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Diocese of Toledo News

Important Updates: Read the June 2016 Midwest SOYO Newsletter!

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Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! The Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest would like to wish everyone a most joyous and blessed period after Pascha! As June has now arrived, most of us are preparing for an amazing summer! With summer’s arrival, this also brings the 2016 Parish Life Conference, our summer camps, SOYO Special Olympics, but most importantly, a relaxed and blessed time to devote to God.

In less than 15 days, we will all be gathered for the 2016 Parish Life Conference! With this coming up, be sure to make sure you are registered for the convention! St. Mary of Livonia, Michigan has planned an amazing conference, so be sure to get a taste of as much as you can! If you are interested in running for a position on the Midwest SOYO Board, be sure to attend the meeting. You must notify Amal or Father Mousa if you are interested in running by June 15th. Your nomination forms, however, may be turned in at the meeting. Additionally, to be eligible for our Chapter awards, make sure you fill out the chapter reports and submit them to Amal Michael by June 15th. Nomination forms as well as Chapter Report forms can be found online at

2016 Metropolitan Anthony Bashir Memorial Scholarship Applications are Available

Metropolitan Anthony BashirMetropolitan Anthony BashirThe Diocese of Toledo announces that the 2016 Fellowship of St. John Divine Metropolitan Anthony Bashir Memorial Scholarship is now available. Scholarships are awarded to worthy and needy Orthodox youth of the Antiochian Archdiocese who have resided within the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest for at least one year prior to awarding of the scholarship. Scholarships will be awarded to students of outstanding excellence in any field of study toward a baccalaureate degree in an accredited college or university.

A board of judges has the duty of selecting scholarship recipients on the basis of scholastic achievement, participation in religious life, need, character and worthiness. Two scholarships will be awarded based on academics and two will be awarded based on academics and need.

Download the scholarship application form

2016 Paschal Letter From Bishop Anthony

Pascha 2016

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! !قام حقا !قام المسيح

Our Church has given us the sacred sacrament of Holy Baptism to guarantee our personal resurrection from the dead. St. Paul clearly taught this when he writes: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. (Romans 6:4) Just as Jesus rose bodily from the dead and stayed with His Apostles for forty days to teach and deliver them the practices of our faith, we will rise bodily with the same recognizable features and personality traits which now and forever will identify, distinguish, and define us: only in a most purified and perfected way: I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ‘For no eye has seen, nor ear heard, no heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’ (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4) Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

We realize the Great Lent and Holy Week purifying discipline of prayer and fasting is to tame the flesh and give power to the soul in preparation to become the beautified body of the resurrection, all in anticipation of the glory to come when Christ returns at the end of time. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (at the Second Coming), who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20) We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

New Guide to Holy Week and Pascha Services Available

A new booklet by the Very Reverend Ayman Kfouf, pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania, Ohio, has been released in time for this year's observances of Holy Week and Pascha, 2016. The booklet, Journey to Pascha: An Explanation of the Holy Week Services, also includes introductions by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and His Grace Bishop Anthony.

Noted a reviewer, "Understanding the true meaning of the liturgical and theological themes of the Holy Week and Pascha allows us to participate in these services more fruitfully and profoundly....The simplified language of this guide is intended to speak to the average faithful and to help them understand the true meaning of the Holy Week services. In spite of this simplicity, however, this guide offers a complete interpretation of the vast majority of the theological and liturgical themes and practices of the Holy Week with Pascha."

Order a copy of Journey to Pascha from Amazon

Orthodox Men's Retreat in Palos Heights, Illinois

St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, Illinois, is hosting a men's retreat on Saturday, April 2, 2016. The topic is an important one: "Retrieving the Sacramental Worldview: Moving Beyond Lust and Pornography," led by guest speaker Fr. Thomas Loya.

Father Loya is well versed on the subject of pornography. He has lectured extensively on the negative impact of this addiction, and how it destroys marriages, families, our society, and ultimately our relationship with God. Thanks to the internet and today's culture, pornography is legal and readily accessible by adults and children of all ages.

All are invited to join us to learn how to prepare our children – and ourselves - to avoid the temptations, and to address the addictive behavior of this "silent killer." More information, including registration, is available here. 

St. Mary of Palos Heights, Illinois, Hosts Spring Gathering

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Mt 18:20

And in His name we were gathered, as His Grace Bishop Anthony presided over two major events in the life of our beloved Midwest Diocese: the annual Clergy Retreat and Spring Gathering. From Thursday, March 10 through Sunday, March 14, 2016, St. Mary Church of Palos Heights welcomed His Grace and the clergy and laity of the Midwest, representing 50 parishes and missions.

