2015 Festivals to Commemorate Anniversary of St. Raphael's Repose

The 2015 Oratorical Conference theme for the Antiochian Archdiocese has been announced as the "100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of Saint Raphael." Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny), much beloved by the American Syrian community he served during the early years of Orthodoxy on the North American continent, reposed in 1915 and was canonized in 2000 as St. Raphael of Brooklyn. This year's Creative Arts, Bible Bowl, and Oratorical Festivals held across the U.S. and Canada will feature his life and legacy.

Metropolitan Joseph Presents 2014 Francis Maria Scholarships

Daniella BattarsehDaniella BattarsehThe following people were recipients of a 2014 Francis Maria Scholarship, a Fund that is managed by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Metropolitan Joseph presented these scholarships on July 19, 2014. Each scholarship recipient received a check in the amount of $2,500.

The Francis Maria Scholarships are available to all students attending an undergraduate accredited degree program in the fall after they submit their application. Applications are due in January of each year, and information may be obtained on the Antiochian.org Scholarship page. A Website dedicated to Frank Maria is also available.

Appeal to Connect Orthodox College Students to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF)

A letter from His Grace Bishop Gregory of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, liaison from the Assembly of Bishops of the U.S.A. to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), concerning the Church's joint ministry to our Orthodox college students:

Dear Reverend Fathers:

As many of you know, the loss of our Christian youth is a staggering problem today in our country. Statistics show us that more than 80% of our young people are graduating high school, going to college and never returnlng to their faith group. l do not mean their parish or community, but their faith. In other words, more than 6 out of 10 Orthodox young adults will abandon Orthodoxy. This is a huge challenge for all of us.

As the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) works on behalf of all Orthodox to connect students to Christ and His Church during college. Through its campus-based chapters, regional events and programs such as College Conference and Real Break, OCF engages Orthodox college students across the continent in fellowship, education, worship, and service.

July 18-20, 2014: Summer Meetings at Antiochian Village

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, the patriarchal vicar of New York and all North America, the 2014 Archdiocese Summer Meetings will be hosted at the Antiochian Village, July 18-20, 2014. The Archdiocese and diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO, will gather for their annual summer meetings to conduct the business of the Archdiocese organizations.

In addition, the Archdiocese Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals will be held during the weekend with participants from each diocese. Please contact your NAC/NAB President if you have any questions.

Information for the Summer Meetings is as follows:

Spotlight: Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY)

The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (or OCCHY) is a unique national alliance founded and supported by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Antiochian Archdiocese, involved in establishing, training and leading substance abuse prevention and intervention coalitions across America. The Healthy Youth initiative, sponsored by OCCHY, offers communities an opportunity to heighten awareness of how to combat substance abuse, prevent bullying, encourage sexual abstinence outside of marriage, and encourage respect for the sanctity of the human body. Recent updates on the Hookah Prevention initiative, the Healthy Youth ministry of Tucson, AZ, and the Cicero/Chicago based group, are available on OCCHY's Website.

OCCHY is developing local community networks to address substance abuse prevention and healthy living in parishes of each diocese. Each local chapter is trained in coalition building in their community. Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries Fr. Joseph Purpura, and Kh. Kathleen Purpura, Youth Consultant and Executive Director of OCCHY, work with the White House Director of the Drug Free Communities Program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the staff of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and local coalition leaders to establish substance prevention coalitions across America.

 

Orthodox Substance Abuse Prevention Program Recognized at National Forum

Washington D.C. - At an elaborate ceremony on February 5, 2014 at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) National Leadership Forum held at Maryland's National Harbor Gaylord Convention Center, the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) was awarded a Graduate Certificate of Completion from the CADCA National Coalition Academy. OCCHY was among 87 graduating coalitions from across the U.S. to achieve this certification.

OCCHY-Chicago was represented by Chicago Coalition Coordinator Gordana Trbuhovich of the Serbian Orthodox New Gracanica-Midwestern Diocese, and Board Chairman Harold A. Peponis of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. The two received the graduation award from CADCA Chairman and CEO Major General Retired Arthur T. Dean, and Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez, New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

2014 Special Olympics Volunteer and Coaching Applications Available

Special Olympics campers and staff at the VillageSpecial Olympics campers and staff at the VillageThe 2014 Special Olympics Sports Camp is scheduled to be held at the Antiochian Village August 8-16, 2014. This ministry is sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO, and is the second longest running program of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, serving approximately 175 campers each season. It is the premier SOYO outreach program, now in its 33rd year of service. Each year SOYO teens raise the funds on Special Olympics Awareness Day.

