On Saturday, January 30, 2010, over 70 faithful gathered at St. George in Norwood, Massachusetts for a day of retreat, “Back to the Future with St. Ignatius of Antioch” sponsored by the Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Worcester and New England. Attendees included not just the women of AOCWNA, but even some of the teens who met Mother Alexandra at camp at the Village this past summer. The day began with Divine Liturgy followed by refreshments and included a fine Middle Eastern luncheon prepared by the women of St. George. Mother Alexandra presented two talks, drawing from the life and experiences of St. Ignatius of Antioch to provide reflections for daily Orthodox Christian living. The wisdom of the Saint provides real and practical direction for us today, if we take the time to read and hear his words.
On Sunday, January 31, Mother Alexandra attended the post holiday gathering of the Order of St. Ignatius at the Sheraton Four Points. As the afternoon’s speaker, she gave an overview of the plans for the Convent of St. Thekla, which have been fermenting over many years as a part of the growth of the Antiochian Village. Numerous women have contacted her since last summer, and some have come to visit, both encouraging signs for the blossoming of a monastic community. Presently, the site survey has been completed and now the work with architects can begin, so that by God’s grace the convent might begin construction of its new home.
In a project initiated by the Charity Ministry Team, the parishioners of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, gathered materials together for the IOCC health kits for the suffering people of Haiti. Each health kit contains soap, towels, a comb and nail tool, and band aids, and parish members managed to assemble around 1000 kits that will be delivered directly via the IOCC, to Haitians in need. "We can never have too many of these," noted an IOCC representative.
St. George blogger Sarah Childs described the experience on her blog, Place of Verdure.
"I was really looking forward to doing a lot of knitting, watching the Colts on Saturday evening, and doing a little house cleaning. Then about 4 pm, James called me to say that we had been asked to help at church with an effort to put together health/hygiene kits for Haiti, and my plans immediately seemed pretty trivial. I felt really blessed to have this opportunity to do something with my own hands, beyond praying and writing a check, to help those affected by this terrible earthquake. And I have to add that with many hands working together, we got it done so quickly that it didn't encroach on my own selfish plans at all."
"It was really heartwarming for me to see all our parishioners getting into this," adds the Very Rev. Fr. Nabil Hanna, priest at St. George.
A cold November rain could dampen the ground, but it could not dampen the mood. On Sunday, November 1st, 2009, the families and children of All Saints Orthodox Church in Raleigh, NC, joined His Grace, Bishop +ANTOUN, in breaking ground on a new temple and education building.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, groundbreaking, and reception capped off a weekend full of events.
After arriving in Raleigh Friday night, His Grace enjoyed dinner with the members of the Parish Council and their spouses. After dinner, Sayedna related a recent parish visit in which he burned that parish’s mortgage papers. He encouraged the Council to work diligently and faithfully toward the day when he could do the same for All Saints’ new building.
Saturday brought brilliant sunshine and mild temperatures, a perfect day for the parish’s children to gather and meet with His Grace. The day’s events began with a children’s luncheon with Sayedna. After lunch, the children got the chance to ask him questions about their faith and his role as their bishop. Sayedna also shared his excitement for the building project, telling them he hoped that many of them would eventually get married in the new temple. He also invited the children to bring their shovels to help break ground for the building. Later that evening, Sayedna presided over Great Vespers, followed by a dinner in the parish hall.
Unfortunately, the weather turned on Sunday, bringing clouds and a cold, steady rain. However, the dramatic change in the weather did not stop the morning’s special activities.
St. George Orthodox Church of Terre Haute, Indiana, was founded by a few immigrants from Syria, more especially from Ein el Charra, a small village which nestles at the foot of Mount Hermon, southwest of Damascus. A constitution was drawn up and notarized on May 6, 1927 under the guidance of our first pastor, Metropolitan ANTONY (Bashir) of Thrice-Blessed Memory. Located seventy miles from any other Orthodox community, the years have allowed for the diversification of our Church. We are a warm and welcoming community made up of many of the original ancestors from Ein el Charra as well as others from Romanian, Greek, Russian ancestry as well as a formidable representation of those who have converted to the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Our Church family is loved and recognized throughout our community as being a place where people are welcomed and treated as family. Striving as we are commanded by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'...and to 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Should you ever find yourself visiting the "High Ground" (Terre Haute) come and worship with us!
