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Convention General Assembly Concludes

The official business of the General Assembly of the 50th Convention of the Antiochian Archdiocese concluded Friday, July 29. Much fruitful work was conducted during the two days of the Assembly, highlighted by the announcement Friday by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip that the Synod of the Antiochian Archdiocese will be expanding with the addition of not two (as previously announced) but three new auxiliary bishops. Metropolitan Philip declared that our Synod would be electing auxiliary bishops to serve the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest and the Diocese of Worcester and New England, with a third auxiliary bishop serving to assist His Eminence at the Archdiocese headquarters in Englewood, NJ.

Reports from the various departments and organizations of the Archdiocese were presented and accepted with great enthusiasm, and a number of invited guests honored the gathering with special presentations, including Ms. Myriam Shwayri of the Al-Kafaat Foundation of Lebanon and Mr. Michael Homsey of International Orthodox Christian Charities. Ten new members were elected by general proclamation to the Archdiocese Board of Trustees. Seven timely resolutions were introduced and passed, and will be made public via this website as soon as possible.

The extensive exhibit halls continued to be a popular attraction, the teens of the Archdiocese warmed the hearts of all in attendance with their comings and goings to the program of youth activities, and all benefitted from the opportunity to fellowship with old and new friends alike. Ancient Faith Radio continues to add to their collection of recordings from the Convention, available here for those who would like to listen online.

AFR Convention Podcasts Now Available

Ancient Faith Radio announces that it is attending the 50th Biennial Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocesan Convention in Chicago, Illinois, and is posting recordings of speeches, events, and gatherings.

The first post, created on Thursday morning, July 28, is titled "The 2011 Bible Bowl" and the descriptive text reads: "Young people from each Diocese participated in the 2011 Bible Bowl based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. You will have to listen to the end to learn who the winner was!"

Listen to the Bible Bowl and other podcasts.

St. George Church of Cicero, IL, Holds Convention Kick-Off Celebration

Thursday, July 21, proved to be a day of celebration for many reasons.  In addition to being the last day of a sizzling heat wave across the Midwest, an excitement filled the air in the courtyard of St. George Church, Cicero, Host Parish of the historic 50th Archdiocese Convention beginning this Sunday, July 24th.   Balloons and banners, posters and streamers, food and music, people young and old, witnessed a great announcement!  Fireworks lit up the sky brightening the smiling faces as they all heard: 

The Convention begins this weekend!  

The Committee gathered to celebrate several years of tireless planning and a very anticipated week-long journey called the Archdiocese Convention.  The full schedule is available at www.archdioceseconvention2011.org and awaits the entire Archdiocese.  

Parish Life Conference Season Ends; Archdiocese Convention Begins July 24

Diocese of Los Angeles and the West PLC PostcardDiocese of Los Angeles and the West PLC PostcardWhen asked for a statement summarizing the Parish Life Conference season just ending, Fr. Michael Ellias, co-chair of the Dept. of Conventions and Conference Planning, said humorously, "Thank God they are over!" PLC host parishes breathe a sigh of relief when the conferences are successfully completed, and Antiochian Christians who attend know why: they are a huge undertaking, requiring years of planning and legions of volunteers. This year's lively PLC's, which as always could be described as family reunions but on a large scale, were packed with events, starting with morning services and extending beyond evening vespers. The conferences took place over two long weekends, June 15-19 and June 28-July 3.

Fr. John K. Teebagy, pastor of the Church of St. John of Damascus, host of a PLC in June, describes the Worcester and New England Conference. "This year the Church of St. John of Damascus of Dedham, MA hosted the 73rd Parish Life Conference of the Diocese of Worcester and New England at the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis, MA, which is located on beautiful Cape Cod and served as the summer White House for President John F. Kennedy. For the second year in a row, the diocese was pleased and honored to welcome His Grace Bishop Thomas as our presiding hierarch.

