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 email@example.com.
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.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship has announced the topic, locations, and speakers for its popular winter college conferences. Themed "Raise Me Above This World's Confusion," this year's conferences will be hosted in three locations, after Christmas and before New Year's Day: Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania, Diokonia Retreat Center in South Carolina, and St. Nicholas Ranch in northern California.
Registration is open at the OCF's website page here.
College Conference East
Dates: December 28-31
Place: Antiochian Village -Bolivar, PA
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $240 - Regular: $265
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
Dates: December 28-31
Place: Diakonia Center -Salem, NC
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $210 - Regular: $235
Speaker: Fr. Michael Nasser, Pastor of Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission in Bowling Green, Ky.
College Conference West
Dates: December 27-30
Place: St. Nicholas Ranch -Fresno, CA
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $215 - Regular: $240
Speaker: Fr. Josiah Trenham, Pastor of St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Riverside, Calif.
Troy and Theodora Polamalu, faithful Orthodox Christians, have joined FOCUS North America to “tackle” poverty
The online and texting TacklePoverty.org campaign, which runs from Sept. 26, 2011 to Feb. 5, 2012, hopes to inspire 10,000 people to take action and help those in need.
“We’ve kicked off to a solid start in an effort to reach 10,000 now let’s go further,” Troy Polamalu said. “Together we can tackle poverty!”
Here’s how it works: Visit TacklePoverty.org to learn about the many ways FOCUS NA is working to help the poor nationwide. Watch Troy and Theodora’s video messages, make a donation, and put together a team of friends to tackle poverty. Tacklers will win cool prizes while creating much needed awareness about the plight of the working poor. Get 25 friends to donate and win a Tackle Poverty T-shirt. Inspire 43 friends to donate and get a signed Polamalu poster. With 100 friends donating, you get a signed Polamalu jersey (#43) and have your name put in the drawing to win Steelers home game tickets! You can also text “Troy” to 52000 to make a $10 donation.
You can see the Tackle Poverty campaign on Troy’s Facebook and Twitter sites. Check in with Troy each week as he reminds fans of the importance of this worthwhile effort to help the poor. With over 1.8 million Facebook fans and 275,000 Twitter followers, the response could make a huge difference in the lives of working poor individuals!
"This is a great opportunity to inspire friends, coworkers, and others you know to join with you in helping the poor at a time when 15% of our neighbors in America are below the poverty line,” FOCUS NA Executive Director Fr. Justin Mathews said. “If you have a heart to help the poor, you can inspire others too.”
NEW YORK, October 14, 2011 – The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America announces today an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey regarding the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo invited Archbishop Demetrios and the Hierarchs of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, together with leadership of the St. Nicholas Parish and the Archdiocesan Council to his New York City office for the official signing of the agreement by Archdiocesan Council Vice-Chairman Michael Jaharis and Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward. Archbishop Demetrios and Governor Cuomo signed as the formal witnesses to the agreement.
Archbishop Demetrios expressed particular praise for Governor Cuomo and said, “We are grateful to our esteemed Governor and precious friend Andrew Cuomo for bringing to reality the dream we have nourished for ten long years. St. Nicholas Church, rising again with the help of God at Ground Zero - where it stood spiritually important for 85 years, is an affirmation of the significance of religious freedom and experience for all New Yorkers and all Americans. The covenant stands firm. We will again light many candles in the new St. Nicholas Church and remember those who were lost to us, and those heroes who so nobly sacrificed their lives. Our pledge is to be a witness for all New Yorkers, that freedom of conscience and the fundamental human right of free religious expression will always shine forth in the resurrected St. Nicholas Church.” The Archbishop also expressed deep appreciation to Michael Jaharis and Dennis Mehiel and the other members of the joint committee who had labored so diligently to accomplish this historic agreement.
The new temple built in honor of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle in Riverside, California is now complete. St. Andrew Orthodox Church is hosting an Open House for the community (and anyone who is able to come from far and near) in just a few days, on October 15 & 16. We would be honored to have you join us for a tour of the new temple and a light snack.
