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Release Reports False

There have appeared many reports in both the Eastern and Western press that the two hierarchs who were abducted yesterday by terrorists in Syria, Metropolitan Boulos Yazge, Antiochian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim, Syriac Archbishop of Aleppo, have been released. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip spoke by phone this morning to His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East (pictured), who said that these reports are false, and that the release of these two hierarchs has NOT taken place.

We ask you to continue to pray for their safety, and eventual release.

Confirmed updates will be published as soon as they are known.

Pray for the Safety of Abducted Bishops

Metropolitan Paul of AleppoMetropolitan Paul of AleppoHis Eminence Metropolitan Philip is saddened to report that, in a telephone discussion that he had today with His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, it was learned that Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi), Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese Of Aleppo, and the brother of His Beatitude, as well as Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Archdiocese of Aleppo, were both abducted by terrorists in a suburb of Aleppo as they  were returning from Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) to Aleppo.

The deacon who was driving  their automobile was shot and killed in the attack.  As you know, Syria has been suffering from these acts of terror for more than 2 years.

Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of AleppoMar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo

 

We ask all of you to remember Metropolitan Paul, and Archbishop Gregorios in your prayers, asking the Lord to deliver them safely from this ordeal. All official information will be released from the Archdiocese Headquarters through official communication channels.

Summer, 2013: Three Dynamic College Programs

Students gather for OCF event at Georgetown UniversityStudents gather for OCF event at Georgetown UniversitySeveral new Orthodox summer programs have been opened up for collegians. The first two were announced by The Very Rev. Anthony G. Yazge, director of the Department of College Ministry for the Antiochian Archdiocese, and will be coordinated by Fr. John Diamantis, college chaplain for the Districts of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). A workshop,  "The Fields Are White For Harvest: Welcome to College Ministry," will focus on the practical efforts necessary to start an OCF, and will emphasize the positive impact campus ministry has on students and parishes. College students, clergy and laity are encouraged to attend.

Two workshops will be available: June 1, at the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection in New York City, and June 8 at Murray Dodge Hall on the campus of Princeton University in New Jersey. Both workshops will run from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. and will include a light brunch and lunch will be provided. The workshops are free of charge.

A second event, a college student retreat, is scheduled for the heart of the summer on July 12-14 and is called  "Love 2 Serve."

Sacred Music Library Offers Holy Week/Pascha Resources

The mission of the Department of Sacred Music is to provide leadership to the parishes of the Archdiocese, drawing from the talents of the faithful in order to serve in these ways: publishing music, organizing workshops and seminars, building strong ties of communication throughout the Archdiocese, supporting the work of mission parishes, and providing a positive influence towards the creation of new works of liturgical music. In this spirit, the department reminds priests and choir directors that the Sacred Music PDF Library is available and offers a full compliment of musical scores for the upcoming liturgical season of Holy Week and Pascha.

Additionally, a delightful photo gallery from the 2012 Sacred Music Institute (SMI), the department's intensive training class for church musicians, was recently posted to Antiochian.org. Learn about how to attend the next SMI , and view all the other resources from the department in the Sacred Music web section.

St. George's Fellowship of St. John Ministers in Chicago

Care Packets for the needy of ChicagoCare Packets for the needy of ChicagoOn Saturday, March 2, 2013, under the guidance of Fr. Nicholas Dahdal and with leadership from Fr. Musil Shihadeh, Dn. Saed Rihani and Sdn. Joseph Hazar of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine at St. George Antiochian Church in Cicero, IL, the group pioneered an innovative project in respect to community outreach and humanitarian aid. Titled "Care Packets for the Needy," the program brought Walgreens Drugstore and Einstein Bagels in a creative partnership.

With donated food from Einstein Bagels and well over a thousand dollars worth of goods from Walgreens generously assembled and donated by store employees, Fellowship members were able to assemble and distribute care packets to the needy over the course of the Saturday in early March.

