The clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas to our Patronal Feast of the Elevation of the Cross from September 13-15, 2013. Along with His Grace Bishop Melchizedek (Orthodox Church in America), over twenty visiting clergy and many other well-wishers joined us in commemorating both the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Cross as well as Sayedna Thomas' 25th year of ordination. The weekend also saw the ordinations of Lt. Col. Kelvin Gardner (chaplain, USAF). In total, four services and a banquet were held. Also included in the weekend was the annual retreat of the deacons of the Eastern dioceses with renowned scholar Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
AXIOS! Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas was elevated to the dignity of Archpriest on September 15th, 2013
WORTHY! Subdeacon Andrew Wilson of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas was ordained to the holy diaconate on September 15th, 2013.
St. George Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, welcomed back family and friends for the 2013 Labor Day Weekend. The two-day event included haflis, a banquet, raffle, and special coffee hour. The St. George Choir also performed "The Star-Spangled Banner", "Eye on the Sparrow", and "He Lives" before the banquet. His Grace Bishop Thomas, who served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, was in attendance for several of the events.
Fr. Nabil Hanna of St. George Church in Indianapolis, Indiana was recently interviewed by local news station WTHR, in which Fr. Hanna shared his perspective as an Antiochian Christian regarding recent events in Syria. Read the full story at WTHR.com. Excerpt:
INDIANAPOLIS - Conflict in Syria has been raging for a couple of years forcing thousands of Syrians to seek refuge in other countries, including the United States and right here in Indianapolis. For them, this isn't an issue of force, but of faith and peace. We talked with a local priest who shares a unique perspective from his Syrian church members.
For several months, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church has offered a temporary home to the St. George Orthodox Christian Church family. They're in the process of finishing a new church.
In their own transition, Father Nabil Hanna and his members, some of Syrian decent, are intensely focused on the violence back home.
"It's devastating, the country's wrecked," said Father Nabil.
Father Nabil says several of his members are recent refugees from Syria. The conversations about solutions are many. He's speaks on their behalf because even in the United States some still live in fear of persecution.
"They have a very heavy heart because they leave behind other relatives," said Father Nabil.
The following excerpts are from the Director of the Department of Christian Education Carole Buleza's address to Sunday School teachers. The full text is available in the September 2013 edition of The Word.
All of us teachers, I trust, begin the Church School Year with the hope that our efforts will produce in our students a closer relationship to Jesus Christ. In my conversations with teachers through the years, the same concerns come up — the children don't come regularly to Church but it's not their fault; we can't have church school for more than 20 minutes without parents coming to get their children; our materials are not engaging the children. Except for the last, which I hope to address soon, these are, and will continue to be, perennial concerns. What can be done?
I teach high school at my parish, St. John Chrysostom, in York, Pennsylvania. My students are not in the same high school and don't get to see each other during the week. They went to get refreshments right after Divine Liturgy and it was hard to get them to class on time. I made a deal with them.
Founding pastor of the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, The Very Rev. George Shalhoub, has released a book titled The Mystery of Love and Marriage. An associate professor at Madonna University as well as a priest of many years, Fr. George draws from more than 40 years of experience in counseling, teaching and educating the community on the foundations of a healthy relationship. His book provides practical advice about healthy living in a complicated and fast paced world, and about how to live a balanced way of life.
"This book is a roadmap for anyone looking to be in a relationship,' said Fr. George Shalhoub. "The Mystery of Love and Marriage exposes the truths to communication, forgiveness and unconditional love, all the scariest and most important pieces of being in a partnership."
The Assembly of Bishops reports:
"In an unprecedented action, two Orthodox Christian churches—one Greek and one Antiochian—have merged together to form a new parish in northeastern Tennessee. Holy Resurrection (AOCA) in Johnson City and Holy Trinity (GOA) in Bluff City joined together in their first liturgy on June 23, the Feast of Pentecost. The new parish, which has taken the name Christ the Savior, comes under the jurisdiction of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The parish is served by Fr. Stephen Mathewes, an Antiochian priest who had been assigned to Holy Resurrection.
Holy Trinity and Holy Resurrection were originally mission parishes, founded in 1984 and 1997 respectively. Despite the dedication of their members, both parishes had struggled in recent years. According to Fr. Mathewes, 20-30 parishioners attended Holy Resurrection for Divine Liturgy on a typical Sunday. "With a church that small, if one person comes or one goes, it's a major change. It's devastating if a family moves away or leaves. You feel all those ripples and waves."
For the last several years Holy Trinity had not had a full-time priest. The parish was served by visiting priests who would celebrate liturgy once every 2-3 weeks.
The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of Saint Mary in Livonia, MI, praises God for all His blessings, as the Lord provides us with multiple opportunities to serve our beloved children—God's inheritance. They are our greatest gift from the Lord.
Every summer, the Basilica of St. Mary hosts both a weekly "Camp St. Mary" ministry program for our children 13-17 years of age, and a one- week Vacation Bible School ministry program for children 3-12 years of age. The goal of the summer programs is to teach the children the meaning of Christ's two greatest commandments: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All the activities are designed to instill these spiritual truths into the lives of our children by teaching them how to be strong in their faith, and how to represent Christ to the world.
"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."
Serve the LORD with gladness; Know that the LORD, He is God! (Psalm 100: 2-3.) The Faithful of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Beckley, West Virginia welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas during the weekend of May 17 – 19, 2013 for his annual pastoral visit. The weekend was marked by glorious worship to our Lord with His Grace presiding, and many opportunities for meaningful fellowship.
After dinner on Friday evening, Sayidna Thomas met with the members of the Parish Council in the parish conference room. During the meeting, there was an important and informative discussion in which Sayidna provided an update on his activities in the diocese and a very informed perspective of the situation in Syria and our suffering Antiochian Patriarchate. The Parish Council members updated His Grace on the various activities of the parish, parish council and especially the charitable outreach activities of the Women of the Holy Myrrhbearers. Other topics of interest to the local parish were also discussed, as Sayidna answered questions from each of the Parish Council members.