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"Who else is going to take care of your marriage if you don't?" the brochure for the annual clergy couple retreat at Antiochian Village asks.
The popular weekend event, held this year on April 23-25, sets out the following goals for clergy couples:
- to enjoy time together
- to attend to your marriage away from the distractions and “busyness” of daily life
- to draw closer to Christ and each other
- to meet and share with other Clergy Couples
- to be refreshed by the beauty of spring in the peaceful surroundings at the Village
This year's retreat speaker is Presbytera Kerry Pappas, a certified Prepare-Enrich facilitator and trainer, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who works for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese as the Coordinator for Clergy Couple Care. The schedule of the weekend allows for group time and quiet reflection. Prior to the retreat, couples will complete a "Couple Checkup," an online assessment.
On February 10-12, 2012, The Basilica of St. Mary, in Livonia, Michigan hosted their annual Marriage and Family Encounter weekend, led by Father Constantine Nasr, pastor emeritus of St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City. This was Fr. Constantine’s second visit to the Basilica for this retreat, and he once again shared with the participants his extensive research on what he’s learned over the years as a priest, regarding what it takes to maintain a successful and faithful marriage. Fr. Constantine is the author of the Conciliar Press book entitled, Mastering the Art of Marriage: Staying Together When the World Pulls You Apart, and much of his research is documented within the pages of this spiritually enlightening and engaging book.
Ancient Faith Radio's newly released podcast in their series "Ancient Faith Presents" features Bobby Maddex interviewing Fr. Charles Joanides and Pres. Kerry Pappas about the upcoming Orthodox Clergy Couples Retreat. Hosted by Antiochian Village, the retreat will take place May 22-24 in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
In the interview, Fr. Charles and Pres. Kerry provide a brief overview of the retreat, titled "Protecting and Growing Our Marriages," with a description of the sessions and how clergy couples can benefit from the workshops. Couples may still register here.
An important new resource has just been produced for Orthodox couples. In Mastering the Art of Marriage: Staying Together When the World Pulls You Apart, Antiochian priest Fr. Constantine Nasr (St. Elijah, Oklahoma City) writes about the love, commitment and hard work involved in making marriages last. "As a pastor for the last 38 years," he notes, "I have had many young couples discuss their plans for marriage with me. I have seen their joy, their excitement and their eagerness to enter into marriage. During the same 38 years I have had many married couples come to me with their marriages in trouble. These same young couples that had been filled with happiness were now filled with anger, distrust and pain. It is staggering to hear that two out of three marriages will end in divorce. It is not the statistic that staggers me. It is the massive pain of divorce that staggers me."
Fr. Constantine continues, "The old signs that guided couples are gone. Today young couples head off in any number of directions hoping it will lead to happiness. Sadly, those roads most often lead to divorce."
Bishop Michael Dahulich of the Orthodox Church in America calls the book "...a resource masterpiece (which) combines the wisdom of the Scripture and the Holy Fathers throughout the centuries and the guidance of modern scholarship and marriage counseling from our own time."
The Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest invite women to their sixth annual retreat Friday-Sunday, May 13-15, 2011 at Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery, located at 3389 Rives Eaton Road in Rives Junction, Michigan. On Saturday, Kh. Maggie Hock will present the retreat program on the Holy Myrrhbearing Women. She will talk about who the Myrrhbearing Women are, what they did in the early Church and how we can be “Myrrhbearing Women” today. Kh. Maggie is North American Director of the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries.
For more information, including schedule and registration form, please download the retreat flyer (PDF).
Statistics on marriage state that couples who go through adequate pre-marital preparation have a 66% better chance for an intact marriage. The FOCCUS Orthodox Christian Edition is a pre-marital program which has been used by Kh. Maggie Hock, Director of the Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries, to train clergy and seminarians in pan-Orthodox settings. It is a complete program which, if used as designed, provides adequate preparation for couples approaching marriage. It is not a counseling program, but it does include an inventory that the couple completes, and it generates a report based on their answers that is an excellent guide.