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
St. Mary’s Church was founded in Iron Mountain, Michigan in the mid 1930’s by immigrants of many nationalities. It is a jewel of the north, in what the Archdiocese could call “America’s Midwest Alaska.” It was visited by St. Raphael himself on regular occasions. It has deep snowy winters, scenic wilderness, unlimited wildlife and short picturesque summers. Our church serves people of all backgrounds and nationalities in a 48,000-square-mile area. Michigan's Upper Peninsula contains almost one-third of the state's land area, but just three percent of its total population. Parishioners travel as far as 100 miles on any given Sunday (even in deep snow) to attend Liturgy.
The Mission of St. Andrew the Apostle, Lewes, Delaware was blessed by a visit from His Grace Bishop THOMAS the weekend of December 5th–6th.
At Vespers Saturday evening Sayidna encouraged us to continue to reach out to our community with the message of Orthodoxy. We had several visitors with us at Vespers and for refreshments following.
Sayidna celebrated the first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for St. Andrew Sunday morning with a full Church (the Grange Hall) and beautiful choir. Subdeacon Joseph Kavchok of St. Philip, Souderton, Pennsylvania and Subdeacon Jason Flowers of Holy Ascension, Frazer, Pennsylvania assisted. Our seminarian from Saint Vladimir's, Adrian Budica, was elevated to Subdeacon. Our parishioner Jack Berberian became a Reader. Refreshments for all followed at noon at the home of parishioners. After the mealtime, the youth gave an enthusiastic presentation on the life of St. Nicholas for all attending.
On Sunday, December 6, 2009, St. Nicholas Day celebrations at St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania were featured in the York Daily Record. The article highlights the local tradition of the parish's children commemorating the feast day through charitable giving:
...at a local church, children swapped roles with the beloved saint Sunday, presenting him with gifts instead -- gifts that will ultimately be distributed to needy families by Access-York and the Victim Assistance Center.
"I can see you've been teaching the children to love others by giving to the poor," St. Nicholas told the Rev. Peter Pier, pastor of St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in Springettsbury Township...
A member of St. John Chrysostom church suggested the idea of children giving gifts to St. Nicholas years ago.
"It is definitely a good message to the children because they so often hear Christmas is about getting, getting getting," said parishioner Mike Buleza.
After much anticipation, Fr. Daniel Bethancourt and the faithful of St. Nicholas Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, were blessed and honored to have His Grace Bishop BASIL consecrate their Holy Table on Sunday, September 27, 2009. The parish also welcomed other distinguished guests from near and far, including Archimandrite Daniel Keller, the local dean, as well as Fr. John Morris, former pastor at St. Nicholas, along with his wife Kh. Cheryl. Fr. John Bethancourt and his wife, Kh. Photina came from Holy Trinity in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Also attending was Kh. Michelle Burke from St. Anthony’s in Spring, Texas, who, along with her husband Fr. Stephen Burke, made the generous donation of the holy table in memory of Kh. Michelle’s parents. The community of St. Nicholas is deeply grateful to them for that gift.
On Saturday evening, before the service of Great Vespers, the relics of the Holy Hieromartyr, St. Blaise, were processed into the church by His Grace. At the end of the Great Vespers service, everyone was able to walk behind the iconostasis to see the holy table as it was before the consecration. This was the one and only time most of those present would enter the altar area, and the last opportunity to see the table in its uncovered and pre-consecrated state. We were able to see the cavity in the table where Bishop BASIL would place the relics of St. Blaise as well as a list of all the founders and members of the church. It was humbling and awesome for those present to think of their names remaining inside the holy altar until the day of our Lord’s return!
The Parish of St. Philip was blessed recently to welcome Bishop THOMAS on our patronal feastday, November 14th. Fr. Joseph Butts and Fr. Andrew Damick concelebrated with me and Dn. Herman for the Matins and Divine Liturgy. At the end of the Liturgy, Bishop THOMAS gave to our humble parish a relic of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. By God's mercy the rain was stayed and we processed around the church with the relics. Bishop THOMAS encouraged us strongly in our daily evangelistic work, to be disciples of St. Philip and invite people to church by saying, "Come and See." Fr. Andrew spoke briefly about St. Raphael's life and continuing presence with us after his death. The parish is commissioning an icon of St. Raphael in which to have the relics embedded. We are moving forward with mission work and feel very blessed to have the protection and physical presence of St. Raphael, the Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America.