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A Prayer for September 11

September 11, 2018 is the seventeenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon our nation in New York, NY, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, PA. In the United States, Patriot Day occurs on September 11 of each year in memory of the people killed in the attacks of 2001.

A service appropriate to the day is the Akathist to the Mother of God 'Softener of Evil Hearts'

Read the reflection "We Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood

A Prayer for September 11

September 2017 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Washed — Cleansed — Healed, by His Grace: In Remembrance of His Waters of the Jordan River

Our last letters focused on the story of Lazarus bringing special attention to Jesus, the I AM, being: 1) Resurrection and Life - His own words, 2) the Anointed Son of His eternal Father, confirmed by Martha, 3) our One hope over the fear of death and empty powers of Satan, confirmed by Lazarus, while 4) recognizing Jesus to be the Son of Man, confirmed when Mary – sister to Lazarus and Martha – anointed Him. In Him, we are liberated from bondage, to freely choose Him as our Father.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

"Engaging our Youth" September Workshop and Retreat in Colorado

St. Elias Orthodox Church in Arvada, Colorado welcomes Fr. James and Kh. Gigi Shadid for a workshop and retreat on Friday and Saturday, September 29–30!

Father James will host an "Ask Abouna" session on Friday evening, and an energetic retreat for teens and young adults on Saturday. Khouria Gigi will discuss "Season of Faith," "The Nuts & Bolts of Teaching" and "How to Engage Our Children," with the adult attendees. Print the attached flyer to promote this event in your parish, and submit the registration form to secure your place at this exciting conference. Please forward registration materials to St. Elias Orthodox Church or contact Fr. George Shawareb at 303-949-5809 or for more information.

Letter From His Beatitude Patriarch John X to the Texas Faithful

Damascus, Syria

Your Eminence Metropolitan Joseph,
Beloved brothers and sisters in Texas State:

From the Mariamite Cathedral in Damascus, I greet you in the name of our Lord; and heartily express my deepest sympathy and compassion during this devastating time where the destructive Hurricane Harvey hit Texas State.

Despite the sufferings of your brothers and sisters in Syria and all the Middle East, you are in their thoughts and prayers, and along with St. Paul, we repeat: "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulations, be constant in prayer" (Romans 12:12).

You are people of faith, and by God's will, you shall overcome this sad event stronger and united under the parental care of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. You all remain in the heart and prayers of your Patriarch.

May God, the Lord of mercy and compassion protect all of you, help the affected, heal the wounded and bless the souls of those who rested in peace.

Transferring to you all the love, prayer, and compassion of every Antiochian faithful and sending you the Apostolic blessing of the Apostles Peter and Paul, we pray to God to strengthen you and keep you under the maternal protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Annual Clergy Wives Weekend to be Held at Antiochian Village, October 20-22, 2017

Byzantine wedding ringByzantine wedding ringDownload the Registration Form

Come to this pan-Orthodox gathering and be refreshed and restored! As always, this weekend offers an opportunity for clergy wives to rededicate ourselves to our own personal spiritual journeys as we participate with our husbands and families in the various vineyards where God has led us. We are reminded of the efforts and the memory of Kh. Joanne Abdalah, for whom care and nurturing of clergy wives was always a priority. Likewise this year we will celebrate and remember Kh. Stefanie Yazge, whose dedication to clergy wives and their families will be remembered on Friday evening specifically by her children—Matt, Mark, and Alexis—as we open our session.


Speaker: Mother Christophora, Abbess Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PA

Group Facilitator: Deacon Seraphim Moslener: Gifts for the Journey: Faith, Hope and Love

Bishop Thomas 2017 Nativity of the Theotokos Greeting

September 8, 2017
Nativity of the Theotokos

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

I greet you on this most joyous feast, the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos! On this day we pause and reflect upon the splendor and beauty of the Theotokos extolled in the words of Saint Gregory Palamas, “Indeed, to express the honor of the Virgin Bride as is her due, she did not just act as a mediator for certain chosen races, but, standing between God and every race of men, she made God the Son of man, and men the sons of God. She alone was shown to be the natural mother of God in a supernatural way, and by her indescribable child-bearing she became the Queen of the entire Creation in this world and beyond, for ‘all things were made by Him’ who was born of her, ‘and without him was not anything made that was made’ (John 1:3).”

Metropolitan Joseph Urges Prayer and Practical Assistance in the Wake of Harvey


Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings to you and your families as we prepare for the beginning of a new Church year.