Photographer Judy Braun Captures Archdiocese in Unique Galleries

Metropolitan Philip's 80th Birthday CelebrationMetropolitan Philip's 80th Birthday CelebrationOrder of St. Ignatius Historian Judy Braun invites you to view her twenty six (and counting!) Antiochian photo galleries, dated from 2003 - 2011. In her public gallery, the albums feature Archdiocese conventions, banquets, Oratorical Festivals, Board of Trustees Luncheons, and even Metropolitan Philip's 80th birthday party. 

“I love taking pictures and I love editing them!” notes Judy, for whom photography is a serious hobby.  Mother, grandmother, and parishioner at St. Athanasius Church in Goleta, California, Judy often photographs weddings and parish events. Her work can also be viewed on the St. Athanasius website.

Judy plans on adding to the Antiochian Picasa page, as she attends events with camera in tow. Look for many more photos after the Archdiocese Convention, July 24-31, in Chicago.

Equal of the Apostles and Enlightener of the Russian Land, St. Vladimir + July 15

Icon from St. Vladimir Orthodox Church, Halifax, NSIcon from St. Vladimir Orthodox Church, Halifax, NSTroparion - Tone 4

Holy Prince Vladimir, you were like a merchant in search of fine pearls. By sending servants to Constantinople for the Orthodox Faith, you found Christ, the priceless pearl. He appointed you to be another Paul, washing away in baptism your physical and spiritual blindness. We celebrate your memory, asking you to pray for all Orthodox Christians and for us, your spiritual children.

Kontakion - Tone 8

Most glorious Vladimir, in your old age you imitated the great apostle Paul: he abandoned childish things, while you forsook the idolatry of your youth. Together with him you reached the fullness of divine wisdom: You were adorned with the purity of holy baptism. Now as you stand before Christ our Savior, pray that all Orthodox Christians may be saved.

Read about St. Vladimir's life.

Congratulations to St. Vladimir's Seminary on their patronal Feast Day!

Coming Soon to Chicago: Archdiocese Convention, July 24-31

Magnificant Mile Marriott HotelMagnificant Mile Marriott HotelSt. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Cicero, Illinois, reminds all Antiochian clergy and lay members that the 2011 Antiochian Archdiocese Convention is nearly here!

For those who plan on reserving a hotel room, limited rooms are still available online or by calling 800-266-9432. 

All hotel and convention registration information is available at the convention website. The Conference Committee of St. George reminds all those planning to attend that convention registration is mandatory to attend convention events, whether they be workshops, festivals, meetings, or social events. The advance registration is encouraged in order to save valuable convention time, so visitors are urged to register online today.

Transportation reservations to and from the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificant Mile Hotel can be made online by obtaining information here. The fixed rate of $29 per person has been established to allow for those arriving in Chicago's airports to obtain easy and direct transportation to the hotel. 

The Convention's mailing address is:

50th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention

1220 S. 60th Ct.

Cicero, IL 60804

Telephone: (708) 656-2927

Assembly of Bishops Honors Metropolitan Philip

Metropolitan Philip Celebrates Palm Sunday, 2011Metropolitan Philip Celebrates Palm Sunday, 2011The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held its 2011 meeting 25-27 May in Chicago, IL, with forty-five of its current fifty-two members present (of the seven members who were absent, five were attending meetings of their respective Holy Synods overseas, one was incapacitated due to serious illness, and another was unable to attend because of a death in his immediate family). At the closing session His Eminence Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., who serves as treasurer of the Assembly of Bishops, offered the following comments and resolution:

“Our esteemed first vice-chair Metropolitan Philip was born in 1931 which means His Eminence will be celebrating his 80th birthday next month - on June 10th. He entered into the Balamand Orthodox Theological Seminary at the age of fourteen. At the age of eighteen he was ordained to the holy diaconate. By the age of twenty-one, he was already a lecturer and a student advisor at the Balamand Orthodox Theological Seminary. He came to the United States in the 1950s and continued his education at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, MA, at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and continued on to receive his M.Div from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary Seminary in Crestwood, NY. In 1966 he was consecrated to the episcopacy and thus will be marking the 45th anniversary of his episcopal consecration this coming August.