Order Member and House of Studies Alum Launches Podcast

Bill Hinkle is a founding member of Prophet Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Ellensburg, WA, a member of the Order of St. Ignatius, and a graduate of the Antiochian House of Studies. Bill's varied history also includes a stint as the Minority Whip of the Washington State House of Representatives, a career as a firefighter paramedic, service as a county commissioner, civic involvement in boards and a leadership institute, and a career in health insurance. He recently launched a bi–monthly podcast with the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) called "Our Life in Christ and in America." Antiochian.org spoke with Bill about the many hats he wears. 

1. How long have you been Orthodox and how did you discover the Church? Tell us a little about your parish.

I told my wife on our first date that I wanted to know God, live a Christian life and find the Church, but wasn't sure how to do any of that. Almost 10 years later in 1999, we met Fr. George and Pres. Dianthe Livanos on a ferry dock in Port Angeles Washington the week before Thanksgiving. He had travelled from Canonsburg, PA and we were on vacation six hours from our house. We spent 45 minutes crossing the Strait of Juan De Fuca on a ferry talking about "the historic church" as Fr. George explained it to us.

Antiochian Archdiocese Purchases Property for the Establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla

Main house at the new propertyMain house at the new propertyPhoto gallery of the new Convent of St. Thekla property

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America has completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla, a female monastic community. The property is located in Glenville, Pennsylvania and consists of 51 acres of land which includes a four-bedroom “move-in-ready” house, a two-story barn, and a three-car garage with an attached workshop. The property also has a pond, and includes 30 acres of farmland and seven acres of woodland.

The original plan for the Convent called for it to be built on a parcel of land which is on the main property of Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of doing this would be too high, especially given that it would have required that all the infrastructure (road, water, electricity, and sewage) be made available at the site. There was also the risk that environmental concerns (such as the discovery of endangered plant life or animals) could have seriously impacted the building plans. The purchase was funded by a combination of the money that had been raised by the Antiochian Women through their multi-year fundraising effort, an endowment fund that had been set aside many years ago for this purpose, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.

April 2013 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The April 2013 issue includes the following articles:

Curriculum Vitae of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, pg. 4

A Response to the Encyclical of H.B. Patriarch Youhanna X, pg. 11
by Economos Antony Gabriel

The Funeral Service: Lecture 5 - Christian Burial, Graves and Cemetaries, pg. 12
by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.

Orthodox Spirituality in an Ungodly Age, pg. 17
by Kevin Allen

Works of the Order in Action: The Treehouse, pg. 28

...and more!

Assembly of Bishops Committee For Youth Report

Bishop Thomas, ChairBishop Thomas, ChairAssembly of Bishops.org reports:

New relationships and unity among Orthodox Christian youth workers are the result of diligent efforts by the Committee for Youth, one of the very active committees of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.

The committee’s members are Bishop Thomas (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese), Metropolitan Alexios (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) and Bishop Irineu (Orthodox Church in America). As with all of the Assembly’s committees, clergy and lay consultants support the work of the committee. The Committee for Youth has more than sixty consultants with extensive experience and knowledge of Orthodox youth and youth programs.

One of the fruits of the committee’s efforts has been new relationships and increased collaboration among jurisdictional youth directors. “Prior to the committee’s formation, a handful of jurisdictional youth directors would meet occasionally,” says His Grace Bishop Thomas, the chairman of the committee. “Now there are 17 who meet in person and by phone, representing every jurisdiction in the Assembly.

Food for Hungry People Lenten Appeal, 2013

Download the 2013 Food for Hungry People (FFHP) Brochure

Download the 2013 FFHP Lenten Resource Packet

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip addresses the faithful at the start of Great Lent:

Beloved in the Lord,

Greetings and blessings to you as we enter this most holy season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

During this time of the Great Fast, we once again turn our attention to the Food for Hungry People Program of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine. For almost 40 years this campaign has had a tremendous impact throughout the world to help alleviate hunger and the numberless tragedies caused by poverty. With several tragic events that continue plaguing our world including, but not limited to, the recent war in Syria, the natural disasters that wreak havoc on our own continent like Hurricane Sandy and others, we depend on your support to help the victims of these man-made and natural tragedies.

