Skip to Navigation

vnieuwsma's blog

2019 Special Olympics Volunteer and Coaching Applications Available

Special Olympics campers and staff at the VillageSpecial Olympics campers and staff at the VillageThe 2019 Special Olympics Sports Camp is scheduled to be held at the Antiochian Village August 9–18, 2019. This ministry is sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO, and is the second longest running program of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, serving over 340 Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and staff each season. It is the premier SOYO outreach program, now in its 38th 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 2019 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 Form  is posted as well.

Download Coaches Application

Download Volunteer Form

January 2019 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

His Baptism—Where the Wise and the Foolish are Born Anew

WHO is this divine One Who met John the Baptist at the Jordan River? According to the Gospel of John, He is the Word from the beginning – Who became Incarnate – and is the Son of Man, through Mary’s womb. He is named Jesus, the promised Christ of the Pentateuch– the Anointed Son of His eternal Father. He revealed Himself to Moses to be “I AM, the I AM” (OSB Ex. 3), our deliverer from bondage to false fears and gods. He is the Child, the Son spoken of in Isaiah 9:5 (OSB), Who shall bring His Peace of no end. (Read more in our January newsletter.)

January 2019 Newsletter (PDF)

January 2019 Coupon (PDF)

Bishop THOMAS 2019 Theophany Greeting

Download the PDF

January 2019

Dearly beloved in Christ,

I greet you in anticipation of the great feasts of the Lord Jesus Christ - the Circumcision of our Lord and the Holy Theophany. While the Circumcision is situated eight days after the Nativity and Holy Theophany concludes the festive 12 days of Nativity, both of these feasts are related to each other, and contain within them certain spiritual elements of the great feast of the Lord's Nativity.

The feasts reveal the mysteries of the divine condescension. The Lord Christ, by taking on human flesh, redeemed our nature by assuming it for Himself. The feasts fulfill the law of God as Saint Epiphanios teaches: that the circumcision of the flesh prepared and served man until Baptism, which is the great circumcision of the heart, because through His Baptism we are released from sins and are sealed with the name of God. The sealing with the name of God is a recognition that we belong to Christ.

2018 Nativity Greeting from His Grace Bishop ANTHONY

Download PDF

Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
December 25, 2018

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

المسيح يولد! تمجده!

Christmas is many things, which includes a story of two kings. One is from the world and the other King comes from heaven.

The first king, Herod, was not confident. He thought his power had to be protected. Although he was wealthy, sat on a throne, and looked down on others, he was afraid of everyone. Instead of bringing smiles to people's faces, he brought tears to their eyes. When he heard from the wise men that a baby Boy was born of a Holy Woman in the countryside, a Savior who would serve and save the people, Herod's fear got the best of him and he was in a "furious rage." He looked everywhere to find this newborn King.

Teaching Theophany

by Elissa Bjeletich (used with permission)

This post appeared previously as a Raising Saints podcast episode and was published on Elissa’s blog on 1.2.16.

Whether we celebrate on the Old Calendar or on the New, in our beautiful Orthodox tradition, we follow our 40 day fast with a feast that lasts not just one day, but several days.  We prepare ourselves with the fast, pulling ourselves away from the comforts of rich foods, and showing some self-discipline, so that we can focus not on making ourselves comfortable and full, but on prayer and alms and study.  We prepare our hearts in this way, and then when the feast comes, we multiply our joy with tables loaded with delicious goodies, which are all the more delightful because we haven’t seen them in a while.  Because the Feast of Christ’s Nativity is so important, the feast lasts ten days — and then we return to fasting just in time to gather our wits and prepare ourselves for the great feast of Theophany, the day of Christ’s baptism.  We take a short break from the feasting, and fast for just one day, in order to call our hearts to order and prepare ourselves to receive Theophany.

Bishop BASIL'S Nativity Greeting

The Nativity of Christ, 2018

To the Christ-loving Priests, Deacons, Monastics and Lay Folk of this God-protected Diocese:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss and the joyous festal proclamation:
Christ is born – ولد ألمسيـح
Χριστὸς Γεννᾶται – Христос рождается
Hristos se rodi – Hristos se naşte
May God the All-holy Trinity grant you and your households the happiest of Feasts and a
New Year filled with His abundant and richest blessings.

With assurance of my continued love,
prayers and blessings, I remain
In Christ the Incarnate Word of God,

+Bishop Basil

Bishop Basil's Nativity Greeting (PDF)

Annual DOCMA Clergy Synaxis Features Speaker Fr. Joshua Makoul

From November 6 through 9, 2018, his Grace Bishop THOMAS presided over the annual DOCMA Clergy Synaxis at the Antiochian Village Conference Center. Presbyters from the across the Diocese gathered to share fruitful conversation, pleasant fellowship, and good food.

This year's speaker was the dean of St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh, PA, The Very Rev. Joshua Makoul. His topic addressed how to deal with anger in ourselves and anger in the parish family. A Divine Liturgy was celebrated on the feast of the Archangels, and, as always, ample time was given for quiet meditation. The priests left strengthened in their bonds with one another and renewed in their calling to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church.

Bishop NICHOLAS Visits Archangel Gabriel Parish in Lafayette, LA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


His Grace Bishop Nicholas visited Archangel Gabriel Parish in Lafayette, Louisiana from November 30 through December 2, 2018. This was the the first visit by a bishop to this parish in six years. In a busy schedule, the bishop met with the parish council, the children, the women and the men of the parish, led vespers on Saturday night and Orthros and Liturgy on Sunday.

Gleanings from a Book: "Parent Points" by Fr. Chris Kerhulas

Father Chris Kerhulas’ book Parent Points is small but mighty. In its 107 pages, he blends his 40+ years of ministry experience with personal experience from parenting and grandparenting. Each chapter offers stories, wisdom, and insights into life as a young person, explained in a way which their significant adults can understand. Each chapter ends with “points,” takeaways for the reader to both meditate on and work on in their relationship with their children/youth.

Parent Points was an enjoyable, but meaty read. It made me both laugh and cry. It allowed me to reflect/reminisce while also planning ahead for future interactions. Best of all, the book made me THINK. How do I interact with the young people in my life? How can I improve those interactions? How can I help them to grow towards Christ, conveying His great love for them through the way that I treat them?

Department of Christian Education Provides Training Across the U.S.

The Antiochian Department of Christian Education coordinates with local parishes throughout the United States and Canada who wish to host training events for their teachers. The following is a recap of those held in the Fall of 2018. If you would like to host a training in your parish for teachers or Church School Directors, please contact Leslie at the Department of Christian Education 717-747-5221, or aodce.events@gmail.com.

St. Elijah Orthodox Church, Oklahoma City, OK hosted a training for 17 teachers on Saturday, August 18. Diocese of Wichita and Middle America Coordinator Vasiliki Oldziey presented "Using the Classical Trivium to Engage Students" and "The Theotokos: Your Elevator Apologia for our Veneration of the Theotokos." Holy Ascension, Norman, OK teachers also participated.

Nativity 2018 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Nativity issue of DIAKONIA, the newsletter of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, is now available online. This issue features the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York, and includes an Advent Message from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. His Eminence writes: "...let us spend these days tilling the soil of our hearts through fasting and repentance, watering our souls with works of mercy and reconciliation, and placing ourselves in the Light through prayer and attendance at divine services. By these, we shall partake of the Holy Mysteries unto life everlasting."

In this issue, Diocesan President Susanne Zeidan also reflects:

My grandparents and my parents were involved in our local church, and we grew up knowing it was our responsibility to continue their legacy. Through the Church, we have been blessed with many friends and a large Orthodox family." 

The issue also contains introductions to the diocesan officers and coordinators, and is filled with numerous reports and photographs from the Diocese's parish chapters of Antiochian Women.

Download the PDF​

December 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Nativity—Fulfillment of Prophecy

In the Beginning was the Word, the Son of His Eternal Father and One True Man. In His Wisdom, the Wisdom of His eternal, Unbegotten Father, He became Incarnate through the ever-faithful Mary. She named Her Son—our Father—Jesus. For He the Deliverer Who shall deliver as He promises. For He is the fulfillment of the promised Christ of the Pentateuch, the One God of Moses: I AM, the I AM. As the One Anointed Son of His eternal Father, He came for our salvation not only as our Father, but also High Priest of the Temple only the Son of Man could resurrect. Thus relationally, we are living stones of He Who is the Temple and we are His children. (Read more in our December 2018 newsletter.)

December 2018 Newsletter (PDF)

December 2018 Coupon (PDF)

Gleanings from a Book: Songs of Praise: A Psalter Devotional for Orthodox Women by Sylvia Leontaritis

Reading through the Psalter is a beautiful discipline at any time, but especially during a Lenten period. Sharing this experience with friends is even more lovely. Over the years, I’ve been part of several Lenten Psalter groups. Alongside my sisters (and some brothers) in Christ in these groups, I have both struggled and enjoyed the process of reading twice through the Psalms during a particular Lenten period. When I heard about Sylvia Leontaritis’ new book Songs of Praise: A Psalter Devotional for Orthodox Women, I was excited to have this pretty-covered version of the Psalter to be my companion book as I pray.

What I did not expect was the chance to pray the Psalter while feeling that I was sharing the experience with a wise best friend. Both Sylvia’s heart for God and her desire to live a truly Orthodox life pour out through her words, simultaneously challenging and encouraging her readers in a way that is usually reserved for dear friends. The tone in which she writes welcomes the reader to embrace her observations, ponder them, and then consider how to implement the ideas for their own growth.

On the Liturgical Year for Teachers: Christmas and Epiphany

This series of blog posts will offer basic information and resources regarding the liturgical year. It is our hope that Sunday Church School teachers will find this series helpful as they live the liturgical year with their students. The series will follow the church year in sections, as divided in the book “The Year of Grace of the Lord: A Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church” by a monk of the Eastern Church. May God bless His Church throughout this year!

The feasts of the Nativity (simply called "Christmas" in The Year of Grace of the Lord: a Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church) and Theophany (referred to as "Epiphany’"in that same book) fall within days of each other, regardless of the calendar being followed. Christmas falls on Dec. 25 (or January 7), and Theophany follows on its heels, on January 6 (or 19). For many of us, local culture offers multiple traditions related to Christmas, but few (or even none) related to Theophany. The monk who wrote the book encourages his readers to think beyond our culture’s interpretations (or perhaps misinterpretations?) of these feasts, and embrace them in a truly Orthodox manner.

"East Meets West" is Theme of February Sacred Music Institute

WINTER SMI 2019 HANDOUTS

The Department of Sacred Music is thrilled to announce the first Sacred Music Institute of 2019, "East Meets West," being held from February 15-17. Graciously hosted by Ss. Constantine & Helen Orthodox Church in Carrollton (Dallas), Texas, this year's Institute will be within close proximity to six Antiochian parishes.

Keeping with our theme, for the first time we will offer instruction in Western-Rite chant and a Western Rite Vespers, in addition to Byzantine chant, conducting, vocal technique, and the Typikon. Our keynote speaker, His Grace Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester will be gracing us with his presence, and offering some thoughts on the diversity of the Antiochian musical tradition.

ACT NOW!

Interview with Sammye Fuller: Supporting Sunday School as a Teacher, Then as Director

Sammye Fuller is in her seventh year as Sunday School Director at Holy Trinity Antiochian Orthodox Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. The parish has 25 students enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year.

Please share with us a little about yourself.

Technically, I have been the Sunday School Director for about seven years. However, since we did not have a Director before that, and I was the only Sunday School teacher in the beginning, perhaps it has been longer.

We have four classes. The preschool class is for 2-ish to 5 years old, with one teacher and one or more helpers when available. Parents often stay if needed. The elementary class is 6-9 years old.

Blessed Fast and Blessed Feast! Bishop THOMAS 2018 Nativity Greeting

The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 2018The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Beloved in Christ,

I greet you in this season of the Nativity Fast, in anticipation of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord.

As the Lord Christ assumes our human nature in order to redeem it, we rejoice in His divine condescension and His munificent love. Saint Gregory Palamas notes, "Without being separated from the Father's bosom He who is in the world and by whom the world was made (John 1:10), came out and entered the world. He who fills heaven and earth came down from heaven to earth. Consequently, the coming forth of the only-begotten son of God, and His descent from heaven, represent nothing other than His manifestation in the flesh and His self-emptying, from the unutterable exaltation of divinity down to human nature at the other extreme" (Homily 47 On the Parable of the Sower).

