have received healthcare support from IOCC, and 100 refugee women have delivered their babies with assistance from IOCC and local relief partners.

Orthodox Church of Bulgaria Elects New Patriarch

Metropolitan Neofit, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria (File photo: BGNES)Metropolitan Neofit, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria (File photo: BGNES)On Sunday, February 24, 2013, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria elected His Eminence Metropolitan Neofit of Ruse to succeed His Holiness the late Patriarch Maxim, who reposed at the age of 98 in November of last year. Immediately following his election, Patriarch Neofit and the other members of the Synod processed to Sofia’s Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral for his Enthronement.

Born Simeon Dimitrov, the 67-year-old bishop enjoyed a close relationship with the late Patriarch Maxim, a hierarch who led the Bulgarian Church through the turbulent transitional years prior to and after the fall of Communism. A skilled church musician, Patriarch Neofit specialized in liturgical music at the Moscow Theological Academy, and later served as conductor of the Theological Academy Choir in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Tonsured in 1975, subsequently ordained and then consecrated to the episcopacy in 1985, the Patriarch held several key posts in the Bulgarian Church, including Rector of the Theological Academy, Dean of the Theological Faculty of Sofia University, Secretary of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan of Dorostolski Cherven and finally, Metropolitan of Ruse. "He is generally acclaimed as an erudite man and one of the best diplomats of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church," noted the Global Post.

OCMC Video Tells the Story of Church Planting in Kenya

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) has been commissioned by the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America to help Orthodox Christians to make disciples of all nations. Among the Turkana of Northern Kenya, OCMC's ministries have helped welcome hundreds of people into the Body of Christ. A new video, "A Journey of Faith," tells the story of how missionaries have supported and encouraged the growth of the Orthodox Church in the previously unreached Turkana people group. A recent mission team that served in Kenya is depicted in the video; members of Antiochian parishes from various regions of the United States participated in the team, which visited the Turkana in the summer of 2012 to offer practical and spiritual help.  

For more information please visit OCMC's website or call the Mission Center at 1-877-GO-FORTH.

Spotlight: Christian Education and Creative Festival Updates

To prepare for Lent and the season of preparation for the Creative Festivals, the Department of Christian Education has posted new resources online for youth leaders and Sunday School teachers. This year’s Creative Arts Festival theme is “The End of History…The Last Judgment.” The Scripture quotation that accompanies the theme is “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36) 

Notes the Christian Ed website, "Because this is a very tangible theme, there are many ways in which students can express themselves in art, photography, creative writing, and poetry. The most natural way to inspire creative expression relating to this theme would be to get the students involved in service projects in your parish or community. Suggestions for service projects can be found on the Creative Festivals webpage."

In addition, many Lenten resources are available from Christian Education as well, including recently added content for use in the classroom. February's Featured Resources list links which tie in with a Festival and Lenten theme, and a new Letters from The Holy Land section highlights the work of  Dr. Maria C. Khoury in Taybeh.

Record Number of Teens Attend Oklahoma SOYO Winter Camp

DOWAMA Winter Campers, February 2013DOWAMA Winter Campers, February 2013The Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Youth Director Erin Ghata, member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Oklahoma City, OK, recently reported to the St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood, that the Diocese of Wichita's annual SOYO Winter Camp from February 15-17 exceeded all expectations. "Your blessing!" wrote Ms. Ghata. "Thank God, by your prayers, we had a wonderful time this past weekend at Winter Camp! More than 120 DOWAMA teens and chaperones gathered at Camp Saint Raphael (YABOY!) for a weekend of prayer, fellowship and learning. It was the biggest Winter Camp we have ever had!

"Father James Shadid did an amazing job as our speaker," she continued.

Michigan Parish Hosts Parenting Seminar with Renowned Scholar

Dr. John ChirbanDr. John ChirbanThe Mariam Center, located on the campus of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Livonia, MI, is hosting a public Parenting Seminar, "Meeting the Critical Challenges of Effective Parenting," on March 2, 2013, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The keynote speaker is Dr. John Chirban, a well-known expert and author of several books on the topic. Dr. Chirban maintains special interest in integrative studies of medicine, psychology, and religion and serves as clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School at The Cambridge Health Alliance. In 2003, he was named Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. He also serves as professor of psychology and chairman of the Human Development Program at Hellenic College. Dr. Chirban serves as Director of Cambridge Counseling Associates and Director of the Institute of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion in Cambridge, MA.

There is a $10 registration fee that includes lunch. Register online, or contact Fr. Jim King at 734-422-0010 for more information.

Annual Florida Festival Continues Cathedral's Diamond Jubilee

Saint George Cathedral of Coral Gables, FL, is presenting their Annual Middle Eastern Festival Friday, February 22—Sunday, February 24, 2013. The Cathedral began celebrating its 60th anniversary in November of 2012, and continues with this event. Saturday, February 23 will coincide with the actual and exact 60th anniversary of the parish's founding. The Festival will feature Middle Eastern delicacies and American classic cuisine, a petting zoo and kids corner, live entertainment and a raffle.

