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Explanation of the 2019 Creative Festivals Theme

Antiochian Village: Past, Present, & Future
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

 This year’s theme was selected by Metropolitan JOSEPH in order to focus on that great treasure our Archdiocese is blessed to possess: Antiochian Village. His Eminence wrote the following: “There, ‘He was transfigured before them.’ (Mark 9:2) Since 1978, the Antiochian Village has been the Mount Tabor for our Archdiocese. It has been our home to gather to encounter our transfigured Lord; to be ourselves transfigured. As much as we can bear our Lord’s glory, we can bring His glory to the world. The Antiochian Village is where our bishops, clergy, adults and children gather to study, worship, fellowship and rejuvenate our faith. We have invested much of ourselves in this place where we meet and are fed by God.”

Philippians 4:13 was selected because this verse appears on the arch to Antiochian Village Camp. Countless children and adults have passed under that arch, but how many have contemplated what this quotation really means? Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular, yet perhaps one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. Does it mean that if I pray hard enough I can do (or have) whatever I want? Oftentimes what’s missing in our understanding of this verse is the acknowledgement of God’s will for us. In order to truly understand this quote, we must examine it in context. If we look at verse 11, St. Paul says, “…I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” Things may not always go according to our plan, but as long as we trust in God’s plan for us we can overcome any obstacles we may encounter.

Summer 2018 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The "Reflection of Summer 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 Miami and the Southeast, and includes a special message from Bishop NICHOLAS. His Grace writes:

As we start a new chapter in the life of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, we have been working diligently on many fronts to build all aspects of the diocese according to a new vision of rejuvenation and growth. The main theme is that we, the faithful, need to increase our knowledge noeticly and spiritually with regard to God in accordance with Jesus' prayer to His Father: "this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3). As I have been emphasizing during my weekly pastoral visits to the DOMSE parishes, we need to "up our spiritual game" a notch or two on a continuous basis and while remaining humans work conscientiously on acquiring the attributes of God.

In this issue, Diocesan President Dawn Evancho also reflects:

As life goes, it has been a year of "ups and downs" for our Diocese. Last summer we celebrated our beloved Bishop ANTOUN's lifetime of service at the Archdiocese Convention in his hometown of Miami. A few months later, we laid him to rest at the Antiochian Village. We welcomed our new Bishop NICHOLAS and had our first Winter Retreat with him in Atlanta in January. We said a reluctant goodbye to our Spiritual Advisor, Fr. Stephen Rogers, as he started his retirement and welcomed him as our first Mid-Winter retreat speaker!

Annual Diocese of Charleston Clergy Synaxis is November 6-9, 2018

The office staff of the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic writes:

The Village sponsors our Clergy Synaxis annually. This year it falls November 6–9. Although this is sponsored jointly by the Village and the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic, it is open to all clergy. Very kindly, we ask that our diocesan clergy make arrangements to stay for the entire Synaxis. Once again, you can make arrangements for your accommodations with the Antiochian Village. We will be asking Fr. Anthony Yazge to send out a schedule for the Synaxis at a later time.


Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic Annual Deacons Retreat

From the diocesan office staff:

We want to take this opportunity to invite all deacons to our annual Deacons' Retreat, which will be the weekend of Sept 7–9, 2018. This will be held at the Antiochian Village and at St. Mary Church in Johnstown. The speaker will be Fr. David Hester. For more information, please be in touch with Dn. Peter Maris at as well as the Antiochian Village Conference Center for accommodations.

Department Training and Event Updates, August 2018

Coordinators for the Department of Christian Education recently attended the Parish Life Conferences throughout the Archdiocese. Each coordinator networked with parishioners and priests to offer the services of the department to provide training for teachers, or church school directors. Our trainers can also instruct in areas of Adult Education and through other theologically inspiring topics. Many excellent opportunities are currently in the planning stage and most will take place this fall. If you are interested in attending any of these sessions, contact your coordinator or the Department for more information. All are welcome!

Watch our website or like our Facebook page to get up-to-date information on all of these opportunities in various dioceses. If you are interested in hosting a training at your parish, please contact Leslie Atherholt at aodce. or 717-747-5221.


St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Bridgeport, CT will host a Teacher Training II workshop for their teachers. Tentative date is Saturday, Sept. 29. Other parishes and jurisdictions are welcome to attend. St. George, Little Falls, NJ will host a custom program for novice and advanced teachers for all the Orthodox churches in the area. This training is tentatively scheduled for October 20. Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, MD will host a Teacher Training II workshop, tentatively scheduled in early November.

Prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos for Every Day of the Week

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Here are the "Prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos for Every Day of the Week" of Schema-hieromonk Nilus of St. Nilus of Sora Skete (+1870). By her holy intercessions may we all be saved!

