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Lent is not only a time for personal renewal; it is a time for parish renewal as well. The Church is reborn every time someone enters the community. This is true even when the new member comes from another Orthodox parish, or a Christian communion outside the Orthodox Church, or is baptized as an infant or adult. The community is changed to make room for the new member who will build relationships, assume responsibilities, and even need to find a place to stand and sit in the worship.
To be deliberate about our parish renewal through this transition, the Church has appointed this Lenten time of fasting and intense prayers. We rediscover our roots with our new members as we read during the weeks of Lent from the Old Testament. We rediscover our innocence as the catechumens ask questions and express delight at the Orthodox perspectives. We regain our fervor as see the community grow and see how God is active in the lives of the catechumens and in our own.
We can not take this process for granted. Not every Lent sees catechumens in every parish. Not every parishioner is even aware that the Church is growing and that God is calling people to Himself. Perhaps at some places and at some times, communities don’t grow simply because the community is on “vacation” or asleep when people come knocking on our doors, or even when they sit in our pews. This is a great tragedy and we will be held accountable for this on Judgment Day. We really need to be deliberate about being ready to witness and care for those whom God is calling. Some prospective members are walking into our Churches unnoticed; others are working and playing with us all day long, waiting for our invitation to share in the life God has prepared for all. If this is too abstract, let me be more concrete:
Fr. Thomas Zain writes:
On Sunday, December 11, 2011, three new auxiliary bishops were consecrated for the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand, Balamand, Lebanon. Their Graces, JOHN, ANTHONY and NICHOLAS were consecrated as bishops of Worcester, Toledo, and Brooklyn and will serve as auxiliaries to His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP.
Editor's Update, December 9, 2011:
We ask that our faithful pray for the delegation currently travelling to Lebanon for the consecrations of our new bishops. May God grant them many, many years!
The Middle Eastern media resource Noursat will be broadcasting online the consecration services with His Beatitude Ignatius IV. See this link for additional information. More details will be added as they are made available.
Original Post, October 11, 2011:
His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East has confirmed the date and location for the consecration of our three newly-elected Auxiliary Bishops, namely:
Bishop-Elect John (Abdalah) – Auxiliary Bishop for Worcester and New England
Bishop-Elect Anthony (Michaels) – Auxiliary Bishop for Toledo and the Midwest
Bishop-Elect Nicholas (Ozone) – Auxiliary Bishop for Brooklyn and assisting the Metropolitan in Englewood, NJ
During the weekend of October 14th through 16th, the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees held their Spring meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham, Massachusetts, hosted by St. George Cathedral of Worcester. In addition, the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch held their meeting during that same weekend.
The Archdiocesan Board of Trustees dealt with many important issues, including a review of the financial report as of September 30, 2011. By the grace of God, and through the most careful fiscal management, the financial report shows a surplus on a year-to-date basis; however, the budget anticipates that there will be a small deficit for the entire year.
His Grace Bishop Basil writes:
AXIOS! Deacon Philip Begley, son of Fr. Thomas and Kh. Beth Begley, formerly of St. Thomas Church in Sioux City, IA and now of St. George Church in West St. Paul, MN, will be ordained to the holy priesthood by the soon-to-be-consecrated Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England on January 8th, 2012. Deacon Philip is a senior at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA.
On June 19, 2011, at the Parish Life Conference for the Diocese of Worcester and New England, several new inductees joined the Order of St. Ignatius. The following new members and their sponsors are pictured, along with His Grace Bishop Thomas:
Christopher Bradley, Laurie Bradley, Kathleen Tawa, Don Khouri II, Bishop Thomas, Don Khouri, Fr. Christopher Nerreau, Jimmy Chalhub, Timothy Gwinn, Jamil Samara, and Dennis Rawan.
The Fellowship of St. John the Divine in the Eastern Dioceses of Charleston and New York is offering college tuition scholarships for Antiochian students. Watch for the updated 2013 application form, coming soon! If you have any questions, call scholarship administrator Maria Abdalah at: 412-916-4772, or email her at email@example.com.
The completed form will be due June 1, 2013.
One (1) scholarship (each) of $1,500.00 and $1,000.00 will be awarded, along with four (4) scholarships of $500.00 each. The awards will be presented at the Annual Eastern Dioceses Parish Life Conference.
All scholarships are made possible by endowments created by concerned individuals from the parishes of our Eastern Dioceses and fund-raising programs held by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine.
We wish you all God’s blessings and look forward to submitting your application to the evaluation committee.
2011 Diocese of Worcester Parish Life Conference
Hosted by St. John Church; Dedham, MA
June 15-19, 2011
On June 20 at the Diocese of Worcester Parish Life Conference in Sturbridge, MA, His Grace Bishop Thomas inducted 8 new members in to the Order of St. Ignatius. Pictured left to right are Marc El Houssan, Nicholas Kean, Marlene Houssan, George Matook, Miriam Hyder, Nicholas Kourey, Stephen Barber, and Lauren Barber.
