During the early summer of 2011, after finishing a mission trip to Albania with the OCMC, my classmate, Rondal Burkhard and I travelled to Thessaloniki to visit churches and holy sites before returning to America. In the spring, before leaving for Albania, I had asked and received a blessing from my bishop to visit Mount Athos. His consent was contingent on my receiving a visa. Providentially, I had met a priest at Hellenic College who was well-travelled to the Holy Mountain. He wrote a letter to the Abbot of Xenophontos Monastery on my behalf. Thus, through the Grace of God, my friend and I were granted visas for a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain.
My friend and I were quite excited at the opportunity of visiting Mount Athos. I was looking forward to the trip because of the many inspiring stories I had heard from my Spiritual Father and from other priests in the Antiochian and Greek Archdioceses, as well as from my bishop, His Grace Alexander. Once we arrived, we were blessed by the opportunity to stay at St. Anne’s Skete. I was a guest at the house of the Theophilaion Brotherhood, under the care of Geronda Hieromonk Cheruvim (he is a Greek-American and a graduate of our Hellenic College, with a degree in theology from the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki).
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Scholarships are still available for the 2011 College Conferences. Interested students are urged to apply during the on-line registration process at events.ocf.net. Please note that the deadline for the early-bird discount rate is Dec 15, 2011. The conferences will be held during Christmas Break in the following three locations. Each will center on Orthodox Christian Fellowship's (OCF) theme - "Raise Me Above This World's Confusion."
College Conference West
St. Nicholas Ranch - Dunlap, Calif.
December 27-30, 2011
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $215 - Regular: $240
Keynote speaker - Fr. Josiah Trenham, Pastor of St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Riverside, Calif.
College Conference East
Antiochian Village - Bolivar, Pa.
December 28-31, 2011
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $240 - Regular: $265
Keynote speaker - His Grace Bishop Michael Dahulich, Bishop of New York and the Diocese of New York & New Jersey in the Orthodox Church in America
College Conference South
Diakonia Center - Salem, S.C.
December 28-31, 2011
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $210 - Regular: $235
Keynote speaker - Fr. Michael Nasser, Pastor of Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission in Bowling Green, Ky.
It's fasting and gift-giving season. Sounds like the perfect time for a new Orthodox fasting & feasting cookbook! Now is the perfect time to order your new cookbook. It's not too late to give this as Christmas presents this year, but order soon!
Taste & See II: More American Orthodox Cooking is a sequel to the much loved Taste & See Cookbook published in 1999. With the help of 150 contributors at 63 parishes in 27 states across America, this ALL-NEW cookbook has been published by the Women of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The Taste & See Cookbooks have been created to help American cooks prepare meals that conform to traditional Orthodox fasting guidelines while appealing to an American palate. Preparing meals during the fast should be as simple and stress-free as possible to allow ourselves more time for prayer, almsgiving and attending the services.
The first Taste & See Cookbook was published in 1999 by the Women of St. Ignatius in Franklin, Tennessee, and touched countless lives.
This edition carries on with the tradition of the first one with 500 ALL-NEW RECIPES. The proceeds from this cookbo ok will go to the Antiochian Women's charity efforts and the St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church building fund (we're currently in rented facilities).
This book contains almost 50% MORE recipes than the first one. The first 85% of the cookbook contains fasting recipes, with the remaining book featuring Our Best Feasting Recipes.
New to this edition
from the December 2011 issue of The Word:
The Very Reverend Father John Estephan, retired priest of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, completed his earthly journey on May 1, 2011, at the age of 92. He has left behind hundreds of families forever grateful to him for his strength, compassion, commitment and love.
He is survived by wife of 62 years, Khouria Soad, and their five children: Salam, Salwa, Sanaa, Soad, and Elias, and their families, including 14 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. He faithfully served St. George from 1962 to 2002, during which period he led our parish through two major renovations and the addition of a stunning, award-winning banquet and conference center.
As the leader of the oldest Orthodox church in West Michigan, Father John was always a forward thinker, encouraging women to read the epistle and serve as ushers at St. George. In addition to being our spiritual leader, Father John was a well-known leader in Grand Rapids, where he was often interviewed for news articles about our faith and the Middle East.
As an agency of the Assembly of Bishops, the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has been developing a thematic approach to issues which affect the lives of all Orthodox Christians. This month's theme is "Christmas and the Nativity;" last month was "Morality and Pop Culture," and the month before that, "Unemployment and Anxiety."