Download these daily prayers.

Bishop THOMAS Visits Michigan Parish and Monastery














His Grace Bishop THOMAS recently visited The Basilica of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Livonia, Michigan, with Fr. George Shalhoub. While in the beautiful Great Lake state, he also visited the Holy Dormition Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction (under the omophorion of His Eminence Archbishop NATHANIEL of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America).

View the photo album.

Special Celebrations at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA










 By Fr. George Alberts

In the past few months, our parish of St. Mary in Wilkes-Barre, PA had cause to celebrate several special occasions in the life our parish. (View the photo album.)

On Sunday, May 20th, we celebrated the 100th Birthday of our pastor emeritus, the V. Rev. Fr. Herbert Nahas. Fr. Herb made a special point of personally greeting all of the parishioners and guests as they entered the church hall following the Divine Liturgy. Our Parish Council Chairman, John Moses, welcomed our parishioners and visitors from the community who have known and loved Fr. Herb over the many years of his service to our parish of St. Mary. A letter of congratulations from Metropolitan JOSEPH was read by our pastor, the V. Rev. Fr. George Alberts, and Fr. Herb was presented with a citation from the mayor of Wilkes-Barre, Tony George. He also later received citations from the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives. Fr. Herb gave a heart-felt thank you to everyone and blew out the candles on his birthday cake before taking his leave. We pray that Fr. Herb will be with us for many more years!

Bishop Thomas Greeting for the Ecclesiastical New Year, 2018

September 1, 2018

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ!

"You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance." Psalm 65:11

I greet each of you in the name of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ as we embark upon a new church year. The Lord grants us to see the dawn of another new year for our repentance, nothing else. It is not given carelessly or frivolously and because it is God's gift to us; we will have to give an account of how we spend the gift freely given to us.

We mark the passage of time primarily in one of two ways: 1) according to the secular calendar or 2) according to the church's cycle of fasts and feasts, the commemoration of saints, and the great feasts of the Lord. If we mark our time according to the secular calendar, we will find little time for God and the spiritual life. Our lives will pass rapidly (this in and of itself should give us pause) and our days will be passed with work responsibilities, family responsibilities, and holidays. There is nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves. However, when these responsibilities crowd out the spiritual life we begin to adopt a secular or worldly attitude about life and death.

A Handful of Resources: Summer 2018

Several fantastic resources have recently come to our attention. Some of them have been around for a few years, while others are recently published, but all of them were new to us and we consider them well worth sharing! Here they are:

  1. The SuperHolies series of books by Mireille Mishriky includes three books from 2016 to date, with more to come: Philo and the SuperHoliesPhilo and the Patience SuperHoly, and Philo, Rose, and the Joy SuperHoly. Each book explores the “SuperHolies” (the virtues mentioned in the Scriptures as the fruit of the Holy Spirit), which can be “activated” in our life when we ask for God’s help. Each book tells about a time when Philo (a Coptic Orthodox boy) finds himself in a tough spot, remembers the SuperHolies, and then prays by making the sign of the cross. This activates the “SuperHolies” in his life and helps him respond as he should!
  2. Love & Joy Coloring Book by Draw Near Designs, copyrighted 2017, is a child-sized (or purse sized!) coloring book with 25 spreads featuring saints of the Orthodox Church and a quote from/about each.

The Great Feasts: The Life of Our Lord

By Carole Buleza

The Twelve Great Feasts and Pascha, taken together, are an overview of the life of our Lord. While it is important for our children to know about His miracles and teachings, it is just as important for them to know the main events of His life story. Our salvation resides in His life. Furthermore, just as we are baptized into Him, our own story—our life—must rest on His. Jesus’ life comprises the “foundational story” for Christians. A foundational story answers the ultimate questions of life, death and why we are here, and guides our thoughts, values, and actions. The Christian story provides answers to all these questions and gives us the virtues of faith, hope, and love that, even if not recognized as such, influence our attitudes and actions and curb the anxiety that comes from unexpected events and uncertain times. It is a strong foundation. (Read the rest of Carole's introduction.)

Grades K–1
Great Feasts K–1 
Icon Postcards 

Grades 2–3
Great Feasts 2–3
Icon Postcards 

Introducing The Great Feasts Program

The Great Feasts: The Life of Our Lord

By Carole Buleza

The Twelve Great Feasts and Pascha, taken together, are an overview of the life of our Lord. While it is important for our children to know about His miracles and teachings, it is just as important for them to know the main events of His life story. Our salvation resides in His life. Furthermore, just as we are baptized into Him, our own story—our life—must rest on His. Jesus’ life comprises the “foundational story” for Christians. A foundational story answers the ultimate questions of life, death and why we are here, and guides our thoughts, values, and actions. The Christian story provides answers to all these questions and gives us the virtues of faith, hope, and love that, even if not recognized as such, influence our attitudes and actions and curb the anxiety that comes from unexpected events and uncertain times. It is a strong foundation.

