International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) marks World Refugee Day in remembrance of the sacrifices made by refugee families all over the world.
June 19, 2013
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — When violent clashes suddenly erupted in his Aleppo neighborhood, Faruk, 33, his pregnant wife, Mona, and their three children left their home in Syria and the only life they had ever known to make the exhausting, 160-mile trek to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Arriving safe but penniless and alone in a foreign land, the former construction worker fashioned a small shelter out of scavenged scrap metal for his family. The long and difficult journey made Mona seriously ill. Faruk took her to several hospitals in search of help, only to be turned away from each one because he couldn't pay for her care.
With his wife's life at stake, he pleaded with strangers for any help they could give and eventually scraped together enough money to cover the hospital fees. Mona gave birth to a little girl, but the long journey and harsh living conditions in their makeshift home took their toll on her weakened body and she passed away four days later. A devastated Faruk, who left Syria out of fear for the safety of his family, was now a widower filled with a new fear – how to care for a newborn and three more children with no means to support them.
Letter sent to President Obama
June 11, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write you as leaders of Christian Churches Together in the USA, an organization comprised of 43 denominations and organizations representing the full spectrum of Christian faith - Catholic, historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal, Orthodox, and Historic Black churches. We wish to share with you our deepest concern over the kidnapping of two prominent archbishops in Syria, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi of Aleppo and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo. As you know, they have been missing since April 22, and the driver of their car, a deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church, was killed.
The members of our churches and organizations deeply lament the ongoing and horrible tragedy in Syria, with the deaths of tens of thousands, the displacement of millions, and the bitter sectarian hostility which seems to grow daily. Our prayers for comfort are with all who suffer, and our prayers for wisdom and courage are with all who are working for peace.
But we are addressing you in particular about the fate of these two courageous and well-loved Archbishops in Syria because of what they mean to the Christian community in that country and around the world. While we understand that there may be limitations on what the U.S. government can do directly to secure their release, we also know that the U. S. and its allies have considerable influence with a number of governments and factions on the ground who could make a difference in the fate of these two kidnapped church leaders. The fact that they were traveling on a humanitarian mission makes this matter all the more tragic and horrific.
Joensuu, Finland – The Fifth International Conference on Orthodox Church Music was held 3-9 June 2013 here, at the School of Theology, University of Eastern Finland. The conference, hosted by the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM), featured participants from fifteen different countries presenting papers on a variety of topics related to the conference's overall theme of "Church Music and Icons: Windows to Heaven."
"This year's conference built on the four previous, and also expanded our range, in linking the discussion of church music with iconography," said the Rev. Ivan Moody, board chairman of ISOCM, "Not only were musicians discussing their work and its relationship to icons, but we also had a number of joint sessions in which musicologists and iconologists presented their work together."
The week-long gathering affirms the mission of ISOCM as a place in which like-minded people can come together and share their vision, and learn from others. Conference participants included musicologists, singers, directors, graduate students, composers, researchers, iconographers, iconologists, and those who have an appreciation of the liturgical arts. "One of the highlights of conferences hosted by ISOCM is the gathering of participants from around the world," said Deacon Petri Nykänen, vice-chair of the ISOCM board. He added, "The presentations were of the highest caliber, and coupled with the divine services provided each of us with the opportunity to worship, learn, and sing together."
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese reports:
The Communications Department of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) have launched www.faithandsafety.org, a resource for adults to help children safely navigate online. The website and complementary social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) address safe use of the Internet, mobile devices and other technology, emphasizing the positive use of technology to support children's faith.
Doreen Essey + June 8, 2013
Doreen E. Essey, of Monessen PA, died June 8, 2013, at the age of 77. She was the daughter of the late George and Eva Nyrhinen Stofka. Doreen is survived by her husband of 58 years, George Essey, the choir director and cantor at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church: a son, George (Marian) : daughters Lori and Susan: eight grandchildren: eleven great-grandchildren: sister Donna Dudas (Richard): brother-in law Samuel Essey (Elmunda). Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by her in-laws, Esper and Rashida Essey: brothers-in-law Norman and Gerald Essey: niece, Linda Essey.
