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Bishop ANTHONY'S Pastoral Letter for Pentecost, 2018

May 27, 2018
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!

Today we proclaim with immense joy we have seen the True Light and have received the Heavenly Spirit for with the presence of the Spirit is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise and the completion of hope. For, the Holy Spirit provides all things. 

As we meditate upon the mystery of this Great Feast, let us focus on the intimacy of the union of the three-person Godhead in the undivided Holy Trinity. As the hymnographer explains, “the Father timelessly hath begotten the Son, equal to Him in eternity and the throne; and the Holy Spirit was in the Father, glorified with the Son, one Might, one Substance, one Godhead.”

2018 Ascension and Pentecost Greeting from Bishop THOMAS

Beloved in the Lord,

I greet all of you in the joy of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ Who, having completed His divine mission on earth, returns to the right hand of the Father. The reconciliation between God and man has been completed, and the heavens gather with the earth to sing a triumphant hymn of praise to the thrice-holy God.

As we contemplate the Apostles' heavenly gaze, we look forward with anticipation and longing to the next great feast of the Church, Pentecost, which is so intimately linked to the Ascension. On the night before He suffered, the Lord Jesus promised His disciples to not leave them orphaned: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).

May 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Doubts, Fears, and Hades Overcome By His Comforting Spirit of Truth and Grace

We celebrate with great joy, Jesus walking from His sealed tomb on the third day – He Who is the promised Christ and Word Who became Incarnate. This event reminds one of His friend Lazarus walking from his tomb, after his being called forth by He Who is Resurrection and Author of Life. Thankfully and with great gratitude, He has liberated us from the great darkness and vain folly of man's wisdom permeating much of the Old Testament teachings, many dating back to Nimod and the Tower of Babel.

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

Dn. Evangelos and Sh. Cathy Serve on Medical Mission Trip to Honduras

Dn. Evangelos and Sh. CathyDn. Evangelos and Sh. CathyBy Deacon Evangelos Prieston
St. Mary Orthodox Church, Chambersburg, PA

At 2:00 AM on the Friday of Bright Week, a group of Christian healthcare professionals boarded a school bus in the parking lot of Falling Spring Presbyterian Church in Chambersburg, PA for the two hour ride to BWI Airport where our group would soon depart for Honduras on a mission to provide free medical and dental care to one of the poorest communities in the western hemisphere.

The Very Rev. Luis Rodriguez, pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Chambersburg, PA led the ecumenical medical mission team. I was the pharmacist on the team, assisted by my wife, a speech pathologist; we are members of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Chambersburg. We were also aided by Mary Burkholder, a nurse from Corpus Christi Catholic Church who regularly volunteers with us at the St. Seraphim Orthodox Center in downtown Chambersburg, PA. Our team consisted of physicians, dentists, nurses,  nurse midwives, translators, and support personnel on a ten day medical mission to provide free healthcare to the Honduran Village of Guadalupe Carney. The medical professionals on the team represented five different churches from our town. 

Early Bird Registration for Sacred Music Institute Extended

Read Metropolitan JOSEPH'S full letter.

Sacred Music Institute Registration

Youth Music Ministry Registration

Early bird registration for the SMI has been extended to June 8, when the price will increase by $50.00. Make your reservations now for the Sacred Music Institute and Youth Music Ministry, July 11–15, 2018 at the Antiochian Village!

The theme is "Music as Vocation: Looking Inward Through Orthodox Hymnography," and the Keynote Speaker is His Grace Bishop ANTHONY, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest.

Metropolitan JOSEPH writes: "One of the most important of these [summer] gatherings is the Summer Sacred Music Institute from July 11–15, 2018 at the Antiochian Village under the direction of our Chairman of the Department of Sacred Music, Mr. Paul Jabara. This year the Department will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Thanks be to God we have made great progress over the past 50 years in our liturgical music, making full use of the great talent we have in the Archdiocese." His Eminence has mandated that every parish send one person (preferably the choir director) to the Institute.

Support the Department of Sacred Music

Support the Department of Sacred Music

Pascha, 2018

Dear Friends,


As Orthodox Christians, we exclaim and sing this greeting jubilantly as we look toward the Feast of Pentecost!