A new OCN video also posted on YouTube, "Say Merry Christmas," promotes the importance of keeping Christ in Christmas. Notes Fr. Chris Metropulos, Executive Director of OCN, "I have to confess to you that I have a great concern about this sacred holiday that we are about to celebrate. Well, why don't I just come out and tell you? I can't believe we have given in so easily to the hype connected with Christmas sales, which by the way the professionals tell us are up 7% from last year. I guess that is good news in an economy that has been sputtering along for some time. The problem I feel we are facing today is that we are so concerned about being politically correct that we are using terms such as Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Everyone knows no matter what their religious persuasion, that this is the time when Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of their Savior."
from the December 2011 issue of The Word:
COOK, Subdeacon David, to the holy diaconate by Bishop BASIL, on October 30, 2011, at St. George Church in Houston, Texas. Deacon David is assigned to St. Paul Church in Houston, Texas.
FULTON, Deacon Michael, to the holy priesthood by Bishop BASIL, on November 3, 2011, at St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas. Father Michael is in his final year of studies at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, Massachusetts.
TELSCHOW, Subdeacon Mark, to the holy diaconate by Bishop BASIL, on October 30, 2011, at St. George Church in Houston, Texas. Deacon Mark is assigned to Holy Cross Mission in Midland-Odessa, Texas.
DAHDAL, Archpriest Nicholas, to the dignity of Economos by Metropolitan PHILIP, before the Archdiocese Convention, at St. George Church, Cicero, Illinois.
JACOBSON, Priest Peter, to the rank and dignity of Archpriest by Bishop ANTOUN, on February 27, 2011, at St. Basil the Great Church, Ocala, Florida.
HUNEYCUTT, Priest Joseph, to the rank and dignity of Archpriest by Bishop BASIL, on November 3, 2011, at St. Joseph Church, Houston, Texas.
KRUSE, Priest David, to the rank and dignity of Archpriest by Bishop JOSEPH, on November 5, 2011, at St. Raphael Mission, Thousand Palms, California.
ISSA, Priest Elias, to the rank and dignity of Archpriest by Bishop BASIL, on October 2, 2011, at the Church of St. Basil the Great, Kansas City, Kansas.
SABA, Fr. Fouad, of St. George Orthodox Church, Cicero, Illinois, as Spiritual Advisor to North American Council (NAC) SOYO.
KINDER, Fr. Patrick, as Spiritual Advisor to the teens of the Diocese of Toledo.
YAZGE, Fr. Anthony, as Dean of the Western Pennsylvania Deanery.
We are preparing topics for the 2012 Antiochian Archdiocese Clergy Symposium and we want your input. We want to know what you see as the three Greatest Problems Facing Teens Today.
Help us pick the topics for the 2012 Clergy Symposium! Go here and answer three questions: What is the first, second, and third most important issue facing teens today?
Your Responses are private and will be very valuable in helping us choose topics for the Clergy Symposium.
Thank you for your help.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Joseph Purpura
Chairman Department of Youth Ministry
After five years serving as Executive Chair of the St. Vladimir's Seminary Board of Trustees, Anne Glynn-Mackoul stepped down from the position at the annual meeting of the board, held on SVS' Crestwood, New York campus on November 16–18. Alex Machaskee, retired Publisher, President, and CEO of The Plain Dealer—Ohio’s largest newspaper—and current Chair of the board’s Communications Committee, was elected by his fellow board members to fill the position; the term for Executive Chair, according to the seminary Charter, is one year.
Mrs. Mackoul, an Antiochian Orthodox parishioner, was elected as the first ever Executive Chair of the board in 2006, at the same time Archpriests John Behr and Chad Hatfield were appointed to their respective positions as Dean and Chancellor/CEO of the seminary.
The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) Board, along with Executive Director Fr. Justin Mathewes, have announced a nationwide search for a new Executive Director, in order to "build upon a strong foundation and expand the ministry," its website explains.
Current Director Fr. Justin Mathewes writes, "I have been humbled and truly count it as one of the greatest responsiblities I have been given to serve as the founding Executive Director of FOCUS North America. As the Board of Directors and I have considered the next stage of growth, we have mutually agreed that in order to build upon a strong foundation different talents and skills are needed in the next phase....I am excited about the good work FOCUS has to do for the sake of the poor and pray that God will continue to bless those who do the Gospel work of loving God by loving our neighbor."
Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has announced that eight spring break philanthrophy trips are planned for college students this spring. Notes their website, "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. Each Spring, over 100 students attend various trips, both domestic and international, to give of themselves to those less fortunate and to do something 'real' for themselves and for God. OCF Real Break has been running since 2000 with over one thousand students participating in these life-changing opportunities. Past and current trips include: Mexico, Guatemala, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Raphael House, St. Basil Academy, Greece, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Romania, Buenos Aires, Alaska, and more."