After graduation from Monessen High School with the Class of 1953, Doreen worked in the Darling Shoppe and then became a full time homemaker. She loved and adored her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and excelled in the art of Syrian cooking until her stroke in 2005. Mrs. Essey was very active in her church, St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church of Monessen, PA, serving as secretary and treasurer of the Ladies Society, and a member of the Parish Council during the purchase of the present church on Patton Ave. Friends were received at the Robert Billick Funeral Home, Monessen, on Tuesday, June 11. Trisagion services were held at 7:30, with The Rev. Fred Pfeil officiating. Funeral services were held at St Michael AOC. 1201 Patton Ave., Monessen, Wednesday, June 12, at 10:30 AM.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggest that memorial donations be made to St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church, c/o 189 Pacific Blvd, Monessen, PA 15062.
One of the early pioneers of Antiochian Village, Eddie Joseph, or "Cuz" as he was affectionately known, fell asleep in the Lord on June 12, 2013. Eddie was the athletic director (now known as the Afternoon Program Coordinator) for many years in the early years of the camp. A lifelong member of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Johnstown, PA, Eddie sang in the choir and was a member of Order of St. Ignatius
Service information is as follows: Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 14, at the Frank Duca Funeral Home, Westmont Chapel, 1622 Menoher Blvd., Johnstown, where Trisagion prayers will be sung at 7 p.m. Trisagion prayers will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home with the funeral service following at St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church with The Very Rev. Father Donald E. Shadid officiating. The Joseph family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Antiochian Village Camp as part of the Edward Joseph Memorial Scholarship Fund.
On the most recent Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) podcast "In the Valley of the Shadow of Death," Fr. David Alexander, a chaplain with the United States Marine Corps, gives his listeners a window into his life with the Marines of his battalion, where in the midst of the stresses of military life in Afghanistan, he struggles to be a shepherd. A priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Fr. David has been a military chaplain for five years. His wife, Heather Maria, and his daughter, Eve Marie, reside in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
In the most recent three episodes, Fr. David movingly recalls for his listeners the Paschas he has spent in Afghanistan, describing the services he celebrated on the American base in Kandahar at a very unique Romanian chapel.
- Read an earlier Antiochian.org interview with Fr. David
- Read the Afghanistan diary of Fr. Stephen Close, Antiochian Chaplain and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force
FOCUS North America, a national, Orthodox non-profit organization that provides sustainable services to the homeless and working poor of America, is looking for a National Program Intern. The Program Internship will provide practical, hands-on project management training and skills development in the context of a multi-million dollar community engagement and distribution program implemented in more than 20 cities across the United States.
This is a high-level internship that requires a high-performance and driven individual who is seeking to gain a deep understanding of community and volunteer engagement, and the federally-mandated social services framework. Qualified candidates who are interested in domestic or international social services, social entrepreneurship, or community development programs is encouraged to apply.
The intern will be stationed in FOCUS’ office in Orange County, California, with some national travel required to speak on behalf of FOCUS/promote FOCUS activities. FOCUS will pay for all program-related travel expenses and will, in addition, provide a fixed monthly stipend to the successful candidate. To apply, please send cover letter and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, view the job description.
May 29, 2013
A World Council of Churches (WCC) conference, “Christian Presence and Witness in the Middle East,” has issued a joint statement calling churches and ecumenical actors to commit themselves to support one another in prayers and actions to support the Christian presence and witness in the Middle East. The statement was an outcome of discussions engaging representatives of the ecumenical organizations in the Arab world. Held at the Notre-Dame du Mont Monastery, the conference included patriarchs, heads of churches, and representatives of every Christian church in the Middle East, along with Christian churches and organizations from 34 countries.