We have all witnessed with a heavy heart the catastrophic destruction and massive flooding in Southeast Texas (and now Western Louisiana) as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Some of the scenes of suffering have been beyond words. I have been in constant contact with our clergy and the parishes of the area and am waiting for an assessment from them in order to help in any way we can. Although things are still unfolding, we want to be proactive in our appeal to all of you so we can respond as quickly as possible.

As people of God and the Church of Christ, we feel compelled to help our brothers and sisters in need. Therefore, I am asking every parish and mission of the archdiocese to appeal to their faithful and hold special collections throughout the month of September so that we can alleviate a little of the pain and suffering the good people of that area are enduring.

Little Falls Hosts Teacher Training II

An Advanced Teacher Training Workshop will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2017, at St. George Orthodox Church, in Little Falls, NJ. This workshop, lead by Carole Buleza and Fr. George Alberts, is designed for current and future teachers and assistant teachers who desire advanced training for working in the religious education classroom. Participants may choose the elementary or middle school/high school track. The day will begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

Below please find a flyer to post in your church, a registration form and course descriptions. Registration deadline is Monday, November 6. Please address questions regarding this training to Claire Levash, St. George Church,
If you are interested in hosting a training in your parish, please contact Leslie at 717-747-5221 or at

Creative Festivals Posters 2018


Download these to a flash drive and take to an office store to print. Each one comes in 8.5 x 11, 8.5 x 14 and 11 x 17 sizes. Change these up every few months to remind the children of the theme.

Logo (Color)

Breaking Bread



Memory Eternal! + Khouria Mary Sue Henderson Walker

Khouria Mary Sue Henderson Walker, age 84 of Nashville, TN, passed away August 27, 2017. She was a loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Preceded in death by her husband, The Very Reverend Gordon Walker, she described herself as "ridiculously happy" to be his faithful wife for 63 years. 

Her surviving family are: son, Gordon Thomas, Jr. (Kibble) Walker; daughters, Deborah (Michael) Amick, Melissa (Dn. Gary) Braun, Grace (Collin) Monk and Jacqueline (Robert) Menish; brothers, George Henderson, Jr. and Ret. Col. Robert L. Henderson, M.D.; sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Beard; sixteen grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be conducted 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, Franklin, TN, with Fr. Philip Begley officiating. Visitation will be 1:00-4:00 p.m. prior to the service at the church. Interment is at St. Ignatius Cemetery and her grandsons will serve as pallbearers. Memorials may be made to St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, 3535 St. Ignatius Lane, Franklin, TN 37064. Williamson Memorial Funeral Home, (615) 794-2289.

Antiochian Women Update: August 2017 Letter From NAB President

August 26, 2017

Dear Sisters in Christ –

Christ is in our midst!

Two years ago as NAB President, I sent my initial correspondence on the Great Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Theotokos.  Now, two years later, I am sending you this letter as we approach another wonderful day in her honor, the Placing of the Most Venerable Belt of the Theotokos (August 30), as well as the start of the Ecclesiastical New Year on September 1.  Thank you for allowing me to continue as NAB President over these next two years and continuing to serve in this magnificent ministry.

Our thanks to the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast and St. George Cathedral in Coral Gables, Florida for hosting the Archdiocese Convention that was held from July 25–30 at The Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida.  We had about 120 attendees at the Antiochian Women’s breakfast on Wednesday, July 26, which was followed by the NAB General Assembly.  That same evening, the re-elected NAB Officers and His Grace Bishop John as our NAB Spiritual Advisor were sworn into office by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph.

Using the Theme Throughout the Year 2018

Theme: “They continued steadfastlyin the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

Symbol: Bread

Icons: The Mystical Supper, The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost)

Prayers: The Creed; A Prayer of St. John Chrysostom (found in the Prayers of Preparation Before Holy Communion)

Theme Song: We Break Bread Together

Lesson Plans: Original lesson plans are provided for age levels ranging from preschool to high school:

Curriculum: The Story of the Young Church Part 1: The Holy Spirit Empowers the Apostles

10 lessons that cover the Ascension to the conversion of the Gentiles. (Acts 1 through Acts 11:18).

The Teacher’s Guide and Student Guide can be ordered online at:

Video: The Book of Acts in 3 Minutes

This cartoon version of The Book of Acts provides a synopsis with a sense of humor that’s suitable for older kids and teens:

Report: Diocese of Los Angeles and the West's 2017 Parish Life Conference

Send us your PLC information--we'd love to publish a report about your diocese's summer family reunion!

The Diocese of Los Angeles and the West held their Parish Life Conference at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel from July 5-9, 2017. The PLC was well attended with 823 registrants. It was hosted by St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church of the San Fernando Valley.