This year's trips are as follows:
February 18 - 25, 2012, Real Break - Toronto
February 25 - March 3, 2012, Real Break - Houston
March 2/3 - 10, 2012, Real Break - Constantinople and Real Break - Guatemala
March 10 - 17, 2012, Real Break - Guatemala and Real Break - Romania
March 17 - 24, 2012, Real Break - Tijuana
March 24 - 31, 2012, Real Break - TBD
As we prepare for Thanksgiving and anticipate the Nativity of Christ this Advent, our hierarchs have designated this Sunday, November 20, as IOCC Sunday. Their blessing serves as a reminder of the importance of IOCC's pan-Orthodox mission to restore peoples' lives and dignity.
Please join with us by helping to mark IOCC Sunday – A Day of Sharing – this Sunday, November 20 by taking a special collection in your parish and sharing information about the humanitarian mission of this Orthodox Christian ministry. Information to share in your parishmay be downloaded here. Thank you for supporting the mission of IOCC that is helping to give people throughout the world new hope, new opportunities and new life.
Programming on OCN's flagship program, "Come Receive the Light," features:
Twilight Saga - Launching this month's theme on morality and popular culture, we'll be looking at the popular Twilight Saga with Fr. Frank Marangos and asking about the relationship between the Church and secular media trends. Click here to listen to this program.
Video Games - This past June, on the very last day of its 2011 term, the US Supreme Court ruled that minors have a right to purchase video games that include graphic violence. Fr. Demetrios Tonias shares his thoughts on what this means for youth and parents. Click here to listen to this program.
Almost Christian - One study after another tells us that our youth are drifting away from religious traditions, but what can we do to reverse the trend? First, we’ll hear from Kenda Creasy Dean, Associate Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. What does it mean to be Almost Christian, the title of her new book? Make sure you listen to this important interview. Click here to listen to this program.
Asks Fr. Chris, "Is there a difference between being 'good' and being 'moral?' Popular culture seems to cast a wide net on what it means to be a 'good person.' It goes a step further by suggesting that some things we as Orthodox consider to be unhealthy are actually what make a person 'normal.'"
This 3rd Annual Fellowship Spiritual Retreat to the Antiochian Village was another memorable weekend for its 54 participants, a new Retreat record. The coach rides to and from, informative sessions led by Dn. Saed, and the Antiochian Village as the backdrop, provided the opportunity for renewed and heightened fellowship in Christ. This year marked the joining together of two Fellowships, from St. George, Cicero and St. Mary's, Alsip. It was uplifting and inspiring to see different parishes share in fellowship in one faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All in attendance were filled with such positivity, a feeling of togetherness and renewed awareness of their faith.
We thank the Retreat committee (Rammy Zanayed, Eddy Shaheen, Angela Sweis, Elaine Riadi, Nicole Dahdal, Khalil Haddad, Laura Mraibie, Dn. Saed Rihani and Fr. Fouad Saba) for their tireless efforts in planning and ensuring this retreat's success. We thank our generous sponsors, volunteers, any well-wishers, and especially all 54 registered participants. We were honored and blessed to have the amazing Dn. Saed Rihani serve as our main speaker. A debt of gratitude goes as always to Fr. Fouad Saba for his unrecognized efforts. From worship services, sessions, nature walks, travels, bonfires, singing, team building exercises and meals, the Fellowship worked, ate, bonded, grew, laughed, learned, celebrated, and worshipped together.
From Sunday, December 18 through Wednesday, December 21, St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS) will be offering high school and college students an opportunity to spend four days on its Crestwood, NY campus, learning and directing liturgical music and meeting and worshipping with young men and women from across North America. Attendees will also enjoy a trip to New York City to ice skate on the famous rinks of the Big Apple, and will form a chorus to sing Christmas Carols in the neighborhood surrounding SVS.
Instructors for the workshop are Professor David Drillock, SVS' Professor Emeritus of Liturgical Music, and Dr. Nicholas Reeves, the Seminary's current Assistant Professor of Liturgical Music. Workshop organizer, Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Director of Alumni Relations and Recruitment, notes, "We hope to provide a workshop with diverse influence and instruction, including Byzantine chant."
For more information, contact Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, at email@example.com, or 914-318-7505.
The cost of the workshop will be $180, all inclusive. Register here.