In this context, the statement called the churches to “continue to be involved in the building of democratic civil societies, based on the rule of law, social justice and respect for human rights, including religious freedom....this is a time for action, for a new vision of Christian cooperation in the region, for recommitment to Christian Muslim engagement, for engagement with Jewish partners also working for peace and justice, expressing our Christian vocations by working together to express mutual support and solidarity.” The full text is available here.
Calling all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni!
OCF is in the midst of collecting names for our "First Forty Days" program. We want to help your parish's high school graduates seamlessly join the OCF network by integrating them into the life of a chapter during the first forty days of their college experience. Please submit your student information on our website here by June 15th to ensure that your students will be directly contacted by the OCF North American Office and that they will be greeted on their college campuses by an OCF family and local parish at the beginning of the fall semester.
As a way of providing additional support for college students, OCF is offering "Connect Kits" for college freshmen; the kits include prayer books, icons, and OCF media designed to encourage young adults to stay in the Church once they leave home for school. For questions regarding the First Forty Days, Connect Kits, or the network of OCF chapters across North America, please contact our North American Chapter Relations Coordinator Christina Andresen at email@example.com.
This week on Come Receive The Light, the flagship program for the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN), Executive Director The Very Rev. Chris Metropulos speaks with Khouria Maggie Hock, director of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries for the Antiochian Archdiocese. The June 2013 theme, "Being Heard," deals with the art of listening, and learning to listen to the right voices.
With that as the emphasis, Kh. Maggie Hock offers her thoughts in the first podcast in the series, "Talking without Gossiping," about how to discuss difficult situations without gossiping. "St. Theophan writes about curiosity as a sin—having to know everything without it being useful," notes Kh. Maggie. "Gossip is a form of inappropriate curiosity....This happens so often on the telephone, in emails, in social media—very much!—and just in general in social situations. Wherever a person is tempted to do this, or feels drawn into this passion, it's important that they recognize that, and they find a way to practically stop it."
Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage of Tijuana, Mexico, have announced a celebratory anniversary gala to be held in Southern California later this summer. "As we conclude our 25th year building hope in Mexico, we find ourselves with much cause to celebrate! Our 25th Anniversary Gala will be hosted on Saturday, August 24, 2013, at the beautiful Grand Tradition Estate in Fallbrook, California. Please join us for an elegant evening of celebration and giving thanks to God for keeping us under His loving arm, allowing us to continue serving those in need."
Since 1988, Project Mexico has ministered in three primary ways:
- by alleviating suffering by building homes for impoverished families facing adversity
- by providing an opportunity for Orthodox people of all ages to participate in missions
- by providing a home and a family for orphaned teenage boys
An internship program began in 1993 as a way for young people to give a few months to one year in service. Interns have helped with everything from work trips to projects at the orphanage to administrative tasks. Additionally, over 10,000 volunteers from forty-three of fifty states and eleven foreign countries, including many teams from Antiochian parishes, have come to give of themselves and have been blessed in return.
The clock is ticking—register for the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention!
Space is Limited, Don't miss out!
- June 1 deadline: only a few days to save with Early Bird Registration
- June 1 deadline: only a few days to submit an entry for the Souvenir Journal
- June 28 deadline: only 32 days to reserve a Hotel Room rate of $149 per night
St. George Orthodox Church of Houston, with Fr. James Shadid, are the 2013 hosts for the 51st Biennial Antiochian Archdiocese Convention. Themed "The End of History...The Last Judgment," the convention will take place at the Hilton Americas Hotel, Houston's largest with over one thousand guest rooms.