The crown of our holy work of church building is the Divine Service of Consecration. This sacrament, performed only by the Orthodox episcopate, is scheduled for Saturday, December 3rd, 2011. It is the culmination of our parish’s history thus far, and will be the pinnacle of all our efforts for the last twenty years.
The Service of Consecration will be followed by our once in a lifetime Consecration Banquet. It will be both a unique celebration and our most significant parish fundraiser ever. One of the central ways that we will raise funds through the consecration banquet is the printing of the St. Andrew Consecration Souvenir Journal. This book will be professionally printed and contain letters of commendation from our Archbishop and Bishop, from civil officials, as well as a photo collage and history of the parish, together with individual ads of greeting, celebration and memorial from individuals and families in our parish as well as our friends from our sister parishes.
Please read our open house invitation. We hope to see you there!
Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage is a pan-Orthodox ministry that operates with the blessing of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. Our orphanage for teenage boys is based in Rosarito, Mexico and is currently home to thirty-one boys who have histories of abuse and abandonment. During the summers, our homebuilding ministry builds sturdy, weather-proof homes for impoverished Mexican families in the area surrounding our orphanage.
This past summer over 300 volunteers from all over the U.S. and Canada built 14 homes for needy families in our area. Many came to serve the poor, yet received far more in return than that which they gave, calling their trip "life-changing" and "spiritually rejuvenating". We are currently planning our trips for next summer, and we ask that your parish consider participating in a homebuilding trip with our ministry. We can accomodate groups of any size and welcome high schoolers and college students as well as adults.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) presents October as Orthodox Awareness Month, an OCF effort to foster awareness of Orthodoxy and educate students on college campuses across North America.
Throughout the month of October, OCF chapters are encouraged to set up informational tables on campus, offer Orthodoxy 101 sessions, host speakers and facilitate intriguing chapter events, which feature a church service or religious discussion as well as fellowship.
"Liturgy, translated as 'the work of the people,' is not limited to the church building," says John Mahfouz, National Programs Director. "For Orthodox Christians, our call is to leave the church and continue the 'Divine Work' of bringing Christ to others; of sharing the sweetness of His love which is found in the teachings of our Holy Fathers, with those around us. For a College Student, the Liturgy continues on campus!"
The Fall Session for the St. John Chrysostom Academy will start on Wednesday, October 19th and last until December 14th. This Fall's course is the "The Letter to the Romans," and will be offered on Wednesdays from 7:30-9:30pm at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 1220 S. 60th Court, Cicero, IL 60804. The St. John Chrysostom Academy is an Adult Lay Educational Ministry of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine at St. George.
Download the Registration Form, attached here, and please feel free to distribute to your parishioners. Thank you!
Also, for more information about ongoing Biblical studies and resources, visit the newly redesigned website of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS).
As record drought and famine continue to threaten the lives of more than 13 million people in the Horn of Africa, it is the children who suffer the most. More than 600,000 suffer from life-threatening malnutrition. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) takes you inside the refugee camps of Dolo Ado in Ethiopia for a firsthand look at how IOCC is putting your support into action, trying to save the lives of famine's most vulnerable victims.
[SVOTS Communications/Yonkers, NY] Struggling with disease and terminal illness is part of the human condition, but dealing with suffering in a redemptive, Christian way presents a special challenge. To help our seminarians, neighboring clergy, health professionals, and friends better understand how to approach and manage human suffering, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary will offer a free seminar Friday, October 21, from 9:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., titled "Spiritual Issues in Suffering and Palliative Care."
Drs. Daniel and Jane Hinshaw, both medical doctors and Orthodox Christians, will lead the seminar. Daniel B. Hinshaw, M.D., is Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan Health System, in the Section of General Surgery based full time at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center. Dr. Hinshaw completed a fellowship in Palliative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in June of 2001, during a sabbatical. His clinical research interests are focused on care at the end-of-life and the use of complementary medicine in the relief of pain.
Dr. Jane (Carnahan) Hinshaw is Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Health System, and Staff Psychiatrist at the Mental Health Clinic at Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center. Her area of special interest involves psychiatric issues in palliative care.
The seminar will be held in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building on the seminary campus. No registration is necessary.
