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Decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch Regarding All Bishops

Metropolitan PHILIP writes:

Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese,
Beloved Clergy and Parish Councils and all Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese,

Greetings and blessings to all of you in the spirit of this Holy and Great Lent.

Enclosed, please find two copies of the Holy Synod decision regarding all bishops within the Holy See of Antioch. This decision was adopted by the Holy Synod of Antioch which was convened at the Patriarchate in Damascus, February 24th, 2009. The Patriarch and the Holy Synod are the highest authority in our Antiochian Church. You will find enclosed the Arabic text and the English translation which is mine. Since this was a special Synod meeting with only one item on the agenda concerning the bishops, the proposed text of this decision was sent to the members of the Holy Synod, who were not present, for their approval.

Ancient Faith Radio Interviews Metropolitan PHILIP


"...our church is a church of hope. Our Lord said, 'Lo, I will be with you until the end of time.' So as long as He is in the church, our Christ, the Savior is in the church, as long as the Holy Spirit is working in the church – I mean in every baptism, there is a Pentecost. In every wedding, there is a Pentecost. In every Divine Liturgy, there is a Pentecost. So the Holy Spirit is still working in the church....

Let me talk about the Antiochian Archdiocese. In 1966, we had 65 parishes. Today, we have 253 parishes. We almost quadrupled the size of the archdiocese. Why? We've been working."

In this historic interview on Ancient Faith Radio, Metropolitan PHILIP talks candidly about such things as Orthodox unity, music, our witness to the world, his most memorable accomplishments as well as his biggest disappointments. This two part interview was conducted by Fr. Peter Gillquist, Chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Click here to listen to the interview!

Click here to read a transcript of the interview.

March 2009 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The March 2009 issue contains the following articles:

A Sketch of the Life of His Holiness Kirill, pg. 5

Building Faith by Reading, pg. 8
by Maria Khoury, Ed.D.

Expectations for Giving in Christ's Love, pg. 11
by John Truslow

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family, pg. 14
by Dn. Stephen Holley

...and more!

IOCC Expands Assistance to Gaza’s Families

IOCC will provide 6,000 families in Gaza with food, blankets, and hygiene supplies through a new $750,000 grant from ARD, Inc. through funding by the US government. (photo credit: IOCC Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza)

(Gaza City, Gaza) – International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will provide 6,000 families in Gaza (about 42,000 people) with food, blankets, and hygiene supplies with a new $750,000 grant from ARD Inc. through funding by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). IOCC is targeting the neediest, including those who have been displaced or are living in war-damaged  homes, have experienced the death or injury of a family member, or who have a primary bread winner that is unemployed as a result of the conflict.

The deadliest conflict in Gaza in four decades has killed 1,300, wounded 5,300, and displaced more than 26,000. IOCC’s Jerusalem-based staff responded quickly to the crisis, coordinating efforts with local organizations and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem to deliver fortified biscuits and milk to 23,000 children and adults residing in shelters and affected communities throughout Gaza. IOCC also assisted beleaguered hospitals and shelters by providing thousands of quilts and hygiene kits.

St. Basil Award Earned by Antiochian Seminarian

The Rev. Aaron Warwick (right), a third-year student at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, receives the seminary’s St. Basil the Great Award for Academic Achievement on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, January 30, 2009, from by His Beatitude JONAH, primate of the Orthodox Church in America.
(Photo by Fr. Anthony Falsarella)

From St. Vladimir's Seminary:

The Rev. Aaron Warwick, a third-year student at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS), was one of two recipients of the seminary’s St. Basil the Great Award for Academic Achievement, presented to him on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, January 30, 2009. The award—established in 2003 by an anonymous benefactor who wished to recognize and encourage students who have excelled in their studies at the seminary—was presented by His Beatitude JONAH, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) after the Divine Liturgy in the seminary chapel. Second-year student Dr. Andrew Cuneo, of the OCA, also received the award.