Khouria Soad K. Estefan, widow of Archpriest John (Juan) Estefan, passed away peacefully in the comfort of her daughter's home with her family at her side. Now she rests in the everlasting arms of her faithful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Soad Estefan is survived by sons, Salam J. (Sue) and Elias; daughters, Salwa Crosby (Jim), Sanaa Wells (Rick) and Soad Clark (Steve); 14 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and many loving nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends Thursday, May 30 from 7-9 p.m. and a Trisagion service will be held at 8:00 p.m. at the Ofield Funeral Home, 4500 Kalamazoo SE, . Services will be held at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 334 LaGrave Ave. SE, on Friday, May 31st at 11am. Interment Kent Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in memory of Soad K. Estefan. A special thank you is offered to Spectrum Hospice, Fr. John Winfrey of Grand Rapids and Fr. George Shalhoub of Livonia, MI. An online registry book is available at the Ofield Funeral Home's website.
Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press on May 28, 2013
The Summer 2013 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Worcester and New England, and contains:
- A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
- A message from His Grace Bishop John
- A message from NAB Antiochian Women President Violet Robbat
- A message from Diocese of Worcester and New England Antiochian Women President Delores George
...and more! Click here to download (PDF).
The Village of Al-Kafaàt is a unique campus where children and adults with special needs live in a sheltered environment and receive special education, rehabilitation and employment, all free of charge.
Join us in Houston and check out the various handicrafts—stationery items, coaster, baskets, beautiful ceramic vases and glassware, paintings—all produced by our very special ones at Al-Kafaàt, in partnership with designers and artisans from Lebanon.
Put a little Al-Kafaàt soul in your home and select the items that you would like to take back with you. Your full payment goes into our fund dedicated to constructing the Specialized Building of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, located in the Village of Al-Kafaàt.
For the final installment in the Orthodox Christian Network's (OCN) May "Come Receive the Light" series about Sex and the Christian, OCN Executive Director Fr. Christopher Metropulos interviewed Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. In the interview, Fr. Joseph spoke about the holiness of Christian sexuality, and how it is meant to enrich the marital life of couples.
"We have the Scriptures given to us as...a wealth of information on how God intends us to live out our lives," emphasized Fr. Joseph in the interview. "God places before us so many of the answers but we go seeking for information from our culture and end up at a dead end. We have to first begin with God's Word—it is lifegiving."
Fr. Patrick Cardine of St. Patrick Church in Warrenton, Virginia writes:
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Work on the new building has commenced, the foundation trench has been dug and we are proceeding onto the next phase. Also the Fauquier Times Democrat ran a nice article in the paper today. Part of the article may be viewed at www.fauquier.com/news/article/fauquier_parish_breaks_ground_for_new_church.
Below are some pictures of the site blessing. It was a wonderful day and we missed all who could not be with us.
God Bless you,
St. Patrick Church's original building was burnt to the ground in July 2012 in a fire set by an arsonist. For more information on the parish's building project or to make a donation, please visit the St. Patrick Orthodox Church Building Project web page.
His Grace Bishop Basil, Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, writes:
Dear to Christ, Fathers and Brothers:
Christ is risen. I have heard from Fathers John and Jeremy of St. Elijah in Oklahoma City and they are still waiting to hear from one woman with whom they have not been able to make contact. Father James reports that all at St. Benedict in Wichita Falls, Texas are safe, as are those from St. Antony in Tulsa, Oklahoma (including the Skiatook area) according to Fr. George. The people at Holy Ascension in Norman, Oklahoma and St. James in Stillwater, Oklahoma, are safe as well.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) writes,
IOCC has been in contact with the Orthodox community in the Oklahoma City area as well as its ecumenical partners and is assessing the emerging needs for an appropriate response.
IOCC is delivering emergency clean-up buckets, personal hygiene kits and blankets that will be distributed through the University of Oklahoma and Holy Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church in Norman. Members of the IOCC Frontline together with Fr. Justin McFeeters of Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church are also on campus to provide emotional and spiritual care for the hundreds of adults and children staying there. IOCC will continue to assist in this critical activity while displaced people remain housed at the University.
Seventeen graduates from St. Vladimir's Seminary are now being sent out as priests, deacons, and lay ministers in service to the Church. At the Saturday May 18 Commencement Exercises, the Seminary awarded diplomas in three programs: 1 Master of Theology, 8 Masters of Divinity, and 8 Masters of Arts degrees. Graduates represented a broad range of ecclesial jurisdictions and included both Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christians; four priests and one deacon were among the graduates. Antiochian graduate Mr. Richard Mitry Ajalat received a commendation for service to the community.
