A countless number of Christians and Muslims are victims of the violence; the hospitals are full with injuries and the pain is endless. Syrians, in spite of their religious backgrounds, have the right to live in their country with pride and dignity. During the past fifteen months, we have lost many people and a large number of Syrians were forced to evacuate from their homes. Christians had to flee their towns, cities and everything they own, and our beloved priests had to leave their churches.
We call all Syrians, in the name of God, to accept each other and live as one nation in our beloved Syria, the cradle of prophets and religions. We urge the United Nations and all Arab organizations to understand and respect our beloved country and to work together in order to achieve peace and stability in Syria.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
The biennial conference of the Western Rite Vicariate will be held Monday, August 7 through Friday, August 10 at St. Gregory’s University and Abbey in Shawnee, OK.
The theme for this year’s conference will be based on St. Paul’s words to the Philippians:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.” (Phil 4.8-9)
Presentations will focus on the attraction of personal holiness.
Bishop John (Abdalah), Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester and New England and newly appointed Auxiliary Bishop to oversee the Western Rite Vicariate, will attend and will be one of the featured speakers at the conference.
With Session Three in full swing at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, the camp's website asks, "Have you ever thought about what happens at the Antiochian Village during summer camp? Are you wondering what your children, grandchildren or siblings do while they are at here? Well, we have a way to give you a glimpse. This year we have our own staff photographer, Nicole, who is taking photos every day and night. We typically get the photos and a brief description of the day posted to our Summer Memories page by midnight. So check it out each day and see the Village come to life."
By keeping His commandments and laws, holy Mary Magdalene,
you followed Christ, Who for our sake was born of the Virgin,
and in celebrating your most holy memory today,
we receive forgiveness of sins by your prayers.
On the banks of Lake Genesareth (Galilee), between the cities of Capharnum and Tiberias, was the small city of Magdala. Only the small village of Mejhdel stands on the site.
A woman whose name has entered forever into the Gospel account was born and grew up in Magdala. The Gospel tells us nothing of Mary’s younger years, but Tradition informs us that Mary of Magdala was young and pretty, and led a sinful life. It says in the Gospels that the Lord expelled seven devils from Mary (Luke. 8:2). From the moment of her healing, Mary led a new life, and became a true disciple of the Savior.
Bishops and clergy from across the Archdiocese have gathered this week at Antiochian Village for the 17th Biennial Clergy Symposium, a time of reflection, fellowship, and learning. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian House of Studies are the hosts for a full week of speakers, sessions and events. The Archdiocese is honored also to have in attendance His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Argentina.
The theme of this year's gathering is Ministry to the Youth: "Let no one despise your youth" (1 Timothy 4:14). Highlights include keynote addresses on such topics as "Issues of Spiritual Development and Youth", "Issues of Sexuality", and "Issues of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse"; an evening Camp Program presented by Village Camp youth; a grand dinner with Metropolitan Philip; and more.
Ancient Faith Radio will be providing recordings of selected presentations and sessions. See AFR's special section on the Symposium here.
An eventful Parish Life Conference season has come to a close throughout the Archdiocese. In the gathering that Antiochians often describe as our extended family reunion, people from Maine to California gathered for worship, youth activities and meetings. The following reports are available:
- The Diocese of Toledo
- The Diocese of Miami
- The Diocese of Ottawa
- The Diocese of Los Angeles and the West
- The Diocese of Wichita
- The Diocese of Worcester
The summer schedule continues, as clergy prepare to travel to Antiochian Village for the start of the Clergy Symposium on July 16. Symposium registration and schedule details are available here.
Paul Finley, the Executive Director of Antiochian Village, recently spoke with Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) about an icon workshop that will be held at the Village from August 4th through the 12th, 2012. The course is "Icons: Creation Through Prayer," and the instructor will be Cheryl Ann Pituch, an iconographer who previously taught at the Department of Christian Education's 2010 Orthodox Institute.
Participants will stay at the Village the week of the class, and by its conclusion will have completed an icon of the Archangel Michael.
