Skip to Navigation

vnieuwsma's blog

Western Rite Vicariate Launches Website

The Western Rite Vicariate has gathered many materials to help Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike learn more about the Western Rite in the Orthodox Church. Our Archdiocese has a rich heritage of reaching out to people of all backgrounds and in various ways responding to Christ's command to bring the Gospel to all nations. These materials, which include a documentary film about the Western Rite, blogs, and other resources, are available at The Orthodox West.

2018 Clergy Retreat and Spring Gathering is April 20-22

Bishop ANTHONY is pleased to announce this year's Clergy Retreat and Spring Gathering, hosted by St. George Church in Troy, Michigan, April 20–22, 2018. All clergy are expected to attend Thursday evening's session with His Grace. Delegates and other parish representatives will meet Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21.

Please see the attached forms for a schedule of events, hotel information, and a registration form.

Metropolitan JOSEPH Presides Over St. George's 90th Anniversary Celebration

Metropolitan Joseph with St. George ordinands and their familiesMetropolitan Joseph with St. George ordinands and their familiesView the photo album

The faithful of Houston, Texas were blessed to receive His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH during the week of January 24–31, 2018, to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of St. George Orthodox Christian Church.

Deanery clergy welcomed Sayyidna JOSEPH and Deacon John El Massih at the airport. Then on Thursday evening, His Eminence had dinner and spent the evening with the St. George parish council. At the dinner, attendees were blessed to hear Sayyidna's visions and inspired by his words of wisdom. The community was delighted that Archdiocese Vice-Chairman Fawaz El Khoury and CFO Salim Abboud accompanied Sayyidna as well.

Tending The Garden – Family Meditations for Great Lent

A brand new resource is coming out just in time for Great Lent! Author and podcaster Elissa D. Bjeletich and Orthodox Christian Parenting's Kristina Wenger have teamed up to create this blog and podcast.

Find the initial blog post, which includes three creative ideas for a "Lenten Countdown" at the blog site, tending-the-garden.com! Remember to subscribe, so that as Lent begins, you can access daily printable meditations related to the themes of Great Lent. The meditations will also be available as podcasts from Ancient Faith, so your family can read them OR listen!

Share photos of your family's "Lenten Countdown" on Facebook or Instagram, with #tendingthegarden , #orthodoxlent and/or #orthodoxfamily.

May the Lord bless you and your family as you prepare for this wonderful, holy season of Lent!

Bishop NICHOLAS Leads Pilgrimage to Mt. Athos

View the photo album

Yazen Ziad Fakhouri, a second-year seminarian at St. Tikhon's Seminary in South Canaan, PA, joined five other seminarians on a pilgrimage to Mt. Athos led by His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS from December 2017 to January 2018. Yazen's hometown is suburban Detroit, Michigan, and his home parish is St. George Orthodox Church, with The Very Reverend Joseph Antypas. Yazen's report describes this life-changing experience.

Ring finger meets thumb while index, middle, and pinky are elevated in imperfect symmetry. A single hand with fingers positioned to represent the Holy Trinity and the dual natures of Christ move north to south, west to east conferring a millennia old blessing consistent with Holy Tradition. The recipient of this blessing was a stray dog weaving between an interminable sea of people queuing to board a ship to the holiest of mountains.

A Word on Forgiveness

By Bishop THOMAS (Joseph) and Peter Schweitzer

In her enduring wisdom and love for mankind, the Church provides us with a period of preparation before we enter Great Lent. We have passed through the Sundays of Zacchaeus, the Publican and the Pharisee, the Last Judgment, and now finally with today - the Sunday which commemorates the expulsion of Adam from Paradise.

In each of these preparatory Sundays, forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel message. In his great zeal to meet the Lord, Zacchaeus confessed his sins and repented by giving back four-fold his ill-gotten gains. The publican asks for forgiveness through his heartfelt "have mercy upon me, a sinner." The Sunday of the Last Judgment reminds us that Christ will judge us according to the extent that we were merciful and forgiving of others. Finally, Forgiveness Sunday recalls Adam's sin and more importantly, his unwillingness to ask for forgiveness. Reflecting upon this ancestral sin, Abba Dorotheos writes:

February 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Who is this Son of Mary in the Waters of the Jordan?

In January, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Last month, we began to explore what Jesus – our Christ – came to reveal and remind us, through His Incarnation. Our hope is to help develope a deeper sense of this divine Son, coming forth from the womb of Mary – the One Who is the Child and the Immanuel.

To help us understand Who Jesus is – the Incarnate Word – let us seek the wisdom of Isaiah. Prophet Isaiah is often referred to as an Old Testament Evangelist, whose words were inspired by the Spirit of the Lord. Here we discover the Virgin Mary, the dynamic reality of her Son being both her Child and the Immanuel, and our Father – Isaiah 7:14. It helps bring fulness to the mystery of His Baptism. That Jesus is not a human person, but instead a divine Person. That He reveals Himself to be both Son of Man through Mary and Son of His eternal Father, and further, the Son of Mary is from in the beginning, our Father.

