Anna besought the Lord in fervent prayer for a child. The voice of the angel proclaimed to her: God has granted you the desire of your prayer. Do not weep, for you shall be a fruitful vine, bearing the wondrous branch of the Virgin who will bring forth in the flesh the blossom Christ, Who grants great mercy to the world.
Today the great mystery of all eternity, whose depths angels and men cannot perceive, appears in the barren womb of Anna. Mary, the Maiden of God, is prepared to be the dwelling place of the eternal King Who will renew human nature. Let us entreat her with a pure heart and say: Intercede for us with your Son and God that our souls may be saved.
--Vespers of the Feast
Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chair of the Department of Youth Ministry, reports that through the diligent efforts of SOYO members, nearly $33,000.00 has been collected since October for the Special Olympics Sports Camp at Antiochian Village. Every summer, hundreds of Special Olympic campers and SOYO counselors convene for a unique week of activity and growth.
Fr. Joseph notes, "We are very grateful to the many parishes that have contributed to the NAC SOYO / PASO Special Olympics. Browse the list of contributions here.
St. Vladimir's Press is now taking orders for a new biography about Metropolitan Antony Bashir, the visionary Orthodox leader who was Metropolitan Philip's predecessor. Authored by Fr. Constantine Nasr, the book is the third volume in the Press' Orthodox Profiles series. Fr. Constantine explains that "the election of Metropolitan Antony Bashir in 1936 gave birth to the Antiochian Archdiocese....The turbulent years of the splintering of immigrant orthodoxy into multiple ethnic jurisdictions are all but forgotten today. This is a behind the scenes look at a metropolitan who brought order out of chaos, as he fought for a single archdiocese for Arabic-speaking Christians in America, and laid a foundation upon which others would achieve the unity he so desperately sought."
The 2011 Orthodox Institute, held at Antiochian Village, near Ligonier, PA, over the weekend of November 3 – 6, was advertised as “an event like no other” and it proved to live up to its claim in more than one way. The theme was “Scripture through the Lens of the Holy Land” and this was the first time that the Orthodox Institute was a multi-jurisdictional collaboration between the host of the event, the Antiochian Department of Christian Education, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Orthodox Church in America Department of Christian Education, and the Orthodox Christian Education Commission.
A historic January 2012 Orthodox Christian Youth Worker Conference, endorsed by the Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, is planned for all Youth Workers, Camp Directors and Staff, and OCF Chaplains. The conference runs from Wednesday January 25 to Saturday January 28, 2012 at the Antiochian Village Conference Center and will be hosted by the Departments of Youth Ministry and of Camping of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
The weekend of November 4-6, 2011 was indeed a very special weekend at the Antiochian Village. Coming together with old and new friends and reminiscing about our memories of camp would have been quite enough to make it a full weekend, but there was even more. Alumni Weekend coincided with St. Raphael of Brooklyn’s feast day, so we were able to celebrate the Great Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgy at St. Ignatius Church, praying at the site of his holy relics. November 5, 2011 marked the 10 year memorial of our first Camp Director, the Rt. Rev. Archmandrite John Namie of blessed memory. Campers and staff that have been influenced by Fr. John’s guidance and love, both directly and indirectly, came together for Alumni Weekend to remember his ministry at the Village, to pray for him, and to still learn from him through videos of him.
The November 2011 issue contains the following articles:
Editorial, pg. 3
by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
Delegation to Syria, pg. 4
by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
50th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention: General Assembly Reports, pg. 13
What is the Difference between a Cradle Orthodox Person and a Convert?, pg. 70
by Fr. Stephen Powley
Sharing Hope and Happiness, One Car at a Time..., pg. 73
“Clergy Wife: Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend” was the theme of the third annual Clergy Wives Weekend, held at Antiochian Village, from October 28-30. This year’s Weekend was not only successful, but will probably go down in history as unique, thanks to Saturday’s snow storm! (See a snow photo in the photo gallery here.) Fifty one wives of priests, deacons and seminarians, from as far away as Texas and Colorado, came together for this pan-Orthodox weekend of prayer, reflection and informal fellowship. However, five of our “commuters” did not make it because of the unseasonal storm that dumped 6-8 inches of snow at the Village.
Saturday morning’s speaker was Mother Christophora, abbess of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City. Her encouraging words began with reminding us that we are first and foremost daughters of God our father and the Church our mother. In that relationship we find our true selves, and our salvation.