In addition to the funds raised, SOYO teens provide at least half the coaching staff, and many adult volunteers participate as well. The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth Ministry, has announced that the 2014 Special Olympic Coaches Application is now available for those youth who are interested in working at the Sports Camp. Additionally, for adults over twenty years of age, the Special Olympics Volunteer application is posted as well.

Youth Director Parish Positions Available

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, notes that "there are currently several parishes looking to hire full time youth directors. If you are interested in working full time in parish youth work, please contact me via email, at FrJoseph@OrthodoxYouth.com.

Job requirements for the positions are listed on the Orthodox Jobs Website.

Apply Now for Camp Scholarships: Deadline is 3/1

Antiochian clergy and parishioners should be reminded that camper scholarships are again available to each parish and mission in the Antiochian Archdiocese through the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Applications were mailed to all parish priests on January 16, 2014. If you are a priest and have not received that mailing, please be in immediate contact with Fr. Anthony Yazge of Antiochian Village, at franthony@antiochianvillage.org. Please note that applications to receive your scholarships ($700 per parish) must be received by Fr. Anthony no later than Saturday, March 1, 2014. More camping information is available from the Department of Camping.

OCF Day of Prayer is March 2-3

The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has announced a Day of Prayer for college students across the United States as they begin the 2014 Lenten journey at the beginning of March. OCF Day of Prayer is a program that unites the various chapters across North America in prayer. Each year, on the first day of Great Lent (Clean Monday), participating OCF chapters take part in 24 hours of unceasing prayer. Each school takes a one-hour slot to pray for themselves, their chapters and their fellow students.

Chapters of OCF are invited to sign up for an hour of prayer that begins at 6:00 p.m. EST on Forgiveness Sunday, March 2. Chapters are invited to submit prayer requests for family members and friends, and each prayer intention will be forwarded to participating chapters in the Day of Prayer commemorations.

More information is available on the Day of Prayer webpage at the OCF's Website.

"For the Sake of Others:" Interview with Katrina Bitar

Katrina Bitar is the North America Program Director for YES, or Youth Equipped to Serve. A ministry of FOCUS North America, YES provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service in urban environments across the U.S. and Canada. A lifetime member of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Katrina began working with youth during her college years and eventually was tapped to head the YES program after graduating from St. Vladimir's Seminary in 2009. A look at her busy calendar for the first half of 2014 reveals that she will be involved with outreach efforts in Philadelphia, Montreal, Oklahoma City, Grand Rapids, Houston, Austin, and St. Louis. Antiochian.org asked her to introduce the work of YES and explain the impact it is having on the Church's youth.

What is your background, and how did you first get involved with YES?

I was born in Burbank, California, but spent most of my life in Little Falls, NJ. I discovered my youth ministry gifts while serving at the Antiochian Village as a counselor during my college years. In 2001, I took a job as a youth director for a parish in Phoenix, AZ that began my full-time youth ministry work. It was through my work as a parish youth director that I was introduced to the YES Program.

2014 Francis Maria Scholarship Applications Available

Dr. Francis MariaDr. Francis MariaThe Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, has announced that the 2014 Francis Maria Scholarship application is now available for college students to download on the Archdiocese's scholarship page. Through a generous gift of the Francis Maria Foundation for Justice and Peace, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America will once again grant several scholarships in the amount of $2,500 to students attending an accredited college. The scholarships will be granted in July, and all supporting documentation must be postmarked by May 15, 2014 and received by May 22.

Additionally, other scholarships are available to Antiochian Orthodox students, including the Harry & Florence Kouri Scholarship for a Diocese of Wichita graduating High School senior, the Bill Cohlmia and Joan Cohlmia-Razook Memorial Scholarship for the Continuing Education of Diocese of Wichita clergy, an Antiochian Women's Scholarship, the Eastern Diocese Fellowship of St. John the Divine Scholarship, the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting Scholarship, and the Diocese of Toledo Metropolitan Anthony Bashir Memorial Scholarship.