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

On Demonstrating Love to Our Children

As we approach Valentine’s Day and see reminders of love everywhere around us, the opportunity arises for us to evaluate how well we are loving others. It is one thing to say that we love someone, but often quite another thing to act in such a way as to show them that our words are true. However, even God Himself is demonstrative with His love: “...God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) If God, who IS Love, chooses to demonstrate His love, how much more should we, who are not in essence love, do our best to do the same?

The reason that we know and love God is because of His demonstrative love for us. Because we love God, it follows that love for others should flow out of the love that we have for Him. St. Justin Popovich indicated such (and more!) results of loving God when he said, “Love for Christ overflows into love for one's neighbor, love for truth, love for holiness, for the world, for purity, for everything divine, for everything deathless and eternal... All these forms of love are natural manifestations of love for Christ. Christ is the God-man, and love for Him always means love for God and for man.” And St. Basil the Great encourages us to demonstrate our love, not just for family and friends, but to everyone in his statement, “As God illumines all people equally with the light of the sun, so do those who desire to imitate God let shine an equal ray of love on all people.”

Bishop Nicholas Visits St. Ignatius

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Father Philip Begley, Senior Pastor at St. Ignatius in Franklin, TN reports:
 
On the weekend of December 15–17, 2017, His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS made his first-ever visit to the parish of St. Ignatius in Franklin, TN. Among the many highlights from that weekend were the meetings between His Grace and the youth of St. Ignatius, the ordination of Brian Short to the rank of subdeacon, the consecration of the Altar, as well as the induction of six new members to the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch. We eagerly look forward to His Grace's next visit. May God grant him many years as our new shepherd in the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast!
 

Orthodox Christian Churches in 21st Century America: A Parish Life Study

The report "Orthodox Christian Churches in 21st Century America: a Parish Life Study" has been released by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA.

The report provides a comprehensive picture of today's lives of American Orthodox parishes, including such aspects as membership, worship, programs, religious education, youth, usage of electronic technologies, and much more. Of particular interest are subjects that have never been examined previously, such as:

  • The Vision of Parish Clergy for Orthodox Church Unity in America
  • Similarities and differences between American Orthodox parishes and Protestant congregations
  • The Use of Electronic Technologies in U.S. Orthodox Parishes

580 Orthodox parishes (about 30% of all U.S. Orthodox parishes) participated in this unique study. Five Orthodox jurisdictions had a significant number of participating parishes: the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Syrian Relief Dinner and Prayer Service to be Held on March 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, March 4, 2018, a prayer service and dinner for Syria will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, with proceeds benefitting the IOCC's Syrian Crisis Response Fund. His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, as well as His Grace Bishop THOMAS, will join other hierarchs and clergy for the event.

The prayer service will be at 4:00 p.m., followed by the dinner at 5:00, at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral on 419 South Dithridge Street (Oakland), Pittsburgh, PA, 15213. For reservations contact Zelfa Khalil: 412-417-4706 or zkhalil1@live.com.

Visit the event page for reservations and sponsorship information.

2018 Greeting for the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple

February 2, 2018
The Meeting of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous elder, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection. (Troparion of the Feast)

Beloved in Christ,

I greet you on the solemn and joyous feast of the Meeting of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ! Today, the Lord Christ is brought up to the Temple in obedience to the law of God. As Saint Gregory Palamas notes, "Notice that the Creator and Lord of the law is completely obedient to the law. What does He achieve by this? He makes our nature obedient in all things to the Father, He completely heals us of its disobedience, and transforms the curse on it into a blessing." The Lord Christ assumes our human nature in order to heal and redeem it.

Metropolitan JOSEPH Visits Archbishop Demetrios at Greek Archdiocese

Rekindling their friendship, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH paid a visit to His Eminence Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Geron of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, at his Manhattan headquarters. The two primates discussed issues of mutual importance to their respective flocks in a filial meeting on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Metropolitan JOSEPH was grateful to Archbishop DEMETRIOS for his hospitality.

Afterward, Archbishop DEMETRIOS hosted lunch for Metropolitan JOSEPH and his delegation: Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Archdiocese; Deacon John El-Massih, assistant to Sayidna JOSEPH; and Mr. Charles Ajalat, former Archdiocesan chancellor. Joining them from the Greek Archdiocese were His Grace Bishop SEVASTIANOS and Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides.