"The community is very excited and working hard for this," noted Fr. Fouad Saba. "Many new families are joining and attending now, and our children are excited about this day. Therefore, a time capsule will be sealed on that day during the Festival, with all the children participating."

Added Fr. Fouad, "St. George Cathedral is now on Facebook. Please find and 'like' St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Coral Gables, Florida, to receive news and updates on our latest events!"

Read about the Cathedral's anniversary celebration in November, 2012.

Download the PDF flyer for the Festival.

Wichita Ministry to Moms in Crisis Seeks Executive Director

The Treehouse in Wichita, Kansas, is looking for an Executive Director. Created in 2002 to fill a unique niche, helping economically challenged moms and children with basic necessities and programs, the Treehouse is a Christian-based, not-for-profit organization. The Executive Director is responsible for providing strategic leadership for The Treehouse by working with the Board to establish long-range goals, strategies and policies. The Executive Director is responsible for the administration of the comprehensive Treehouse program, leading its public relations, community relations, and fundraising efforts.

The Treehouse offers compassionate physical and emotional support and positive Christian relationships. It is a special place, created by members of the Orthodox Christian community, especially for moms to receive education guidance and support after their baby is born. Parenting education, spiritual support, diapers and formula, and an inexpensive thrift store with books, toys and clothes are just a few of the resources. The Treehouse provides to women referred to our organization from our approved partners.

More information is available on the Orthodox Jobs website.

 

Antiochian Couple Receives Award for 80 Years of Marriage

John and Ann Betar (Photo: M. Barone)John and Ann Betar (Photo: M. Barone)A Connecticut couple, lifetime members of the Antiochian Archdiocese, have been named the longest married couple for 2013 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian group based in San Bernardino, CA. John (101 years) and Ann (97 years) Betar shared their story with the Hearst Connecticut Media group: how they eloped and married in New York when Ann's father arranged for her to marry another man, and how they subsequently sustained their long and happy marriage.

John and Ann had already celebrated their 80th anniversary at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, in Bridgeport, CT on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. Additionally, the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Group presented them with a plaque and other gifts at their granddaughter's home in Fairfield on Saturday, February 9, 2013.

A photo gallery of the couple, along with the news post, can be found here.

Archdiocese Authors Discuss Prayer and Meditation on OCN

The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN), emphasizing the theme of Prayer in their flagship program "Come Receive the Light," featured two distinguished Antiochian authors in their February line–up. Khouria Frederica Matthewes-Green, a frequent speaker as well as author, shared her thoughts about keeping a personal prayer rule with OCN Executive Director Fr. Christopher Metropulos. The writer of The Illumined Heart, a book about Orthodox spirituality, Kh. Frederica offered helpful tips on starting and maintaining a personal prayer rule, and outlined advice on how to build up the prayer life of the entire family. "When you stop and actually face the Lord, and remember that everything begins and ends in Him," noted Kh. Frederica in the OCN podcast, "I've found that it was the most transformative thing I ever did, to change my prayer life."

A second podcast on "Come Receive the Light" hosted guest Antiochian theologian Dr. Bradley Nassif, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University. He and Fr. Chris discussed the importance of not just reading scripture, but memorizing it. "It was important for the Son of God to know Scripture when He was on earth...you can review verses and chose topics that will help you live the Christian life," noted Dr. Nassif.

View Featured Author pages for:

Memory Eternal! + Lorraine K. (Deban) Laham

Lorraine K. (Deban) Laham, a life-long parishioner of St. George in Boston, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her loving family on February 8, 2013. She was 84 years old.

Lorraine was born in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston as the youngest of nine siblings. She is preceded in death by all of her siblings; the late Freda Hanna, Helen Zahlaway, Mathilda Teebagy, Nellie Laham, Frederick Deban, Margaret Resha, Elizabeth Weinstein and Edith Eouse. She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Herbert Laham. Lorraine and Herbie had two loving sons, Antiochian Archdiocese Board of Trustees member Gregory Laham and the late Jeffery Laham. When Jeff passed away in 1995 it was an especially difficult time for the family. Fortunately, Lorraine was comforted by her family and by the monks at Holy Transfiguration Monastery and the nuns Holy Nativity Convent in nearby Brookline, MA. They became lifelong friends and were always there for her.

She remained a homemaker for most of her adult life, until the family purchased Sullivan's Pharmacy in 1976. She worked at Sullivan's Pharmacy for the next 25 years. She helped Sullivan's grow into a thriving business until she finally retired in 1998. However, her whole life centered around her family. Greg and his wife Debbie have two grown sons, Keith and James. But few things brought more joy to Lorraine than spending time with her great-grandsons, Junior and Jordan.

