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.
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
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."
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.
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.”
It's September again and as Orthodox students arrive on college campuses, Orthodox Christian Fellowship is already in high gear, organizing resources and programs to help our students stay connected to Christ and His Church. On Sunday, September 18th, parishes across North America will be celebrating College Student Sunday and recognizing our college students.
As the last formal point of contact in a chain of sequenced activities designed to launch our children into adulthood, Orthodox Christian Fellowship is a critical ministry. Many of our young people have participated in Orthodox pre-schools, Sunday school, and robust teen activities (youth groups and camps). Upon high school graduation, however, they are put to the test, and forced to face real world challenges without the benefit of family and spiritual support. OCF is on college campuses to make sure our children have a safe and reliable "home away from home."
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
Beloved Clergy, Chanters and Choir Directors:
Greetings in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
We do hereby bless and approve the 2012 edition of The Liturgical Guide published by the Department of Liturgics and Translations of our Archdiocese. This guide should be used and referenced by all eastern rite parishes in our God-protected Archdiocese without exception. As the Apostle Paul stated in his letter to the Corinthians [I Corinthians 14:40), “Let all things be done decently and in order."
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip asks that every parish of the Antiochian Archdiocese hold a Trisagion service at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy this Sunday, September 11th, 2011 to remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks on this, the 10th anniversary of that horrific occasion in the life of our country. Please also remember the families of the departed and those brave people who aided in the rescue, many of whom are suffering serious health problems to this day as a result, in your prayers for the living this Sunday.
The Christian Education team of the Antiochian Archdiocese, headed by Director Carole Buleza, is passionate about transmitting the faith to the next generation, and the resource-rich Christian Education section on antiochian.org reflects this. An extensive upgrade to the Christian Education pages launched to coincide with the start of the Sunday School year, includes an entirely new Creative Arts Festivals section developed by Editor Andrew Frishman.
Youth workers who want to integrate the creative festivals into their Christian Education program will find the revamped section useful both for Sunday School as well as SOYO events.
Highlights of the new material available are:
- Guidance for newcomers in "New to the Festivals?"
- "Summary of Modifications for the 2012 Festivals"
- Updated judging rubrics and lesson plans
- Suggestions for educators in "Using the Theme" and "Job Descriptions"
- Advice for students on "Inspiring Writing"
- Plus an improved sidebar for helpful navigation!
In the main Christian Education section, a book review highlights Christian Education in the Small Membership Church and registration is available for Orthodox Institute 2011, a pan-Orthodox event featuring an interactive Holy Land tour.
The September 2011 issue contains the following articles:
Metropolitan Philip Addresses the 50th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, pg. 5
Resolutions of the 50th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, pg. 16
The Albanian Journals Part 1, pg. 20
by Fr. Stephen Mathewes
Prophecies of Christ's Life, Death and Resurrection in the Old Testament, pg. 24
by Hal Smith
An Orthodox University: Higher Education for Orthodox Christians, pg. 26
by His Grace Bishop Thomas
Hospitality to College Students, pg. 30
by Hollie Benton
WESTWOOD, Massachusetts - The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY), Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura and Kathleen A. Purpura announce the award of a five-year grant for its Greater Chicago Coalition. OCCHY – Cicero/Greater Chicago was awarded a $125,000 Drug Free Communities Support Program FY 2011 grant by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Coalition serves the Villages of Lincolnwood, Niles, and Skokie, IL, as well as the eighty-plus Orthodox parishes of the Greater Chicago area. ONDCP and SAMHSA offer the potential of an additional five-year extension of the grant. Under the excellent guidance of the Very Rev. Nicholas Dahdal, Pastor, the Grantee is St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Cicero, IL.
Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth is a national alliance founded by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth, and Kathleen Purpura, Youth Consultant and Executive Director of OCCHY, trained with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), worked with the White House Director of Drug Free Communities and also the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The following video salute to Metropolitan Philip was presented at the 2011 Archdiocese Convention in Chicago, IL, to honor him for his 45 years of episcopal leadership and his 80th birthday. These introductory remarks were made by Fr. Anthony Gabriel:
Your Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Metropolitan Paul, Metropolitan Silouan, the hierarchs of this God protected Archdiocese, Reverend Clergy, esteemed members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen:
I have been honored by Economos Nicholas Dahdal with a request, for which I thank him from the bottom of my heart, as one who journeyed for 45 years with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, to share a few reflections on the life of our Chief Shepherd and Father in Christ. With the business of this convention now completed, it is time to celebrate at this concluding banquet. This evening we joyously commemorate two milestones in the life of our beloved Primate: Saidna Philip’s 45th anniversary to the Holy Episcopacy and his 80th birthday.
The 2011 SOYO Leadership Manual is now available from the Department of Youth Ministry. These valuable manuals are packed with resources to help leaders of youth groups with all the details of managing the SOYO year and SOYO programs. They also provide space for each local SOYO to add in its materials.