Midwest Clergy Gather in Toledo

VIEW PHOTO GALLERY

St. George Cathedral in Toledo recently had the pleasure to host Bishop Anthony and the Diocese of Toledo's annual fall gathering. A highlight of the event was the blessing of Bishop Anthony's new residence. Enjoy the pictures!

November 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Prayer life with He Who holds us precious—the Divine One—Supreme in His Being—Jesus our Christ

Any ideology or thought or ambition of man, about power and might, will fail again and again, if one turns away from our Father, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word.

Seeing Jesus only as God and not our Christ, is a first turning from Him. Not knowing Him to be: I Am the I Am, friend of Moses, is another. Knowing Him not as the Word from in the beginning, Who became Incarnate and then named Jesus – the Deliverer - is often key to why people turn away from Him, in blind ignorance and not knowing Him. (Read more in our November 2018 newsletter.)

November 2018 Newsletter (PDF)

November 2018 Coupon (PDF)

 

Bishop Thomas 2018 Greeting for the Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos

November 21, 2018

Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple

Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics,

         and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:

The feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple is a spiritual foreshadowing of our entrance into the heavenly kingdom. This foreshadowing provides us with our own preparation for entrance into the heavenly realm.

We must be adorned properly with a spirit cleansed by a life of repentance and asceticism. We must be willing to struggle just as the 3-year-old infant had to make an effort to ascend 15 high steps in order to enter the temple. So should we, in order to enter the Heavenly Realm, make the effort to ascend the ladder of virtues, to labor at fasting and prayer. The Holy Virgin went up the steps by herself, without any help from others, but with the miraculous help of God. So should we, in our attempt to attain the Heavenly Realm, make the effort ourselves, but constantly asking God for help along the way.

Teacher Training Opportunities for the Diocese of Charleston and NY

Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Linthicum, MD

Holy Cross Orthodox Church will host “Educating Ourselves & Our Children in Godliness” on Saturday, November 17, 2018. The event will run from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. In this advanced training, participants will gain confidence and knowledge, with courses for both elementary and middle school/high school teachers. Courses will address learning styles, teaching strategies, adolescent needs, and moral issues.

Register online here! Cost for the day is $10 and includes the training and materials, plus breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Please email Deborah at kdakthomas@verizon.net or call 410-694-0542 with questions.

New and experienced teachers are welcome! There is something for everyone.

Holy Cross training flyer
Course descriptions
Schedule

Register Now! 21st Annual Midwest Diocese Basketball Tournament

The 20th Annual Midwest Diocese Basketball Tournament will be held in Canton, Ohio, on January 18–20, 2019. This year, His Grace Bishop Anthony and the faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest joyfully welcome participation from churches of the Mid-Atlantic Diocese, led by His Grace Bishop Thomas.

The host is St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, and accommodations are available via the Courtyard by Marriott in Canton at a group rate of $89.00 per night. 

DOWNLOAD 2019 Basketball Tournament Forms

DOWNLOAD Flyer

How the Department of Sacred Music Choir Workshop Revitalized Our Music Ministry

By Jen Hartmann, Assistant Choir Director

Interested in hosting a choir workshop at your parish?
Contact Paul Jabara, Chairman of the Department of Sacred Music, at sacredmusic@antiochian.org.

On September 30, 2018, while directing the choir in the Trisagion Hymn during Divine Liturgy, I experienced something profound. The familiar people standing in front of me weren't just twenty-five dedicated and faithful individuals who just happen to come upstairs and sing for Divine Liturgy on Sundays, but they were a choir. A cohesive unit. Twenty-five pairs of eyes looking intently at me. Breathing together. Blending together. Singing in tune, in tempo, and in faith. Their eyes, ears, and hearts were wide open, and the joy was palpable. Something big had changed between the previous week and this moment.

The difference? We invited Paul Jabara to lead a workshop with our choir that weekend (September 28-30, 2018).

Syndicate content