Beyond the Image: A Photographer's Journey to Orthodoxy

From the March 2013 issue of The Word

Eight years ago, David DeJonge came to St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids to photograph the wedding of Jamie Abraham, a parishioner of St. Nicholas. David is a very well-known photographer, having completed portraits of many notable Americans (including President Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, John McCain, Antony Scalia, Newt Gingrich, Jesse Jackson). Being keenly aware of images, David was struck by the icons recently painted by iconographer, Fr. Theodore Koufos. This first encounter with Orthodox icons was the beginning of a spiritual journey that led to his chrismation in the Holy Orthodox Church. David was again engaged to return to St. Nicholas several times to photograph the installation of other icons with the intent of producing a historical picture-book for the parish. It was through his labor and the icons that David discovered the saints who lived from apostolic times down into the twentieth century.

Great Lent Resources and Readings Offered in New Section

As the faithful celebrate the high point of the Church year—Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha—the Department of Internet Ministry has launched a rebuilt section of resources and reading for the season. Great Lent Resources & Readings is a topical library of links and reflections that presents the meaning and practice of the forty days of prayer and worship in an engaging and accessible format. The goal is that this will be a useful tool for teaching about Lent, for both newcomers to the Orthodox Christian Faith as well as for those who are rediscovering the spiritual benefits of the Lenten journey.

Visitors to Great Lent Resources & Readings will find three distinct subsections, each with its own theme:

Though they are too many to name, we'd like to extend thanks to all the various sources who have allowed us to repurpose their material, and we encourage those maintaining Orthodox websites of their own to link to this section.

Statement Issued by the Holy Synod of Antioch

The Holy Synod of Antioch has issued the attached statement in English and Arabic. It begins:

March 13, 2013

The Fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch held a meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. The meeting was chaired by His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X. The Fathers discussed the situation arising from the election of Archimandrite Makarios by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as the “Archbishop of Qatar”, on March 4, 2013. This election is against the Ecclesiastical Canons of the Orthodox Catholic Church. After deliberations and the approval of the Holy Synod Fathers in the Mother lands and abroad, the following statement was issued to be distributed to all the faithful and to all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

Read the full statement below (PDF format).

St. Seraphim Center Serves the Needy of Chambersburg, PA

Sprucing up the St. Seraphim Center in Chambersburg, PASprucing up the St. Seraphim Center in Chambersburg, PA(Adapted from The Word, March 2013)

Last fall, the Antiochian parish of St. Mary in Chambersburg, PA, began its fourth year of service to the surrounding community through the St. Seraphim Orthodox Center (SS OC). Affiliated with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS), the ministry serves lunch to some 35 to 45 guests on Thursdays and Saturdays, complimenting the lunch schedule of the local Salvation Army. 

During his August 2012 visit to St. Mary Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Thomas repeatedly stressed the importance of the parish’s work at the Center in the downtown area, and urged parishioners to continue and extend this ministry to the wider community.

Pastoral Letter of Patriarch John X

His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, has prepared an extensive pastoral letter for his flock. It includes sections on Preaching, A Responsible Priesthood, Love and Pastoral Work, The Dialogue of Religions, and much more. The letter opens:

It is a pleasure to address you through this message, hoping that it conveys to you some of my concerns as to what our Church needs today and what is demanded of each of us. I would like to resort to these words:

"In grace we grow, in service we transcend, and in love the structure is strengthened", as a motto for my Patriarchate, as God has willed that I will be watching over the Antiochian Church and embracing its children with the help of my brothers the bishops. The Church is the Church of all of us. God has willed that we are in it as brethren, in order to work as one body.

