The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America has completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla, a female monastic community. The property is located in Glenville, Pennsylvania and consists of 51 acres of land which includes a four-bedroom “move-in-ready” house, a two-story barn, and a three-car garage with an attached workshop. The property also has a pond, and includes 30 acres of farmland and seven acres of woodland.
The original plan for the Convent called for it to be built on a parcel of land which is on the main property of Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of doing this would be too high, especially given that it would have required that all the infrastructure (road, water, electricity, and sewage) be made available at the site. There was also the risk that environmental concerns (such as the discovery of endangered plant life or animals) could have seriously impacted the building plans. The purchase was funded by a combination of the money that had been raised by the Antiochian Women through their multi-year fundraising effort, an endowment fund that had been set aside many years ago for this purpose, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.
The April 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Curriculum Vitae of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, pg. 4
A Response to the Encyclical of H.B. Patriarch Youhanna X, pg. 11
by Economos Antony Gabriel
The Funeral Service: Lecture 5 - Christian Burial, Graves and Cemetaries, pg. 12
by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
Orthodox Spirituality in an Ungodly Age, pg. 17
by Kevin Allen
New relationships and unity among Orthodox Christian youth workers are the result of diligent efforts by the Committee for Youth, one of the very active committees of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
The committee’s members are Bishop Thomas (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese), Metropolitan Alexios (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) and Bishop Irineu (Orthodox Church in America). As with all of the Assembly’s committees, clergy and lay consultants support the work of the committee. The Committee for Youth has more than sixty consultants with extensive experience and knowledge of Orthodox youth and youth programs.
One of the fruits of the committee’s efforts has been new relationships and increased collaboration among jurisdictional youth directors. “Prior to the committee’s formation, a handful of jurisdictional youth directors would meet occasionally,” says His Grace Bishop Thomas, the chairman of the committee. “Now there are 17 who meet in person and by phone, representing every jurisdiction in the Assembly.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip addresses the faithful at the start of Great Lent:
Beloved in the Lord,
Greetings and blessings to you as we enter this most holy season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
During this time of the Great Fast, we once again turn our attention to the Food for Hungry People Program of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine. For almost 40 years this campaign has had a tremendous impact throughout the world to help alleviate hunger and the numberless tragedies caused by poverty. With several tragic events that continue plaguing our world including, but not limited to, the recent war in Syria, the natural disasters that wreak havoc on our own continent like Hurricane Sandy and others, we depend on your support to help the victims of these man-made and natural tragedies.
From the March 2013 issue of The Word
Eight years ago, David DeJonge came to St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids to photograph the wedding of Jamie Abraham, a parishioner of St. Nicholas. David is a very well-known photographer, having completed portraits of many notable Americans (including President Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, John McCain, Antony Scalia, Newt Gingrich, Jesse Jackson). Being keenly aware of images, David was struck by the icons recently painted by iconographer, Fr. Theodore Koufos. This first encounter with Orthodox icons was the beginning of a spiritual journey that led to his chrismation in the Holy Orthodox Church. David was again engaged to return to St. Nicholas several times to photograph the installation of other icons with the intent of producing a historical picture-book for the parish. It was through his labor and the icons that David discovered the saints who lived from apostolic times down into the twentieth century.
As the faithful celebrate the high point of the Church year—Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha—the Department of Internet Ministry has launched a rebuilt section of resources and reading for the season. Great Lent Resources & Readings is a topical library of links and reflections that presents the meaning and practice of the forty days of prayer and worship in an engaging and accessible format. The goal is that this will be a useful tool for teaching about Lent, for both newcomers to the Orthodox Christian Faith as well as for those who are rediscovering the spiritual benefits of the Lenten journey.
Visitors to Great Lent Resources & Readings will find three distinct subsections, each with its own theme:
- All Revered Days: the Lenten Calendar is a library of information broken into the weeks of Lent from the Pre-Lenten Sundays through Holy Week,
- Bright Sadness: Entering into the Lenten Spring contains wise counsel about making the most of the forty days, and
- Holy Week: Journey to the Empty Tomb offers an overview of Holy Week as well as reflections on some of its specific days, such as Holy Friday.