Reflections Book Examines the Spiritual Life

Fr. Joseph Antypas, the Archpriest of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Troy, Michigan, has released Reflections on the Field of a Local Parish. In his book, Fr. Antypas speaks not only from a deep theological knowledge of the Church, but also from a lifetime of pastoral experience of over 35 years of ministry. The book tackles various theological, liturgical, pastoral and contemporary topics of interest for every clergy and laity. Fr. Antypas examines such topics, not only in a theologically profound approach, but also in pastoral and practical manners.

Says His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, "The topics which the V. Rev. Father Joseph Antypas discusses in his book...are of utmost importance. St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his letter to the Ephesians, speaks about the harmony and perfect Christian relationship among the members of the Church. As a matter of fact, the congregation must work together, like a symphony, in order to ascend harmoniously to the Throne of God and bask in His Eternal Light. It is not enough to be baptized in the Church. Your baptism is a process of renewal which must permeate your soul all your life."

Go here to order a copy of Reflections on the Field of a Local Parish.

Read a review of the book here.

Outdoor Education Program at Village Completes Successful Inaugural Year

Antiochian Village GardenAntiochian Village GardenThe Antiochian Village Camp is now much more than a summer camp! In the fall of 2010, an Environmental and Outdoor Education Program was founded. The Antiochian Village Camp has continually been improving facilities and practices in order to incorporate “green” practices and sustainability. The Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is another step that we are blessed to take in our commitment to stewardship. The mission of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is to increase understanding and awareness of our environment, stimulate critical and creative thinking, develop the ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues, and instill the confidence and the commitment to take responsible action on behalf of the environment. The program is available from September through May for any interested group.

The primary focus of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is, as our mission statement states, to ultimately increase participants’ knowledge and awareness surrounding our environment.

Sacred Music Chair Chris Holwey Leads Archdiocese Musicians

Recently, Antiochian.org spoke with Department of Sacred Music Chair Chris Holwey about how this essential department provides support, training, and encouragement to parish musicians throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese.

1. Chris, summarize for us the ministry of the Department of Sacred Music in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and your role within the Department. 

First of all, let me say thank you for offering me this opportunity to speak about the Sacred Music Department, which I believe is one of the most important departments of the Archdiocese. Officially, the department was established back in 1968 when Metropolitan Philip appointed Fr. James Meena as its first chairman. Unofficially, though, the Archdiocese began publishing music well before that, closer to the beginning of the last century. If anyone wishes to read about our history, Dr. Michael Farrow, our Vice-Chairman, has compiled it all in a wonderful article which is located in the Information and Resources section of our website. But to be more specific about the ministry of our department, I cannot say any more than is already said in the Mission Statement of our department: "The mission of the Department of Sacred Music is to provide leadership to the parishes of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, drawing from the talents of the faithful in order to serve as a resource for the publication of music, to organize workshops and seminars, to build strong ties of communication throughout the Archdiocese, to support the work of missions, and to be a positive influence in the creation of new works of liturgical music for the glory of God and the Holy Orthodox Faith."  

Candidates for the Office of Auxiliary Bishop

June 7, 2011

To: Venerable Hierarchs, All Reverend Clergy, Archdiocesan Trustees, Parish Councils, and Faithful of our Archdiocese

Greetings and Blessings in the Name of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ!

This letter serves as the official notice of our intention to ask the delegates to the upcoming 50th Archdiocese Convention in Chicago, Illinois to cast their ballots for the nomination of candidates to fill the positions of two Auxiliary Bishops.

You will find attached a list of the names and biographies of the candidates for the office of Auxiliary Bishop.  Each delegate will vote for two candidates, and the results of this voting will be submitted to the Archdiocesan Synod who will elect the two new bishops.

Praying that our Lord will bless your preparations, and your travel to Chicago, I remain

Your father in Christ,

Metropolitan PHILIP

Primate

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

June 2011 Edition of The Word Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The June 2011 special double issue contains the following articles:

Treasury of Blessings, pg. 4
by Fr. John Oliver

The Resurrection and My Little Bout with Depression, pg. 10
by Chris Humphrey

Battling Evil Thoughts, pg. 12
by Fr. Stephen Powley

Peacemaking and Reconciliation, pg. 16
by Anthony S. Bashir and Rev. Fr. John Meffrige

Al-Kafaat, pg. 33

... and more!