As you reflect on the holy services leading up to Pascha, what comes to mind? For many, it was likely the music. Did it call you to prayer? Did it stir your heart and draw you closer to the resurrected Christ? Did it engage your senses and stay in your mind? Were you driven to sing "Christ is Risen" with the clergy, chanters, and choir? Did you think about the time and efforts that went into bringing these melodies and words to your parish?

Report From St. Philip in Souderton, PA

Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is Risen!

Greetings from St. Philip Orthodox Church in Souderton, PA. How blessed we are here at St. Philip to have completed the journey to Pascha and to shout out in joy, thanksgiving, and love, "Christ is Risen!" Then to reply, "Indeed He is Risen!" We are blessed to have parishioners from many countries and to share the responses in all the languages as one unified church family.

We were led in all our spiritual services by our beloved leaders, Fr. Noah and Fr. James. They were assisted by visiting priest Fr. Witalis, and our Subdeacons Ben, John, and David. Our hearts and voices were uplifted as we listened to and joined in song with our a capella church choir, led by Kh. Elizabeth.

The Role of the Priest as Spiritual Father in the Orthodox Spiritual Life

By Bishop Thomas Joseph and Peter Schweitzer

Download the PDF

As a way of life rather than a religion, Orthodoxy presumes and presupposes a particular worldview that is unique and Christ-centered.  It is a way of being in the world, a way of interacting with our brothers and sisters as well as the entire cosmos.  It is in this context that I would like to share a few thoughts about the priest’s spiritual fatherhood and the mode of its expression in the Church. 

The notion of spiritual fatherhood has a long and venerable tradition within the holy Orthodox Church.  We find Saint Paul reminding the people of Corinth of his spiritual fatherhood and paternal care for the people of Corinth. “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in   Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me."  In reminding the Corinthians of his spiritual fatherhood, Saint Paul affirms the generative nature of the role.  The fruit of their paternal guidance is healthy Christians who are freed from the passions and illnesses associated with sin.

Book Review: Removing Barriers

Removing Barriers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Making Your Parish More Disability Friendly (a Faithtree Resource)

By Anna-Sarah Farha

Take time to purposefully consider whether or not your parish is disability-friendly…Once you have given thought to the subject, you’ll likely be aware that there are many areas of parish life to evaluate when determining whether any barriers are present which could prevent full participation for a person or family living with a disability. Barriers can be physical, attitudinal, or even programmatic. (Programmatic Barrier: “any program that cannot be accessed by persons with disability has a barrier that must be considered and intentionally removed.” page 47) So, after completing the analysis of where your parish lands on the disability-friendliness scale, now begins the task of removing existing barriers through education and physical changes. The book Removing Barriers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Making Your Parish More Disability Friendly (a Faithtree Resource), is available to guide your efforts from an Orthodox Christian perspective.

April 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Story of Lazarus: "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall not die." 

In preparation for Jesus re-entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and His call to meet Him at His lifegiving Cross – His Banquet Feast Table – the Lord offers the eye-opening events surrounding Lazarus, who became sick unto death. The one Jesus called from his tomb, after four days dead.

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, Jesus – the promised Christ and Word Who became Incarnate – makes it clear to those with ears that have heard, to now gain the eyes to grasp that Jesus – in His Being – is Light, Life, and author of Resurrection. Note in John 11:3-4, He says, "This sickness is not for death , but for the glory of God , that the Son of God might be glorified through it." May His Incarnational Wisdom become our Instruction and pathway to salvation.

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

2018 Paschal Letter to the Diocese from His Grace Bishop BASIL

Beloved and Christ-loving Clergy, Monastics and Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and MidAmerica:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Resurrected Theanthropos Jesus Christ, and, together with you and Orthodox Christians throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim that Christ is risen! Christós anésti! Al-masíh qaam! Christós voskrésse! Hristós a înviát! Crísto ha resucitádo!

As we delight in the brilliance of the Resurrection, the dawn of the New and Eighth Day, I offer for your consideration the following words of the late Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, the Most Reverend ANTHONY Bloom (1914-2003):

For the Apostles, Great Friday was the last day of the week and the last day of life as they had known it; on the following day, the day which preceded the Resurrection, the darkness was as dense, as obscure, as impenetrable as it had been on Great Friday, and if the Resurrection had not happened, all days of the year and all the days of their life would have been days of total darkness, days when God was dead, when God had been conquered, when God had been definitely and radically exiled from the community of men.