A beautiful chapel that was the focal point of the Conference worship services highlighted our theme: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations" (Mark 11:17). This year three keynote speakers addressed the conference theme: Fr. Joseph Copeland, pastor of Holy Cross Church in Yakima, Washington spoke on "God's house as a house of prayer, an icon of His Kingdom, and place of the Sacraments." Father Alban West, pastor of St. George Church in Portland, Oregon, spoke on "What we must do to properly prepare in entering God's House and receiving the Sacraments," and Fr. Calinic Berger, assistant pastor of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, spoke about "God's House as the place where we pray '...for all nations' and as the universal home of the members of His Kingdom."

Promotional Materials for the 2018 Festivals

Promotional materials for the 2018 Creative Arts Festivals

Memory Eternal! + Kh. Harbeih Harb

Khouria Harbeih Harb fell asleep in the Lord peacefully on Friday, August 18, 2017 in her home. She was the wife of the late Very Reverend George Harb of San Diego.

Born on February 9, 1924 in Ramallah, Palestine, Khouria immigrated with her family to the United States in 1960 to help establish the first permanent ministry at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon, where they served until 1970. She will always be remembered in the church communities that she belonged to, including Haifa, Portland, San Diego, and Jacksonville, Florida.

She will always be remembered as the warmest and most sincere lady, always welcoming people with an open and sweet heart. She was a very loving and generous person who always opened her home to all.

Khouria is survived by her children Elias Harb and Mary Harb. Her three other children have reposed: Samira, Joseph, and Samir Harb. Khouria Harbeih had five children, twelve grandchildren, twenty-two great grandchildren, and four great great grandchildren. She is known by all her grandchildren simply as "Teta."

Theme Song for Creative Festivals 2018

We Break Bread Together

Download Sheet Music

Download Audio (mp3)

By Rosemary Shumski

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch,
Our Orthodox Church was built on Christ who is our Rock.
The disciples met together in fellowship and prayer.
They took care of one another, their possessions they would share.
And they broke bread together, bread together, they broke bread together,
In fellowship and prayer.
They broke bread together, bread together, they broke bread together,
The Eucharist they’d share.
The Eucharist they’d share.

 Over two thousand years later, our Church still stands.
God protects and holds it in His hands.
We are Christ’s disciples today,
Here to show others the Truth and Way.
And we break bread together, bread together, we break bread together,
In fellowship and prayer.
We break bread together, bread together, we break bread together,
The Eucharist we share.
The Eucharist we share.
The Eucharist we share.


Interpretations of the 2018 Creative Festivals Theme

“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

Possible interpretations of the theme may include but are not limited to some of the following ideas:

  • Depictions of early Christians worshipping
  • People worshipping during Divine Liturgy today
  • Receiving Holy Communion
  • People praying in church
  • Fellowship in the church
  • The idea that the Church is comprised of people; the Church is not just a building
  • Learning about things Jesus taught the Apostles by listening to the Epistle and Gospel readings
  • Helping one another like the early Christians did by donating food or clothing, serving at a homeless shelter, etc.
  • Living our lives according to Jesus’ teachings
  • Comparing how our traditions and worship reflect those of the ancient church
  • Handing down traditions of the Church from one generation to the next
  • Ways we can preserve our Orthodox faith

2018 Creative Arts Festival Lesson Cross-Reference

“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship,
in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

Kindergarten- Together with God

Lesson 1 “God’s Family” Our individual families come together to worship God and become one big family, the Church.

Lesson 14 “The Divine Liturgy” Our Divine Liturgy is based on the way the early Christians worshipped God.

Lesson 15 “The Church Prays” We pray for everyone and everything during Divine Liturgy.

Lesson 16 “We Hear God’s Word (Gospel) The apostles’ doctrine came from Jesus’ teachings which we learn about through the Gospel readings.

Lesson 18 “Holy Communion” We break bread together when we receive Holy Communion.

Lesson 28 “Ascension Day” When Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the Apostles to live as He had shown them.

Lesson 30 “Pentecost” The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles giving them the ability to teach other people the things Jesus had taught them.

Grade 1- God Loves Us

There are no specific lessons that relate to the theme.

Grade 2- New Life in Jesus

Lesson 1 “We Belong to God’s Family” We belong to our own family and also to our Orthodox Christian family, the Church.

Lesson 3 “Jesus Teaches Us How to Be Members of His Family” Jesus teaches us how to think and act as members of His family.

Lesson 7 “Jesus Sends His Holy Spirit” Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to help us follow His teachings.