FOCCUS requires a training time of approximately eight hours. Kh. Maggie is presently the only Certified Orthodox trainer and she has been given the blessing to do this with Antiochian clergy by Metropolitan Philip. The only way clergy can receive the Manual and Inventories is to work through the training under Kh. Maggie's guidance. She may be reached at: 402.445.0150, or at email@example.com.
For details about FOCCUS: visit www.foccusinc.com. Here is some basic information:
Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries Director Kh. Maggie Hock encourages couples to enjoy a weekend away at Antiochian Village on February 18-20, attending the retreat "Crowned with Glory and Honor." Retreat leaders Fr. Don and Kh. Maggie have been married for thirty-eight years, have five children and six grandchildren, and will be focusing on romance, expectations in the marriage relationship, and building intimacy. Participants will fellowship with other Orthodox couples and learn more about the Church's teaching about the ingredients of a healthy marriage. Go here for information and to register.
Click here to listen to a Valentines interview featuring Kh. Maggie Hock. Kh. Maggie discusses romance and marriage on the Orthodox Christian Network's Special Moments in Orthodoxy program.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Center for Family Care has just completed its first study: "The Orthodox Family in America at Home and in Church." Information came from 646 respondents from 100 Greek Orthodox parishes, all of whom had children 18 and under living at home. In addition, the priests from these parishes filled out a survey as well.
The study examined the following:
- Religious practices at church and home
- Main stressors experienced
- Availability of parish support
- Interest in workshops and knowledge of current supports
- Significant predictors of increased religious and spiritual practices at home and at church
Go HERE to view the results in their entirety.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Center For Family Care, in the words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, exists “both to affirm the importance of the family as a blessed gift of God and to address the specific needs of families as they try to live in a very challenging culture and world. As Orthodox Christians, we know that each and every family needs to be connected to the Church—a place where true relationships with God and one another are nurtured and sustained. Thus, through this program we will be working to bring more aspects of our faith into the home and to bring more families into the Church.” The Center provides resources such as parish family night ideas, parent training seminars and retreats, resources for marriage, family prayer, study and Gospel reading, and outreach ideas such as family mission teams.
Fr. Joseph Purpura and the Department of Youth MInistry have announced a major new initiative to help teens and their families. The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) plans to form groups in each diocese to deal with the risky behaviors that threaten the health and safety of youth. A 2007-2008 Archdiocesan study revealed, for instance, that in the previous year, nearly half of the high school teens and even a quarter of the 13-15 year olds surveyed, had used alcohol.
The seven page action plan explains the approach: "The purpose of the coalition is to help educate pre-teens, teens, young adults and parents towards living healthy Orthodox Christian Lives and enabling our youth to live drug free. We will also include education and other eﬀorts towards delaying the onset of sexual activity in youth with the intent of preparing young people for marriage or monasticism and work to assist parents in this endeavor. We seek to do this work in an Orthodox Christian manner and to develop an Orthodox model to be used by other Orthodox parishes and jurisdictions."
In some cases, federal funding may be available to help further the efforts of coalitions. To date, four parishes in three dioceses have come forward as coalition hosts. Fr. Joseph hopes to establish a group in each diocese. For more information, email: FrJoseph@orthodoxyouth.com, or read the action plan here.
In conjunction with Conciliar Press, the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family MInistries has released two much-requested brochures for Orthodox Christians. "Crowned with Glory and Honor," a free, downloadable brochure, presents readers with a set of helpful guidelines for Orthodox marriage preparation, including such concepts as the meaning of crowning, and the purpose of the Betrothal Service. Readers will even learn about the wedding almonds: "The white coating symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and new life that begins in marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage, and the sweetness of the sugar encourages the hope of the sweetness of future life together. Giving of three almonds signifies the union is indivisible, just as the bride and groom will remain undivided in their union with each other and with Christ."
