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Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday is May 20

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and South America has designated May 20 as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday. Antiochian Archdiocese member Kory Warr is Chairman of the Board for the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM). He explains: "The sixth Sunday of Pascha was selected as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday because the prescribed epistle reading (Acts 16:16-34) describes the experience of Sts. Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail. This story is a clear reminder of the truth that the light of Christ shines in even the darkest of places, pouring forth healing and salvation. All of us who participate in the work of OCPM have, like Paul and Silas, encountered the transforming grace and power of God in places where despair and hopelessness seemed to have erected impregnable strongholds.

May 2012 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The May 2012 issue contains the following articles:

Mary, Our Cause of Rejoicing, pg. 4
by His Grace Bishop Basil

Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection?, pg. 8
by Fr. Michael Shanbour

A Message from Metropolitan Philip on Events in Syria, pg. 11

Focus on Protecting the Christians in Syria and Lebanon, pg. 13

Heal Always, pg. 21
by Fr. Antony Hughes

Works of the Order in Action: "Give Me a Boost", pg. 20
by Fr. Michael Nasser

A Mother's Reflections on Her Son's Ordination, pg. 24

...and more!

Photos Capture Holy Season's Depth and Joy

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Washington, DCSt. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Washington, DCView Pascha 2012 Photo Gallery

"Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!"

As Great Lent came to a close in 2012, somber Holy Week services commenced and then gave way to joyful Paschal celebrations, as Antiochian Orthodox Christians around the Archdiocese marked the holiest season of the Church year. In fledgling small town mission parishes and established communities in the heart of big cities, SOYO teens kept vigil on Holy Friday, chanters and clergy offered daily services even as their voices grew tired, the members of Antiochian Women chapters covered parish interiors with fragrant flowers, and the faithful contributed in ways large and small in order to join in the joy of the resurrection. If your parish isn't represented in our photo gallery yet, send us your photos and we can add your church to the gallery.

OCMC Gears Up for Busy Season of Ministry

2011 Kenya mission team members2011 Kenya mission team membersAcross the United States and Canada, mission team participants with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) are gearing up for a summer of activity and ministry. Fourteen teams, each with a different purpose, will serve in ten different countries during the second half of 2012.

Roberta Sardell, a member of St. Stephen Antiochian Orthodox Church in Campbell, California, has participated in three mission trips. "In 2008 I was in Alaska, chiefly in an isolated village called Tatitlak on Prince William Sound, snowed in, in October," she explains. "In September of 2009 I helped lead retreats in Romania, touring monasteries and the painted churches of Bucovina. July of 2011 found me in the heat of Lodwar, northeastern Kenya. In each case I was blessed with talented Christian team mates; I was blessed meeting Orthodox brothers and sisters in other countries. I went as a teacher, a catechist, but I was educated in different cultures, different lifestyles, and how the Holy Spirit convicts people around the world."

"Ancient Faith Today" Talk Show Launches on AFR

Chesterton, IN  Ancient Faith Radio announces the launch of the first ever Orthodox live call-in show, Ancient Faith Today, this Sunday, April 22, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Ancient Faith Today is what Ancient Faith Radio and Orthodox Internet radio have been missing -- a live inter-active conversation program. Now that void has been filled! Ancient Faith Today streams live, with call-ins from around the world, twice a month on Sunday nights at 5:00pm Pacific/7:00pm Central/8:00pm Eastern on Ancient Faith Radio Talk.

Topics cover all of life through the lens of Scripture and the teaching and canonical tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church.

"Pastoring the People of God:" Interview with Fr. Alexander Atty

Fr. Alexander Atty is the Dean and Chief Operating Officer of St. Tikhon's Seminary (Orthodox Church in America). Prior to this assignment, Father served for over 30 years as an Antiochian parish priest, most recently as pastor of the large and thriving Louisville, Kentucky parish, St. Michael Orthodox Church. When the OCA's Holy Synod of Bishops approved Fr. Alexander's appointment as St. Tikhon's Dean in 2010, they also permitted him to remain attached to the Antiochian Archdiocese.