Fr. Aaron has been a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA) since his chrismation on April 16, 2001, at St. Mary Church in Omaha, NE. He and his wife, Gwen, were married in that same parish on June 2, 2001. Fr. Aaron served on the parish council for three years, holding the offices of treasurer and parish council chairman; and he and his wife also served as Teen SOYO advisors during that time. The couple has three children, Emmelia (4) and Adrian (2), and another boy due at the end of May.

The Past and Future of Liturgical Theology: Celebrating the Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann

Fr. Alexander Schmemann Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), in partnership with St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS), is offering podcasts of the lectures from the international academic symposium titled “The Past and Future of Liturgical Theology: Celebrating the Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann,” held on the seminary campus January 30–31, 2009. Fr. Alexander served as the dean of SVS from 1962 until his death in 1983, and his seminal work in the field of liturgical theology is recognized throughout the globe. His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and a student of Father Schmemann during his years as a seminarian at SVS, attended the symposium and offered the concluding remarks.

Renowned liturgist The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Robert F. Taft, S.J. presented the keynote titled “The Liturgical Enterprise Twenty-five Years after Alexander Schmemann (1921–1983): The Man and His Heritage”—the centerpiece of the colloquium and this year’s Father Alexander Schmemann Annual Memorial Lecture—to a capacity crowd on Friday, January 30, 2009.

Metropolitan PHILIP Congratulates His Holiness KIRILL on His Election as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP has written the newly elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to congratulate him on his elevation. His Eminence writes in part:

"I have no doubt from our personal meetings and from your writings that you are a firm believer that the Orthodox Church cannot live in an ivory tower, but must reach out to the poor and needy and address the brokenness that exists throughout the entire world; a brokenness that only our Lord Jesus Christ can mend."

Click here to read Metropolitan PHILIP's letter in its entirety.

Maddex appointed president and CEO of Conciliar Media Ministries

CHESTERON, Ind. - John Maddex has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Conciliar Media Ministries, a publishing and online media organization of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

The appointment was made by Conciliar's board of directors with the approval of the Most Rev. Philip (Saliba), archbishop of New York and metropolitan of the archdiocese.

Maddex assumes responsibility for Conciliar Press, Conciliar's publishing company, while continuing to serve as general manager of Ancient Faith Radio, Conciliar's online radio and podcast ministry.

Maddex succeeds the Rev. Thomas Zell, who will continue as vice president of Conciliar Press and editor in chief of AGAIN magazine. He also serves as parish priest at St. James Antiochian Orthodox Church, Modesto, Calif.

February 2009 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The February 2009 issue contains the following articles:

Care at the End of Life: What Orthodox Christianity Has to Teach, pg. 4
by Bishop THOMAS

Ministry at the End of Life, pg. 7
by Fr. George Morelli

Preaching Christ Crucified at the Meeting of the Lord, pg. 22
by Fr. Stephen C. Salaris

...and more!

Sacred Gift of Life Sunday + January 18, 2009

Sacred Gift of Life SundaySeveral years after the momentous Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade overturned the laws of all fifty states and essentially legalized abortion on demand throughout the U.S., churches everywhere began observing Sacred Gift of Life Sunday. This event, which always precedes the anniversary of this misguided decision, is a call for Christians everywhere to prayers and activism on behalf of women and their unborn children.

In the Antiochian Archdiocese, our teens are leading the way in asking our parishes to observe Sacred Gift of Life Sunday. With the blessing of Metropolitan Philip, Teen SOYO has mailed a packet of resource materials to every parish in the archdiocese to help the faithful memorialize the 43 million lives lost to abortion in the last 35 years.

In the article Where Do You Stand? in the January 2009 issue of The Word, Fr. Anthony Yazge, spiritual director to Teen SOYO, writes, “our teens recognize that the issue we face with unwanted pregnancy is symptomatic of a greater problem—the lack of purity, chastity, and holiness in our society.”

For more information, please visit the Marriage and Parish Family Ministries and Teen SOYO web sites.

Promote the Orthodox Christian Network on Share the Light Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009

Share the Light Sunday: Jan 18, 2009 In order to support the work of the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN), the Hierarchs of SCOBA has designated the third Sunday of January as Share the Light Sunday, an annual observance of OCN's ministry. The hierarchs ask the January 18, 2009 be used to familiarize parishes with OCN's ministry of producing and broadcasting Orthodox Christian radio material via the Internet, and to encourage support of that ministry.