The second brochure, "A Guide to Parish Etiquette," lists everything parishioners need to know about respectful and reverent behavior while in liturgy. Department Director Khouria Maggie Hock encourages all parishes, couples and families to make use of these valuable, free resources.
For Orthodox Christians planning to travel, EGERIAexchange.com now matches people for free home and hospitality exchanges, both in the U.S. and Canada, as well as overseas. After joining the group for a low, flat fee, members may either exchange their homes with a fellow member for an agreed period of time, chose a place to stay with a host family for free without swapping homes, or pay a reasonable Bed and Breakfast fee to their Orthodox B & B host. Matushka Jenny Hainsworth of EGERIA Orthodox Home and Hospitality Exchange, says: "We let people work out the details, but the nice thing is that now, whenever Orthodox Christians travel, they can have friends wherever they go!"
For instance, a home in Ballydehob, Ireland, offers visitors use of a small cottage, music lessons, three acres for strolling, and a private chapel for praying. Other countries intrigue the EGERIA web browser: Germany, Kenya, India, Greece, and Serbia.
Bobby Maddex of Ancient Faith Radio recently interviewed Matushka Jenny, EGERIA's co-founder and proprietor, about the new venture--listen here.
His Grace Bishop BASIL, in his St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood newsletter on January 8, encouraged the faithful and clergy of his Diocese to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision with prayers, volunteer work with local pro-life ministries, and participation where possible in the Washington D.C. March for Life.
His Grace writes:
"FRIDAY, JANUARY 22nd will mark the 37th anniversary of the infamous decision given by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case known as "Roe v. Wade." Please find below two links about how Orthodox Christians will observe that day:
Several years after the momentous Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade overturned the laws of all fifty states and essentially legalized abortion on demand throughout the U.S., churches everywhere began observing Sacred Gift of Life Sunday. This event, which always precedes the anniversary of this misguided decision, is a call for Christians everywhere to prayers and activism on behalf of women and their unborn children.
In the Antiochian Archdiocese, our teens are leading the way in asking our parishes to observe Sacred Gift of Life Sunday. With the blessing of Metropolitan Philip, Teen SOYO has compiled a packet of resource materials to help the faithful memorialize the 43 million lives lost to abortion in the last 35 years.
Khouria Maggie Hock is encouraging Orthodox parents to get involved in the fight for media decency, through two organizations: One Million Moms, and One Million Dads. Sponsored by the American Family Association, a Christian media watchdog group, the associations provide information and resources for concerned parents. "I get so many questions about how to get involved," notes Kh. Maggie, "parents want to know how they can make a difference, and protect their children." One Million Moms and One Million Dads targets sponsors of offensive programming through email campaigns and boycotts.
Since 1987 over 1,000 people have offered a living witness to the Orthodox Christian faith through their participation in an Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Mission Team. These Team members have taught catechism, built churches, schools, and hospitals, offered healthcare, worked with youth, and provided outreach in 27 countries around the world.
There have been exceptions, but for reasons that include liability, the risks and rigor inherent in serving abroad, and the specialized nature of mission work, Team members have traditionally been at least 18 years old. Over the years, OCMC has heard from many sources including past Team members, missionaries, board members, staff, and supporters about the importance of enabling youth participation on OCMC Mission Teams.
With board approval, OCMC has opened up four of its 2010 Mission Teams to youth participation with the condition that Team members would not be under 13 years of age and that they would be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“The motivation behind this decision was to expose youth to the work of making disciples while giving eligible families the ability to experience service for the Church in a cross cultural setting,” offers OCMC Mission Teams Director Andrew Lekos.
The Teams in 2010 that are open to youth and families have been carefully chosen to allow youth to develop relationships with their Orthodox peers and learn about new cultures. “It is hoped that language barriers melt and horizons are broadened as families put their faith into action and share their Orthodox faith,” adds Mr. Lekos.
On Friday, November 20, 2009, His Grace Bishop Basil sent an invitation to his flock, inviting them to sign a statement affirming the historic Christian teaching on life, marriage, and religious freedom. He wrote:
"Dear to Christ:
We invite you to join with other Christians across the nation who support the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty by endorsing the Manhattan Declaration.
November 24, 2009
Beloved in Christ,
God bless you.
As I promised you a couple of days ago, we are forwarding you information on the Orthodox approach to issues that have been recently addressed in the Manhattan Declaration. Below I offer a few comments on subjects relevant to that document:
On the latest episode of Mission Possible: Orthodox Parenting Today, Antiochian.org staff member and writer Ginny Nieuwsma speaks with Kh. Maggie Hock, head of the Archdiocese Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministry. The discussion centers around meeting the challenges of raising children in the Orthodox Faith.
By Kh. Maggie Hock M.A., M.S., LMHP
Jesus answering the Pharisees said: "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. Consequently they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matthew 19: 5,6)
The marriage relationship between a man and a woman is a gift from God. The grace to walk in that gift comes with the blessing of the Sacrament of Marriage. It is here that the priest and the attending community offer many intercessions for the longevity and fruitfulness of the union. If marriage is our chosen path to salvation, we need to understand that we have vowed together to help both our spouse and ourselves attain this eternal state. Therefore, our task as a married person is to learn how to apply that grace and blessing throughout our marriage, through the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the hopes and disappointments. For what marriage doesn't experience these emotions? What happens, then, when the marriage is suffering? Where do we find hope for reconciliation and reconnection to the grace that God offers?
First it's important to go back to where the marriage began- by standing before God asking for His forgiveness and blessing. By searching our hearts we may find where we have separated ourselves from His plan for our marriage. Many couples who have strained relations have found that their expectations have not been clearly articulated to each other. Perhaps assumptions were made about the married lifestyle without clear communication and therefore the couple does not have a shared vision for the relationship. Some may find that their expectations were full of worldly pursuits that did not honor God or each other. Still others may discover that they have not modeled Christ's example of servanthood and obedience.
by the Right Reverend THOMAS (Joseph), Ed.D., Bishop of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic
My son Timothy, you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:10-15, RSV)
We read in this passage from St. Paul’s second epistle to St. Timothy, his child in the faith, that he puts great weight on Timothy having observed his teaching, his conduct, his aim in life, his faith, patience, love, steadfastness, persecutions and sufferings. St. Paul is also quite adamant that Timothy continue in what he has learned and has firmly believed from his childhood. The assumption here is that Timothy has been acquainted with the sacred writings—that is, the Holy Scriptures—for the purpose and benefit of his salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
What is the Freedom of Choice Act and how will it affect Orthodox family values? A majority of Americans oppose this Act but it is due to be signed into law this month if we do not act to contact our representatives in Congress and the Senate to let them know our opposition. The Orthodox Faith has always protected the sanctity of human life and opposed abortion. Now is the time to make your voice heard in Washington. Please visit the Fight FOCA web site today to learn more and take action!
The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would eliminate every restriction on abortion regardless of previous States' rulings.
- FOCA will do away with state laws on parental involvement, on partial birth abortion, and on all other protections. Parents will lose their influence on their minor children's reproductive rights.
- FOCA will compel taxpayer funding of abortions without regard for moral beliefs and objections.
- FOCA will force faith-based hospitals and healthcare facilities to perform abortions. It will also require the disposal and dismemberment of live abortions regardless of the health care team member's religious, moral or ethical convictions.
- FOCA will prevent the States from enacting future protective legislation for the unborn.
The Orthodox Faith has always protected the sanctity of human life and opposed abortion. You have the opportunity to vote your conscience by going to this web site http://www.fightfoca.com/ and sign the petition opposing this Federal Act. You will also need to contact your elected representatives in your region to register your opinion in order to influence their vote. It only takes 50 letters or 10 phone calls to a representative to make a difference in a vote. You may reach your Representatives and Senators at 202-224-3121.
To keep in touch with this Act and many others that threaten traditional family values, go to the American Family Association web site at www.afa.net.