During Lent, Father took a break from his busy travel schedule to answer a few questions for the editors of

1.  Fr. Alexander, these last few years have presented you with daunting health challenges. How are you doing these days?

It depends on who you ask. For my own peace of mind I’ve limited myself to only the opinions of my doctors. My most recent scan indicated remarkable improvement. The doctors were pleased but determined to keep at this thing until they were satisfied that they had this thing beat. I have some of the best doctors in country working on this but that’s only half the job. Many, many people have my situation in mind when they sit down at home to do their prayers or when they are commemorating the names of the sick before the Holy Chalice. I believe that it is because of their prayers and faithfulness that I am showing signs of improvement.

Appeal for Syria from His Beatitude Ignatius IV

April 5, 2012

Beloved faithful of our Archdiocese,

Two days ago we received a very important message from the head of our Antiochian Patriarchate throughout the world, our father in Christ, His Beatitude, Ignatius, IV, Patriarch of Antioch and of all the East. Due to the importance of His Beatitude's message our office has translated it from Arabic into English. We are sending it to you to be read from the pulpit and printed in your church bulletin.

Wishing you a most blessed Holy Week and a glorious Pascha.

Metropolitan PHILIP

March 14, 2012, Damascus

To all our Antiochian children in the Archdioceses overseas:

We greet you first as we begin the Holy and Great Lent, asking God to help lead us in our journey and in our spiritual struggle to deserve the participation in His saving suffering and rejoice in His triumphant resurrection crying, “Christ is risen, Truly He is risen."

Second, while we write to you, we feel overwhelmed with pain due to the tragic events which are happening in Syria.

Holy Week and Pascha Resources on

In preparation for Holy Week and the Paschal season, a number of updated devotional and liturgical resources are available on 

In the Lenten Readings section, Patristic and contemporary writers explore the meaning of Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week. 

In the Department of Sacred Music's Library, a wide range of choral selections for Holy Week are available for church musicians.

Teachers and youth leaders can find useful tools for ministry on the Department of Christian Education's Summary of Lenten Offerings page. Additionally, information and promotional materials about the SOYO's Great Friday Vigil for teens, are posted here.

Finally,, a joint project of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America, offers articles, a photo gallery, video and audio features, and links to Pascha gifts and music--all centered on the theme of the Orthodox Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

April 2012 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The April 2012 issue contains the following articles:

On Forgiveness, pg. 4
by Chris Humphrey, Ph.D.

A Mother's Letter to Her Children on Marriage, pg. 8

Antiochian Heritage Foundation, pg. 10
by Dan Abraham and David Ghiz

Christian Churches Together Meet in Memphis, pg. 12

Antiochian Orthodoxy in the Philippines, pg. 16

Works of the Order in Action: Learning Christian Living through the Orthodox Camping Experience, pg. 20
by Khalil Samara

Leaders See IOCC Work Firsthand in Damascus, pg. 26

...and more!

"Healthy Marriage, Vibrant Ministry:" Clergy Couple Retreat is April 23-25

"Who else is going to take care of your marriage if you don't?" the brochure for the annual clergy couple retreat at Antiochian Village asks.

The popular weekend event, held this year on April 23-25, sets out the following goals for clergy couples:

  • to enjoy time together
  • to attend to your marriage away from the distractions and “busyness” of daily life
  • to draw closer to Christ and each other
  • to meet and share with other Clergy Couples
  • to be refreshed by the beauty of spring in the peaceful surroundings at the Village

This year's retreat speaker is Presbytera Kerry Pappas, a certified Prepare-Enrich facilitator and trainer, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who works for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese as the Coordinator for Clergy Couple Care.  The schedule of the weekend allows for group time and quiet reflection. Prior to the retreat, couples will complete a "Couple Checkup," an online assessment.

Download the PDF of the retreat brochure.