Download the application for the Francis Maria Scholarship.

Read about other scholarships.

Retrospect: The Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education in the Faith

Carole Buleza, Director of the Department of Christian Education for the Antiochian Archdiocese, reflected on the Orthodox Institute 2013 in the December, 2013 edition of The Word magazine.

Beloved in Christ,

I write these words just after the 2013 Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village. The fellowship and book-signings were a chance to get to know and speak with some of the prominent people in the Orthodox Church. The presentations were truly educational and inspirational. An eight-panel display of "Art and Symbols of the Catacombs" shed light on the images that were most important to the early Christians. All together it was a memorable and valuable weekend.

Almost a hundred people participated in The Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village, October 31 – November 3, 2013. The theme was "Blessed is the Kingdom: Acts 2:42 and Today," and the goal was to answer the question, "Can we revive the spirit of giving for which the early church was known?"

Gigi Shadid Releases CD for Teens and Adults

Gigi Shadid at her CD release on Nov. 4, 2013, Antiochian VillageGigi Shadid at her CD release on Nov. 4, 2013, Antiochian VillageMusic Learn is proud to announce the release of Kh. Gigi Baba Shadid's latest Orthodox Christian music CD, Fight the Good Fight. Teacher, Antiochian youth worker, and songwriter, Gigi's passion is teaching with music; this is Gigi's fifth music CD, and the first one written primarily for teens and adults. Her other projects include: Fruits of the Spirit (2004), Celebrate the Feasts (2007), Middle School Math Music (2008), and The ABC's of Orthodoxy (2011).

Church school teachers and parents throughout the United States, Canada, and many parts of the world have been enjoying her music for the past ten years. It has proven to be an effective tool for teaching and reinforcing the eternal truths of Christ and His holy Church. "This new CD is filled with essential questions for our salvation," noted Gigi.

Camp and Youth Workers Conference Slated for Early 2014

Youth workers in North America are invited to the 2014 Camp and Youth Workers Conference, an annual gathering scheduled for January 23-25, 2014 at the Antiochian Village. Endorsed by the Assembly of Bishops, this year's Conference will address the theme, "Made in His Image and Likeness," with Keynote Speaker Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko.

The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, explains that the conference is "intended to help the parish youth worker spiritually form the teens they work with, on the parish level. I encourage all parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese to send your parish youth workers and teen SOYO advisors to this conference." Workshops will be available for three tracks: Youth Worker, Camp Ministry, and Pastoral.

Middle School Winter Retreat at Antiochian Village

Registration is open for the annual St. Herman Middle School Retreat, convening at Antiochian Village on the feast day of St. Herman of Alaska.

  • Who: Students in grades 5-8
  • Where: Antiochian Village Conference Center, December 13-15, 2013
  • What: interactive presentations and discussions, weekend liturgical services (with an outdoor supplication service to St. Herman), games, crafts, meals and snacks, sledding, geocaching, stargazing, guided night hike, a campfire
  • Why: The distraction-free environment of the Village and the spiritual emphasis of the retreat offer a wonderful opportunity for middle schoolers to focus on their faith 
  • How much:  $96/person for lodging and meals  
  • Download the registration form or visit the Antiochian Village's list of upcoming events for more information.

Calling All Youth: Participate in the YouTube Challenge!

Fr. Anthony Yagze, Chair of the Departments of College Ministry, and Camping, encourages all youth in the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate in the YouTube challenge.  "It's an interesting opportunity for young people!" he notes. 

Welcome to the 2013 Orthodox Church in America (OCA) YouTube Challenge!

The Challenge

Youth and Young Adult (Ages 14-28) should respond with an original video by midnight on November 15, 2013, to the following question: "What is the Gospel?" Participants may wish to reflect on:

  • The essential message of Jesus Christ
  • What his actions and words tell us about humanity and divinity
  • How the Gospel message can be preached in your particular environment (school, work, family, etc..)

Participants may wish to use their video to deliver a traditional speech, or find ways of more creatively answering the challenge through visual imagery and poetic license.