CONTACT: Deborah Belonick, Advancement Information Officer
St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary • www.svots.edu
914-961-8313 ext 363 • 914-961-4507 FAX • firstname.lastname@example.org
The First Annual Bible Lecture Series, featuring Fr. Paul Tarazi (email@example.com), will be hosted at by Fr. Aaron Warwick (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the congregation of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Wichita, Kansas, Friday and Saturday, October 28th and 29th.
Fr. Paul is a renowned author and speaker, and is Professor of Old Testament at St. Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, New York.
The topic will be The Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Ephesians. For details view the lecture series flyer or contact the office at St. Mary Church (email@example.com). The flyer explains, "The epistle functions as a farewell speech similar to the one he gave to the elders at the Ephesus Church before heading towards his death. As both a final testament and universal letter to all the Pauline Churches, Ephesians is rich in content and addresses all major issues related to Paul's mission to the Gentiles."
The Department of Statistics and Credentials reminds parishes that a significant portion of the funding that is required by the Archdiocese comes from the assessments and Special Trays which are paid by each parish to the Archdiocese on an annual basis. The final Special Tray Offering should be conducted on one of the Sundays in October, and is slated to collect financial contributions for the three Orthodox Seminaries who help to prepare future Antiochian priests. We ask that you contribute generously to support these seminaries and their most important role in the training of our future priests. Please note that the third Sunday in October is designated as Special Olympics Awareness Day, and our teens make a collection to support Special Olympics. Therefore the special seminary tray collection should not take place on the third Sunday of October.
The event, described by the flyer as "Midwest Fellowship and Fun," will take place over the weekend of October 28-30, 2011, with an informal clergy gathering kicking off the weekend on October 28th.
A full schedule of services will be observed, and SOYO, Christian Education, Antiochian Women and the Fellowship of St. John will all hold meetings.
In keeping with its renewed focus of developing and sustaining local campus-based fellowships, the leadership of Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is excited to announce its latest ministry expansion, this time to the Kansas City metropolitan area.
From September 25-30, Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Archdiocese and Fr. Michael Nasser, OCF's North American Chaplain, will visit with the clergy, students and Orthodox faithful in the Kansas City area. The goal of their trip is to assist the local clergy and laity in organizing an effective ministry to students studying at local colleges and universities.
"Living an Orthodox Christian life is not easy for anyone, but it's uniquely challenging these days for our Orthodox college students," stated Bishop Thomas. "I hope we can find ways to bring the Church's support and strength to them where and when they need it most."
Fr. Michael added his own interest in this expanded effort in the Kansas City area:
"One of things I enjoy most about my work is coming into an area where we've had little or no Orthodox presence on the local campuses and seeing the Orthodox churches in the area unite and mobilize to minister to both their own young people as well as the entire campus population."
Are you in full time employment or live in remote areas and you cannot afford the time and money to travel to Orthodox Theological Schools, but you wish to receive a high quality university education in Orthodox Theology?
Then the IOCS Distance Learning Program is for you. We are the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, specializing in high quality and advanced Orthodox Studies for 10 years now, being situated in Cambridge, UK.
All our Distance Learning study material (in English) is provided at the start of the study and is for a low all-inclusive fee, payable at the start of each module.
Here is what one of our distance learners has to say about our program:
"Here is an opportunity to take classes offered by one of the world's finest and most respected universities and to enjoy them in the comfort of your own home and at a time that fits your schedule. You will actually see and hear world class theologians and biblical scholars lecturing in a classroom setting. You will experience, through chat rooms or Skype, lively interactions with intelligent, well-informed tutors who will guide you through the materials presented in the lectures. Most importantly, you will experience all of this in a supportive and caring environment that encourages questions and thoughtful discussion."
Recently, Bobby Maddex interviewed Antiochian Archdiocese member Matthew Namee, Associate Director of the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas and host of the AFR podcast American Orthodox History. They discussed the organization's new academic journal and upcoming symposium. Listen to the podcast here.
The Society's website explains, "The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA) exists to promote the study of the history of the Orthodox Christian Church in the New World; to collect source materials and make them available to researchers and scholars; to disseminate historical information to the public; and to encourage networking among those engaged in the study of American Orthodox history. SOCHA is particularly dedicated to this study based on the examination of primary sources with integrity and clarity."