In the AFR interview, Paul Finley explained the background for the workshop. "We're reinstituting this program after years of not having this at the Village," he noted.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities reports, "Ten years ago, four dedicated IOCC supporters made history riding their bikes cross country to raise awareness and funds for IOCC's worldwide humanitarian work. The lead rider, Jim Angelus, is repeating this feat in honor of IOCC's 20th anniversary. Jim, along with two other cyclists, Konstantin Kanelis and Brett Mckey, will cycle 3,000 miles in 37 days from Washington State to New Jersey. Dan Mckey and Ora Shelter will serve as Support and Gear (SAG) crew.
The ultimate goal of the 2012 Race to Respond is to inspire and attract local, regional and national support to IOCC's humanitarian work. As such, lead rider Jim Angelus is posting daily updates from the road as he rides across America to raise support for Orthodox philanthropy. An entry on Day Five notes that the Antiochian parish of Holy Myrrhbearers in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, hosted the riders and crew. Jim blogs, "Father Gregory concluded the liturgy with a prayer service for our journey east. The parishioners greeted us warmly afterwards with a homemade brunch where we ate and shared experiences."
"The theme will be the Hymns of the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, with a special track for our first ever Youth Music Ministry Program," notes Christopher. "Additionally, our guest speaker will be His Grace Bishop Anthony, so this is a not-to-be-missed event!"
St. Anthony Orthodox Church of Bergenfield New Jersey is hosting the faithful and clergy of the Dioceses of Charleston and New York at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, over the long weekend beginning on July 4th. His Grace Bishop Thomas will preside over the Parish Life Conference (PLC), which promises "Fun, Fellowship and Worship!" and is featuring such events as a talent show, a teen sporting competition, and a workshop titled "Enliven to Christ." (Download the full schedule.)
On the opposite site of the country, the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, with the oversight of Archbishop Joseph and sponsorship of the Church of the Redeemer, is hosting their PLC at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel. Kids up to age 12 will enjoy the PandaMania! Vacation Bible School Program, the Keynote Speaker will be Bishop Anthony, and the SOYO attendees will participate in a youth community service event. More details are available here.
Archpriest Peter E. Gillquist, retired chairman of the archdiocese's department of missions and evangelism, chairman of Conciliar Press, speaker, and the author of numerous books including Becoming Orthodox, reposed on Sunday evening July 1, surrounded by his family.
Fr. Peter and his wife of 52 years, Kh. Marilyn, had lived for many years in Santa Barbara, California, but as of June 2009 they relocated to Bloomington, Indiana, where their son Fr. Peter Jon Gillquist serves as pastor of All Saints Orthodox Church.
Condolences may be posted on the All Saints website, where tributes have been pouring from all over the United States and abroad. A recent Ancient Faith Radio retirement interview with Fr. Peter, Kh. Marilyn and Fr. Peter Jon, is available here. The schedule of services is as follows:
Over the long weekend of June 28-July 1, the Dioceses of Toledo and Ottawa will enjoy worship and fellowship as they gather for their Parish Life Conferences. His Grace Bishop Anthony and His Grace Bishop Alexander will preside over the full slate of activities which include meetings for organizations such as SOYO, and events unique to the local settings.
St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church of Chicago is hosting the Midwestern attendees at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Oakbrook, Illinois. Bishop Anthony is the keynote speaker and event highlights include a Friday comedy show, tours of Chicago and Oakbrook, and an offsite teen service project.
Further north, the parish of Ss. Peter & Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, has planned a SOYO Nature Walk and an Antiochian Women's tour and luncheon which includes stops at the Anne of Green Gables House and a gallery/cafe. Featured Speaker Carole Buleza, Director of the Department of Christian Education for the Archdiocese, will discuss "Ideas for Lively Bible Studies."
O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, we honour thee lovingly but cannot extol thee worthily; for by thy birth thy mother's barrenness and thy father 's dumbness were unloosed; and the Incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world.
--Troparion, Tone 4
View a festal page dedicated to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
Read Fr. Joseph Huneycutt's thoughts on the importance of the feast.
The Department of Christian Education for the Antiochian Archdiocese has announced the details of the 2012 Orthodox Institute, to be held on November 1-4 at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA.
Open to Orthodox of all jurisdictions, the Institute is a continuing education event for teachers, parents, clergy, and youth workers who want to fellowship with others in ministry while also enriching their knowledge base.