On Saturday October 22nd, 2011, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, hosted a dinner in honor of His Beatitude Mar Bechara Al-Raa’i, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey.
Among the guests who were in attendance were the following dignitaries:
Dr. Bashar Ja’afari, Ambassador for Syria to the UN
His Excellency Antoine Chedid, Ambassador for Lebanon
His Excellency Antoine Azzam, Consul General for Lebanon
Since October is Youth Month in the Antiochian Archdiocese, the editors at antiochian.org caught up with Fr. Anthony Yazge, who heads up the College Department for the Archdiocese, as well as the camping program at Antiochian Village. (Read this 2006 Word interview with Fr. Anthony and browse his Ask Abouna column.)
Fr. Anthony has been serving teens, college students and campers since 1981, and after thirty years he still approaches his ministry with dedication and enthusiasm.
1. How many years have you been working in youth ministries, and what kind of roles have you filled?
I basically went from my teenage years to being involved in youth ministry. As a seminarian I was involved in planning and leading teen retreats. A few years after ordination, I was appointed as the Midwest Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor and served in that position for fourteen years before being appointed as the NAC Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor for the last six years. As the Spiritual Advisor of Teen SOYO, I participated with our teens in many outreach projects over twenty years. In 2001 I was assigned to be priest in charge of Teen SOYO’s Special Olympics Camp and am currently still part of this ministry.
In addition to serving as a Spiritual Advisor for Teen SOYO the past twenty years, I have served the Antiochian Village for many years. I was a camp counselor in 1981 and was a session priest for thirteen years prior to my current assignment as Camp Director in 2006. I have also led a team of teens on a short term mission trip to Project Mexico.
During the weekend of October 14th through 16th, the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees held their Spring meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham, Massachusetts, hosted by St. George Cathedral of Worcester. In addition, the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch held their meeting during that same weekend.
The Archdiocesan Board of Trustees dealt with many important issues, including a review of the financial report as of September 30, 2011. By the grace of God, and through the most careful fiscal management, the financial report shows a surplus on a year-to-date basis; however, the budget anticipates that there will be a small deficit for the entire year.
"With Sacred Songs, let us praise the holy Apostle the Narrator of the Acts of the Apostles and Author of the Bright Gospel of Christ the All-Hymned Luke Whose Fame is not Confined to Christ's Church for He is the Physician who Heals Men's Ills Nature's Frailties and the Soul's Injuries and he Prays Unceasingly, for our souls."
+ Troparion of St. Luke the Evangelist, Tone 5
The Holy Disciple and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a Disciple from amongst the Seventy, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil. 1: 24, 2 Tim. 4: 10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and here he fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself. Included amidst the number of the Seventy Disciples, Saint Luke was sent by the Lord with the others for the first preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven while yet during the earthly life of the Saviour (Lk. 10: 1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saints Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.
On October 11, 2011, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip hosted the Annual Seminarian Dinner at the Archdiocese Headquarters. In attendance were all of the Antiochian seminarians and their spouses from St. Tikhon, St. Vladimir, and Holy Cross seminaries. Also in attendance were the three Bishops-Elect who are preparing to travel to Lebanon in December for their consecrations. They are Bishop-Elect John (Abdalah), Bishop-Elect Anthony (Michaels), and Bishop-Elect Nicholas (Ozone).
The evening began with a Vesper service in the Chapel of St. John Chrysostom at the Archdiocese Headquarters. Following the Vesper service, everyone gathered in the large dining room for the group photo, which was then followed by dinner. After dinner, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip addressed the gathered seminarians and their spouses, discussing matters which are important to their future priesthood. He spoke about the importance of practical pastoral theology which touches the lives of people. His Eminence then asked each of the Bishops-Elect to address the students, and to speak of both their pastoral experiences as priests, and their expectations for their episcopal ministry. Finally, we were treated to beautiful chanting by both Fr. Elias Bitar, and seminarian Rassem El-Massih.
Dear Brother in Christ:
Christ is in our midst!
The third Sunday of October, October 16, 2011 is Special Olympics Awareness Day (SOAD) across our Archdiocese.
On Sunday, October 16th, your teen group, or if you have none, your designated representatives, are asked to seek the financial help of your parishioners in funding the 2012 Special Olympics Sports Camp to be held at the Antiochian Village August 10-18, 2012. Next summer we will be celebrating our 31st Annual Special Olympics Sports Camp. This ministry is sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO. Our teens work very hard for this ministry and rely on the generosity and support of the faithful of our Archdiocese and the Order of St. Ignatius.