To learn what you can do, please visit OCN's Share the Light Sunday page. You can learn how you can foster awareness of this ministry, support OCN financially, download promotional materials, provide your parish with its own online radio station, and possibly win a free iPod loaded with Orthodox music! You can also call OCN at 877-273-2348 with any questions or for more information.

Metropolitan PHILIP Appeals to Parishes on Behalf of Gaza

From His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP:

January 6, 2009
Great Feast of Theophany

Beloved in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who was baptized by John in the River Jordan for our salvation. A blessed and happy feast day and New Year to you and your families.

While we rejoice in this great feast of our holy church, we are also deeply saddened by the humanitarian crisis that we are witnessing daily in Gaza. With each news update we hear of more and more people, many of them women and children, whose lives have been abruptly and needlessly ended by the brutality of the ongoing invasion of a foreign army. In addition to this senseless loss of life, there is a humanitarian disaster taking place. Food and water are running out, there is a dire lack of medical supplies, and countless thousands have no place to rest their heads at night.

Since there is no infrastructure in Gaza, we have no way to help these suffering people directly as an Archdiocese. Thanks be to God, however, that we have IOCC, International Orthodox Christian Charities. IOCC is mobilizing its forces in the disaster relief community and through its contacts in Gaza to bring much needed aid to the suffering people there. Therefore, I strongly urge each of our parishes to collect money in a way they see fit and forward it directly to the IOCC as soon as possible. For more information on the IOCC and how they are helping in Gaza, please see the attached news release or view their website at

January 2009 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The January 2009 issue contains the following articles:

Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Council, pg. 4
by Metropolitan PHILIP

An Interview with U.S. Navy Chaplain Fr. David Alexander, pg. 12
by Fr. Fred Pfeil

Fr. Anthony Yazge on purity and chastity

...and more!

An Urgent Appeal for Immediate Cessation of Hostilities in Gaza

Update: IOCC Works to Bring Relief to Gaza

Although it remains difficult to get supplies into Gaza, IOCC [International Orthodox Christian Charities] is working with organizations that have significant operations inside the territory and who are in touch with government officials and United Nations personnel to gain access. [IOCC Representative Dirk] Lackovic-van Gorp reports that the greatest need now is life-saving drugs and medical supplies to equip hospitals which have been forced to turn away the injured.

Help IOCC speed relief to families who have been caught in this conflict. Visit, call 1-877-803-4622, or mail a check or money order payable to "IOCC" and write Middle East Relief in the memo line to: IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225.

And during this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, please join us in praying that His peace may reign in the Holy Land and throughout the world.

Click here to listen to an interview regarding IOCC's efforts in Gaza on Ancient Faith Radio.

We of The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America join most of the world in decrying the loss of life and extreme human tragedy unfolding in Gaza before our eyes.

In light of this, we make an urgent appeal to all of the faithful of The Antiochian Archdiocese to immediately contact their elected representatives. Urge them to exert the considerable influence of the U.S. Government to end these hostilities and engage the various parties in a meaningful dialogue to forge a just and lasting peace. At the same time we ask you to keep all of the victims of this tragedy in your daily prayers.

Please click here to contact your U.S. Senators, Members of Congress and the President.

Bishop THOMAS Attends Enthronement of Metropolitan JONAH

Metropolitan JONAH and Bishop THOMAS His Grace Bishop THOMAS thought he would be at Antiochian Village for the College conference when he began his 4 hour drive from the Chancery in Charleston, West Virginia on December 27th. But just a few miles from the Village he recieved a message from Metropolitan PHILIP asking him to represent the Antiochian Archdiocese at the Enthronement of Metropolitan JONAH of the OCA. Bishop BASIL, who was originally scheduled to attend, was prevented by bad weather. Bishop THOMAS then drove the 4-1/2 hours to the Washington area in order to attend the Enthronement and Divine Liturgy on Sunday the 28th.