March 2013 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The March 2013 issue includes the following articles:

I Am an Antiochian Woman, pg. 4
by Violet K. Robbat

Enthronement Speech of H.B. Patriarch John X, pg. 6

David DeJonge: Beyond the Image, pg. 11

Works of the Order in Action: Theophany School, pg. 15

The Funeral Service: Lecture 4, pg. 16
by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.

So What's the Big Deal with Great Lent?, pg. 30
by Fr. Joseph Allen

...and more!

Conciliar Press Offers Timely Resources for the Lenten Season

As the first week of Great Lent draws near, Conciliar Press—the publishing arm of Conciliar Media Ministries—has released several new resources for Lenten reading.

The Hidden Garden: a story of the heart, by Antiochian children’s book author and editor Jane Meyer, is a parable that employs the imagery of the garden to teach children about the inner heart and the need to cultivate peace and beauty there. "I have long wanted to write a book for children that touches on the idea of the nous—that place within us that searches and longs for and knows God—where the heart and the mind are integrated and work as one with holy intentions and for holy purposes," explains Mrs. Meyer. "Children have an incredible capacity for touching and knowing God....But do they know that they can nurture and protect and tend that place within them where God resides?

Meditations for Great Lent is written by notable author Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou.

Report on Syrian Aid and Needs from Patriarchate of Antioch Dept. of Ecumenical Relations and Development

Distribution of Stoves in HomsDistribution of Stoves in HomsSamer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released the latest report on ongoing relief work in Syria, and asks for continued prayers for all Syrian people.

The full report is available in PDF format. The report opens:

"The humanitarian situation within Syria continues to deteriorate as the violence spreads and displacement continues. According to SARC estimates, some 2.5 – 3 million people are in need of support, of which children represent a substantial proportion. By the end of September, the Syrian Government officially reported that the number of displaced persons was then more than 3 million. In response to meet the increasing needs at different levels DERD continues its historic and strategic partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Through this tight partnership and direct assistance and support of IOCC, DERD has been able to assist thousands of displaced Syrians, as well as those affected by the crisis."

Attention Students! 2013 Antiochian Scholarship Forms are Available

In time for the 2013-2014 academic year, the Scholarships page on Antiochian.org has been updated to include all archdiocesan forms and deadlines, as well as information from other institutions offering scholarships to Antiochian students at both the college or graduate school level.

Students can browse through various options, including a scholarship for a student in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, a scholarship from Antiochian Women, several scholarships from the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, scholarships available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and scholarships for former Scouts. By way of reminder, camp scholarships are also available through the Order of St. Ignatius.

Go here for more information and to download scholarship applications.

The Enthronement Speech of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

We thank the Lord our God who allowed us, in the two previous months, to celebrate His appearance in the flesh as man and His manifestation as God coming to save us. After Jesus has fulfilled His plan of salvation by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, and after He ascended in the flesh to heaven from whence He had descended, sitting on the right hand of the Father, He prayed the Father to send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of each of us. Everyone who desires this and wants the Spirit to dwell in him does this so that Jesus may appear to him, and also that he might be reminded of the Lord’s sayings and teachings. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus Christ, at first in the Church, which is His Body and which He wanted to be “a glorious church, with neither stains, wrinkles, nor any such thing” (Eph. 5: 27). It also makes Him present in the Church through the word of His Gospel, in the Body and Blood of His Eucharist, in His meeting with His brothers who gathered in His Name, as well as in every human being - especially in the poor, the homeless and the broken hearted, in whom He accepted to dwell. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus wherever it dawns, making Him present yet veiled in all religions and all cultures. 

Jesus, Emmanuel, is always present here and everywhere, present among us. He is always with us, ready to meet us. He rejoices in our joys, He revels in our holiness, and He weeps with us when we are troubled and sorrowed. He also cries when, as shepherds and flock, we neglect to live according to His teachings, and whenever our sins mar His bleeding, yet glorious face, and thus veil the world from seeing Him in His Church, and through us.