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Winter 2018-2019 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Winter 2018-2019 issue of DIAKONIA, the newsletter of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, is now available online. This issue features the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, and includes a message from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. His Eminence writes: As we begin 2019, let us reflect on the critical role played by the Theotokos in our both of our "new year" celebrations, we see the honor the Church pays to the Theotokos, and, I believe, to all women through her.

In this issue, Bishop Anthony also reflects:

In our lives as Orthodox Christians following the example of the Apostles, the saints, and all those who passed down the faith to us, we are called always to give thanks.

The issue also contains introductions to the diocesan officers and coordinators, a message from Diocesan President Kh. Jeanette Gallaway and Spiritual Advisor Fr. Joseph Abud, and numerous reports and photographs from the Diocese's parish chapters of Antiochian Women.

Download the PDF​

Learning About a Saint: St. Kendeas (Commemorated Oct. 6/19)

Printable PDF

St. Kendeas, who lived sometime between the 7th and 10th centuries, was born in the Alemanni region (part of today’s Germany). When he was 18, he became a monk in Palestine, near the Jrdan River. He lived there in a cave, spending his days in prayer and fasting. While he was there, a rich man nearby was trying very hard to find a way to heal his possessed child. He spent a lot of his money trying to help his child. When he heard about the monks who lived by the Jordan, he took his child to one of them, named Ananaias. God told the monk Ananaias to send the child to the monk Kendeas. Kendeas prayed, and the child was healed!

After that miracle, Kendeas became known in the area. He was made the Metropolitan of Jerusalem, and served in that role for a while. He missed living as a monastic, though, so a few years later he went back to the cave to live.

St. Mary Church in Pawtucket to host YES Trip Providence, May 10-12

Friday - Sunday, May 10–12, 2019

Open to age 13 through College Students
St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church: 249 High St., Pawtucket, RI 02865.

We will meet at 5pm and stay Friday and Saturday nights at the church. The weekend will wrap up following Liturgy on the 10th. A registration gift of $175 per person will cover all trip expenses. Teens can register online.

Registration is limited to the first 30 people who sign up.

Packing List:
DO Bring
Sleeping bag and pillow
Personal toiletries (towel, soap, toothbrush, etc.)
Work clothes (don't mind getting dirty)
Long pants (some sites require/ bring 2 pair)
Closed toe shoes
[Recommended dress: jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes]
Church clothes for those attending church

DO NOT Bring
Valuable jewelry
Tight fitting clothes


Veteran Educator, Thriving SOYO Department, In-House Curriculum

An Interview with Arlyn Kantz
St. Peter Antiochian Orthodox Church, Fort Worth, TX

Arlyn Kantz journeyed from an evangelical background to Orthodoxy seven years ago. She has taught history and Bible at St. Peter’s Classical school for the past six years and has served as director of Christian Education for the parish for the last three. Before becoming Orthodox, she worked in curriculum development for special populations while raising four children. She and Will, her husband of 25 years, recently handed off the reigns of a thriving SOYO department to capable younger hands.

How many students attend your Sunday school? How is your program organized for Sunday classes and how many teachers are assigned per class?

We have approximately sixty children in our parish, birth to eighteen. Twenty-two attend Sunday School on a regular basis. Sunday School meets after mass for forty-five minutes. Our children are organized into three classes: PreK-1st grade, 2nd-6th grade, and then 7th-12th grade. Our two younger classes do not hold firm to the boundary of age, depending on attendance and maturity and the preference of some children to be with a sibling. We do hold a firm line though on attending SOYO, as teens need a space of their own. We are blessed to have two teachers per level. Sometimes teachers rotate every other Sunday and sometimes they team teach depending on what is going on with their personal schedules and the number of children attending each Sunday.

Diocese Teen SOYO Service Day is February 2

Diocese of Worcester & New England TEEN SOYO SERVICE DAY
Lend a hand and bring a smile to our community!

Our tentative schedule for Saturday, February 2 will be as follows:

12:30 PM - Check in & Registration (Hall)
12:45 PM - Intro & Blanket Making (Hall)
2:00 PM - Lunch (We will probably pick up pizza's)
2:45 PM - Depart for 2nd Service Activity (Acts of Kindness)
4:15 PM - Return to St. George for Debrief
5:00 PM - Vespers
6:00 PM - Pick up

Download flyer

Mid-Winter Meetings to be held in Garden Grove, CA in February

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, the 2019 Mid-Winter Meetings ("Let's Head to the West!"), will be hosted by St. Luke Orthodox Church in Garden Grove, CA, from Friday, February 8, through Sunday, February 10, 2019. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Women and Teen SOYO will gather for their annual mid-winter meetings. Important forms and information are available below. Please contact your organization leaders with any questions.