The Diocese of Miami, the Diocese of Wichita, and the Diocese of Worcester all launched the season for Parish Life Conferences over the long weekend of June 16-20. St. George of Jacksonville, Florida, hosted the southern conference with the keynote speaker The V. Rev. Fr. Paul Tarazi featured at the Saturday evening banquet. In the meantime, in Oklahoma City, the faithful of DOWAMA met for their "family reunion" at the Marriott; significantly, the Diocese host parish of St. Elijah was celebrating its 90th Anniversary as a community. In a young ladies' sweep, Nora Haddad won the junior division and Melissa LIkiardopoulos won the senior division in the Oratorical Festival. Back east, St. George Cathedral in Worcester hosted a busy schedule at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in the historic city of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, in honor of the two new mission parishes that had joined the Diocese in the previous year, Emmanuel Church of Warren, MA and St. Stephen Church of Springfield, MA. See the Archdiocese calendar for information on other parish life conferences coming this summer.
Recently, Bishop Basil spoke with AFR correspondent Matthew Namee about the historic assembly of bishops which took place in the week following Pentecost. His Grace was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Below are excerpts from the interview, which can be found here in full:
"The bishops delighted in being together and doing the work of the Church."
"The ultimate task was to prepare the Orthodox (Church) of this region...to constitute itself as a canonical, single Church.…It is a huge task, one that a vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America have been praying for, hoping for, talking about, for a long, long time."
"It’s as if the Mother Churches have said to us, ‘Look, you have been asking for this. Before we give it to you, we would like to know, what is your plan?’"
"We were blessed by the work of SCOBA….the work of the Episcopal Assembly was made quite easy by the 50 years of preparation."
"The Episcopal Assembly is comprised of every Orthodox bishop, not just the primates. We had 55 in attendance, (in New York) where the maximum of SCOBA members would have been 8."
Ancient Faith Radio has also posted an extensive interview with Fr. Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA, titled Unraveling the Episcopal Assembly. Additionally, Antiochian.org has compiled a summary of online Assembly articles.
His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP made a visit to the parish of Saint George in Norwood, Massachusetts September 18-20, 2009. The visit was the first by the Metropolitan in many years and the entire parish had anxiously awaited his return. The main purpose of his visit was to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Ladies Society and to serve a one-year memorial for the pastor emeritus, Very Rev. Father Nifon Abraham.
Shortly after his arrival in Norwood, His Eminence met with members of the Church School and Teen SOYO for a lively Q & A session. The Metropolitan thought he had stumped the young folks when he asked “do you know where Saint Ignatius was martyred?” However, one of the teens came up with right answer (which is of course, Rome.) The Metropolitan then enjoyed a relaxing evening with the parish council; they chatted about the upcoming New York Jets – New England Patriot football game, but also serious matters, such as church growth and mission work.
On Saturday the Metropolitan and several invited guests were treated to a luncheon prepared by Khouriyee Afefee Abraham. His Eminence presented to her a photo taken of himself and the late Father Nifon Abraham. The festivities on Saturday evening began with Great Vespers and concluded with a celebration banquet for the Ladies of Saint George. The Ladies in Norwood began their work 90 years ago, two years before the parish was actually formed. At the banquet the Ladies president gave Saidna a check for $1,000 to Al-Kafaat in honor of his 50th anniversary in the priesthood.
Charity Road Race to Continue Local Woman’s Dream
August 25, 2009 West Roxbury, MA—In the mid-1990s, 18-year old Sonia Belcher (then, Sonia Daly) was intent on creating a school where Orthodox Christian children in the Boston area would benefit from a strong academic and spiritual education founded in the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church. In 1997, with the support of the local Orthodox Christian community, Sonia founded what is believed to be the first pan-Orthodox School in the country: the Theophany School in Needham, MA. That fall, 17 children were enrolled for the 1997-1998 school year. Today, Theophany School is thriving, with some 35 students enrolled in the School’s Pre-School and Kindergarten classes. With three full-time teachers and one director on staff, students are provided with the individualized care and attention that is vital to a young child’s learning. Theophany School continues to grow, thanks to the generous support of the community.
Sadly, in February, 2008 Sonia Belcher passed away suddenly on her 32nd birthday. She was survived by her husband, Deacon Nicholas Belcher and their three-month old son, Andrew. In addition to her beloved family, Sonia left behind a legacy of tenacity and determination. Her final wish was for Theophany School to function as a full elementary school. Shortly after her untimely death, the School launched its “Building on a Dream” campaign, an initiative to continue Sonia’s mission, while keeping her memory alive. Thanks to the campaign, the School has received overwhelming support over the last year.
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to His own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)
“O Christ Saviour, we were but yesterday buried with Thee, and we shall rise with Thee in Thy Resurrection. We were but yesterday crucified with Thee: glorify us with Thee in Thy kingdom.”
(Verse from the Third Ode of the Paschal Canon)
Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy, Trustees, Parish Council Members, and All Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese:
Christ is Risen!