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Bishop Anthony Travels to Pilgrimage Sites in Europe

By Vicky Michaels

In May 2019, His Grace Bishop Anthony travelled to Rome, Italy, where his goddaughter and niece is currently studying abroad. We went to see where she has been studying and to visit the home of His Grace’s grandmother in Montenegro. We landed in Rome and met Antiochian priest Fr. Michael Nasser, who was there picking up his daughter Maria who was studying in Florence. Father took us to the site of St. Paul's imprisonment and martyrdom. We were able to see St. Paul’s prison cell as well as Tre Fontane where he was beheaded. When St. Paul's head was removed, it bounced three times and in that location, a fountain came up out of the ground. 

While in Rome we also visited St. Paul's Basilica, St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and the Coliseum – all wonderful places to see!

From there we flew to Dubrovnik and drove to Montenegro. We were surrounded by mountains with the sea in the middle. Bishop Anthony was able to serve in the church of his grandmother, St. Nicholas in Kotor. How wonderful it was to see the old church and beautiful ancient town! The church even honored us with a reception after the liturgy.

2019 Pentecost Greeting From Bishop Anthony

June 16, 2019
Great Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost

Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest:

Glory to Jesus Christ! Again and again we are refreshed with the awareness that we have seen the True Light and have received the Heavenly Spirit. On Pentecost, we once again begin our daily and liturgical prayers by saying: "O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things..."

​At the Lord's Ascension, he told His disciples, "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Our Lord's instruction to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" has not been withdrawn. Indeed, the coming of the Holy Spirit is the indwelling power of God to the end that we might fulfill this commission. As I have said before, the victory of Christ given to every man objectively must be accepted by each man subjectively. I must want what I have! I make His victory over death my own by living the virtues of Christ personally. The work of the Holy Spirit is to shape us in virtue so we attain life and we desire this not only for ourselves and our own families, but for every man and woman and child with whom we live and work.

On Pentecost and Missions

We often remember Pentecost as being the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit. We remember the tongues of fire and wonder what that experience would have been like. Perhaps we also limit the important events of that day to the room in which the Apostles were waiting as Christ had commanded them to do when he ascended into heaven. We may not think about the rest of that day, or what happened beyond the room.

Pentecost is considered to be the birthday of the Church. After all, it was on this day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. That, in itself, was an event worth celebrating, but it did not just happen for the Apostles' edification. When He descended upon the Apostles, the Holy Spirit enabled them to fulfill Christ's command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We don't always ponder that connection when we celebrate Pentecost.

Find Our Coordinators At Your PLC!!

The Department of Christian Education will have a representative at each PLC this summer. If you are interested in speaking with one of our Coordinators or Associates, please let us know. Do you need training for your teachers? Have questions about curriculum or current issues? Our staff is available for trainings and workshops at your Parish. Speak to our staff at a PLC or look for their contact information under Staff and Volunteers on our website.

Here's where you'll find us:

DOWAMA – Dn. Elisha Long will hold a workshop entitled "Lessons From the Front Lines – exploring the dynamics of the current generation of youth" – on Friday, June 21 from 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. Don't miss this discussion! Also, Vasiliki Oldziey will be staffing our information table at various times and speaking to different groups throughout the conference. Stop by to discuss your needs, ask questions or just find out what the AODCE is up to!

Acts of Mercy booklet

A new booklet, "Acts of Mercy," is available for Antiochian Women chapters in North America. Please follow these instructions for printing the booklet prior to distribution. (Download the booklet)


When you choose "print" from the file menu, and the printer dialogue box appears, make sure that you check the box that says to print "Actual size."
Do NOT choose: "Fit" or "Shrink oversized pages" or "Custom scale."
Printing "actual size" insures that the graphics on the interior pages match up from one page to another.

If your printer has the capablitiy of printing on both sides of the paper (auto duplex mode), make sure that you check the box: "Flip on short edge."

If your desktop printer cannot print on both sides of the paper, then follow the directions on the printer's pop-up dialogue box for "manual duplex mode" that shows you how to re-insert the paper by flipping it on the "short side."