Though they are too many to name, we'd like to extend thanks to all the various sources who have allowed us to repurpose their material, and we encourage those maintaining Orthodox websites of their own to link to this section.
The Holy Synod of Antioch has issued the attached statement in English and Arabic. It begins:
March 13, 2013
The Fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch held a meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. The meeting was chaired by His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X. The Fathers discussed the situation arising from the election of Archimandrite Makarios by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as the “Archbishop of Qatar”, on March 4, 2013. This election is against the Ecclesiastical Canons of the Orthodox Catholic Church. After deliberations and the approval of the Holy Synod Fathers in the Mother lands and abroad, the following statement was issued to be distributed to all the faithful and to all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
Read the full statement below (PDF format).
(Adapted from The Word, March 2013)
Last fall, the Antiochian parish of St. Mary in Chambersburg, PA, began its fourth year of service to the surrounding community through the St. Seraphim Orthodox Center (SS OC). Affiliated with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS), the ministry serves lunch to some 35 to 45 guests on Thursdays and Saturdays, complimenting the lunch schedule of the local Salvation Army.
During his August 2012 visit to St. Mary Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Thomas repeatedly stressed the importance of the parish’s work at the Center in the downtown area, and urged parishioners to continue and extend this ministry to the wider community.
His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, has prepared an extensive pastoral letter for his flock. It includes sections on Preaching, A Responsible Priesthood, Love and Pastoral Work, The Dialogue of Religions, and much more. The letter opens:
It is a pleasure to address you through this message, hoping that it conveys to you some of my concerns as to what our Church needs today and what is demanded of each of us. I would like to resort to these words:
"In grace we grow, in service we transcend, and in love the structure is strengthened", as a motto for my Patriarchate, as God has willed that I will be watching over the Antiochian Church and embracing its children with the help of my brothers the bishops. The Church is the Church of all of us. God has willed that we are in it as brethren, in order to work as one body.
The March 2013 issue includes the following articles:
I Am an Antiochian Woman, pg. 4
by Violet K. Robbat
Enthronement Speech of H.B. Patriarch John X, pg. 6
David DeJonge: Beyond the Image, pg. 11
The Funeral Service: Lecture 4, pg. 16
by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
So What's the Big Deal with Great Lent?, pg. 30
by Fr. Joseph Allen
The Hidden Garden: a story of the heart, by Antiochian children’s book author and editor Jane Meyer, is a parable that employs the imagery of the garden to teach children about the inner heart and the need to cultivate peace and beauty there. "I have long wanted to write a book for children that touches on the idea of the nous—that place within us that searches and longs for and knows God—where the heart and the mind are integrated and work as one with holy intentions and for holy purposes," explains Mrs. Meyer. "Children have an incredible capacity for touching and knowing God....But do they know that they can nurture and protect and tend that place within them where God resides?
Meditations for Great Lent is written by notable author Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou.
Report on Syrian Aid and Needs from Patriarchate of Antioch Dept. of Ecumenical Relations and Development
Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released the latest report on ongoing relief work in Syria, and asks for continued prayers for all Syrian people.
The full report is available in PDF format. The report opens:
"The humanitarian situation within Syria continues to deteriorate as the violence spreads and displacement continues. According to SARC estimates, some 2.5 – 3 million people are in need of support, of which children represent a substantial proportion. By the end of September, the Syrian Government officially reported that the number of displaced persons was then more than 3 million. In response to meet the increasing needs at different levels DERD continues its historic and strategic partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Through this tight partnership and direct assistance and support of IOCC, DERD has been able to assist thousands of displaced Syrians, as well as those affected by the crisis."
In time for the 2013-2014 academic year, the Scholarships page on Antiochian.org has been updated to include all archdiocesan forms and deadlines, as well as information from other institutions offering scholarships to Antiochian students at both the college or graduate school level.
Students can browse through various options, including a scholarship for a student in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, a scholarship from Antiochian Women, several scholarships from the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, scholarships available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and scholarships for former Scouts. By way of reminder, camp scholarships are also available through the Order of St. Ignatius.