We Need YOUR HELP!
1. Please publicize this day. We have enclosed two bulletin inserts, one for October 9th and the other for October 16th. Please include these inserts in your bulletin and share this cause from the pulpit. Your enthusiastic promotion of such a worthwhile ministry will go a long way in producing fruitful results from our faithful.
Brother Hierarchs, Beloved Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Faithful Laity of our God-Protected Archdiocese:
Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ!
As you are all aware, there has been a lot of turmoil throughout many of the countries of the Middle East since the beginning of the year. Many of these uprisings coined “the Arab-spring” have resulted in changes of governments in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and unrest in other Gulf and North African nations. Since the spring, this phenomenon has supposedly spread to Syria, the country of the seat of our Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. The reports we receive on an almost daily basis from our Patriarch and various Metropolitans of the See of Antioch, together with our many contacts in Syria do not agree with the reports we see and hear in Western media such as CNN, Fox News, and others. Likewise, many of the gulf sponsored Arabic news channels like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya seem to portray a dire situation in Syria when the reality based on our many contacts there appears to be something quite the contrary.
Because of this contradiction, and because our office has been inundated with letters, emails and phone calls about the situation in Syria, we felt it necessary to send a delegation made up of a group of some of our convert priests, other religious leaders from non-Orthodox communities, and an international lawyer to see first-hand the situation and report back to me and to all of you, the faithful of our God-protected Archdiocese.
The October 2011 issue contains the following articles:
What's Being Done to Save Our Teens, pg. 3
by His Grace Bishop-Elect John Abdalah
The Albanian Journals Part 2, pg. 4
by Fr. Stephen Mathewes
St. Paraskeva: A Woman of Prayer, pg. 8
by Fr. Andrew Harmon
The Pursuit of God's Peace in an Anxious World, pg. 10
by Fr. Joshua Makoul
Reflections on the Building and Consecration of Our Church, pg. 12
by V. Rev. Josiah Trenham
From September 23-25, faithful traveled to the St Thekla Pilgrimage for the Patronal Feast of the St Thekla Monastery at the Antiochian Village for a weekend of prayer, refreshment, focus and fellowship. As pilgrims trickled in on Friday evening after busy weeks of work and the demands of daily life, they were offered hospitality and a time to unwind and transition in prayer at Vespers and then in fellowship and discussion following a movie. Saturday was a full day that began with Orthros and the Divine Liturgy, followed by brunch and workshops on Orthodox Family Life, Living Faithfully Though Crisis, the Sacraments, and a discussion of the book Miles to Go. After a break, we convened at the Shrine of St Thekla, located at the Village Camp and prayed the Supplication to St Thekla and were anointed with the miraculous oil from the lampada that burns in the Shrine of St Thekla in Ma’aloula, Syria.
Most holy Mother of God, today we Orthodox joyfully celebrate thy coming among us. As we gaze at thy icon we cry with compunction: Shelter us under thy protection, deliver us from evil, and pray thy Son Christ our God to save our souls.
+ Troparion of the Feast, Tone 4
Today the Virgin is standing before us in the Church praying for us with the choirs of Saints. Angels worship with Hierarchs, Apostles rejoice with Prophets, for the Mother of God intercedes with the Eternal God for us.
+ Kontakion of the Feast, Tone 3
Fr. Justin Patterson (OCA) writes: "This feast of the Protection of the Theotokos is neither one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church nor is it a commemoration of any events in the earthly lives of our Lord or His Mother. So why does the Orthodox Church—here in twenty-first-century North America—keep this feast?" Read his reflection here.
At the Order of St. Ignatius Banquet during the summer convention, outgoing Chair Dan Abraham addressed Order members, reflecting upon his four years of leadership and service. He challenged his listeners to give out of a heart of faith, thanked the people who had shouldered the Chair responsibilities alongside him, and introduced his family members. The following is the text of Dan's speech:
When one assumes the role of the Chair of an organization one must pledge that at the end of his term to leave the organization at least no worse than when he started.
Today The Order has inducted 4,486 members since inception and with a little bit of help from my friends we can cross the 4,500 threshold on Sunday; among them are 353 Life Members. I am also honored that 196 Clergy and/or spouses are members. Mary, I transfer to you an organization that is strong, viable, and ready to welcome new members.
It is however with much sadness, but no regret that I stand here tonight completing my four years as Chair of this wonderful organization – The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch – and ready to pass on the gavel and responsibility to my successor.