Greeting From Bishop THOMAS for The Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost

Ascension and Pentecost, 2019
(PDF of Ascension and Pentecost Greeting)

Beloved in Christ,

The twin feasts of the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost are truly a summation of the entire Christian life. In the Ascension, we are reminded that this life on earth is not our final destiny. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ascended 40 days after His resurrection to prepare a place for us with His Father. That is our ultimate destination and should be the object of our thoughts, words, and deeds on a daily basis.

Pentecost or Trinity Sunday reminds us of what our daily lives should be like. Holy Apostle Peter's words to the multitude on that first Pentecost provide us with the key to the Christian life. Peter boldly proclaims "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38-39)

June 2019 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Pathway to Paradise: He Who is Light and Life, the one Temple Resurrected 

From this month's Academy Booklet, Part II, we read helpful guidance from St. Athanasius:

The Cross and Reconciliation, Ascension and Pentecost

St. Athanasius writes:
Even on the Cross, He did not hide Himself from sight; rather He made all creation witness to the presence of its Maker. Then, having once let it be seen that "it" (his mortal flesh) was truly dead, He did not allow that Temple – which was Jesus and His Body – to stay there long, but raised it on the third day, impassible and incorruptible – the pledge and token of His victory.

(Read more in our June newsletter.)

June 2019 Coupon (PDF)

Summer 2019 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Summer 2019 issue of DIAKONIA, the newsletter of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, is now available online. This issue features the Diocese of Worcester and New England, and includes a message from His Grace Bishop John. Sayidna says, "The project for this year is the Antiochian Village. The Antiochian Women have been asked to help add to the buildings of this, our learning and spiritual center, new buildings and a cathedral to meet the growing needs of the Archdiocese. I am pleased with this project and believe the women of the Archdiocese are up for this task.

"I have been blessed by the Antiochian Village for the last 40 years. The Village has given me opportunities to learn, share, make friends, and encounter God. The Village has been for me the primary place of beauty, solitude, prayer and learning. At our Village I have met fellow God-fearing people from all over the Antiochian Church in America and abroad, Orthodox of other jurisdictions and Christians from many backgrounds. Each encounter has enriched my life and taught me about God, myself, and others."

Diocesan Spiritual Advisor Fr. Edward Hughes writes, "You [Antiochian Women], being so very busy in this very busy day and age, take time away from your families in order to minister to Jesus in His Church. You spend yourselves freely and unselfishly, working and 'striving' (as the Antiochian Women’s prayer puts it). May God strengthen you as you serve Him with your whole being."

And the Two Shall Become One Flesh: The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

By Bishop THOMAS (Joseph), Fr. Joseph Hazar, and Sdn. David Hyatt

"Have you not read," Jesus said, "that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matthew 19:4-6)

Marriage is a mystery, a sacrament, a uniting of one man and one woman into a living icon of the Holy Trinity, a manifestation of the love of Christ for His Church and the Church for her Lord, the foundation for the family and the generative force for bearing children, and it is the context for working out the salvation of both husband and wife through self-sacrificing love.

In the secular society in which we live, however, marriage has become a contract between two consenting adults based on the fulfillment of each other's needs. The desire "to live happily ever after" has become the fanciful basis for marriage, and also the great downfall of so many romantic beginnings. This self-orientation, of meeting my needs, is evident even in how many go about planning their wedding ceremonies. Many little girls dream of having a fairytale wedding – whatever that may look like in their mind. Some dream of getting married in a cathedral, dressed like a princess, others perhaps on a beach surrounded by only a few of their family and friends, and some opt to want no one there, but to simply elope with the man of their dreams. No matter what their version of the fairytale looks like, the wedding is "their special day."

Gleanings from a Book: Spyridon's Shoes by Christine Rogers

Christine Rogers’ new book, Spyridon’s Shoes is a comfortable fit for its readers. The language is simple enough for mid-elementary-level readers to read on their own. The story line is intriguing, though, and will capture the attention of younger or older children as well as the adults who read this book.

Young Spyros’ family is hard-working, but nonetheless they experience one hardship after another. The book tells the story of how Spyros (a nickname for Spyridon) and his family face each of their struggles with faith. It also reveals the ways in which God chooses to send help.