On Thursday and Friday 36 priests and deacons participated in a Clergy Retreat led by His Grace, who outlined for us the many ways the passions of this world can disrupt our calling and our holy ministry. There was ample time for clergy to spend time together to discuss and share their success stories and encourage one another in a spirit of love and brotherhood.

Memory Eternal! + Khouria Marguerite Shaheen

Memory Eternal! Khouria Marguerite Shaheen, wife of Archpriest George F. Shaheen (reposed), fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday March 20, 2016, surrounded by her family. 

Service information is as follows:

  • Tuesday, March 22 - Visitation and Trisagion prayers at St. George Orthodox Church in Cedar Rapids  5:00-7:00 pm
  • Thursday, March 24 - Visitation at the Cathedral of St. George in Toledo 2:00-4:00 pm; and 5:00-7:00 pm with Trisagion prayers at 7:00 pm
  • Friday, March 25 - Visitation at 10:00 am; Funeral Service at 11:00 am at the Cathedral of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral; Entombment at Toledo Memorial Park and Mercy Meal following.

If any clergy would like to serve at the funeral, they should contact Fr. Michael Shaheen, Dean of the Cathedral, at

Marguerite was born July 21, 1933 in Montreal Quebec, Canada. She married Fred Shaheen on November 15, 1959. With her husband they served parishes in Montreal, Toledo, Charleston, West Virginia, Syracuse, Louisville, Cambridge, Worcester as well as several Mission Parishes.

Antiochian Professor Moderates "Engaging Orthodoxy" Inaugural Event

On Saturday, March 5, 2016, Dr. Bradley Nassif—Antiochian author, speaker, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, and member of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church in Warrenville, IL—will be moderating a new speaker's series titled, "Engaging Orthodoxy." Metropolitan Kallistos Ware is the keynote speaker for this first event, and the Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary, along with other notable Orthodox leaders, will be the respondents. 

The event will be streamed live on Ancient Faith Radio, and more information about the event is posted on the website of North Park University in Chicago, IL, the host of the conference. 

Words of Wisdom: Reflections From Notable Antiochian Priests on Love, Faith, and Ministry

As we anticipate the start of the Lenten season in March, three of the senior statesmen in the ranks of Antiochian clergy have offered reflections for our spiritual edification: Archpriest George Shalhoub, Economos Antony Gabriel, and Archpriest Joseph Antypas.

Fr. George and Kh. Nourhad ShalhoubFr. George and Kh. Nourhad ShalhoubThe Gospel and the Orthodox Family: The Christian Meaning of Love

"As our nation celebrates the feast of love, Valentine’s Day," writes Fr. George Shalhoub, pastor of The Basilica of St. Mary, Livonia, MI, "it brings with it the measures of marketing and the things that most of us have come to believe will make the wrong right, and the right better. Valentine’s Day will be celebrated by the exchanging of love with flowers, candy, dinner or surprise trips. It has become one more thing to do because others are doing it, and many find it is easier to purchase something than act." Read more

Antiochian Women Raise Funds for Bishop Anthony's Project

The Antiochian Women of the Diocese of the Midwest and Toledo answered the call of Bishop Anthony when he requested the establishment of a Speakers Bureau Fund. To honor His Grace's Name Day, the group mailed pledge cards to each parish in the Diocese.

The parishes and individuals of the Diocese responded with typical generosity and over $5,000 was raised. "This will enable the Bishop to bring in national and international speakers and clerics to Parish Life Conferences, Spring and Fall Gatherings, and other meetings within the Diocese of the Midwest," said Cynthia O'Connor, President of the Antiochian Women of the Midwest. She further indicated that the women intend to mail out pledge cards every year, to ensure that His Grace has the funds necessary to reach this goal.

February 2016 Newsletter, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest SOYO

Christ is in Our Midst! He is and Ever Shall Be! The Midwest Diocese Teen SOYO Board hopes that you are all having a blessed winter season! 2016 has begun with a many blessings, and more to come! This past January, the 2016 Canton Basketball Tournament was a success with many great games played! Congratulations to all churches who participated and came out to Canton! If you have any pictures you want to be featured Midwest SOYO's social media pages, feel free to message any of the officers!

Download the full newsletter

Bishop Anthony Celebrates his 60th Birthday with a Liturgy and a New Set of Vestments

On Sunday, January 17, His Grace Bishop Anthony celebrated the feast of St. Anthony the Great, and his 60th birthday, at St. George Church in Canton, Ohio. The clergy and churches of the diocese also came together to purchase a new set of vestments for His Grace. May God grant our beloved bishop many, many more years!