View the photo album

Several Divine Liturgy Resources for Young Children

We have previously shared the lovely board book What Do You See at Liturgy? by Kristina Kallas-Tartara. As we mentioned in that blog post, the book consists of a gentle rhyme paired with pictures of what a child will see when they go to the Divine Liturgy. We continue to recommend this book as a helpful tool to help little ones enter into the service when their attention needs to be redirected.

Memory Eternal! Subdeacon Joseph Louis Vacca

June 10, 1948 - Jan 21, 2018

Memory Eternal! Subdeacon Joseph Louis Vacca was born in Arlington, VA, on June 10, 1948, the only child of Gene A. and Nan Vacca. He graduated from Catholic University in Washington DC and joined the Benedictine Monastery of St. Anselm in Manchester, NH. In 1976 he gradated from Creighton Law School, then joined the Army as a lieutenant commanding the 2nd platoon 759 MP battalion at Ft. Dix, NJ.

Joe married Mary Lee Koops on April 1, 1977. He returned to Omaha in 1979 and was admitted to the bar. He worked as an attorney in Omaha for many years. He retired in 2002 to devote himself full time to his great loves: model railroading, spiritual reading and writing, and his parish, St. Vincent of Lerins.

He entered into peaceful rest on January 21, 2018, after many illnesses that deprived him of the life he wished to lead. His vast knowledge, unfailing wit and courage in the face of adversity will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Mary Lee; and his loving son, James, of whom he was justly proud; and his son-in-law, Chris Sutton. He is preceded in death by his parents, Gene and Nan Vacca.

VISITATION
Wednesday, 5-6:30pm with Memorial Vespers at 6:30pm at St. Vincent of Lerins Western Orthodox Church.

SERVICES
Thursday, 10am, at St. Vincent of Lerins Western Orthodox Church, 2502 N 51st Street. Interment: Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Memorials to the Nebraska Humane Society.

Published in the Omaha World-Herald

Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C. Holds Clergy Synaxis

The annual diocesan clergy meeting for the Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C. was held at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey on January 16, 2018. His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH presided over the meeting, which was also attended by His Grace Bishop JOHN, and many clergy from the Diocese, both priests and deacons. Archimandrite Fadi Rabbat from Mexico City was also in attendance.

In the meeting, the attendees decided on a patron saint, forming The Brotherhood of Saint John of Damascus. The Very Reverend Thomas Zain, Archdiocese Vicar General and Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, was appointed as the dean of The Brotherhood.

The meeting commenced with prayer and the reading of the Epistle and Gospel. Metropolitan JOSEPH and the clergy then discussed various topics including liturgical practices, the education of priests, and dealing with both parish and external organizations, including government entities. The underlying themes of pastoral care and the dignity of the priesthood informed the entire discussion.

The meeting adjourned around 1:00 p.m., and was followed by a lunch hosted by His Eminence.

2018 Youth Worker Workshop is February 1-3 in Atlanta, GA

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, encourages all youth workers to attend the upcoming Youth Worker Workshop. This year's Workshop is being held in Atlanta, Georgia from February 1 – 3, 2018, and is themed "The Place of Gratitude in Youth Ministry."

An enriching and uplifting experience, the Workshop connects youth and camp workers from all jurisdictions, providing them with inspirational and challenging ideas to help them in their ministries. More information, video of presentations from past years, and registration and hotel details, are available on the Workshop website.

2018 SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarship is Available

With the blessing of Metropolitan Joseph, NAC SOYO announces that the application for the 2018 SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarship is now available.

Download 2018 Application Form (PDF)
Due Date: October 31, 2018

Requirements for Eligibility

The following are the requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for the Youth Worker Scholarship.

  • The applicant must have been an active member of an Antiochian parish for at least the last five years.
  • The applicant must be active in youth work.
  • The applicant agrees to enroll in a recognized Orthodox Christian program with a youth ministry focus or component. The recipient will seek direction from the Chairman of the Archdiocese Department of Youth as to which institution is available for training.
  • The applicant is willing to make a minimum three year commitment to parish youth work in the Antiochian Archdiocese either as a volunteer or on a paid basis, but only following completion of the program [EC1] .

Metropolitan JOSEPH Leads Theophany and Anniversary Celebrations for St. John Chrysostom Church

View the photo album

In a spirit of joy and commemoration, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH celebrated the Feast of Theophany and the 25th Anniversary of St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church in York, PA on the weekend of January 5–7, 2018. His Eminence worshipped with the faithful of St. John on Friday evening, and presided over Hierarchical Divine Liturgies on Saturday for the Great Blessing of Water and on Sunday morning. His Eminence was joined by His Grace Bishop THOMAS, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic, who celebrated with the community as well.

Father Peter Pier is the founding pastor of the congregation. In April of 1995, 13.8 acres of land was purchased for St. John's future home, and in the spring of 1997, His Grace Bishop ANTOUN of Blessed Memory broke ground for construction.

