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Antiochian Women of the East (AWE)

AWE 2021-2023 ROSTERDOWNLOAD the flyer for August 17 EventDOWNLOAD the flyer for August 17 Event



September, 2019

Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!
Your Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, Your Grace Bishop THOMAS, Reverend Fathers and Beloved
Sisters in Christ,
Happy Liturgical New Year!

May Jesus Christ and the Virgin
Mary bring to all of you good health and peaceful lives as we start a new Ecclesiastical Year. I pray that you and your families are well.

With help from God and with support of our AWE Executive Board, I am humbled to serve you again as the president. We are also blessed to have the Very Reverend Father Don Shadid continue as our Spiritual Advisor. The 2019 – 2021 AWE Executive Board members include: Angela Saliby, (re-elected as Vice President), Nancy Tentzeras, Secretary, Khouria Kelly Purdie, Treasurer, Colleen McAfee, (re-elected as Public Relations Director), Leslie Deeb-Carter, (re-appointed as Humanitarian Coordinator), Barbara Fanik, Membership Coordinator, Rachel V. Szewczyk, Social Media Coordinator.I am honored to be re-elected for a second term as the president of the Antiochian Women of the East (AWE). AWE consists of the Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C., under the direction of his Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, which includes 15 churches and missions. Including the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, led by His Grace Bishop THOMAS, which includes more than 30 churches and missions.

READ the full letter 

A special event at our PLC!!

The Antiochian Women of the East (AWE) are hosting our first ever Clergy Wives Recognition session via Zoom! Since His Eminence Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) of Thrice-Blessed Memory has declared March as Women's Month, AWE is taking this time to honor, thank, and encourage our Antiochian Clergy Wives, who are the "second hand" to our priests and deacons. We have also invited our former AWE presidents to join this event, as a way to say "Thank you!" for their dedication and service to all women of the Antiochian Orthodox Church.  

May this event be a blessing to all who attend!!




March is Antiochian Women Month! Each Sunday, AWE will host a separate event. Click each icon in this PDF to register!

REGISTER NOW for the AWE Book Club

We have published our Fall 2020 Newsletter AWEsome News online! Our Public Relations Director Colleen McAfee writes,

"Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be! As I've shared before, my role as your Public Relations Director is focused primarily on chapter cohesion. Now, more than ever, we have found ourselves isolated and attempting to remain connected in any ways we can. Christ calls us to community and in the midst of the current pandemic, we have found keeping community to be a challenge. Nevertheless, I have been extremely encouraged by our chapter reports that have shared how parishes have been intentional about keeping community and our Sisterhood alive and active these last few months. I pray you will be just as encouraged and inspired by our fellow sisters!"

The issue includes much information for our encouragement: news from the chapters, a letter from Spiritual Advisor ​Fr. Don Shadid, ​information about the Backpack Program, and links to YouTube presentations by AWE speakers.


Paschal Video 2020

Virtual Gathering with Frederica Mathewes-Green: April 26, 2020


First Ever Fall Retreat for AWE

Read the full report and view more photos of the Fall Retreat

The first Fall Retreat ever in the history of Antiochian Women of The East (AWE) took place over the weekend of October 11 and 12, 2019, on the beautiful property of Holy Protection Monastery in White Haven, Pennsylvania. President Rula Khoury reports that it was a great success! Sixty women from seventeen churches attended and grew together in faith and fellowship.

"We would like to thank Fr. Don Shadid for taking the time to be our lecturer, and being open to questions during our 'Ask Abuna' hour," noted Rula. "We would especially like to thank the nuns of Holy Protection for letting us use their monastery as our retreat space, and for being very hospitable to everyone who attended.

"This was the first time for some of our participants to attend on the regional level!" she added. She also noted that this was also the first time that St. James Church from Poughkeepsie, New York joined the Antiochian Women of the East on the regional level.​

Visiting Holy Protection Monastery, White Haven, PAVisiting Holy Protection Monastery, White Haven, PA

      • Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America CrestAntiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America Crest

The Tree of Jesse" icon was presented on July 24 to Mrs. Evelyn Kouri, in honor of her tireless work in establishing and planting the seeds for the Antiochian Women of the East(AWE). Mrs. Kouri served as the very first president of AWE.The Tree of Jesse" icon was presented on July 24 to Mrs. Evelyn Kouri, in honor of her tireless work in establishing and planting the seeds for the Antiochian Women of the East(AWE). Mrs. Kouri served as the very first president of AWE.