The grandfatherly man who arrives and helps Spyros when he badly cuts his foot early in the story is, interestingly enough, also named Spyridon. Spyros offers to call the grandfather “Abba” and the man accepts that nickname. After the first meeting, Abba continues to show up in Spyros’ life, helping him as needed and inspiring him to do what is right. It takes the reader almost the entirety of the book to realize that “Abba” is actually Saint Spyridon himself, appearing to and physically assisting his young namesake who truly needs his help.

Registration Opens for Summer Sacred Music Institute, July 10-14

SPECIAL UPDATE: We have just learned that His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH will be with us for the Sacred Music Institute. We are so honored by his wish to attend, and we want to extend registration a little longer since many people will undoubtedly want to see him! Please encourage your fellow chanters, choir members and choir directors to change their plans to include a trip to Antiochian Village in a couple of weeks. We have a wonderful agenda planned that now includes our Father in Christ and Chief Shepherd! (Read the welcome letter from His Eminence)
The new registration deadline is Sunday, June 30. On July 1, registration will close permanently. If you have any questions, please contact Emily Lowe, the SMI Coordinator, at



Course Descriptions
Welcome letter from His Eminence

The Department of Sacred Music is thrilled to announce the summer Sacred Music Institute of 2019, "Sacraments and Song," at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Sessions will begin on the evening of July 10, 2019 and end with Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on July 14.

This theme offers us the exciting opportunity to learn and practice music for many of the different sacraments offered by our church, including weddings, baptisms, ordinations and Holy Unction. Of course we will also offer our usual sessions on Byzantine chant, conducting, vocal technique and music theory, as well as plenty of time for worship, reflection and building relationships.

A Team Approach to Sunday School Leadership

An Interview with Wafa Omeish and the Church School Leadership Team
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Coral Gables, FL

The Saint George Sunday Church School has an interesting leadership structure. There is a principal, vice principal, and a team of officers and coordinators. The official role and responsibilities of the Principal are defined as, “In charge of curriculum development and implementation. Maintaining a standard of student behavior designed to command respect and minimize classroom interruptions. Orienting/training staff.  Planning and conducting faculty meetings as necessary; planning and implementing Recognition Sunday Program.”

A brief description of the additional positions are as follows:

Vice Principal - Support and assist Principal in all areas.

Secretary - Take minutes of meetings, keep all Sunday School records, maintain files at Church office.

May 2019 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Pathway to Paradise: He Who is Light and Life, and is the Temple Resurrected 

From this month's Academy Booklet we read insights from St. Gregory of Nyssa:

The Holy Trinity is True Life and the Only-begotten Son is the Word of God Who became Incarnate. He is Life and Truth, and His Spirit is holy and divine. He Is the Creator of all things. Thus His creation draws its supply of goodness, from the One Who Is Creation. So it should be evident that if they have life by partaking of He Who is Life, if He dies or life stops partaking of Him, creation will stop living... Now, the meaning of 'life' and 'death' is manifold, not always understood in the same light of understanding.

(Read more in our May newsletter.)

May 2019 Newsletter (PDF)

May 2019 Coupon (PDF)

2019 Pascha Message of His Grace Bishop ANTHONY

PDF of His Grace's Message

Great and Holy Pascha ~ the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord 

April 28, 2019

Beloved Clergy and Faithful of the Midwest Diocese,

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

On the Praises between the verses of Psalm 119 at the Matins of Holy Saturday, we hear chanted: “Thou hast been numbered among transgressors, O Christ. Thou hast justified us, O Lamb of God, by freeing us from the devil’s work.” Christ came to do three specific things: liberate us from captivity to Satan; defeat sin in our fallen nature; and destroy death. Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection is the meaning of Redemption.

Lenten Sundays Series: Great and Holy Pascha

This is the ninth in a series of posts that focuses on the Sundays of Great Lent, and Holy Week and Pascha. Each week we have shared ideas of ways to help your Sunday Church School students learn more about that particular Sunday’s focus. (Find the Palm Sunday article and earlier articles here.)

Here’s a meditation on Great and Holy Pascha for you to ponder before you create a lesson for your students:

Great and Holy Pascha is the most important day of our entire church year. We call it the “Feast of Feasts” for this very reason. On this day we celebrate Christ’s victorious triumph over death. This is the reason He came to earth and became incarnate: so that He could trample down death by His death, and save us. 