Lesson 8 “We Receive the Holy Spirit” Explains how we receive the Holy Spirit through Chrismation.

Lesson 11 “The Gift of the Eucharist” Jesus gave His Apostles Holy Communion for the first time at the Mystical Supper.

Explanation of the 2018 Creative Festivals Theme

“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship,
in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

Comments from the Orthodox Study Bible:

Central elements of Orthodox worship- apostolic teaching, liturgical prayer and the Eucharist- are present from the very beginning of the Church. Prayers is literally “the prayers” in Greek, referring to specific liturgical prayers. The Jews had practiced liturgical prayer for centuries; many of their prayers are contained in the Book of Psalms. The early Christians adapted these prayers for us in the Church. The breaking of bread is, of course, the Eucharist, Holy Communion.

This year’s theme beautifully illustrates how the way we worship today was based on the earliest Christian worship that has been handed down to us from ancient times, and specifically, to our Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. “…the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) The students should be aware of this important legacy and make the connection that our Church “is the continuation of the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter (who served as its first bishop) and Paul, who are its patron saints.” (Orthodox Wiki) The Apostolic teachings from the ancient church have been passed down to us. What is right and true doesn’t change.

Worshipping the Virgin Mary? An Orthodox Understanding

By Christopher Holwey, BS, MDiv
Department of Sacred Music

As I was preparing the music for August 20, 2017—the After-Feast of the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos—I noticed that in the first stichera at "O Lord, I have cried" for Vespers, after it states how Christ translated His Mother out of this world, and brought His disciples together to give her proper burial, it says:

". . . Then the Apostles, seeing thee, O Virgin, were filled with grace, and with exceeding great reverence, they all then sacredly worshipped thee and cried out with firm faith: O rejoice, thou who hast brought forth Great Mercy for the world."

I was really struck by the words “sacredly worshipped thee” regarding the Virgin Mary. Unless we are doing daily services, we may not hear them on August 20th except when it happens to fall on a Sunday; or perhaps we are chanting them every year but using a different translation. This particular translation from Holy Transfiguration Monastery uses the word “worship.” I kept that in mind and continued on with the second Stichera, wherein the Virgin asks the disciples how they came to know of her departure from the body and she inquires about this most wondrous sight. The disciples respond:

Memory Eternal! + Archpriest Joseph Sakkab, Emeritus

Memory Eternal! With sadness and with hope in the Resurrection, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and the Sakkab family, wish to convey the news of the falling asleep in the Lord of Archpriest Joseph Sakkab, Emeritus, after fifty-seven years of faithful service in the holy priesthood.

Father Joseph reposed on Thursday, August 10, 2017, at the age of 95. He leaves behind his faithful wife Khouria Samira; his children, Deacon Simon, Laila, Pauline, and Fady; and nine grandchildren. Viewing will be held on Sunday at 6 p.m. at St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church and the funeral service will be held on Monday, August 14, 2017, at 10 a.m. at St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church in Edmonton, Alberta.

Read a reflection by Fr. Joseph, "Share Your Faith with Confidence."

Faithtree Resources Releases "13 Reasons: Why We Must Engage with Our Teens"

Van Nuys, California. (August 4, 2017)  Faithtree Resources, a teaching ministry of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Van Nuys, CA, has released their latest resource for clergy and families, a free eBook entitled: 13 Reasons: Why We Must Engage with Our Teens. (Download a free copy) 

The 20+ page resource is Faithtree’s response to the popular Netflix series "13 Reasons Why," a teen-oriented drama about a high school student who takes her own life. The series aired this year and has not only caused a national stir, but as new research indicates, may have significantly increased the number of teens now researching and contemplating their own suicides. In an article in The Atlantic, Google reported queries about suicide rose by almost 20 percent in the 19 days following the wake of the show’s release. This represents between 900,000-1.5 million more searches than usual regarding the subject.

Orthodox Christian Translation Society Accepting Proposals for Translation Projects

The Orthodox Christian Translation Society (OCTS), a non-profit organization committed to facilitating the entire process of creating high-quality Orthodox translations from project conception to publication and distribution, is accepting proposals for future translation projects.

OCTS accepts proposals from skilled translators and then selects projects to support. Once a project is chosen, OCTS commits to support that project financially from beginning to end. This includes translation, editing, publication, and distribution. Each translator is supported financially according to a method which best suits his or her needs; this may include hourly compensation, compensation based on length of the text, or royalty payments made at the time of sales. In this way, OCTS provides opportunities for skilled translators to commit their time to Orthodox translation work while also supporting themselves and their families or monastic communities.

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