The Word does not publish in July and August. Watch for the September issue later this summer.

Giver of Life, Book on the Holy Spirit, Released by Fr. John Oliver

Fr. John Oliver, the priest of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has released Giver of Life through Paraclete Press. The book tackles a topic not easily grasped, that of the Church's teaching on the Person of the Holy Spirit. An experienced communicator, Fr. John has authored the Conciliar Press story Touching Heaven and has been an Ancient Faith Radio podcaster since 2007. However, he says that writing Giver of Life proved to be a different experience altogether, and in an interview with the editors of antiochian.org, he explains why.

 1. The Holy Spirit seems at times to be the most neglected Person within the Holy Trinity. Tell us what motivated you to write about Him in this book.

Actually, the idea for Giver of Life was not mine. Paraclete Press, the publisher, contacted me about writing a book for a series they were doing on the role of Holy Spirit in various traditions. They asked if I’d consider writing the Orthodox perspective. Since it’s such an enormous and lofty topic, with which I have very little personal experience, I didn’t agree to it at first.

But Paraclete said some things that led me to accept the project - they were looking for something introductory; they were fine with lots of direct references to the Church fathers; and they hoped for a book that was specifically devotional in nature. So, Giver of Life is not an academic book, and it’s certainly nowhere close to being any definitive text on the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox tradition. Rather, it’s a reflection on what the Orthodox believe about the Holy Spirit and how He changes our lives.

Metropolitan Philip Consecrates Church of the Virgin Mary, Alsip, IL

By Rev. Deacon Saed Rihani

May 27-29 was a weekend like no other! For months we prepared for this holy consecration event…not knowing what to expect. But we knew we had to be ready! We built a new iconostasis! We had new icons written for the occasion! We re-constructed the altar area to be suitable for Orthodox worship! And we built a new altar table! And now the weekend was upon us. Sayidna Philip was to consecrate the Church of the Virgin Mary in Alsip, Illinois!

Words cannot express the extent of our happiness at having His Eminence, Sayidna Philip consecrate our Holy Church. It was the wishes of our Pastor, the Rev. Father Mousa Haddad, and the entire congregation that he visit us. Also, since this would be his first visit to our community, it was befitting that he would consecrate our house of worship. Committees worked hard to prepare for this holy and historic visit. We welcomed Sayidna Philip and we were honored to have Sayidna Antoun also join us for this historic weekend. Also, we were grateful for the presence and assistance of Archdeacon Hans El-Hayek.

Department of Youth and Parish Ministries Update

Fr. Joseph Purpura, Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries ChairFr. Joseph Purpura, Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries ChairFr. Joseph Purpura's report to the Antiochian Archdiocesan Board, presented to the Board on June 4, 2011, highlighted several areas of progress for the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries.  

Regarding the fledgling Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth, Fr. Joseph explained that "Our work and travels this year led us to our May meeting at the White House, with the White House Director of Drug Free Communities, Jack Claypoole. We continue to receive good support in our efforts to reduce substance use and abuse among our Orthodox Population from both the White House Office of Drug Free Communities and from General Arthur Dean of CADCA and his staff." Fr. Joseph and Kh. Kathleen will have completed 120 hours of Drug Free Communities training by July. Coalition members from the Cicero and Cleveland Coalitions have also begun training, and Father and Khouria have been working to establish additional Parish Coalitions. Fr. Joseph noted, "We will continue our efforts to reach out to other dioceses to establish additional coalitions to address the issues of substance use and abuse by our youth and encourage respect for the sanctity of the human body.

Orthodox Christian Elevator Speech Contest Winner Announced!

Download contest flyer (PDF)

Listen to an interview from Ancient Faith Radio about the contest.

Santa Barbara, CA, August 9, 2011 — On May 31, the Antiochian Archdiocese's Department of Missions and Evangelism announced a contest to write the best 30-second or less explanation of what the Orthodox Church is, essentially an Orthodox “elevator speech”. Entries were submitted according to specific criteria, and the due date was June 20, 2011.