The theme, "Culture. Morality. Spirituality. A conference to survey current cultural views, beliefs of the Church, and the challenges facing young people," will be reinforced throughout the weekend in panel discussions, teacher training seminars, and keynote presentations. Featured Presenters Dr. Vigen Guroian and Dr. Philip Mamalakis will join Keynote Speaker Dr. Peter Bouteneff in topics such as "Contemporary Culture and Religion" and "Orthodox Parenting Today."
Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released an extensive report on aid and relief provided by the Church during the crisis in Syria. The report states:
Fifteen months have passed under the Syrian crisis, while the international community still attempts to finalize a peaceful solution to safeguard the stability and sovereignty of the country and of the people of Syria. In the meantime, directly affected people and internally displaced Syrians are still living in uncertain conditions, and are still depending on aid provided by the government through the Syrian Red Crescent, and aid from many local charities and local NGOs. ...
In witnessing the above challenges, The Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East has responded immediately to the emerging needs of the Syrian unrests. DERD has mobilized its human and financial resources to assess the needs and classify the urgent needs in order to proceed with its humanitarian aid programs. An appeal was launched to all Orthodox Antiochian Archdioceses and to all partners under the blessing of the Primate of the Antiochian See, HB Patriarch Ignatius IV, to request immediate support in order to enact national and church responsibilities towards the affected people.
Antiochian Village entered the busy summer season by hosting several concurrent leadership meetings over the weekend of June 8-10. The Holy Synod of Bishops, the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, the Antiochian Village Council, and the Order of St. Ignatius' Governing Council all held their annual meetings, combining critical planning and discussion meetings with worship and fellowship. (View a gallery of Archdiocese photographer Judy Braun's photos.)
In the meantime, Village staff prepared for the arrival of the Session One campers on June 17, while simultaneously cleaning up in the wake of the tornado which struck the property on June 1st at 5:20 p.m. Noted the Village Facebook page, "The clean up process is progressing well. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, and the full support of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, we have called in additional tree service companies to make certain that we can open camp on time.
Parish Life Conference (PLC) season continues as the parishioners of St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church prepare for the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast's PLC, presided over by His Grace Bishop Antoun. The beautiful Ocean Sky Hotel and Resort in Ft. Lauderdale is the site of the event, which will kick off on June 13 and run through the weekend. A packed, family-friendly schedule includes childcare and teen meetings, a Marriage and Family Workshop with Khouria Maggie Hock, the daily cycle of services, the Creative Festival and Bible Bowl events, and much more.
In the meantime, the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America concluded their successful PLC, themed "Cowboys and Cassocks." The busy four day weekend was hosted by the St. Joseph Orthodox Church of Houston; a highlight for attendees was the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of His Grace Bishop Basil's consecration to the episcopacy.
In the presence of more than 350 prominent Orthodox Christian faithful and friends, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) celebrated two decades of delivering humanitarian assistance, during their spring Anniversary Gala in Washington D.C.
The May Gala brought together IOCC supporters and volunteers who have helped shaped the organization into a global humanitarian arm of the Orthodox Christian Church. To kick off the day's events, an afternoon Congressional reception at the US Capitol included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada, Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida, Rep. Andrew Harris of Maryland, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, and Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts.
The Department of Youth and Parish Ministry and the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) has announced the launch of their new website, www.HealthyYouth.com.
Additionally, Chairman Fr. Joseph Purpura of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry announced the start of the 2012-2013 Core Measures Survey, which has received the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip.
Noted Fr. Joseph, "The survey of our Orthodox Youth seeks to better understand the issues of alcohol and other drugs affecting our Orthodox Youth Population, so we may better serve and equip our young people and the adults who work alongside them. The survey was developed in light of guidelines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Similar surveys are administered to our children through the public school systems."
The June 2012 issue contains the following articles:
Back to Basics: Bishop John Addresses St. Tikhon's Class of 2012, pg. 4
Theophany: Personal Nurture, The Foundation for Learning, pg. 7
by Jen Nahas
An Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance, pg. 8
by Daniel Manzuk
Evangelism 2.0, pg. 12
Works of the Order in Action: Message from the North American Chairman, pg. 16
by Mary Winstanley O'Conor
Rassem El Massih: A Voice of the Faithful, pg. 25
by Linda M. Thomas