On Holy Saturday, we heard St. Matthew’s account of the women finding the empty tomb during the Vesperal Divine Liturgy. The Paschal Gospel reading acknowledges that we know the events of the day already, having just partaken of them all week. So instead of revisiting these events on Pascha, we turn our ears to the first verses of St. John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God… In Him was life and the life was the light of men…” The passage reminds us that God created the world and has now re-created it through Christ. This Gospel reading points us to the reason for all of the events we have just witnessed, and reminds us of the truth of the hope that we have in Christ.

Lenten Sundays Series: Palm Sunday

This is the eighth in a series of posts that focuses on the Sundays of Great Lent (and Holy Week and Pascha). Each week we will share ideas of ways to help your Sunday Church School students learn more about that particular Sunday’s focus. We will share each blog early, so that you have time to read it before the forthcoming Sunday, in case you find any of those ideas helpful for your particular class.

Here’s a meditation on Palm Sunday for you to ponder before you create a lesson for your students:

On this sixth Sunday of Great Lent, we will be celebrating Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as we prepare to enter into Holy Week. We usually refer to this feast as the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem, but we also call it Palm Sunday.

From the beginning of time, victorious kings have ridden joyously into their home cities after battle, surrounded by cheering crowds celebrating their success. The celebrations have changed over the years, but at the time of Christ, such a parade would have included palm branches being waved and laid on the road.

Things to See and Do in Holy Week

Download "Things to See and Do in Holy Week"

Each day of Holy Week, there's a special service (or more than one!) that we Orthodox Christians celebrate together. As you attend each service, encourage your children to spy out the following items/events. Print these pages, cut them in half, then stack and assemble them into a little booklet, and staple it together. We purposefully did not number these, so that you can add pages for services you will attend that are not listed here, and/or exclude the pages of services you will not be able to attend. Encourage your children to follow along, marking the icon following each item after it happens. (They could use colored pencils, markers, pens, small dot stickers, or whatever works best for your family.)

2019 Pascha Message From His Grace Bishop THOMAS

PDF of His Grace's Message


Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics, and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen! Glory to Jesus Christ, glory forever!

In the resplendent feast of Pascha there is a seeming contradiction. However, it is a contradiction only to the worldly-wise. Throughout the Great Fast, we are exhorted to make the effort to struggle ascetically, to put forth the effort to fast, to pray, and to give alms. The kontakion of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete exemplifies this exhortation, "My soul, my soul arise! Why art thou sleeping? The end is drawing near and you will be confounded. Awake then and be watchful, that you may be spared by Christ God, Who is everywhere and fills all things."

2019 Act of Mercy is "Education Support for School Children"






“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it…”
  Proverbs 22:6

Your Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, Esteemed Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, & Sisters in Christ, 

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

I hope everyone had a blessed Nativity and Epiphany!

As a recap, the NAB’s 2017-2018 Act of Mercy was a continuation of the FOCUS on Love campaign, which helps fund the Feeding Hungry Children program. In total, we raised $8,224.10 for this wonderful cause. With our help, approximately 9,939 hungry children across the country were provided fresh, nutritious meals! I would like to thank everyone for your contributions and support towards the “Act of Mercy,” “FOCUS ON LOVE.

For the 2018-2019 year, we will continue working with FOCUS. The Act of Mercy will expand to another area that is more encompassing of children’s needs. This year, our efforts will go towards FOCUS’s “Education Support for School Children.” Children are the building blocks of our future and it is important to help them along the way. Providing an education and resources for a child to receive a fruitful education will forever have an impact on them. This Act of Mercy will help provide educational access, food, books, supplies, tutoring and more to disadvantaged children in the United States. Attached to my email is also a brochure that provides additional information on this Act of Mercy.

2019 Project: Building a New Cathedral

"What is more precious to all of us than the Antiochian Village?"

His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH asked the members of the NAB and Spiritual Advisors this question as he prepared to tell us the theme of our 2019 NAB PROJECT.

The question immediately brought to mind what His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, of Thrice-Blessed Memory, used to say about the Antiochian Village:

"The Antiochian Village is the HEART of our Archdiocese."

When Metropolitan JOSEPH told us of his inspiration to build a new and beautiful cathedral on the grounds of the Village, we all immediately understood why this is such a wonderful vision. Not only does the building of a new cathedral give form to Metropolitan PHILIP's metaphor of a beating heart in the center of our Archdiocese, but a new and inspiring cathedral will also satisfy several practical and pressing needs. This vision of Metropolitan JOSEPH is one that I'm sure the Antiochian Women will be eager to help bring into reality.​

Lenten Sundays Series: The Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt

This is the seventh in a series of posts that focuses on the Sundays of Great Lent (and Holy Week and Pascha). Each week we will share ideas of ways to help your Sunday Church School students learn more about that particular Sunday’s focus. We will share each blog early, so that you have time to read it before the forthcoming Sunday, in case you find any of those ideas helpful for your particular class.

Here’s a meditation on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt for you to ponder before you create a lesson for your students:

On this fifth Sunday of Great Lent, we focus on the life of St. Mary of Egypt. St. Mary was born in Egypt, left home at the age of 12, and spent the next 17 years taking advantage of men for her own physical pleasure. Not until she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (for all the wrong reasons, but God works even through our wrong choices) did she begin to question the path she was taking. It was when she was unable to enter the church to venerate the Holy Cross that she realized something was wrong. The Theotokos herself helped Mary to understand the severity of her sins, and she repented. She repented so completely that she spent the rest of her days in the desert, fighting against her own fleshly desires and sins.

2019 Paschal Greeting From His Grace Bishop Basil

Pascha 2019

When Thou hadst fallen asleep in the flesh, as one mortal, O King and Lord, Thou didst rise again on the third day, raising up Adam from corruption, and abolishing death: O Pascha of incorruption! O Salvation of the world! (The Exaposteilarion of Pascha)

To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, the Christ-loving Monastics, and the Faithful Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of our Risen Saviour. Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Al-masih qaam! Христос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Cristo ha resucitado!

April 2019 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Lazarus and the Divine One Who is Resurrection and Life—John Chapter 11 

As we enter April, we highlight Jesus, the Word – our Father and our Christ – re-entering Jerusalem. Yet to better appreciate its significance and what follows, Jesus - through His Spirit of Grace and Truth – first raised Lazarus from his Tomb, after a four day burial. John 11:41- 43 provides insight, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew You always hear Me, but I say this for the benefit of the people standing here, so they may believe that You sent Me." This event is a comfort to those seeking Him and of great hope to be revealed through His Cross.

(Read more in our April newsletter.)

April 2019 Newsletter (PDF)

April 2019 Coupon (PDF)

Original 2018 Christmas Pageant Available for Download

Now available for download! An original Nativity Pageant created by Rebekah Yergo (Church School Director at St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in York, PA) and Rosemary Shumski (Administrative Assistant at the Department of Christian Education) is available for use in your parish. The writing, stage preparations, and costumes will be a hit with your children, who will feel like they are in a real production!
View the photos of the 2018 production.


Nativity Pageant script
Commitment Form for parents

YouTube video of "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" Cambridge performance
"Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" lyrics
"Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" audio file

Nativity Kontakion lyrics

"Heaven and Earth" lyrics
"Heaven and Earth" music score
"Heaven and Earth" audio file

Lenten Sundays Series: The Sunday of St. John Climacus

This is the sixth in a series of posts that focuses on the Sundays of Great Lent (and Holy Week and Pascha). Each week we will share ideas of ways to help your Sunday Church School students learn more about that particular Sunday’s focus. We will share each blog early, so that you have time to read it before the forthcoming Sunday, in case you find any of those ideas helpful for your particular class.

Here’s a meditation on the Sunday of St. John Climacus for you to ponder before you create a lesson for your students:

Today we commemorate St. John Climacus and his work “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” both of which have had a great impact on the Holy Orthodox Church through their influence on the monastic community and on the Church at large.

St. John was given the name “Climacus” because of his writings. “Climacus” means “ladder” and thus his name is a nod to the work by that name. From a very young age, John desired to serve God with all of his heart. He became a monk at the Mt. Sinai Monastery when he was only 16 years old, and he served there faithfully for years before going into the desert to live a hermit’s life.

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