2018 Eastern Dioceses Scholarships

The Diocese of New York & Washington, D.C. and
The Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic                  

Eastern Dioceses of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

January 15, 2018

Dear Reverend Fathers and Teen SOYO Advisors:

We are pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for the 2018 Eastern Dioceses Scholarships. This year, up to 3 awards are available in amounts ranging from $1000 to $2,000.

Included with this cover letter, please find a copy of the 2018 Scholarship Application for you to share with graduating high school seniors from your parish. The form may be copied should you have additional applicants. Your cooperation in sharing this information is so very important in spreading the word about the availability of these scholarship opportunities.

Thank you for your cooperation and support. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any and all questions!

Yours in Christ,

Mary Elizabeth Asencio, Scholarship Coordinator
201-327-0667
maryecross@optonline.net

Interview with Laila Ferris: Integrated Learning in the Digital Age

Laila Ferris has devoted 25 years and counting to serving as church school director at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, El Paso, Texas. Presently, there are 37 students enrolled and classes are organized by groups of two grade levels, plus grades 8-12 together as one class.

Which curricula do you use for Sunday classes? 

We use a combination of curricula/materials from the OCEC and from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to support our students’ learning. We also use online lessons provided by our Archdiocese Department of Christian Education. The teachers develop lesson plans that use active and engaging learning activities through which the lessons are taught and learned.  We are presently working towards developing more opportunities for learning activities via apps and web-based programs for our students (as the digital generation) to expand their learning experiences. Our plan is to be able to purchase iPads for use in the classrooms to support digital projects. But in the meantime, the church school staff will continue to use their personal devices to grow our instructional lessons digitally.

Time for House Blessings

Theophany has already passed for those of us following the new calendar. The waters have been blessed. Our souls have been cleansed and refreshed by the drinking/sprinkling thereof. So now it’s time to help our Sunday Church School students learn about house blessings to ensure that they are prepared when the priest arrives to bless their home.

We should teach our students that the house blessing has been part of Orthodox Christian practice for centuries. They should also learn that although the house blessing is not a sacrament, it is an important part of helping Orthodox Christians to live the Faith at home. We also should teach our students (or at least refresh their memory) about the house blessing service itself: First, we can teach them about the service – the order of service, the prayers, and the hymn. Talk together with your class about the prayers, which request God’s sanctification of the home, and what they mean. Together sing the troparion to remind the students of how it goes; and then discuss the words in the troparion. Consider how special it is that they will have time to spend with the parish priest. Remind them that every member of the family can participate in and help with the house blessing, and that the entire family will benefit from the house blessing.

On Orthodox Christian Principles of Child Rearing: Principle 6: Teach the Joy of Repentance

Note: This series of blog posts will focus on principles important to Orthodox Christians who are raising children. The series will feature a closer look at Dr. Philip Mamalakis’ book, Parenting Toward the Kingdom: Orthodox Christian Principles of Child Rearing. Each week we will take a closer look at one section of the book, which is divided into 6 basic principles of child rearing. Find an overview blog post about the book here. We thank Dr. Mamalakis and Ancient Faith Publishing for giving us permission to share his wisdom with you in this way. Purchase your own copy of his book here.

Principle 6: Teach the Joy of Repentance

Dr. Philip Mamalakis’ book Parenting Toward the Kingdom is filled with wisdom and encourages godly parenting. The sixth and final principle, “Teach the joy of repentance,” is yet another challenge towards godliness, and is as invaluable to the souls of the parents who follow it as it is to those of their children. He begins with a chapter on repentance, then discusses the joy of repentance, and closes with the encouragement that Orthodox Christian homes nurture repentance and confession.

The chapter on repentance begins by encouraging parents not to focus on “doing” parenting, but rather to focus on loving God while responding to our children. He emphasizes that only a saint would parent perfectly, and that we should not expect ourselves to be able to do so. Rather, we should expect ourselves to learn and grow, just as we expect our children to learn and grow. The Holy Spirit will raise in us the fruits necessary to be the parents we must be. If we want to best reach our long-term parenting goals, we need to labor to acquire the Holy Spirit. As we work towards living a Godly life, it is important that we not cover over our mistakes; but rather that we use those mistakes to teach our children the joy that is found in repentance. Since repentance is at the heart of our Christian life, it follows that teaching repentance should be at the heart of our parenting.

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.

2018 Theophany Greeting from His Grace Bishop THOMAS

January 6, 2018
Theophany of our Lord

Beloved in Christ,

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee. (Troparion of the Holy Theophany)

I greet you on the solemn and joyous feast of the Holy Theophany of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ! As the Nativity revealed Almighty God’s condescension and humility in becoming incarnate, so the Theophany reveals the glory and power of the triune God.

Syndicate content