We thank the Lord our God who allowed us, in the two previous months, to celebrate His appearance in the flesh as man and His manifestation as God coming to save us. After Jesus has fulfilled His plan of salvation by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, and after He ascended in the flesh to heaven from whence He had descended, sitting on the right hand of the Father, He prayed the Father to send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of each of us. Everyone who desires this and wants the Spirit to dwell in him does this so that Jesus may appear to him, and also that he might be reminded of the Lord’s sayings and teachings. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus Christ, at first in the Church, which is His Body and which He wanted to be “a glorious church, with neither stains, wrinkles, nor any such thing” (Eph. 5: 27). It also makes Him present in the Church through the word of His Gospel, in the Body and Blood of His Eucharist, in His meeting with His brothers who gathered in His Name, as well as in every human being - especially in the poor, the homeless and the broken hearted, in whom He accepted to dwell. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus wherever it dawns, making Him present yet veiled in all religions and all cultures.
Jesus, Emmanuel, is always present here and everywhere, present among us. He is always with us, ready to meet us. He rejoices in our joys, He revels in our holiness, and He weeps with us when we are troubled and sorrowed. He also cries when, as shepherds and flock, we neglect to live according to His teachings, and whenever our sins mar His bleeding, yet glorious face, and thus veil the world from seeing Him in His Church, and through us.
The West Coast Sacred Music Institute will be held from February 21-24, 2013, and will take place at St. Mark Orthodox Church in Irvine, California. The Theme will be "The Hymnography of Great Lent: A Path to Holiness" and will focus on Great Compline, Akathist, the Presanctified Liturgy, Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Click here for the Agenda (PDF) and Registration Form (Word). Once you open the Registration Form, you can fill it out electronically, save it and email that form to reserve your spot. Please mail your payment, with a copy of the form, to the Conference Administrator, Maryfaith Woods, using her contact info provided on the form. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Sacred Music.
The Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has brought online a special website dedicated to the enthronement of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, which will take place this Sunday, February 10. The site is available in English, Spanish and Arabic.
On June 1, 2012, a tornado traveled eight miles down Highway 711 through the townships of Ligonier and Bolivar in Western Pennsylvania. At 5:20 p.m., the tornado stuck the Antiochian Village with winds of 110 miles per hour. In a matter of seconds, the tornado damaged or destroyed 50 acres at the Village, including 22 buildings and hundreds of trees. Of these buildings, six were girls’ cabins which were completely destroyed. The remaining buildings have required varying degrees of repair – from new roofs to collapsed walls.
The appraisers have determined the monetary cost of the damage to the Antiochian Village at well over one million dollars. While insurance paid for a portion, the Archdiocese has been required to cover the remainder. There were also many areas that were not covered by insurance, including the removal of downed trees and replacement of these trees for privacy purposes that surround the girls’ cabins.
The February 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Message from Patriarch John X, pg. 4
Change of Mind Equals Change of Heart, pg. 9
by Amy Ansara
On the First Week of St. Stephen's Program, pg. 22
by Cindy George
Works of the Order in Action: Department of Missions and Evangelism, pg. 24
by V. Rev. John Finley
The Role of the Patriarch in the Orthodox Church, pg. 26
by Fr. Joseph Antypas
As part of a "Come Receive the Light" series on the family and the Church, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, recently joined Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) Executive Director Fr. Chris Metropulos for two discussions about helping Orthodox teens navigate today's complicated journey to adulthood. (Listen to Part I, "Moving Towards Salvation," and Part II, "Closer to Christ.)
Father Joseph outlined the top challenges, which he noted are as great as they've been at any time in history: busyness which can be senseless, stress, overscheduling, distractions, a sense of being overstimulated by technology, overexposure to sexual images, and the prevalence of substance abuse. He also explained that historically, parents had never been expected to raise their kids without outside support; the community as a whole felt a responsibility to help children grow up safely.
As reported in a series of recent press releases by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the partnership between the IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) continues to minister to people within Syria as well as those displaced by the conflict there. The strife has severely crippled the country's power plants as well as damaged major roads needed to transport heating fuel during the coldest time of year, while instability in the region has led to critical fuel shortages.
"The deteriorating security climate in Syria creates delays in receiving and distributing humanitarian relief items," said IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian. "An added challenge is finding adequate quantities and quality of supplies needed, but IOCC and GOPA are using their longstanding local and regional relationships to ensure uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid."