"There is an actual Orthodox Church in Afghanistan. Let me say that again. There is a Church- not just a chapel – here in Afghanistan, which is to our knowledge the only free-standing, permanent Church structure of any kind in the entire country."
Fr. David Alexander, Antiochian Orthodox priest and chaplain described this and other amazing discoveries in his post-Paschal letter to his home parish, St. Anthony's of Bergenfield, New Jersey. "I nearly broke down in tears while reading the sermon of St. John Chrysostom, and again while giving communion to a newly chrismated member of my Battalion for the first time," wrote Fr. David describing his Pascha at Camp Leatherneck.
Recently Antiochian.org interviewed Fr. David, who also reflects on his unique and challenging life in his AFR podcast In the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
1. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of how you ended up as an Antiochian Orthodox Christian, serving as a chaplain in the middle of the conflict in Afghanistan?
Well, I am a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese serving on active duty as an officer in the Navy Chaplain Corps. Because the Marine Corps is under the Department of the Navy, they have Navy chaplains, doctors, and combat corpsmen (medics) serving with them all over the world.
Holy Apostles Mission in Bowling Green, Kentucky has received heavy damage to its mission chapel from the recent flooding in the region. No further services are planned in the current location. Weekly Bible studies and Vespers on Saturday evening will be held in members' homes. The Mission is currently working to secure a new location for services.
Donations to may be sent directly to the Mission:
c/o Kevin Burt (Mission chairman)
357 Cedar Ridge Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Antiochian Orthodox priest and author, Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston, made a pilgrimage to Syria visiting Metropolitans, monasteries, and ancient churches from April 11-24. Father shares his journal here, and in his Ancient Faith Radio podcast "The Blindside."
The airport: It was a 16-hour flight from Dubai to Houston, having left Damascus the previous day. The lines to get through American Customs were long. When it finally came my turn, I approached the counter to see a sight not seen in my two-week absence: a very white woman with red hair and freckles. “Where you coming from?” she asked. “Dubai,” I said, “I’ve been traveling in Syria.” “Syria! On business?” she asked. “No, I was visiting the holy sites,” I replied. The fair skinned Customs Agent looked at me as if I had six heads and said, 'Why Syria?!'
The May 2010 issue contains the following articles:
Let Christ be in Our Midst: Keeping Young People in the Church, pg. 5
by Corinne M. Cassis
St. Vladimir’s and St. Herman Seminaries Create Program in Missiology, pg. 7
7 Summer Programs for Everyone from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, pg. 26
Finding Scott Hakim, pg. 28
by Fr. David Alexander
...plus reports from the Order of St. Ignatius, the Dept. of Youth Ministries, Antiochian House of Studies and more!
Christ is Risen! Across the United States, in the Canadian Provinces, and around the world, Antiochian priests and laity joined together in the triumphant Paschal hymn, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" The editors of Antiochian.org have assembled a photo gallery picturing Pascha as it is celebrated, in parishes from California to New York, and Calgary to Florida. If your parish has photos to share, send them to email@example.com and we'll add them to our collection. Click here to enjoy the photos.
The Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest invite women to the fifth annual retreat Friday-Sunday, May 14-16, 2010 at Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery located at 3389 Rives Eaton Road in Rives Junction, Michigan.
Mother Abbess Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla at Antiochian Village will present the retreat, “Create in Me a New Heart,” focusing on the Holy Spirit in our lives. She will bring together reflections on the actions of the Holy Spirit through salvation history from the Scriptures and the Fathers with emphasis on our practical, daily synergy with the Holy Spirit.
July 1-July 28, 2010
Register now! Spaces are limited!
Connect 2010 brochure and application (PDF)
The University of Balamand is sponsoring CONNECT, its popular cultural and academic exchange program for the seventh year.
CONNECT aims at offering youth (17 to 25 years old) a unique learning experience that will enrich their mind and soul, and connect them with their land of ancestry and rich heritage. The program extends over a period of 4 weeks, from July 1 to July 28, 2010. Based at the University's main campus in the peaceful hills of North Lebanon, CONNECT offers a fun-packed program that is sure to leave participants with lifetime memorable experiences.
By Elisabeth Lourie
St. George Church in Boston was doubly blessed and honored the weekend of April 17th and 18th with a visit from His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, and the ordination of Subdeacon Stephen Mathewes to the Holy Diaconate. For as long as anyone can remember, His Eminence has visited St. George to celebrate the feast day of our patron saint, St. George.
The weekend, coordinated by St. George Weekend Chairperson Douglas Howdy, began Saturday morning with Youth Day at the church. Children and teens of all ages gathered for fun and games in the church hall, and enjoyed lunch with Sayedna PHILIP. His Eminence took time to meet with the youth answering their questions and asking a few of his own. “It’s always a delight to see our Father in Christ with the children gathered around him,” said V. Rev Timothy J. Ferguson, pastor of St. George, “as an image of the icon of Christ gathering the children to Him.”
Share the Light Sunday was designated by our SCOBA hierarchs to be on January 17, 2010. Due to the Haitian Earthquake, response was extremely low. Please make every effort to support the SCOBA agency, Orthodox Christian Network, the media ministry of the Orthodox church. For a Share the Light Sunday package, click here.
On Wednesday April 14, 2010, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, on behalf of the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, presented a check for $150,000 to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Executive Director and CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou, in the presence of His Grace Bishop ANTOUN, Order of St Ignatius of Antioch chair Dan Abraham, and IOCC board members the Very Rev. Michael Ellias and Anne Glynn Mackoul at Antiochian Archdiocese headquarters in Englewood, N.J. The gift was a result of the generous response of the Antiochian Orthodox faithful to the appeal that was made by His Eminence immediately after the earthquake struck Haiti.
Niko Chocheli, a native of the Republic of Georgia, is so highly regarded as an artist that, in 1997, he was granted permanent resident status by the U.S. government because of his "extraordinary ability in the arts." It's a recognition shared by the likes of cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
The exhibition "Spirit and Whimsy," at the Antiochian Heritage Museum, Ligonier, focuses on his illustrations for children's books. The 75 paintings exhibited were selected from those made for seven books and are being shown together for the first time.
For more information on the exhibit, please contact Antiochian Village.
Visit Niko Chocheli's web site to learn about the artist and see more of his work.
Give your child a memorable experience this summer at Antiochian Village Camp under the leadership of our Head Counselors - Chris Shadid and Johanna Said! Register your children for camp for the summer of 2010 and let them build life-long friendships that are rooted in the Orthodox Faith and Jesus Christ. The summer of 2010 promises to be an unforgettable one at the Antiochian Village.
For more information on camping opportunities across the Archdiocese, visit the Department of Camping.
On May 22, 2010, the Antiochian Archdiocese will hold a Gala Dinner to benefit children with special needs at The Al-Kafaàt Foundation at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City (Park Avenue on Grand Central Station). Proceeds from the dinner will be used to complete construction of a new compound at Al-Kafaàt, in The Village Center of the Foundation. This new compound will host population of 250 children with mental challenges. Excavations have already started in Beirut and the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.
"Christ is Risen!" "Al-Maseeh Qam!" This joyous refrain could be heard in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn New York, in the early morning hours of April 4. After a long and cold winter in the Northeast this year, the dark and short days of the season gave way to the day that knows no night and the celebration of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. Once again, our father in Christ, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, returned home to celebrate the Feast of Feasts and the season of seasons in his cathedral, the mother church of the North American Archdiocese. The Cathedral was filled to capacity on the beautiful New York evening.
Following the Paschal services His Eminence joined the Cathedral dean, Archpriest Thomas Zain and all the faithful in breaking the fast in the church hall and cracking eggs with many of the children and adults in celebration of the Feast.
Christ is risen.
Christ is risen from the dead. He arose victorious as He trampled down Death and shattered its shackles. His victory was accomplished through love and gentleness, not through the sword. Hence, His victory will be understood only by those who come to Him with love and the gentleness of a lamb. It is through love that Christ will prevail in the world.
This is the Day of our Lord, let us celebrate it with joy. This is the Day of our Victory. This is the Day in which Death, with its terrible power, was trampled upon and humiliated. And the sun has shone with its brilliant light, and all things are transformed by shedding their old and antiquated forms. Today, there is no more reason to grieve because the great enemy has been crushed, and the Kingdom of God has prevailed for all time. The Church today is made ecstatic by the Resurrection of Christ. The angels in heaven and the faithful on earth all proclaim in jubilation “Christ is risen, praise the Lord – Christ is risen. Glory be to Thy Holy Resurrection.” Let all humanity proclaim with us “Indeed, He is risen.” In this spirit, I am pleased to greet you and to share with you the joy of this great feast of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us with joy celebrate a new beginning.
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
The April 2010 issue contains the following articles:
A Spiritual Child is a Happy Child, pg. 4
by Fr. George Morelli
Soul Mates, pg. 11
by Fr. John Winfrey
So Many Calendars, So Little Time, pg. 14
by R. Leo Olson
Synopsis of the St. Stephen's Course of Study in Applied Orthodox Theology, pg. 34
Metropolitan PHILIP Writes His Holiness KIRILL, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, with Prayers in Wake of Moscow Terrorism
March 30, 2010
His Holiness, KIRILL
Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia
Greetings to you during these all holy days as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May God give you strength!
We were horrified to learn of the barbaric attack yesterday on the beloved citizens of Moscow by a group of terrorists. This was especially disturbing as it took place during the Great and Holy Week of the Church. On behalf of all the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, please accept our sincere and deep sympathies to Your Holiness, the Russian government and the Russian people. May the innocent blood which was shed on Calvary wash away our sins and the sins of the entire world.
Joined by co-celebrants the Very Reverend Elias Bitar and Deacon Michael Ibrahim, along with Archdeacon Hans El Hayek and Deacon Jason Blais from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, His Eminence began the day with the ordination of two Subdeacons from St. George parish – Peter Yazgi and Matthew Chatri. St. George Church was packed to capacity, with an overflow crowd viewing the Liturgy from our large parish hall via a large video screen.
Sayidna PHILIP spoke about the events in the Gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and while this was not the first time Christ gave life to the dead, it was the most famous. Comparing it to today's world, His Eminence suggested that the event would be on "the headline biggest... the first item of news on TV!"
In order to fully appreciate the wonder of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, it is important that we understand the significance of his sufferings that we may behold His glorious Resurrection.
An ancient tradition in the Orthodox Church, which NAC Teen SOYO has committed itself to honor, is the Vigil at the Tomb of Christ. After our Lord died on the Cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus, bound it in linen cloths with spices and buried it in a new tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat opposite the tomb watching as their Lord was buried. The Church over the centuries has joined with these two women in keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb. The Holy Friday Vigil at Christ’s tomb is our opportunity to help keep watch over our Lord’s body as He descends in to Hell to loosen the bonds of death. What better way to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus than to participate in the Vigil by His tomb?
For more information and materials to assist in organizing a vigil in your own church, please visit www.antiochian.org/great_friday_vigil.
The Church has given us this opportunity to watch and wait with the countless saints and myriads of angels as our Lord conquers death.
FeastOfFeasts.org is an Orthodox Christian celebration of Holy Pascha and the Resurrection of Christ. The site was created in 2009 through a joint effort of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Internet Ministry and the Orthodox Church in America Department of Communications. We encourage readers to visit the site's collection of articles, reflections and more on Holy Week and the central Feast of our faith.