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Photo Gallery Tells Houston Convention Story

A photo gallery of the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, hosted by Fr. James Shadid and the parish of St. George Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, TX, is available on Antiochian.org. In addition to the biannual General Assembly meetings, liturgical celebrations, exhibits, youth activities, and department meetings were held at Houston's largest hotel, the Americas Hilton.

Special events emphasized the uniquely Southern character of this year's gathering. Families enjoyed a Country Western Dinner and Dance on Thursday evening. On Friday night convention goers attended the Mardi Gras Masquerade Dinner/Dance and the Grand Banquet and Hafli on Saturday night. In the week's culmination, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, with all eight Auxiliary Bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese assisting.

See the photos here. Our thanks to the dedicated Houston Convention organizers for providing this photography.

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip's Address to the Archdiocese Assembly

On Friday, July 26, Metropolitan Philip delivered his message to the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in Houston, TX. Following is the written text of his address:

Your Eminences, Your Graces, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees, Generous Members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Energetic Members of the Antiochian Women of North America, Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Beloved members of SOYO, and members of our Parish Councils throughout North America and all faithful of our God protected Archdiocese.

Before I address the theme of our convention, first, I would like to convey to you some very good news about our Archdiocese. We have completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla Monastic Community at a price of $885,845. 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 7 acres of woodland. Our original plan was to build this convent at the Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of building at the Antiochian Village would have been $4,091,907.  This is a total saving of $3,206,062.  The purchase was funded by money saved in the Archdiocese from an endowment fund by the late Archimandrite John Matthieson, money which has been raised by the Antiochian Women, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.

Dormition Fast Begins on August 1st

The Theotokos, the Virgin Mary, was “blessed amongst women,” and she was chosen “to bear the Savior of our souls.” Orthodox Christians consider her to be the Queen of all the saints and angels.

Knowing that she is eternally present at the throne of God interceding for mankind, we pray for her love, guidance, and protection. Every year the Orthodox Church sets aside the first fourteen days of August in honor of the Virgin Mary. This fast period is climaxed on August 15th, when the Church gathers to celebrate the Great Feast of the Dormition (Falling-Asleep) of the Theotokos.

More resources for the Dormition Fast:

Houston Convention Continues with General Assembly

General Assembly, 2013General Assembly, 2013On Thursday, July 25, the General Assembly was convened by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip at the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention being hosted by St. George Church in Houston, Texas. The Assembly was graced by the welcome presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Paul of Australia, and His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Argentina. The meeting opened at 10:30, and it was announced that a quorum of delegates was present. Much productive business was accomplished, and many reports and videos were presented.

(See below for updates from the conclusion of the Assembly.)

51st Archdiocese Convention Kicks Off in Houston

The city of Houston, and Fr. James Shadid and the parish of St. George Orthodox Christian Church, are hosting the Antiochian Archdiocese Convention this week at the Hilton Americas hotel. The largest legislative body of the Archdiocese, the General Assembly meets in convention biennially. In addition to the business meetings, liturgical celebrations, exhibits, youth activities, and department meetings  are central to each convention as well.

There will also be special events that emphasize the uniquely Southern character of this year's gathering. Families will enjoy the Country Western Dinner and Dance on Thursday evening, while on Friday evening convention goers can attend the Mardi Gras Masquerade Dinner/Dance; visits to several of Houston's tourist venues are planned. The culmination of the week is the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday with Metropolitan Philip and all eight Auxiliary Bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese presiding. 

Conciliar Press is Now Ancient Faith Publishing

Chesterton, IN (July 24, 2013) — Conciliar Press announces a name change to Ancient Faith Publishing, in an effort to foster continued growth and forward momentum. This name change will not affect the operations or customer relationships in any way; it is simply a change in identity to better reflect our mission.

Conciliar Press was founded over 30 years ago as a ministry of the Evangelical Orthodox Church. When the EOC was received into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church by Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Conciliar Press became a department of the Antiochian Archdiocese. It continued and gradually expanded its work of publishing and providing a variety of quality Orthodox resources.

Fifth Annual Clergy Wives Weekend, Nov. 8-10

Dr. John Dalack and Kh. Laila ElliasDr. John Dalack and Kh. Laila ElliasIn the second weekend of November 2013, Antiochian Village will host the Annual Clergy Wives Weekend which is held in memory of Kh. Joanne Abdalah. Explains organizer Kh. Stefanie Yazge, "As always, the retreat schedule reflects Kh. Joanne's holy and holistic approach to life – we need to pray; we need to play. We need to enjoy the fellowship for this short time without parish responsibilities, family responsibilities or other cares of this world. We simply need a little time to breathe. The weekend has always been a tremendous success!"

This year's speakers include Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England, speaking on "Balancing My Life, Family Life and Parish Life," and Kh. Laila Ellias and her father Dr. John Dalack, speaking about "The Holy Family: Are We There Yet?"

Fundraising Efforts by Russian Orthodox Church Provide Aid to Syrians

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations reported today that with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service is continuing to coordinate a fund-raising campaign to help those affected by the armed conflict in Syria. Noted the Department's Website, "Among those transferring money are dioceses, monasteries, churches and individuals."