Bishop THOMAS arrived at Saint Nicholas Cathedral at 7:45 on Sunday morning and vested with around 16 other Hierarchs from the various Orthodox Jurisdictions. The occasion provided the opportunity for many of the bishops to greet one another and catch up. At one point the new Metropolitan JONAH came in and asked if Bishop THOMAS remembered attending seminary with him, which he did of course.

Metropolitan PHILIP Celebrates Nativity Liturgy

Metropolitan PHILIP Celebrates Nativity Liturgy in Brooklyn, NY While His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP travels extensively throughout this vast Archdiocese every year, his Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn, NY is always honored to have him preside on two occasions each year, Great and Holy Pascha and the Feast of our Lord's Nativity in the Flesh. This year was no exception. May God grant him many years!

2008 Patriarchal Nativity Encyclical

Dear to God:

Christmas is the great event that reconciles Heaven and Earth.

In this event God has joined us, and has become the catalyst that unifies, and that eliminates all polarities between God and the world, God and man.

The Birth of Christ represents the living example that God has claimed His creation fully. This is so because man is the symbol of creation, and God’s progenitor on earth. Man has thus regained the image that was intended for him, and has restored creation to the Divine purpose for which it was intended.

Is it too much for us to hope for a modicum of justice and to thus restrain the immoral aggressor, and to help instead the homeless refugee to return to his family and his home?

Is it too much for us to expect the world to look at us as ends in ourselves, not as means in the hands of powers that recognize nothing short of force and violence?  Is it too much for us, people of the East, the people of love and brotherhood, to have our voice heard throughout the world?

We pray the Lord of Heaven and Earth that He may infuse His Spirit in our world, that we may be sanctified by it.

We ask the Child in the Manger to confer His grace upon you, and render your Holidays occasions of continuing joy and success. May the Lord protect you and give you everlasting peace.

+ I G N A T I U S   IV
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos

Synaxis of the Most Holy TheotokosHe who is before the morning star
Was begotten of the Father without a mother,
Is made flesh on earth today without a father form you.
A star announces the glad tidings to the wise men,
While angels and shepherds sing the praises of your child-bearing without corruption,
You who are full of grace!

+Kontakion of the second day of the Nativity, by St. Romanos the Hymnographer

Metropolitan Philip's Christmas Meditation


The Nativity of Our LordWhat shall I offer you on your birthday in return for your infinite love?
I have neither gold nor silver, neither myrrh nor frankincense.
My house is without a roof. I have no room for you; not even a manger.
My soul is even darker than the clouds of my passion.
My eyes are too dim to look beyond the horizon of myself.
Help me behold your bright star; "For in thy light we shall see light."

St. Ignatius of Antioch

by Virginia Nieuwsma

St. Ignatius of Antioch "We have not only to be called Christians,
but to be Christians."

-St. Ignatius of Antioch-

Of all of the saints particularly loved by Antiochian Orthodox, St. Ignatius ranks somewhere near the top of the list. Of Syrian origin, St. Ignatius, otherwise known as Theophorus, which in Greek means "God-Bearer," led the Christian Church during a critical period of her history. Pious tradition has always maintained that he was the little child that Christ held on His lap when he uttered the immortal words, “Let the children come unto me.” What is known for certain is that he grew up to be a disciple of the Apostles, St. Peter personally ordained him a Bishop, and his name is mentioned in the book of Romans.

Not much is known about St. Ignatius’ life until he began his famous last journey—on foot—to Rome, where he was thrown to the lions as portrayed in his icons. On his way to his death, many churches sent representatives to him, and fortunately for future Christians, he sent letters back to the churches. Thanks to St. Polycarp, seven of these letters survived; in them, we find some of the earliest teachings about the organization, practices, and beliefs of the Church. He emphasized the importance of loyalty and obedience to the bishop, as well as the salvific power of the Eucharist, "the flesh of Christ," "the gift of God," "the medicine of immortality." On December 20, 107, during the reign of Emperor Trajan, St. Ignatius ended his life in a Roman arena, torn to bits by beasts. Rather than discouraging the fledgling faith of Christianity as the Romans had hoped, his noble death ignited and strengthened the faith of many.