On the Liturgical Year for Teachers: Pascha and Pentecost

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 time of Easter and Pentecost is a season of great rejoicing in the Orthodox Christian Church. In this part of the liturgical year, we celebrate Our Lord’s glorious resurrection, His ascension, and preparing our hearts for His sending of the Holy Spirit to us at Pentecost. Each of these events has a feast of its own in our liturgical year, because of their great importance.

Easter (as it is called by the monk who wrote The Year of Grace of the Lord, though many of us refer to this feast as Pascha) is a feast in its own category: it is the Feast of Feasts, and is too important to be included with the other twelve feasts of the liturgical year. And rightly so, for it celebrates a victory like no other!

Paschal Greeting 2018, His Grace Bishop THOMAS


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!

The bright glory of Christ's resurrection dawns upon all humanity and all of creation is renewed and redeemed. Through our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, we become heirs to His kingdom and capable of union with the Almighty and thrice-holy God. This is the culmination and purpose of our spiritual struggle during Great Lent. We began the period of the Fast with the words of the Psalmist, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." (Psalm 136) To the extent we engaged in the ascetical struggle of Great Lent, we bear within us the joy that comes from our return to our true home-union with God.

In his Paschal Orations, Saint Gregory the Theologian reminds us that our spiritual efforts continue and intensify in the glow of Paschal joy.

Spring 2018 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Spring 2018 issue of DIAKONIA, the newsletter of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, and includes a special message from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH.

The issue also contains:

  • Introductions to the diocesan officers and coordinators
  • Numerous reports and photographs from parish chapters of Antiochian Women
  • News from the NAB

And more! Download the PDF

Announcing the 2018 Western Rite Vicariate Conference

The biennial conference of the Western Rite Vicariate will be held Tuesday, August 7 through Friday, August 10, 2018, at St. Peter Orthodox Church in Fort Worth, Texas.

Metropolitan JOSEPH will preside at all liturgical services and will be the keynote speaker.

Under the theme “Celebrating our Western Orthodox Culture,” the conference will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the Western Rite Vicariate by Patriarch ALEXANDER III and Metropolitan ANTONY. Particular attention will be drawn to the constituting Edict from Metropolitan ANTONY (of thrice-blessed memory) at the Archdiocese Convention in 1958.

Metropolitan Joseph will be joined by Bishop JOHN, the Auxiliary Bishop for the Western Rite, and the Very Reverend Edward Hughes, Vicar General for the Western Rite.

Elinor Bourjaily College Scholarship Application

Gail Malaniak of St. Matthew the Evangelist Orthodox Church writes:

In 2018, the Elinor Bourjaily College Scholarship Application is being sent digitally to all parishes, and then forwarded to individual college students in each parish.

Due to our church fire, it would be best for the students to submit their completed applications digitally as well. However, a P.O. Box is included on the forms if they prefer to send them through the U.S. Postal service. All information for submitting the applications is on the enclosed forms.

Thank you for your help and I pray you have a Blessed Lenten Season. Please keep our parish in your prayers. May Elinor's memory be eternal!


2018-2019 Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships Available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Applications for two scholarships administered by the Department of Philanthropy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are now available to students from Orthodox Churches affiliated with the Assembly of Bishops. The Malta Scholarship is for undergraduate studies, and the Paleologos Scholarship is awarded for graduate work of a non-theological nature. Each of these scholarships was established through generous gifts from dedicated Greek Orthodox Christians who wanted to provide financial assistance towards the education of young people from the Orthodox Christian community.

Applications can be downloaded from the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at (on the spotlight section on the home page). For more information, please email or call 212-774-0283. The deadline for submitting an application for these scholarships is May 4, 2018.

2018 Pastoral Greeting From Bishop THOMAS on the Feast of the Annunciation

March 25, 2018

Feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

"Be it done unto me according to thy word." These are words of the Most Holy Theotokos in response to the angel Gabriel's announcement. These are the nine words that erased the disobedience of our forefathers in the Garden of Eden and ushered in the advent of our salvation. Our holy father John Chrysostom remarks, "An angel speaks with a virgin, because a woman
spoke to a serpent."