"Surely, we have received such a good response thanks to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill which was very convincing,” explained The Rev. Vladimir Vigiliansky, rector of the Moscow Church of St. Tatiana. On June 25, 2013, His Holiness addressed the faithful in a letter, in which he stated:

Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place.

Holy Land Exhibit is Available for Display

By Carole A. Buleza

"Scripture Through the Lens of the Holy Land" is an exhibit is available for rental from the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education (see below for details). The exhibit is dedicated to His Eminence Metropolitan Philip for his continuing support of Orthodox Christian Education, and to all in the Archdiocese whose roots in the Middle East have given the Antiochian Department of Christian Education the particular privilege of presenting the Holy Land in word and image. Participants at the 2011 Orthodox Institute, "Scripture Through the Lens of the Holy Land" were the first to view the exhibit prepared especially for that event.

St. Joseph of Damascus

Come, ye faithful, let us honor the martyr of Christ, a Priest of the Church of Antioch who by the word of the Word and by his blood and the blood of his companions baptized the land of Damascus, its Church and its people. Being immersed in the light of the Gospel from his youth, he worked and taught and defended the Church of Christ and her flock. O holy Joseph of Damascus, be for us an example, defending us and interceding for us fervently before the Savior.

Troparion of St. Joseph, Tone 5

The Synaxarion

On the tenth of this month we commemorate the Holy Hieromartyr Yousef ibn Jirjis Mousa ibn Mouhana al-Haddad and his Companions. A married man, St. Joseph of Damascus, as he is popularly known, was at first a weaver and then was ordained to the holy priesthood at the age of twenty-four in 1817, and assigned Great Economos of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (al-Mariamiyeh) in the heart of the Old City of Damascus.

Metropolitan Philip Blesses the Convent of St. Thekla Property and House

On June 29, 2013, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the Holy See of Antioch, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip traveled to Glenville, Pennsylvania in York County to bless the property and house which will be the home of the nuns of the Convent of St. Thekla in America.

His Eminence was accompanied by His Grace Bishop Antoun, and several clergy from the area, including Fr. Peter Pier, the host pastor from St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church in York, Pennsylvania.

Approximately 50 people attended the blessing ceremony, many of whom were first time visitors to the convent property. The blessing was followed by a light lunch at the convent, and a dinner in the evening with the members of the Parish Council of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, His Eminence presided at his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. John Chrysostom Church in their newly constructed church building.

Allentown Parish Reaches Out to Displaced Syrians of Lehigh Valley

"For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matthew 25:35-36

The faithful of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, PA have organized in an effort to identify and locate newcomers who are seeking refuge in the United States, reports the Very Rev. Anthony Sabbagh. "The largest Syrian community in the United States is here in the Allentown area," explains Fr. Anthony. "People in Syria are contacting their relatives to come to the United States in order to escape persecution and poverty; their homes are demolished, their jobs are gone. Their families here can apply for them to come since our government has opened the doors for Syrians, who are now coming to Allentown in numbers."

Patriarch John X Presides Over His First Synod Meeting

The Holy Antiochian Synod, June 2013The Holy Antiochian Synod, June 2013A Statement issued by the Secretariat of the Holy Antiochian Synod
Balamand, Lebanon, 20 June 2013

The Holy Antiochian Synod assembled between the 17th and 20th of June 2013 in the first ordinary session presided over by His Beatitude John X and attended by Their Eminences the Metropolitans George (Mount Lebanon and its dependencies), Elia (Hama and dependencies), Elias (Saida, Tyre and dependencies), Anthony (Mexico, Venezuela and dependencies), Sergios (Chile), Damaskinos (Brazil and dependencies), Saba (Hauran and Arabia), Boulos (Australia), George (Homs and dependencies), Silouan (Argentina), Basilios (Arkadias and dependencies), Efrem (Tripoli, Koura and dependencies). 

Apologies for the absence were received from their Eminences Spiridon (Zahle and dependencies), Philip (New York and North America), Constantine (Bagdad, Kuwait and dependencies), Youhanna (Lattakia and dependencies), Elias (Beirut and dependencies) and Metroplitan Paul (Aleppo, Alexandretta and dependencies, who though absent on account of his captivity, attended in spirit through the prayers of the fathers of the Synod and their supplications.

Arab Spring or Tornado?

Editorial by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, from the June 2013 issue of The Word:

Since the so-called Arab Spring began in Libya in 2011, we have seen the devastation and destruction of that Arab country by Libyan and NATO forces. This Arab Spring has since spread to Tunisia and Egypt, the most populated Arab country. This fire has burned relentlessly in Gaza and all of Palestine since 1948. It is spreading into Jordan, Bahrain, and Iraq and has caused the most devastation in Syria, where many of us have ancestral roots. Unfortunately, the American and European news outlets are not reporting such stories to the world, neither through the written word nor graphic photographs like the ones you see in this sad issue of The WORD magazine. The WORD has been able to obtain these pictures and information from reliable sources. Syria has been most victimized and experienced the most devastation by this seemingly endless war. The WORD believes that the only country that can bring peace to this most explosive region of the world is the United States of America, because America has leverage over Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Europe.