Additionally, the Board of Trustees awarded three honorary degrees to accomplished Orthodox Christians, two of whom are members of the Antiochian Archdiocese. The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas (Ozone), auxiliary bishop for Brooklyn, Antiochian Archdiocese, presented the degree to Anne Glynn Mackoul, a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.
Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has issued the following release:
NEW YORK – In response to the reports in Turkish and world media about an assassination plot against His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Demetrios of America today wrote to President Obama urging him to exercise his good offices to ensure the safety of His All Holiness.
Noting the continuing crisis in Aleppo, Syria, where the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Hierarchs remain missing, kidnapped by terrorists, the Archbishop asked the President to protect His All Holiness, as the 1,700 year presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) is the highest Christian presence of a Christian leader in a Muslim country.
Houston, Texas, and the parish of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, are playing host to the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, with Southern-themed events planned for every age. Since June 1st is the last day for Early Bird Registration, and June 28th is the last possible day to reserve a room, the time to act is now. In the meantime, there's still time to sign up for a Parish Life Conference (PLC) in your diocese; these kick off in early June and continue until the first week in July.
"Young Bob Packet....always the teacher with a collection of historical hysterical! Beloved by high school and college students alike! Who better to volunteer to guide our teens and clergy wives through the one and only WWI Museum in Kansas City during the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America Parish Life Conference." Diocese of Wichita, June 5-8, Kansas City
"Fine dining, New Orleans style, means lots of tasty seafood! Tour the city, the river, and the bayous of New Orleans, LA." Diocese of Miami, June 12-16, New Orleans, LA.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship's (OCF) Executive Director Jennifer Nahas announces that "we have posted applications for our 2013-2014 Student Leaders to serve on the Student Advisory Board. We are looking for talented, committed students who are passionate about OCF to help guide the direction of Orthodox campus ministry, implement programs and bring the student voice into decision making. We look forward to putting a board in place that is representative of the variety of Orthodox jurisdictions and traditions we have in North America.
"Your recommendations would be incredibly helpful. Please, if you know of a college student who could lead, inspire and serve Orthodox Campus Ministry, encourage them to apply online. Another option is to pass along their name to our North American Chapter Relations Coordinator, Christina Andresen, at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The leader of one of the largest humanitarian efforts in Syria has been named 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by InterAction, an alliance of more than 180 U.S.-based international relief organizations. Samer Laham is a driving force inside Syria, providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need without regard to religious, ethnic, or political affiliations. Under Laham's leadership of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) based in Damascus, Syria, GOPA has worked tirelessly to provide more than $31 million in emergency aid to displaced Syrians as well as ongoing assistance to Iraqi refugees, including educational support, vocational training, small business development, and crisis counseling.
With the outbreak of violence in Syria that has inflicted hardship on millions of its citizens, Laham has courageously led his staff of 120 to provide food, medical supplies, crisis counseling, and other services essential to survival for people in need across the country. In the face of bombardments, fighting and constant fear, Mr. Laham and his staff have persevered to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 300,000 vulnerable Syrian children, families and elderly.
The Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS) recently released a new title in The Chrysostom Bible Commentary Series. 2 Corinthians: 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 volume, Dr. Tarazi explains that previous studies of 2 Corinthians are plagued by "the unwarranted premise that the Corinthian correspondence contains different letters sent out on different occasions...The premise sounds convincing," Dr. Tarazi writes, "because several times one hears reference to Paul having written to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 2:2-3; 7:12), if not outright to "letters" (1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 7:8; 10:9-11)...However, when one deals with the New Testament books as literature, then one will realize that reference to something 'written' is a mere literary stratagem to draw the hearer's attention to the importance of what is being 'said.'"
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.