Ordination to the Holy Diaconate at St. Elias

On the eve of the feast of Transfiguration—Sunday, August 5, 2018—His Grace Bishop THOMAS ordained Martie Johnson to the Holy Diaconate. The ordination was held at the St. Elias Church in Newcastle, Pennsylvania. Axios! God grant Deacon Martinian many years! (Click Read more to see photos.)

Bishop Thomas Greeting for the Transfiguration and Dormition

August 6, 2018

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

I greet you as we celebrate these most joyous feasts, the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos!  These feasts coincide with the holy fast of the Dormition as well as the new ecclesiastical year which is just around the corner.

Most importantly, these two great feasts lead us to the very heart of Orthodoxy-union with God through His energies and our ascetical efforts.  These two feasts also remind us that ultimately this is our purpose and goal in life-experience of the Uncreated Light and full participation in the life of Christ.  If we are to experience the glory and salvific power of this Light that purifies our souls, we have to cooperate.  We have a role to play.

Games for the Church School Classroom

We have gathered some ideas of games that can be played in Sunday Church School. Those of us who are on summer break can take advantage of this time to review these, select the ones that will work with our class, and then have them available for the upcoming year. Some of these games can be prepared ahead of time. Others we will just want to be familiar with so that we have them as an option for use with our lessons.

Let’s get ready to have some fun with our Sunday Church School classes!


Find some Orthodox game ideas here.


This page offers 12 games that would each be a fun way to review or test learning at the end of a lesson. You may want to gather and prepare some of the required equipment so that you’re ready to go when you want to play one of these games with your class!

The Journey of Marriage Retreat












Session 1: The Journey of Marriage, an Orthodox Understanding

Session 2: Avoiding "the Four Horsemen," A Christian Approach to
Managing Conflict

Session 3: Parenting Toward the Kingdom

*Childcare is available for children ages 8 and below. Please email
Lindsey Birdsall at to reserve a spot.*


Day 5: Wednesday, June 20


Refreshed and renewed, today is a big day as we venture eight centuries back and a few hours west towards Monastery Studenica, one of the largest and richest monasteries. It was founded in 1190 by Stefan Nemanja, also the founder of the medieval Serbian state and father of St. Sava of Serbia. We cut through the thick forest on a winding road wondering how these sites were even chosen. Soon we see the rushing Studenica River (after which the monastery is named) and are told that the water is particularly cold, thus the name Studenica derived from the old word “studeno” or cold. We arrive at the picturesque monastery guarded by stone gates and enter the main church dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. One is transported back to medieval Serbia! Renovations are underway to restore this treasure as we encounter scaffolding. Marko, the man in charge of the restoration and cleaning of the frescos, is eager to show us what we’ve come to see.

We enter the church and immediately see the above-ground tomb of St. Sava’s father Stefan Nemanja (St. Simeon the Myrrh-Flowing) on the right, the sarcophagus and uncorrupt relics of his brother St. Steven the First Crowned ahead to the right just in front of the iconostasis, and his mother and Stefan Nemanja’s wife Anna – St. Anastasia on the left.

The sarcophagi are heavy laden in silver and gold, beautifully preserved, and respectfully covered during the renovation. Marko is quick to remove the covers as he sees that we are not just tourists, but pilgrims who have come to venerate these holy and beloved saints.

2018 PLC Features Warm Halifax Hospitality










The 65th Annual Diocese of Ottawa Eastern Canada and Upstate New York Parish Life Conference was held in our beautiful city of Halifax June 28-July 1, 2018. We worked hard to ensure that these four days were some of the best days our guests spent outside of their home parishes. Our schedule was dense with activities and events that drew everyone together spiritually and in fun.

In Halifax we are well known for our warm hospitality. This is most true in our home Parish of Saint Antonios. The weekend opened with a delicious welcome dinner following the tour of our new home at Saint Antonios Church. Our guests were treated to the delicious taste of Halifax; offering a generous array of seafood, from lobster to oysters and much more!