  • Executive Board Roster (PDF)
  • Spiritual Advisor, The Very Rev. Donald E. Shadid
    Rula Osama Khoury, President
  • Angela Saliby, Vice President
  • Nancy Tentzeras, Secretary
  • Khouria Kelly Purdie, Treasurer 
  • Anna Veniamin, Religious Coordinator
    Colleen McAfee, Public Relations Coordinator
  • Leslie Deeb Carter, Humanitarian Coordinator
  • Rachel Szewczyk, Social Media Coordinator
  • Barbara Fanik, Membership Coordinator
    Cynthia Brandenburg, Book Club Coordinator
    Marlene Ayoub, Immediate Past President

Women’s Lenten Retreat March 29 – 31, 2019

The topic for the retreat was “Pray, Fast, Give”, taught by Father Charles Baz. It was a magnificent time of refreshment through attending Liturgies, praying the Akathist, Vespers, Orthros and learning from Father Charles’ teaching.

The retreat started off on Friday with the beautiful Akathist to the Mother of God Service. I wanted to learn the history about the Akathist and I found this by Hieromonk Job Gumerov. The Akathist was written in honor of the Mother of God, and was sung standing all night, from Friday to Saturday of the fifth week of Great Lent, after the victory over the Persians and Avars who had attacked Constantinople in 626, with Shah Hosroes Sarvar as their leader. The imperial city was surrounded by sea and by land. The situation was hopeless. The Mother of God gave her miraculous help and the city was saved. Out of thanksgiving for this intercession the feast of the Laudation of the Most Pure Mother of God (Saturday Akathist) was instituted. The word “rejoice” pronounced repeatedly is taken from the Gospels. This is how the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Mother of God when he brought her the annunciation of the Messiah who would be born of her. “Rejoice, Thou are full of grace! The Lord is with Thee. Blessed are thou among women.” Luke 1:28.

After dinner, we watched a wonderful movie called “Life is Beautiful” an incredibly moving story about love, family and the greatest love anyone can give.  Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13. I will not tell details in case you have not seen the movie, but this set the tone of our retreat. We know that the greatest love in history is the love our Lord Jesus Christ showed in the laying down of his life for the salvation of the world. The love that our Lord showed is what drives us to the three pillars of Praying, Fasting, and Giving that we as Orthodox Christians practice during Lent.

Friday evening, after the movie, we gathered in the lobby and Rula Khoury (our AWE President) demonstrated how to make the Koliva for Saturday’s Memorial service. It was a unique experience for many of us new to the Orthodox faith. Koliva is made for memorials for the departed. The main ingredient “wheat” brings to mind the quote from John’s Gospel “Christ said, ‘Unless a wheat of grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’” (John 12:24).

I found the article below written by Andrew Athanasiou – which beautifully explains our Tradition.

Koliva is boiled wheat with (depending on the recipe) a combination of some or all of the following ingredients:  powdered sugar, almonds, ground walnuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon, pomegranate seeds, raisins, anise, parsley and more.  

As Orthodox Christians we are awaiting the 2nd Coming and the General Resurrection of the dead, through Christ we have Life!  But, remembering the memory of our deceased beloved ones is an opportunity to pray for the souls of the departed as well as a way to help us heal from the death.

Koliva is an important part for the beginning of Lent.  The first Saturday of Lent and the previous two Saturdays leading up to it are called the Saturdays of the Souls.  Saturday, year round, is a remembrance of the dead, but these particular Saturdays the remembrance is intensified.  According to tradition, Koliva is connected to Lent because of a miracle from St. Theodore the Tyro.  In the 4th Century AD, Emperor Julian the Apostate knew that Christians would be hungry after the first week of strict fasting, which would make them go to the markets in Constantinople to buy food.  Emperor Julian ordered blood from pagan sacrifices to be sprinkled on the food that was sold there, trying to force the Christians to paganism.  St. Theodore the Tyro, who had died in the early 300’s, appeared to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Eudoxios, in a dream, telling him that Christians should just boil wheat from their homes and sweeten it with honey, to avoid the polluted foods at the market.”

Saturday morning, we had Divine Liturgy for Soul Saturday. As explained in the article, during this Liturgy, we commemorate the memory of our hierarchy departed from this life as well as our departed loved ones. It is fitting that we celebrate Soul Saturdays during Lent because our Lord Jesus fulfilled the true Sabbath when he rested in the tomb on Saturday.