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker proclaims: "But in the holy Virgin alone is the fall of that (first mother) repaired" (First Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary). It is in her obedience to the will of God that the age of salvation is announced and proclaimed to all the world. Holy obedience to the will of God is a foretaste of the promise of the blessed life of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Diocese of Miami and the Southeast Winter Retreat

DMC DOMSE Winter Retreat 2018 Committee MembersDMC DOMSE Winter Retreat 2018 Committee Members















In an effort to continually improve, the DMC DOMSE Winter Retreat Committee wanted to get your feedback about the event that was held on January 25 - 28 @ St. Elias Orthodox Church (Atlanta, GA). Survey will be open from March 15–April 15, 2018. 

Please access the survey here:

The Diocese of Miami and the Southeast has had a year of change. In Ecclesiastes we are reminded that there is “[a] time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” In 2017 our diocese experienced this verse firsthand: we said a heartfelt goodbye to our beloved Sayedna ANTOUN, our first diocesan bishop – for many of us the only bishop we’ve ever known; we also ushered in a new era by welcoming Sayedna NICHOLAS back to the southeast as our new diocesan bishop. As with all changes, this transition has been seasoned with both tears and joy.

Our first mission as a diocese with our new bishop was to craft a Winter Delegates Meeting, so our work began.

20th Annual Midwest Diocese Basketball Tournament is a Slam Dunk

On January 19-21, 2018, St. George Church of Canton, Ohio hosted the 20th Annual Midwest Diocese Basketball Tournament. Twenty years ago, Canton's Teen SOYO initiated this tournament and it has grown over the years to become a mini-convention drawing youth from around the diocese. His Grace Bishop ANTHONY presided over the weekend, ordaining Deacon Anthony Westerman of Louisville, KY during Sunday's Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Bishop ANTHONY also presented the Archdiocese Meritorious Service Award to Mrs. Sadie Kannam of Canton on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH.

Deacon Anthony presented a retreat on Friday evening titled "The Armor of God," tying in his own personal experience as a U.S. Marine who is now looking forward to become a future chaplain in the U.S. Navy. On Saturday, basketball games were held among three divisions with much excitement amid cheers and encouragement. Following Great Vespers on Saturday evening, Canton SOYO President Mareena Michael welcomed everyone to the Awards Banquet and Hafli that topped off a beautiful day of great sportsmanship and fellowship.

Gleanings From a Book: Everything Tells Us About God by Katherine Bolger Hyde

From the first glance, this beautiful book invites engagement. The cover sets the tone for the book: it creates an expectation for beauty, variety, and a joyful reveling in God’s generosity with His people. When the reader opens the book, the end paper catches their eye. It is a golden, nearly-completed puzzle. But why is that one piece missing? And what does this have to do with the title? Without reading a word, the reader is already curious and determined to know more!

The book begins by telling the reader that the world is like a giant puzzle. God made this puzzle to tell us about Himself. He designed each piece - each part of the world - to help us learn some of His secrets. When we really look at the pieces, we can learn about Him through them!

March 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Call to Great Lent: a call home to Him and His wisdom 

As we enter the heart of the Great Lent, the faithful of the Church are called to the remembrance of the Old Testament words, works, and teachings. They are of extreme importance if we seek to grow in our understanding of the Word Who became Incarnate. For He is the "I AM, the I AM" revealed to Moses in Exodus 3 – the divine Person named Jesus and called the Christ.

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

Women's Month Message from NAB President Dianne O'Regan

Greetings from the Antiochian Women, and Welcome to Antiochian Women Month!

The North American Board (“NAB”) of the Antiochian Women has an exciting array of information to share with you, both on the newly rolled-out Archdiocesan website and in your individual churches. 

Check out our webpage with just a few of our activities:

  • •Materials for our 2018 NAB Project, “Strengthening the Ministries of our Church – Vocations,” including a letter from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, our Project poster (in various sizes/formats), and a message to be read by a woman to your congregation.
  • •The NAB Scholarship Coordinator’s Cover Letter and Grant Application.
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