OCABS Press Releases Joshua: A Commentary

The Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS) recently released a new title in The Chrysostom Bible Commentary Series. Joshua: A Commentary is authored by The Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, professor of Biblical Studies and Languages at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. Books in the Chrysostom Series are not so much written in honor of John Chrysostom as they are published to continue and promote his legacy as an interpreter of the biblical texts for preaching and teaching God's congregation.

In this newest volume, Fr. Paul explains that Joshua, like most of Scripture, has been "plagued by the proof texting approach of classical theology....Instead of asking the simple question, 'What is the book saying?'" most of us, Tarazi contends, "have been programmed to ask, 'What is the book saying concerning a certain topic?'...the 'topic' we are interested in is already defined in our minds...by merely asking the question, we are already straightjacketing Scripture."

Father Paul is also the author of a three volume Introduction to the Old Testament, a four volume Introduction to the New Testament, and the Chrysostom Bible Series. His Audio Bible Commentaries on the books of the Old and New Testament are available on the OCABS website.

AFR Posts Audio of Fr. Constantine Nasr Marriage Preparation Seminar

On February 8 and 9, 2013, Fr. Constantine Nasr, pastor emeritus of St. Elijah Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and the author of Mastering the Art of Marriage published by Conciliar Press, conducted a marriage preparation seminar at the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI. The event was sponsored by the Mariam Center of Marriage and Youth Development, and the audio of all three sessions has been posted to Ancient Faith Radio (AFR).

Assembly Posts Minutes, Budget and Articles of Incorporation

The Assembly of Bishops has released minutes from its most recent meeting (Assembly III), held in Chicago from September 10-12, 2012. Though the final minutes will not be approved until the next meeting of the Assembly, scheduled for the Fall of 2013, the Assembly presents these as summary minutes.

Some of the chief concerns of the last meeting, as reflected in the minutes, were: the creation of a budget, the completion of the By-Laws, a review of the work of the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning, and the drafting of a statement.

Posted with these minutes are Articles of Incorporation, filed by the Assembly with the federal government in October of 2011. This was a first step towards the Assembly's legal incorporation. Since incorporation requires the creation of By-Laws, these were, as mentioned above, a chief agenda item at Assembly III. Having been completed there, they are now awaiting final approval. Once approved, the Assembly will post them here on the website.

Also included in this posting is the proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year, approved at the last meeting.

Fr. Alexander Atty Steps Down as Dean and COO of St. Tikhon's Seminary

Antiochian priest The Very Rev. Dr. Alexander Atty, former rector of St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY, has announced his immediate retirement as Dean and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (STOTS) in South Canaan, PA. Father Alexander, who has served the past three years in that position while giving particular attention to the renovation needs of the STOTS campus, cited health reasons in a statement posted on February 6, 2013.

“I feel at this time that my physical struggles make it impossible for me to devote the time and energy necessary to the Seminary and, most importantly, to the student body,” Fr. Alexander wrote in his statement. He continued his remarks with a description of the great blessings he had received in serving the students of the Seminary, and asked for the community’s prayers for both him and his family.

Father Alexander holds a B.S. in engineering from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. After earning his M.Div. at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 1979, he was ordained a priest on December 9, 1979 at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Brooklyn, NY. Fr. Alexander was elevated to the rank of archpriest in 1988, and later went on to study at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, earning his D.Min. in 2008.

Gift Cards from Archdiocese Distributed to Sandy Victims

Fr. Tom Zain and Senator Golden with Gerritson Beach community advocatesFr. Tom Zain and Senator Golden with Gerritson Beach community advocatesOn a sunny February afternoon in the Gerritson Beach section of Brooklyn, NY, the Vicar–General of the Antiochian Archdiocese The Very Rev. Thomas Zain and Mrs. Aida Nicolaou, a parish council member of St. Nicholas Cathedral, joined State Senator Martin Golden in one of the neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy. There, on behalf of His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, Fr. Thomas distributed $5000.00 worth of Home Depot gift cards to several families who sustained major damage to their homes and are trying to rebuild.

"Many people are still facing difficulties as they try to rebuild their homes and lives after the devastation wrought by Sandy last October, 2012," noted Fr. Tom. In addition to the financial distress and cold weather, many are facing bureaucracy from insurance companies, the government and private institutions. People in the community eventually requested help directly from Senator Golden, who has been working tirelessly as an advocate for his constituents, including the Gerritson Beach neighborhood.

Second Annual Midwest Young Adult Retreat + April 5-7, 2013

Dear Young Adults,

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Anthony, we are very excited to announce the 2nd Annual Midwest Young Adult Retreat to be held April 5-7, 2013 at the Maranatha Retreat Center in Muskegon, MI, on beautiful Lake Michigan. This year, we welcome Fr. Michael Nasser, the Pastor of Holy Apostles Mission in Bowling Green, KY, as our guest speaker for the weekend. Many of our young people remember him for his many years of service as the former Camp Director at the Antiochian Village and his mission work at Project Mexico. Fr. Michael is a dynamic speaker, whose talks will surely challenge and inspire us in the faith.