Archpriest Elias Bitar, who has been Lecturer in Liturgical Music (with a specialty in Byzantine music) and Practical Theology for nearly thirty years at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, New York, was feted at the community's annual Thanksgiving Dinner, on the occasion of his retirement. Known for his rich and powerful voice, Fr. Bitar had earned the title "the voice of the Archdiocese" among seminarians. His resonant chanting and musical talent, and his kindness and concern for all, impressed students, faculty, and staff alike.
Recalling his days at the seminary, Fr. Elias said, "St. Vladimir's is a place where friends are made and their future is formed. I recall all these years with much joy and warmth, and I always pray that this 'cradle of education' will ever remain a burning torch for teaching Orthodoxy worldwide."
At the celebratory dinner Fr. Elias was presented with a beautiful icon of the Holy and Great Prince Vladimir, patron of the seminary. Archpriest John Behr, dean, in making the presentation noted, "Fr. Elias, dubbed 'the voice' for his expertise in chant in the Antiochian Archdiocese, has been a highly valued presence and teacher at St. Vladimir's for many decades, teaching chant to many generations of students. His ministry here has been very fruitful and will continue to bear fruit in the lives of many. We are honored to be able to honor him this evening, and to continuing his legacy here."
The Department of Sacred Music reminds all parish musicians that now is the time to plan to attend the Antiochian Archdiocese's annual Sacred Music Institute, held at the lovely La Casa De Maria Retreat Center in Santa Barbara, California. Over the long weekend of January 19-22, 2012, Institute participants will benefit from hearing the Keynote Speaker, His Grace Bishop Joseph, as well as noted podcaster and Biblical expositor Dr. Eugenia Constantinou. The theme, “The Theotokos and the Mother of the Light, Let us Honor and Magnify in Song!” will set the tone for the weekend of workshops and worship.
For the agenda and registration form, go to "Did You Know?" on the Department of Sacred Music page.
NEW YORK —The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 81st meeting at St Paul’s College in Washington October 27-28. The meeting was chaired by Catholic Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans. The Orthodox co-chairman since 1987, Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, has retired, and a successor has not yet been named.
During this meeting the members heard reports about major events in the lives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and issued a brief statement, “On the Plight of Churches in the Middle East.”
“We are concerned for our fellow Christians who, in the face of daunting challenges, struggle to maintain a necessary witness to Christ in their homelands,” they wrote. “United with them in prayer and solidarity, we ask our fellow Christians living in the West to take time to develop a more realistic appreciation of their predicament. We ask our political leaders to exert more pressure where it can protect these Churches, many of which have survived centuries of hardship but now stand on the verge of disappearing completely.”
In 2011, over 135 Orthodox Christians shared their faith through loving service as part of an OCMC Orthodox Mission Team. They witnessed baptisms, healed the sick, strengthened the church, and brought smiles to the faces of children. They answered the call to make disciples of all nations. Is 2012 your time to share in this journey of faith?
OCMC is pleased to announce 2012 Orthodox Mission Team opportunities. Next year, team members will have the opportunity to share the Orthodox Christian faith by offering evangelism, catechism, healthcare, construction, and youth ministry in 9 countries around the world (including a first-time team to Mongolia). 2012 Mission Team dates and opportunities include:
Kenya – Teaching (3/2/2012)
Share the Gospel and teach the Orthodox Faith in Lodwar.
Uganda – Healthcare (6/2/2012)
Offer health services to the people in the Jinja region of eastern Uganda.
Nick Regazzo writes:
It is with the utmost sadness and a heavy heart to share with our brothers and sisters in the Antiochian Archdiocese, that young six year old Anthony Milad was called home to Christ's heavenly kingdom this past Thursday, November 3rd, 2011. Little Anthony was an altar server at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando, Florida. Fr. John Hamatie reminisced about the enjoyment of having Anthony as one of his altar servers.
Sadly, Anthony was diagnosed four months ago with some ailments that arose from a bone marrow transplant, and with continued sickness and physical problems. His blessed mother Irene had never left his side in the four months that he was hospitalized.
The community has endured a painful loss in such a bright young man.
A beautiful service of remembering his life was held this past Saturday, November 5th, 2011, with area Orthodox clergy in attendance. Many of Anthony's friends from Sunday School attended his service, which was painfully difficult for them. We ask all of our brothers and sisters in our archdiocese to please keep Anthony's family, Irene and Emad, in all of our daily prayers in this most tragic of times.
To lose a child, is without a doubt an unprecedented nightmare that only Christ can help us deal with, and heal us.