Meeting Schedule and Information
Meeting Registration Form
NAC Teen SOYO Minor Participation Form
NAB President's Letter

Host Location
All meetings and services will be held at St. Luke Orthodox Church. 

Pastoral Letter From His Grace Bishop BASIL

Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

January 7, 2019

To the Chrst-loving Priest, Deacons, Monastics and Lay Folk of the God-protected Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America:

Blessings and greetings on this second day of Theophany — the Synaxis of the Honorable Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist. Happy feast!

I take this opportunity to convey my heartfelt thanks to each of you who sent greetings to me and contributions to our Diocese's "Bishop Basil Missions Endowment Fund" on the occasion of my Name's Day, the Feast of St. Basil the Great which our holy Church keeps on January 1. I am indeed most appreciative of your thoughtful remembrances and generous contributions.

As an update on the "Bishop Basil Missions Endowment Fund," I am happy to report to you that Metropolitan Joseph blessed Archpriest Joseph Longofono of Topeka, KS, a longtime priest of our Diocese, to begin his ministry as DOWAMA's first full-time "Dean of Chapels" effective January 1.

NAB President's Letter

DOWNLOAD the letter

November 18, 2018

Your Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, Esteemed Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy & Sisters in Christ –

Christ is in our midst!

My initial President’s letter normally goes out in either August or September depending on the amount of information to be conveyed.  You may have thought I had “fallen off the face of the Earth” when I didn’t send out my usual missive, but I have been VERY active “behind the scenes” (which included negotiating a hotel contract for over three months, but more on that later!).  Rather than sending you numerous letters and/or emails alerting you as to what was happening, I thought I’d wrap everything up with a neat little bow and send it all at once!

So, in the words of Willy Wonka, “So much time and so little to do - wait a minute!  Strike that!  Reverse it,” here we go …

The last gathering of the North American Board was held at the Antiochian Village during the weekend of July 20 through 22.  We experienced beautiful weather, a nice turnout of women at our NAB meeting, and got a lot accomplished in a condensed period of time (due to the Archdiocesan Bible Bowl and Oratorical Competition being held that same weekend).  We were also gifted with a spiritual and uplifting message from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, as well as learning about our newest NAB Project.

Apply to CrossRoad 2019! Summer Program for High School Juniors and Seniors

Calling all Antiochian Youth! Are you an Orthodox Christian high school junior or senior interested in exploring your faith? Apply to the dynamic, life-changing program that is CrossRoad! The application deadline is February 1, 2019.

For more information, visit our website!

10 Days

3 Sessions

2 Locations

1 Amazing Program


2019 Special Olympics Volunteer and Coaching Applications Available

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

In addition to the funds raised, SOYO teens provide at least half the coaching staff, and many adult volunteers participate as well. The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth Ministry, has announced that the 2019 Special Olympic Coaches Application is now available for those youth who are interested in working at the Sports Camp. Additionally, for adults over twenty years of age, the Special Olympics Volunteer Form  is posted as well.

Download Coaches Application

Download Volunteer Form

January 2019 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

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

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

January 2019 Newsletter (PDF)

January 2019 Coupon (PDF)

Bishop THOMAS 2019 Theophany Greeting

Download the PDF

January 2019

Dearly beloved in Christ,

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

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

2018 Nativity Greeting from His Grace Bishop ANTHONY

Download PDF

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

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

المسيح يولد! تمجده!

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

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

Teaching Theophany

by Elissa Bjeletich (used with permission)

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

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

Bishop BASIL'S Nativity Greeting

The Nativity of Christ, 2018

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

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

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

+Bishop Basil

Bishop Basil's Nativity Greeting (PDF)

Annual DOCMA Clergy Synaxis Features Speaker Fr. Joshua Makoul

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

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

Bishop NICHOLAS Visits Archangel Gabriel Parish in Lafayette, LA












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nativity 2018 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

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

In this issue, Diocesan President Susanne Zeidan also reflects:

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

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

Download the PDF​

December 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Nativity—Fulfillment of Prophecy

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

December 2018 Newsletter (PDF)

December 2018 Coupon (PDF)

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

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

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

On the Liturgical Year for Teachers: Christmas and Epiphany

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

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

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

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

Please share with us a little about yourself.

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

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

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