OCF's Real Break 2014 Registration is Open

September 16, 2013

The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) reports:

OCF's "Real Break" aims to prepare college students to be socially informed Orthodox Christian citizens of this world, while directing their focus on the world to come, the kingdom of heaven. Built on a foundation of fellowship, education, worship, and service, Real Break provides students the opportunity to understand the true meaning of seeing Christ in the other—traveling to all parts of the world deepening their faith, serving those in need, and cultivating relationships with like-minded peers.

Register, donate, view the list of Real Break trips

Now's the Time: Register Collegians for The First Forty Days

Calling all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni!

OCF is in the midst of collecting names for its First Forty Days program and it needs the help of each parish, to help high school graduates seamlessly join the OCF network. First Forty Days aims to integrate new collegians into the life of an OCF chapter during the first forty days of college. Please submit student information on OCF's website by June 30th to ensure that each students will be directly contacted by the OCF North American Office and greeted on his or her college campus by an OCF family and local parish at the beginning of the fall semester.

Questions? Please contact North American Chapter Relations Coordinator Christina Andresen at christina@ocf.net.

OCF Sponsors "First 40 Days" Initiative and "Connect Kits"

Calling all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni!

OCF is in the midst of collecting names for our "First Forty Days" program. We want to help your parish's high school graduates seamlessly join the OCF network by integrating them into the life of a chapter during the first forty days of their college experience. Please submit your student information on our website here by June 15th to ensure that your students will be directly contacted by the OCF North American Office and that they will be greeted on their college campuses by an OCF family and local parish at the beginning of the fall semester.

As a way of providing additional support for college students, OCF is offering "Connect Kits" for college freshmen; the kits include prayer books, icons, and OCF media designed to encourage young adults to stay in the Church once they leave home for school. For questions regarding the First Forty Days, Connect Kits, or the network of OCF chapters across North America, please contact our North American Chapter Relations Coordinator Christina Andresen at christina@ocf.net.

Fr. Joseph Purpura Interviewed for OCN's "Come Receive the Light"

For the final installment in the Orthodox Christian Network's (OCN) May "Come Receive the Light" series about Sex and the Christian, OCN Executive Director Fr. Christopher Metropulos interviewed Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. In the interview, Fr. Joseph spoke about the holiness of Christian sexuality, and how it is meant to enrich the marital life of couples.

"We have the Scriptures given to us as...a wealth of information on how God intends us to live out our lives," emphasized Fr. Joseph in the interview. "God places before us so many of the answers but we go seeking for information from our culture and end up at a dead end. We have to first begin with God's Word—it is lifegiving."

Youth Directors Release Resources in the Wake of Recent Tragedies

The National Youth Directors of several different Orthodox Jurisdictions, together with the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), have collaborated to offer several resources for clergy and lay people to help minister to our youth and young adults in light of the recent public violence in and around Boston.

The resource packet contains a cover letter from several youth directors, three reflections on the attacks by adults, ten tips for speaking to your youth groups and church school classes about public violence, and ten suggested steps for equipping your youth group or OCF chapter to respond to these tragedies. Additionally, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) has made available its online study guide “A Christian Response to Terrorism.” This study guide, originally compiled after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, provides prayers, scriptural references, and discussion questions to use with youth and young adults.

In addition to the OCA, these materials have been provided by collaboration between the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, the Ukrainian Church of the USA, and the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia.

 

OCF's Twenty-Four Hour Day of Prayer is April 7 and 8

Tanya Schillawski, the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Student Advisory Board Praxis Coordinator, has announced that the OCF Day of Prayer will begin on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at  6:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 8. For twenty-four hours, college students at OCF chapters around the country will be praying continuously. The OCF website will post the prayer service, with versions that can be used with and without the presence of a priest. Insructions on setting up a live feed will also be posted, so that students from around the country can pray with the designated chapter.

For those OCF chapters unable to participate in the program, leaders are requested that their lists of names of the living and departed be sent to sabpraxis@ocf.net. The cut off day to submit names is Friday, March 29th, with no exceptions allowed. These lists will then be posted on the OCF's website.

Students may email sabpraxis@ocf.net with the university name and preferred time slot, and a sign-up spreadsheet is available online.