St. Athanasius Church in Goleta, California hosted its first Liturgical Arts Festival on October 21-22, 2011. This year's festival focused on the theology, history, meaning and technical process of writing icons. Visitors from throughout the county and the central California coast attended three different lectures by iconographer and wood carver, Fr. Jerome Sanderson from Nashville, Indiana (and a priest in the OCA Bulgarian Diocese). Guests also viewed the dozens of hand-crafted icons which hang in the sanctuary of St. Athanasius Church, nearly all of them written in the late 1980s by renowned iconographer Jan Isham. In addition, an exhibit of rare and unusual icons on loan from private collectors was presented in the church's fellowship hall. The Central California Guild of Iconographers presented a fascinating and educational display demonstrating each part of the process of writing an icon, from preparing the board to putting on the final protective coating of oil. On Friday, October 21 during the day, groups of local high school students attended separate sessions taught by Fr. Sanderson and Fr. Nicholas Speier, the Senior Pastor of St. Athanasius parish.
Antiochian historian Matthew Namee of the Society for Orthodox History in the Americas (SOCHA), is researching the life of Fr. Moses Abihider. Fr. Moses reposed in 1926 and his name is included in the list of names on St. Raphael's tombstone at Antiochian Village.
Not much is known about this priest from the early 20th century, but Namee and his fellow SOCHA historians want to research this further. Writes Namee, "...he of all people was considered important enough to be buried alongside (and share a tombstone with) Bishop Raphael and Bishop Emmanuel. What distinguished this parish priest? Why was he deemed “worthy” to be buried with two bishops?
We’ll have more on Fr. Moses in the near future."
Matthew requests that readers send any information about Fr. Moses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new project has been launched to connect Americans of Lebanese origin with their roots, and visitors to Antiochian.org can now access information about this effort via a Featured Links button on the homepage. The Project Roots website explains the organization's origin and purpose:
"Offices have been established throughout the United States to assist, FREE of CHARGE, all Americans of Lebanese descent who are interested in:
1. Obtaining their sacramental records from their country of origin;
2. Connecting with family members living in their places of origin and throughout the world
where they emigrated;
3. Obtaining Lebanese citizenship;
4. Obtaining immigration records; and/or,
5. Remaining connected with their Original Mother Church in the US and throughout the world.
Registration maintains the connection of our present and future to our past. The value of registering vital events (birth, marriage, death, etc.) and the ability to take advantage of basic rights go to the heart of perpetuating Lebanese culture, customs, and traditions.
We encourage you, if you are eligible, to act now to take advantage of your birth right as a Lebanese citizen. We also strongly encourage you not to deprive your child(ren) of the benefits and legal rights that Lebanese nationality confers to them: rights of property, rights of inheritance, and political & social rights.
Registration merely provides a continuous record of life events (birth, marriage, death, etc.) in public offices in Lebanon. If you register life events, it does not mean you are giving up any rights to other citizenships you hold."
For full details, visit the Project Roots website.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Worry has become a daily companion for Hatem, a father of five. He has been without a job since the closing of the Gaza Strip. What income Hatem has managed to earn through odd jobs over the last ten years has rarely been enough to feed, clothe and shelter his family. Hatem's family lives in the Rafah governorate of Gaza under the most dire conditions, relying on scraps of sheet metal, plastic and fencing to shield his wife and children from the elements in their haphazardly constructed home.
Thousands of Palestinian families share Hatem's fate in the Gaza Strip. Responding to your desire to help those in need, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) through the financial support of US Agency for International Development through the Civic Engagement Program (CEP), implemented the distribution of aid packages to over 2,900 families in the Gaza Strip. The aid packages distributed through IOCC's Winter Relief Project provided families in need with vital food staples such as canned meat, rice, sugar, and tea as well as basic household necessities like laundry detergent, dish soap, towels, and floor mats.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has created a legal entity with the filing of its Articles of Incorporation in Washington, D.C. This action follows the second annual meeting of the Assembly of Bishops held May 25-27 in Chicago, Illinois. For details of that meeting, see this article.
The Assembly has been hailed as a major development for the canonical administrative unity of all Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, which together represent over three million church members.
The Assembly of Bishops is a council of all active, canonical Orthodox bishops whose purpose is to preserve and contribute to the unity of the Orthodox Church by helping to further Her spiritual, theological, ecclesiological, canonical, educational, missionary and philanthropic aims. To accomplish this, the Assembly has as its goals: the promotion and accomplishment of Church unity; the strengthening of the common pastoral ministry to all the Orthodox Christian faithful; and a common witness by the Church to all those outside Her. In addition, the Assembly has as an express goal the plan for the organization of the Church in North and Central America in accordance with the ecclesiological and the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church.
For full details, visit the Assembly website.