Sunday morning started with Orthros Service, Divine Liturgy (Third Sunday of Lent) and was followed by the Procession of the Holy Cross. A beautiful reverent service for the veneration of the Holy Cross of our Lord.  

Father Charles noted that his teachings were drawn from the teachings of Father Thomas Hopko (of blessed memory). I would like to highlight just a few of the teachings from Father Charles presentation. I would love to include his entire presentation as it was so enlightening and edifying, but I have done my best to pull just some of the beautiful teachings that truly resonated with me.

The three pillars of the Great Fast of our Holy Orthodox Faith are outlined by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 6:1-20) are:

  • We pray to God.
  • We fast for ourselves.
  • We give to others.

In order to experience Pascha we must diligently prepare by praying, fasting, and almsgiving. The Orthodox Church is the Church of the Resurrection. Our ultimate goal is the “resurrection.”  Jesus is the only reason for “resurrection, life and hope.”

(Excerpts from Father Charles Presentation in italics)


 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:16-18

Importance of Fasting - St. Basil the Great – “Fasting is not abstaining from food only but also abstaining from sin. Fasting is the accuser of sin, and the advocate of repentance, and, as the life worthy of angels and the salvation of humans.”

Adam and Eve were exiled from Paradise because of disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit. When Adam and Eve ate, they surely “died”. Death entered into the world and they were separated from God and all their descendants, the entire human race. Their transgression entered into the human race by their “mouths.”  They were expelled from Paradise by the action of “eating,” we are invited back into Paradise by the action of “eating,” (which we consume in the Holy Eucharist. A foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet) during the Great Fast we train and discipline our mouths both ways; by what we eat and what we say.

The Great Fast should be a joyous time. After a weary winter, we look forward in anticipation for the coming of spring; as we journey through the blessed struggle of the Great Fast we anticipate the joy of Pascha.


 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. Matthew 6:5-8

To abstain from certain foods without an increased prayer life and doing charitable works (almsgiving) is futile.

Father Charles key points:

  • Prayer is Communication & Communion with God.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was a man of Prayer.
  • The Lord instructs us and teaches us to pray.
  • Whenever the Disciples were in trouble or at a loss, Jesus was praying.
  • Every righteous person, male or female, in the Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testament, prayed.
  • The Saints in Heaven are in a continual state of prayer: We pray through them and they pray for us.
  • We are to “Pray without Ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Father then went on to teach us on the two forms of prayer:

  • Communal/ Community – the Church.
  • Devotional/Personal – in private.
  • Both are important for the Spiritual life.

Father Charles then went on to explain the singular and plural “you” in Matthew 6:5–8 and in the Lord’s Prayer; where it applies to Communal prayer and Devotional prayer, teaching us how it applies to both.


 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Matthew 6:1–4

St. John Chrysostom - “Almsgiving is greater than all virtues. It places its lovers by the side of the King Himself, and justly.”

  • In Greek it stands for “Act of Mercy”.

St. John Chrysostom  - “Feeding a hungry person is better than raising someone from the dead.”

Matthew 25: 34–36, 40 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me…

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did  it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

  • It is the only thing God will judge us for in the Last Judgement, hence, the Gospel reading of Meatfare Sunday (Matthew 25:31-46)

“Your salvation could be contained in that little 3x3 box of Food for Hungry People.” Father Charles Baz

In conclusion:

Orthodoxy is above all the Church of the Resurrection, for its very foundation is the Risen Christ, and He is its one and only basis for Christian existence, life and hope. Unfortunately, many of our people do not fully experience this profound Joy of Pascha. This is because they fail to embrace fully a necessary time of preparation. For without an “expectant preparation” the deeper meaning of Pascha is lost.

The teachings of Father Charles brought about a deeper, spiritual understanding of the beautiful disciplines of our Holy Orthodox faith, as he brought together the meaning and the reason why Mother Church gives us these disciplines. They are put there for the health of our souls so that we may know how to prepare in anticipation for the joyous moment when we meet the Lord in the ultimate, eternal Pascha in the Heavenly Kingdom.

All Glory be to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – The Blessed Holy Trinity!

By Maria Koropsak

The Outline of Elder Thaddeus Life

Born and baptized October 6 (Old Calendar) 1914, Feast of Holy Apostle Thomas, weakly and sick, fearing he would die, in Serbia. Named Tomislav.

As young boy, mother died. Father remarried twice. Step-mothers abusive. Father didn’t stand up for him. Different from other kids because of dietary issues. No one thought he’d be good for anything. Found solace in God, and his own thoughts.

