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"An Event Like No Other:" 2011 Institute is a Pan-Orthodox Success

Fr. Thomas Speaks to Institute ParticipantsFr. Thomas Speaks to Institute ParticipantsReport and Photos by Shelley Pituch

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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.

Antiochian Departments to Host Historic Youth Worker Conference, Jan. 25-28

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.

Village Alumni Weekend Marks Ten-Year Memorial of Fr. John Namie

Khalil Samara with Fr. John Namie's sisters, Jane and JoanKhalil Samara with Fr. John Namie's sisters, Jane and JoanThe 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.

Read the complete report.

Watch the videos and view the photo gallery.

November 2011 Edition of The Word Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

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

...and more!

Clergy Wives Weekend Inspires and Refreshes

by Kh. Stefanie Yazge

“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.  

Metropolitan Philip Hosts Dinner in Honor of His Beatitude Mar Bechara Al-Raa’i

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

Youth Month Interview: Fr. Anthony Yazge

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.

St. George Cathedral Hosts Board of Trustees Meeting, October 14 & 15

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.

Click here to see photos from the meeting.

St. Luke the Evangelist + October 18

Source: St. Luke the Evangelist Orthodox Church, Palos Hills, ILSource: St. Luke the Evangelist Orthodox Church, Palos Hills, IL

"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.

Annual Seminarian Dinner Held at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, NJ on October 11, 2011

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.

View the Dinner photo gallery here.

Special Olympics Awareness Day is October 16, 2011

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.

Antiochian Delegation to Damascus, Syria

Antiochian Delegation with President Assad of Syria, September 2011Antiochian Delegation with President Assad of Syria, September 2011His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:

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.

October 2011 Edition of The Word Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

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

...and more!

Finding Refreshment at the Annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage

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.

Protection of the Theotokos + October 1

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.

Outgoing Chair Dan Abraham Addresses Order of St. Ignatius Members

Photo by Judy BraunPhoto by Judy BraunAt 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.  

The Conception of St. John the Baptist + September 23

John the Forerunner, the fruit of prayer, hath budded from a barren womb today. Rejoice, O wilderness, and dance for joy, O mankind! Behold, the preacher of repentance beginneth to take flesh in his mother’s womb. Come, as we rejoice over his glorious conception, O ye feast-lovers, let us form a choir, crying: O thou greatest of them that are born of women, cease not to intercede for us who with faith honor thy divine conception, that we may find forgiveness of sins and Great Mercy.

--Doxasticon from Great Vespers, Tone 6

Rejoice, O barren one, who had not given birth; for behold thou hast conceived clearly the one who is the dawn of the Sun Who was about to illuminate the whole universe, blighted with sightlessness. Shout in joy, O Zacharias, crying in favour, Verily, the one to be born is a Prophet of the High.

--Troparion, Tone 4

"Yes We Do" Video Tells Antiochian Women Story

The North American Board of the Antiochian Women and videographer Joseph Wihbey have produced a promotional DVD, "Yes We Do."  Former president Laila Ferris explains that the leadership wanted to "communicate to all parishes of the Archdiocese, about who the Antiochian Women are, their role in the Archdiocese as well as their parishes, their mission as an organization, and the many ways through which they have served their Faith, this Archdiocese, those in need, and our Lord."

Noting that the the video also aims to reach out to a new audience, Laila continues, "The second purpose is to use the DVD for increasing membership within the Antiochian Women, especially among the younger women so that they will come to know that this is an organization for all women of all ages and not just for our mothers and grandmothers. It is also key for our younger women to understand how much their talents are needed in the organization, especially as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of whom we serve in today's and tomorrow's global community."

Village Alumni Weekend to Celebrate Fr. John Namie's 10 Year Memorial

Fr. John Namie of blessed memory (+November 5, 2001)Fr. John Namie of blessed memory (+November 5, 2001)Come home to the Village for Alumni Weekend 2011 - November 4-6, 2011! Alumni Weekend is a time for all Village alumni (any former campers, CITs, counselors, staff, volunteers) to come back to the Village for a weekend of renewing old friendships and remembering old camp memories. This Alumni Weekend is very special for two reasons. Each year, the first Saturday in November is when we celebrate the feast of St. Raphael of Brooklyn who is buried at the Village. Secondly, we will celebrate the 10 year memorial of our first Camp Director, Fr. John Namie, of blessed memory (+November 5, 2001). Fr. John was the guiding force behind the development and guidance of the Village program, which is the foundation of the program still used today.

Complete schedule and registration information available here.

Metropolitan Philip Addresses the 50th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention

(First published in The Word, September, 2011)

Your Eminence, Your Graces, Beloved Clergy,

Esteemed members of the Board of Trustees of our God-Protected Archdiocese,

Beloved members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Members of the Antiochian Women,

Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Members of SOYO, Parish Council Members,

And all the faithful of our Archdiocese,

It seems like yesterday that we were in Palm Desert, California, to celebrate the work of this Archdiocese and the various departments which we have established for the edification of our Church.

This year the theme for our Parish Life Conferences and Archdiocese Convention is taken from the Anaphora of the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great: “Be mindful, Oh Lord, of the priesthood, the diaconate, and every priestly rank.”