The Department is delighted to announce the winner of the contest, Valerie Ann Zrake of New York City! Valerie won with the following entry:

Orthodox Christianity is the authentic and original Christian Faith founded by Jesus Christ. As an Orthodox Christian you can experience heaven on earth through the Divine Liturgy which is mystical, spiritual, and beautiful, with it's incense, icons, and sacred music. You can transcend time and space while you meditate upon the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It's the most pure form of Christianity – nothing artificial added. It's the real deal.

 Valerie will receive $100 worth of Conciliar Press publications. Read all the winning entries of the top ten finalists here.

Al-Kafaat: Giving People with Special Needs the Ability to Live

SaraSaraby Andrew Dalack

“Meen hayda?” Sara asked her educator, her finger pointed at me. Sara was sitting in the shade, shielding herself from the morning sun’s rays that were beating down on the courtyard of Al-Kafaat’s Lily Shwayri Center. “Ask him (Iss’alee),” the educator told Sara with a smile.”

Sara turned her head towards me and smiled. She was just playing games. Her sense of humor, however, was far more sophisticated than that of any other 11-year-old I had ever met. “Shou ismak (what’s your name)?” Sara asked me, her eyes slightly peaking over her glasses. “Andrew,” I replied, failing to hold back the smile that had now taken over my face. “Wa shou ismeek intee, mad moiselle?” I had hardly been in Lebanon for a month and the Lebanese were already rubbing off on me. “Sara,” she answered coyly.

I was delighted to meet Sara – but after I learned more about her story, my naïve delight was turned into genuine humility.

Sara came to Al-Kafaat in 2004 at the age of three. She has developmental issues that are sometimes exacerbated by severe epilepsy. She also has a weak visual field, as she also suffers from cataracts. As a result, her communication abilities were limited; before coming to Al-Kafaat, Sara could only answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”.

But at Al-Kafaat foundation, a team of specialists – speech therapists and physiotherapists – assumed responsibility for Sara’s development. Over a short period of time, her situation improved dramatically, and her communication skills transcended the barriers created by her vision and developmental impairments.

Annual Meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America

The bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese joined with their brother bishops in Chicago, IL, from May 25-27 for the second annual meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. The Assembly has released both a press release about the gathering, and an official message from the 45 bishops who attended. The Greek Archdiocese has also published a photo gallery of the Assembly.

From May 25-27, the second annual Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America gathered for its meeting at the Chicago O'Hare Hilton. There was a total of 45 bishops in attendance. In addition, nearly all of the members were present at the Assembly: the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese, and the Albanian Orthodox Diocese; the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese; the Patriarchate of Moscow, including the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas; the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church; and the Orthodox Church in America.

Read the full press release here.

In our deliberations as Orthodox Hierarchs, we manifested a spirit of conciliarity, expressing our commitment to proceed on all matters in collegial and collaborative manner reflective of the unity that characterizes the various jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church within our regional Assembly.

Read the full message here.

Holy Cross Orthodox Press Releases Krindatch Atlas

The premier researcher of American Orthodoxy, Alexei Krindatch, has released a comprehensive volume which includes data on all Orthodox Churches (including Oriental) in the United States. Supplemented with numerous maps, current and historical facts, Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches is published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press and was co-sponsored by SCOBA and the Virginia Farah Foundation. In addition to full coverage of all American jurisdictions, the Atlas includes an additional chapter which profiles all American monastic communities.

The press release explains, "The Atlas provides a 'snapshot' of the Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States...Simultaneously, this book is an atlas, a reference book and a thematic monograph. It is an atlas because it contains numerous maps to show the historical development and present territorial patterns of Orthodox Church life in America. It is a reference book because it furnishes comprehensive information and statistical data on all American Orthodox Christian Churches. It is a thematic monograph because the essays in this book tell the story of the Orthodox Christian past and present in the United States."

Listen to the AFR interview with Alexei.

Browse a sample of the book's text and maps.

Read the full announcement of the book's release.