Realized early in life that life consists of serving others and that he must patently bear both sorrow and pain in serving.

Was apprenticed to be a tailor rather than a farmer because physically weak. Not successful.

At 18 years old, desire arises to become a monk. Writes letter to Gornjak monastery. While awaiting reply, he falls gravely ill, decides to forgo treatment. Told has 5 years to live.

1932 Goes to monastery against parent’s will. At Gornjak monastery, told and guided to go to Miljkovo monastery instead, to find the kind of monasticism he seeks. This monastery is coenobitic, meaning life in community. Strict prayer rule: Daily liturgy, strict fasting, full cycle prayers, pray in cell.

1932 At Miljkovo, becomes a Novice. He is given several obediences all of which he failed at, but his Abbot covered his failures with love and patient forbearance. As he thought he had only 5 years to live, he confessed all thoughts, and gave himself over to constant prayer of the heart. Once he became a monk, the battle with his thoughts intensified. Abbot counsels him to pray with contrition of heart. He starts zealously to read the Holy Fathers.

After one year, Abbot Ambrose dies in 1933. Monastery starts to break up. He’s thrown into deep sorrow, and loses prayer of heart. His soul is torn by sadness. Finds consolation in a book called The Path to Salvation by St. Theophan the Recluse.

1935 He goes to Gornjak monastery. Tonsured a Monk. Takes name of Thaddeus. From there, sent to school to learn iconography. Learns the mystical theology of icons, but cannot continue because of paint fumes.

1937, the supposed last year of his life, ordained Heiromonk and sent to Pech in Kosovo until 1941, when has to flee from violence at the outbreak of WWII. Back to Belgrade where he is accepted into Radovica monastery.

1941 Arrested by Nazis. Questioned whether he is a communist. Returns to Vitovnica where SS demands that he be at their disposal, he refuses.

1943 Arrested again, thrown into prison without charges, and sentenced to death. With his soul in anguish, has first vision of an Angel as a soldier, showing him a map of Serbia and all whom he must comfort.


Spiritual Reading


Below are a few thoughts about spiritual reading to keep in mind. All notes are from A Practical Guide to Spiritual Reading by Susan A. Muto. Our meetings will provide insights, and encouragement to one another. Each chapter provides for us a theme to dwell on. We will read aloud one or two paragraphs and dwell on those for a minute before we discuss what wisdom is found there to aide our spiritual growth. Common themes will arise about the problems faced in the life of the spirit.

Take notes while you read.

Notice particular themes.

Write out your thoughts. They are for you to think about, not a confessional of short-comings, but rather a record of dialogue with text. The notes are solely yours, and don’t have to be shared.

Observe what you read.

Read as a disciple for inspiration.

Dwell with the text to make connections from what you read to your life, here and now.


The Advent Period in Home Life


by Sophie Koulomzin

What is the meaning of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord in our family life? How can we live through the preparatory period of Advent as a Christian family? Can this meaning be truly and naturally, unpretentiously, embodied in the experience of a family, a home with children, teenagers, adults and old people?

Of course, first of all, Christmas is a FEAST, a celebration, an occasion for joy. Understanding the real meaning of this joy (God coming to us to share our humanity) comes to every individual gradually, within the measure of his or her spiritual development, but the experience of joy, of rejoicing, of having a very happy time because it is Christmas is something that can be experienced by all members of the family, whatever their age, whatever their level of spirituality . . . if only there is someone within the family who remains a witness of the true meaning of this joy. The experience of a joyous celebration remains the foundation stone of understanding the meaning of the Lord’s Nativity.


President Rula O. Khoury Biography (PDF)159.27 KB
2020-21 Annual Dues Slips (PDF)370.07 KB
Summary of Duties of Diocesan Officers & Coordinators (PDF)801.37 KB
First Annual AWE Fall Retreat (PDF)925.24 KB
AW Prayer (PDF)587.45 KB
2019 Lenten Retreat Flyer (PDF) 262.37 KB
2019 PLC Meeting and Luncheon Flyer712.33 KB
Presidents Report, Midwinter Meeting 2019 (PDF)348.24 KB
AWE Parish and Head Clergy Listings (XLS Download)8.22 KB
AWE 2018 PLC Ladies Reports (PDF)2.14 MB
Anna Veniamin Introduction (PDF)661.75 KB
Lenten Retreat Flyer 2020 (PDF)443.22 KB
Lenten Retreat Schedule 2020 (PDF)466.99 KB