The Clergy Wives Weekend at Antiochian Village was instituted two years ago in memory of Kh. Joanne Abdalah, as a pan-Orthodox gathering of spiritual refreshment and fellowship. The wife of Bishop-Elect Rt. Rev. Archimandrite John Abdalah, and a counselor to many, Kh. Joanne Abdalah served as an inspiration and an example. She understood the joys and trials of living, especially as a clergy wife. She also realized the need for finding strength in Christ and each other. She believed that every clergy wife needed to discover and develop her own Christian vocation. In her memory, her family and clergy wife friends planned the first Clergy Wives Weekend in 2009 as a fitting tribute and way to carry on her work and commitment to clergy wives.
Last October more than 75 Orthodox clergy wives from jurisdictions across the United States enjoyed the 2nd Annual Clergy Wives Weekend at the Antiochian Village. The schedule reflected Kh. Joanne’s holy and holistic approach to life – "we need to pray; we need to play. We need to enjoy the fellowship for this short time without parish responsibilities, family responsibilities or other cares of this world." The weekend was a tremendous success, and now the Coordinating Committee is happy to announce the 2011 Clergy Wives Weekend!
New students will be admitted to The St. Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology through the end of September, announced Antiochian House of Studies Registrar Dn. Peter Boulukos. Dn. Peter urges all interested students to contact him for information via phone or email. All inquirers will receive a brief synopsis of the Course; introductory information is also available here. Listen to an Ancient Faith Radio interview about the St. Stephen's Course here.
Beginning August 28, the House of Studies will also be coordinating its annual Residency Program. The yearly two week program, hosted by Antiochian Village, welcomes students from all around the United States as well as from overseas. "We have students coming from New Zealand this year, and we always have students from other parts of the world," notes Dn. Peter. The Residency Program is open to seminarians during their years of study, as well as current and soon-to-be-candidates for ordination who have not attended an Orthodox theological seminary, and also St. Stephen’s students who will be applying for ordination in the Antiochian Archdiocese.
Antiochian hierarch His Grace Bishop Thomas is among a group of five bishops whose audio interviews have been posted in a special feature on the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America's website. More interviews are planned as the series unfolds over the coming months.
The Assembly site explains that the twelve-member Secretariat of the Assembly, led by His Grace Bishop Basil, initiated these conversations, "a series of audio interviews of the Assembly's fifty-three member hierarchs by Archpriest Josiah Trenham (proïstamenos of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, CA and director of Patristic Nectar Publications) for the purpose of providing a broad swath of perspectives to the Church-at-large on the significance and work of the Assembly."
Along with His Grace Bishop Thomas, the other bishops featured in this first set of MP3 interviews are: Bishop Daniel, Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Bishop Maxim, Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church of North America, Archbishop Nicolae, Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, and Bishop Ilia, Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Please join us at the Antiochian Village from September 23-25, 2011 for the Patronal Feast of St. Thekla Convent. This is the 33rd Annual Pilgrimage at the Village and the 3rd since the founding of the monastery.
As Orthodox Christians, our lives are a type of pilgrimage, so why set time aside to attend the St. Thekla Pilgrimage? The key is in "setting aside." We invite you "to set aside all earthly cares" and to join us in refocusing and refreshing ourselves in our Orthodox life. Like St. Thekla, Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles, together we will pray at the Divine Liturgy and services, obtain guidance and direction from the Gospels for our lives at home, and enjoy fellowship with other pilgrims.
Through the intercession of Saint Thekla, may this Pilgrimage be blessed!
Speakers and Workshops
The speakers for the weekend are His Grace, Bishop Thomas, who is our guest Hierarch and Mother Alexandra, who will offer a talk on prayer.
There will be four workshop sessions offered concurrently:
Orthodox Family Life
This session will discuss the daily Pilgrimage of Orthodox life in our homes, how faith directs us and how the love of God binds us.
The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, England, recently wrapped up its 12th annual Summer School session, titled "The Challenge of a Secular Age." (Read Principal David Frost's summary of the week.) The Institute has close ties with the Antiochian Deanery in the United Kingdom, and Antiochian Orthodox Christians from North America have also participated in this distance learning program. Some have even been able to travel to England to attend the summer sessions.
Dr. Michael Basham, an Antiochian member of the Institute's Board and a Parish Council member of St. Luke Antiochian Orthodox Church in Erie, CO., reflects on his participation in the IOCS. “I have been impressed by the number of Antiochian Orthodox Christians enrolled in the Institute’s various programs of study; especially the online course in Orthodox Christian Studies. We Antiochian Orthodox Christians are, for the most part, an inquisitive lot. We love to learn, to grow, and to deepen our spiritual and intellectual life. Moreover, we seek meaning and purpose in what we believe and in what we do. Although we are inquisitive, we are more than just curious. We strive to raise our intellectual awareness while deepening our spiritual growth and in doing so be able to, in the words of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, ‘. . . confront life’s problems without fear or anger.’"