Metropolitan Philip Appeals for Syria

March, 2012

Beloved Hierarchs, esteemed members of the Board of Trustees, members of our Archdiocesan Organizations and all faithful of our God Protected Archdiocese,

Greetings and blessings to you in the spirit of this Holy and Great Lent. I am certain that you have been following the tragic events in Syria from where many of us have originated. Besides our cultural and historical roots which are planted in Syria, Syria has a great spiritual significance to all of us and all Christians. Damascus is considered the most ancient city in the world. Syria and the entire Fertile Crescent gave the world its first known civilization.

Damascus is a holy city for us. It has been the center of our Patriarchate since the Patriarchate moved from Antioch. Our venerable Patriarch lives on the Straight Street where St. Paul walked to be baptized after his conversion to Christianity. (Acts 9:11)

"Five Interesting Facts" Report Released by Noted Researcher

The Assembly of Bishops Research Coordinator Alexei Krindatch has released a new 40-page report titled, "Five Interesting Facts About Orthodox Church Geography and Demography in the United States." The report provides fascinating insight into the life and practice of Orthodox communities today.

In "Fact 1: About Orthodox Church Membership in America" the report notes that "nationwide, and for all jurisdictions of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops combined, the total number of persons attending Orthodox parishes on a regular weekly basis is 209,000." 

The report goes on to explain, however, that the total number of adherents (people who are at least loosely associated with a parish) is 797,600. Of those, 476,000 are associated with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The next two populous jurisdictions are the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Archdiocese, respectively.

Department of Christian Education Offers Lenten Resources

Lenten refrigerator projectLenten refrigerator projectThe Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education is offering a variety of creative and helpful resources for families and Church schools this Lenten season.

Family Activities for the Lenten Journey details one family's successful use of the kitchen refrigerator as a message and teaching board. In the Department's Featured Program section, a plethora of resources from various jurisdictions and publishers are listed, from board games to classroom handouts to teen "zines." 

In A Lenten Message for All Orthodox Teens, kids are encouraged to reflect on Lent's meaning and embrace the journey to Pascha. The Sundays of Lent and the days of Holy Week are explained simply and briefly, and then many "Practical Suggestions for a Change" are outlined.

Visit the Department of Christian Education's site for these Lenten resources and more. 

Fr. Constantine Nasr Leads Marriage and Family Encounter Weekend

Marriage retreat participantsMarriage retreat participantsOn February 10-12, 2012, The Basilica of St. Mary, in Livonia, Michigan hosted their annual Marriage and Family Encounter weekend, led by Father Constantine Nasr, pastor emeritus of St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City. This was Fr. Constantine’s second visit to the Basilica for this retreat, and he once again shared with the participants his extensive research on what he’s learned over the years as a priest, regarding what it takes to maintain a successful and faithful marriage. Fr. Constantine is the author of the Conciliar Press book entitled, Mastering the Art of Marriage: Staying Together When the World Pulls You Apart, and much of his research is documented within the pages of this spiritually enlightening and engaging book.

Works of the Order in Action: OCF Conferences

College students at 2011 OCF conference, CaliforniaCollege students at 2011 OCF conference, CaliforniaBy Jennifer Nahas, OCF Executive Director

The 9th Annual Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) College Conferences concluded as they always do – with college students longing for more spiritual nourishment and opportunities to be part of an Orthodox community. Thanks to the generous scholarships provided by The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, over one hundred Antiochian Orthodox college students attended College Conference, along with their peers from other jurisdictions. One student explained, “I go to school in Arkansas and cannot tell you how grateful I am, both for College Conference, and for the scholarship The Order provided. There are not many Orthodox students at my school, and being here helps me to remember who I am and why my faith is so important to me.”

OCF is host to three separate conferences. One is held in the south at the Diakonia Center, one in the west at St. Nicholas Ranch, and the largest and most established is held in the east at the Antiochian Village.