Antiochian Heritage Museum Exhibits Feature Art and History

Byzantine 1, by Tatiana Nikolova-Houston; acrylic, 2011Byzantine 1, by Tatiana Nikolova-Houston; acrylic, 2011The Antiochian Heritage Museum welcomes two new exhibits this summer! Gracing the center wall of our museum is "Sacred Illuminations," a colorful exhibit inspired by Byzantine and Slavic manuscript design and the Bulgarian heritage of the artist, Tatiana Nikolova-Houston. Inspired by the elaborate and colorful designs of Slavic and Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, as well as the folk art of her native Bulgaria, Nikolova-Houston's artwork is rich in spiritual and cultural tradition. A scholar of religious studies and library science, Tatiana earned both a Master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband and daughter. After discovering little-known fourteenth-century manuscripts deteriorating under poor conditions in a monastery in Sophia, Bulgaria, and thanks to a generous grant from the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Tatiana was able to spend a year there, working to preserve these rare treasures.

June 2013 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The June 2013 issue includes the following articles:

Arab Spring or Tornado?, pg. 3
An editorial by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip

Christianity: So Much More than Moral Code, pg. 12
by Daniel M. Manzuk

On Cotton Candy Christianity, pg. 14
by Daniel M. Manzuk

Antiochian Village Tornado Relief Project, pg. 18
by Dianne O'Regan

Praying for the Departed, pg. 36
by Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.

...and more!

Sacred Music Institute Hosts Second Youth Music Ministry Program

By Christopher Holwey, Department of Sacred Music Chair

One of the great things about watching a very good movie, and being on the edge of your seat for the whole two hours or more, is waiting for the sequel of that great movie to come out the following year, and be even better.  Well, that's what we have with our Youth Music Ministry (YMM) Program.  As Paul Jabara, our Sacred Music Institute (SMI) Coordinator, said to the potential YMMers this year, "Once again, and back by popular demand, the Sacred Music Institute will be hosting the second Youth Music Ministry Program at the Antiochian Village, being held from July 10–July 14, 2013. We have listened to your suggestions from last year and promise that this year will be even better, with more singing, more fellowship and more chanting!"

View the Archdiocese Mother Cathedral in Virtual Tour

St. Nicholas CathedralSt. Nicholas CathedralSt. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, is the mother cathedral and seat of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. It is also the first community established by St. Raphael of Brooklyn, North America's first consecrated bishop, founder of The Word magazine, and a great evangelist and teacher who planted twenty-nine parishes before his repose in 1915.

The history of the Archdiocese and of St. Nicholas Cathedral of Brooklyn are one and the same. St. Nicholas Cathedral is the oldest continuous church in the Archdiocese and its only Mother Cathedral. Its long and illustrious history unfolded through the love, devotion and sacrifices of a venerable hierarchy, greatly respected priests and deacons, and holy people of God who have served and continue to serve.

"We invite you to explore the beauty of our historic mother cathedral through this virtual tour (see below) as well as the photos on the Google Plus page," notes Cathedral Dean The Very Rev. Thomas Zain. "The tour and photos were all created by the same professional photographers. Our building dates back to the 1850s, and we have been worshipping there since 1920. Much of the iconography is recent, having been added in the past 15 years."

Address of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, at the Phanar

Address of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East at the Phanar, Constantinople, Sunday, June 2, 2013

Your All Holiness and Beatitude, Patriarch of Constantinople - the New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, Most Beloved Brother in Christ our God and our Concelebrant, Kyrios Kyrios Bartholomew.

We embrace you with joy and address your All Holiness with brotherly love, together with the Metropolitans, Bishops and the respectful clergy and the people.

Christ is risen!

I come to you today from Antioch where the followers of our Lord were first called Christians; from Antioch which gathered under her wings men whose faith and stature were acknowledged by all Christians; from Antioch in which the chiefs of the apostles, Peter and Paul, preached, together with St. Ignatius of Antioch, the martyr who enriched the universal Church with his theology rooted in the Gospel of St. John; from Antioch where St. John Chrysostom started his mission and carried a spiritual heritage to Constantinople where some of his relics were brought back to this Church after they were taken away by the Franks; from Antioch in which flourished St. Ephrem and St. Isaac the Syrian who Christianised Syrian thought and left to the world the best of what could be written in spirituality and asceticism.

Parish Life Conference Season Begins June 5

There is still time for you to register for your diocese's "family reunion" this summer, your regional Parish Life Conference (PLC)! The theme for this year, "The End of History...The Last Judgment," will be the focus of the Creative Festivals, a highlight of the conferences. Youth and organizational meetings, spiritually edifying speakers and services, and social events for kids and adults alike, all make the PLCs one of the Archdiocese's most established and popular traditions. Visit the Conventions and Conference Planning page for full information.

First up is the Diocese of Wichita PLC, kicking off on June 5 in Kansas City. St. Basil Orthodox Church hosts the PLC at the Westin Kansas City Hotel in downtown Kansas City, "one of America's Best downtowns" according to Forbes magazine.