Update Regarding the Flint, MI Water Crisis

Protestors object to unsafe water in Flint, MIProtestors object to unsafe water in Flint, MIDear Metropolitan Joseph, Bishop Anthony, beloved hierarchs, and Midwest Diocesan Clergy,

Masters Bless! Christ is in our Midst!

I want to thank everyone who has contacted me about the terrible situation the residents of Flint, MI are going through. As you may have learned, this has been going on for over one and a half years.

I wanted to let you know our parish of St. George (Flint Township) along with the 3 other Orthodox Churches in the Flint area (Assumption-GOA, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Nicholas, both Bulgarian-OCA) are located outside of the City of Flint and are not part of the crisis. Further, like most of our parishioners, all of our clergy families live in the suburbs of Flint which, again, is not affected. Unfortunately, our parish has 40 families who live in the City of Flint and will continue to live with this unbelievable problem for an undetermined period of time.

Parishes in Action: St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of Sylvania, OH

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

View the Facebook photo gallery by Rami Yazagi

On December 20, 2015, by the Grace of God and the blessings of Sayidna Anthony (Michaels), bishop of Toledo and the Midwest, the parish community of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Sylvania (Toledo), Ohio came together in a “Double Celebration” event: the consecration of the new holy utensils for the altar and the consecration of the newly constructed St. Elias Little Miracles Montessori School. Archpriest Ayman Kfouf inaugurated both projects shortly after being assigned to St. Elias as the new pastor in November, 2013. Sayidna Anthony's visit thus represented the successful culmination of over two years of hard work by the people and pastor of St. Elias’ Church. 

His Grace Bishop Anthony presided over a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The parishioners with friends and families joined the divine services in praises and thanksgiving. During the sermon, Sayidna Anthony affirmed that God took on our humanity out of love for us and to redeem the fallen nature of our humanity and to raise us to new and everlasting life with Him, in communion with His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and by His Holy Spirit.

Immediate Attention: Spring Gathering Information

TO: Reverend Clergy, Fellowship, SOYO, and Antiochian Women of the Midwest

Greetings on the Great Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Now that the "Holy Days" are behind us, the clergy and parishioners of St. Mary Church of Palos Heights, IL are excited to host the Midwest Spring Gathering of our Diocese and extend open arms to the entire Midwest family! The meetings are scheduled for the weekend of March 10-13, 2016. (Download the flyer)

Bishop Anthony's Pastoral Letter for Theophany (Epiphany) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

January 6, 2016

As we celebrate this great Feast of Theophany or Epiphany, we know that the Birth of Christ and His work on earth was also the will of the Holy Trinity: it was a common will for the common good, so to speak, first of man's salvation, and, also, of all creation.

Originally, at least in the East, Christmas and Epiphany; the birth of Christ, His Baptism by John in the Jordan, and the pilgrimage of the Magi to the place of Jesus' birth were one great feast and festival celebrating, especially emphasized at Epiphany, the fact that God became man. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity takes on human nature and restores its beauty and destiny.

Memory Eternal! + Father Richard Peters

Memory Eternal! Father Richard Peters of Williamston, MI, died at home on December 23, 2015. He was 78.

He was also born at home—the second of three sons born to Bertha and Dietrich Peters—on April 3, 1937, in Lansing. He graduated from Eaton Rapids high school, where he excelled in baseball, football, and basketball. He matriculated at Central Michigan University, where he met Janet Briggs of Scottville, Michigan. They were married in 1957.

A history major and ROTC cadet at Central, he was elected Student Body President his senior year, 1958, and was a Distinguished Military Graduate. He was a commissioned officer and an Airborne Ranger in the United States Army.

2015 Nativity Letter from Bishop Anthony

Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
December 25, 2015

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! ! المسيحُ وُلِد!َ فمجدوه

Love swings back and forth between hope and hurt. The Father in heaven had high hopes for His son on earth to rescue His creation for Him, returning it to its original meaning and destiny. The Little One who lay in a manger outside the comfort and crowd of the Inn, as baby and from then on to the Cross, from cradle to Cross, would, in the deepest sense, always be alone, on His own, and never at home anywhere. This prophet was not welcome in the town He grew up in. So He wandered as a homeless person. The Father would feel the hurt of this homelessness and hear the Blessed One say He had nowhere to lay His head.

Memory Eternal! + Archdeacon Russell George Hodge

Memory eternal! Archdeacon Russell George Hodge, 89, of St. George Church in West St. Paul, Minnesota, peacefully feel asleep in Christ last evening at his home in South St. Paul. He is survived by his wife Shamassy Phyllis and their son Father Paul Hodge and his family.