Successful PLC is Held in "The City of Holy Faith"

Bible BowlBible BowlVIEW THE PLC PHOTO ALBUM​​​​​​​​

In June 2018, the largest gathering of Orthodox Christians in the 420-year history of Santa Fe, New Mexico occurred during the Diocese of Wichita Parish Life Conference. It was held for the first time ever in this city and state and was hosted by Holy Trinity Orthodox Church. Santa Fe is the oldest city in New Mexico and one of the oldest in the United States. Santa Fe is known as "The City of Holy Faith" and also "The City Different." It is the oldest continuous seat of government in America and yet, the true seat of government – the Altar of God and the greatest event in the cosmos – was celebrated by dozens of clergy and our Beloved Bishop, His Grace Bishop BASIL, during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

The location was the Eldorado Hotel and Spa and the conference attendees enjoyed the largest Hospitality Suite in the history of PLCs! It was in the hotel's Presidential Suite with more than 1,500 square feet of interior space and a 2,200 square foot penthouse patio offering stunning panoramic views of the city and the Sangre de Christo Mountains.

St. Mary to Host Basketball Tournament, Founders' Day Celebration with Bishop ANTHONY

On behalf of St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, IL and the Diocese of Toledo and Midwest, you are invited to our Pan-Orthodox Midwest Basketball Tournament, to be held on August 24–26, 2018.

Over this same three days, our parish of St. Mary will be also celebrating our Fifteen Year Anniversary Founders' Day Weekend. His Grace Bishop ANTHONY will preside over the festivities, and the miracle working Iveron Icon will bless us with a visit on August 25 and 26.

The weekend includes a welcoming event, the basketball tournament, Hafleh and Awards Ceremony, and more! All other information (age limit, pricing, addresses, etc.) is included in the attached forms below. 

Please mail registration form, waiver of liability, and registration fee to the following mailing address:

Young Adult Ministry
St. Mary Orthodox Church
6330 W. 127th St.
Palos Heights, IL. 60463

August 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

"Defending the faith": a look inside this month's booklet
Blood of promise: Jesus is our Christ
Romans 9:6-7, Abraham and Isaac explained


"But it is not as though the Word of God has fallen to the ground. For they are not all Israel, who are of Israel."

The fact is we do not lack any words on the Lord's behalf, nor is there the need to show His promise, did not fall to the ground. For when the Lord (YHWH) said to Abraham, 'To your seed I will give this land,' we need to understand what kind of seed He was speaking about."

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

Annual Pilgrimage Celebration at Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery

31st Annual Pilgrimage Celebration 2018

Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery
Guest of Honor: His Grace Bishop THOMAS
Hosted by: His Eminence Archbishop NATHANIEL


Tuesday, August 14

5:00 pm  Light Supper
6:30 pm  Vigil of the Feast with Lamentations

Wednesday, August 15

9:00 am    Akathist, 3rd Hour, 6th Hour, Visiting of the Hierarchs and procession to the Pavilion
10:00 am  Hierarchical Holy Liturgy
12:45 pm   Lunch
2:30 pm    Mystery of Holy Unction
5:30 pm    Vespers
6:30 pm    Supper

Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery
Address: 3389 Rives Eaton Rd, Rives Junction, MI 49277
Phone: (517) 569-2873

Fr. Elias Hawy

Father Elias Hawy was once the pastor of St. George Syrian Orthodox Church in the mid-1920s. He was born in Syria and came to the United States when he was 17. For a number of years he was engaged in business at Boston, Mass. In 1919 he returned to Syria in order to pursue studies for the clergy. He attended the Syrian Orthodox Seminary at Mount Lebanon and was ordained a priest.

In 1926 he returned to the United States and was appointed a pastor at St. George's Syrian Orthodox Church at Northwood, Massachusetts. He was ordained a priest in America by Archbishop VICTOR Aboassaly of Brooklyn. Not much is known about his tenure as pastor of St. George, or of his death. Nonetheless, he faithfully administered to over 50 Syrian families in his parish. He served the liturgy in both Arrabic and English, and provided a Sunday to school class in the evening on every Sunday.

Fr. Melitios Koury + April 11, 1966

Born Mirshad Koury in the village of Toumeen, Syria March 12, 1872, Fr. Melitios was the son of Fr. Khalil Koury, and grandson of Fr. Meletios Koury. He emigrated to the United States with his wife Thekla in 1905. He was employed as a butcher, moving first to Allentown, Pennsylvania, then Trafford, and then Braddock, before finally settling in Homestead around 1914.

Father Melitios was ordained priest in 1918 by Bishop AFTIMIOS Ofiesh, taking the name Melitios. As a priest, he would travel extensively as a circuit priest in order to serve the Arab Orthodox community in Pennsylvania before permanent churches could be established. He was pivotal in establishing St. Michael of Homestead, which he helped merge with St. George of Pittsburgh in the early 1950s. That church is now St. George Cathedral of Oakland in Pittsburgh.

Father Melitios often did his own construction work, including much of the work that was done on St. Michael's. He was known as a very resourceful man, making ends meet for himself and his community with whatever means available. He died of pneumonia on April 11, 1966.

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