March 2012 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The March 2012 issue contains the following articles:

The Essence of St. Basil's Social Vision, pg. 5, by Troy and Theodora Polamalu & Charles Ajalat

The Cedars of Lebanon and Our New Bishops, pg. 8, by Fr. Michael Ellias

IOCC Leaders Meet With His Beatitude Ignatius IV

His Beatitude Ignatius IV with IOCC Chair Michael HomseyHis Beatitude Ignatius IV with IOCC Chair Michael HomseyBaltimore, MD (IOCC)--When long-time Oklahoma City attorney and former judge Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey was named as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), one of his top priorities was to see firsthand the impact of IOCC’’s humanitarian relief and development work around the world. On January 22, 2012, Homsey fulfilled this wish as he embarked on a one-week tour of IOCC programs in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, accompanied by his wife and by IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou.

Syria held particular interest for Homsey because of its recent visibility in the world media and IOCC’s response to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrian families internally displaced by conflict in the region. Since its founding in 1992 and as an expression of solidarity with the church to continue its witness in the cradle of Christianity, IOCC has collaborated with the Patriarchate of Antioch, supporting education and distributing equipment to diaconal institutions.

Fr. Anthony Yazge to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Fr. Anthony Yazge and his son Mark, a Special Olympics athleteFr. Anthony Yazge and his son Mark, a Special Olympics athleteFr. Anthony Yazge is going to be honored as the Al Senavitis Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient for the service that he has offered to Special Olympics athletes through the Special Olympics training camp which he oversees at Antiochian Village every summer.

The Hall of Fame Dinner and Auction is set for May 16 in Philadelphia, and is one of the Olympics' largest and most formal fundraising events of the year.

The Special Olympics of Pennsylvania website explains that the Hall of Fame program "honors athletes and volunteers who have made outstanding contributions both on and off the field of competition. The dual purpose of this prestigious event is to raise public awareness about the talents of our athletes and raise the funds necessary to sustain the incredible growth of the Special Olympics movement....We have thousands of success stories of individuals who have benefited from participating in SOPA. But each year we choose only four athletes and two volunteers who have demonstrated positive integrity and continued loyalty to the Special Olympics program, thereby upholding the honor of the organization."

The event raises about $200,000 each year for the Special Olympics. 

Wichita Orthodox Community Set to Open Christ the Savior Academy

WICHITA, Kansas. --“This will affect our children for eternity. It is for eternity,” His Grace Bishop Basil told the Orthodox community as they prepared to investigate the formation of an Orthodox classical school in Wichita.

Now, two years later, the school is on track to open its doors in the fall of 2012. Enrollment has begun, and the board of directors for Christ the Savior Academy, Inc., is accepting applications for the headmaster and teacher positions. The board plans to start the school small with Prekindergarten through second grade. With God as its guide, the school hopes to grow a grade a year until it reaches fifth grade.  (For more information, visit the website.)

Preparation for an Orthodox parochial school was initiated when St. George Cathedral approved construction of an educational wing addition to the Cathedral facilities. The addition was designed with a school in mind.

AFR and Kevin Allen to Launch Live Call-in Show

"Ancient Faith Today With Kevin Allen," AFR's new flagship national program, is slated to launch at the end of Bright Week on April 22, 2012.

Allen, the host of the award-winning interview podcast, "The Illumined Heart," will draw on his background in Orthodox media to discuss a wide variety of issues with knowledgeable guests, all through the lens of the Orthodox faith and tradition. "Ancient Faith Today" will stream live and allow for call-ins from around the globe, twice a month on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. asked host Kevin Allen to share his hopes and plans for this new venture.

1. Kevin, tell us about your history with Orthodox internet radio.

I hosted an interview program called “The Illumined Heart” on Ancient Faith Radio from 2007 through April 2011 with a few hiatuses in between. We logged 5, 251 minutes and 49 seconds in 176 programs with Orthodox and non-Orthodox laity, clergy, monastics, theologians, writers and Episcopal leaders on a wide range of subjects with the common theme of “spirituality” and “church life." The program began as a parish media project and Ancient Faith Radio produced it on its Talk Radio line-up as a regular program as a downloadable podcast. In addition, I have been a listener of many of the other fine podcasts on AFR myself through the years.