Antiochian Village Music Project Features Archival CD Recordings


Available for the First Time ever!
Father John Namie of Blessed Memory
The Divine Liturgy Audio CD
Antiochian Village 1981
Order Today
$20.00 ea.
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A Village Musical Collection
Featuring "Rick & Alan" (now Bishop Anthony and Fr. Michael Shanbour)
Includes 19 Songs:
+Original recording from 1984
+Live "Welcome Night" 1984
+Bonus Songs
(See song list at

Get Both CD’s for $35.00 (free shipping)

All proceeds to benefit the building fund of Three Hierarchs Mission, Wenatchee, WA, Fr. Michael Shanbour, Pastor

Meet Dianne O’Regan, President of the North American Board of the Antiochian Women

Boston, MA: Dianne (second from right) leads her first meeting as President of the NAB Antiochian Women in July, 2015Boston, MA: Dianne (second from right) leads her first meeting as President of the NAB Antiochian Women in July, 2015Dianne O'Regan has been a member of St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky for almost 20 years. She graduated with her Associate of Arts in Political Science from Bellarmine University, and her Bachelor of Arts (Summa Cum Laude) in Political Science with an Emphasis on Russian/Soviet Area Studies from the University of Louisville. She has been employed as a Legal Assistant for 35 years, having worked in the fields of criminal prosecution, criminal defense, and civil and corporate law. Since 1996, she has worked at the law offices of Stites & Harbison, PLLC, in the Creditors Rights & Bankruptcy Service Group.

On the local parish level, she currently sings in the choir, but has also served as a church school teacher, editor of the monthly newsletter, member of the adult Bible Bowl Team, and serving the Antiochian Women in various capacities.

Diocese of Toledo SOYO Newsletter, December 2015

Christ is in our Midst! He is and Ever Shall Be! The Midwest Teen SOYO Board would like to wish all a very happy holiday season! Due to some technical difficulties, we were not able to have a newsletter for the past month, but should be up and running for the rest of the year!

With this being said, we would like to formally thank all the parishes that participated in the Youth Month Challenge, as well as those who attended the Fall Gathering! The Fall Gathering was hosted by Saint George of Fishers, Indiana, and had a well-attended gathering! In terms of Youth Month, we would like to also recognize the winning parish of the Youth Month Challenge, The Basilica of Saint Mary, in Livonia, Michigan! We would like to stress how grateful we are that all of those who participated and had many a great deeds done! May God bless all those who participated in the unity of your SOYO within Youth Month 2015!

Read the full newsletter

Who Is Our Peace? + A Reflection on the State of the World Now

by Fr. George Shalhoub of the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan
A sermon delivered Sunday, November 15, 2015, in the wake of the terror attacks in Beirut and Paris


In the light of the constant atrocities, murder, suicide bombings, the war ravaging the world today, I wish to share with you the following:

As we enter the Holy Advent Season, we shall also gather, as families, to celebrate Thanksgiving in the midst of a world gone mad. We need to keep our eyes open through prayer to Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, for the salvation of the world.

Metropolitan Joseph Appoints Bishop Anthony as Sacred Music Dept. Overseer

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has appointed His Grace Bishop Anthony (Michaels) as the new hierarchical overseer of the Department of Sacred Music. Paul Jabara and the entire Department of Sacred Music welcome His Grace with open arms and look forward to many years under his tutelage. 

Watch Bishop Anthony's lectures on Pascha, presented at the 2014 Sacred Music Institute (SMI) 
Part I
Part II

Photo gallery of 2014 SMI with Bishop Anthony as Keynote Speaker, by Paul Jabara

Memory Eternal! + Nicholas Ramacciato

Nicholas Ramacciato reposed in the Lord on November 4, 2015. Nick and his beloved wife Francis had been married for over 52 years. They have a son, Nicholas Jr., a very successful businessman in Central Florida.

Originally from the Bronx in New York City, Nick and Francis had made Orlando home for the last thirty-five years. They had been in the restaurant business for many years, having owned and operated various Italian restaurants, before retiring to Orlando. 

Nick was one of the kindest, most gentle gentleman you could ever meet; at the same time he spoke his mind without any limits. That's how he came to become a part of the St. George family. Almost 25 years ago on a summer afternoon, Nick sparked up a conversation with St. George's pastor, the Very Reverend Fr. John Hamatie. Father John and Nick became friends and some years later Nick and Francis converted to the Holy Orthodox Christian faith.