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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.

January 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Jesus our Christ - The Anointed One And Son of Mary – Comes to the River Jordan

Clothed in the Christmas Spirit and Light of His Nativity, we continue to celebrate and rejoice in the Nativity of Jesus – the new born Baby and first-fruit of Mary. With this, we begin to turn our eyes to His Baptism and the Spirit in the form of a dove. For here we gain helpful insight into Whom this One is – the "I AM" born in fulfillment of prophecy, born
enfleshed with His flesh, and is the Child and Immanuel.

As we contemplate His Baptism, let us remind ourselves the "Spirit of the Lord" - His Spirit - was present at His Annunciation and Nativity, even Pentecost. This same One Spirit of Jesus is Holy and expressed through Moses and His Prophets, throughout the OSB-Septuagint Old Testament.

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

Watch Boston Byzantine Choir on Live Stream: January 6

On January 6, 2018, the Boston Byzantine Choir under the direction of Charles R. Marge will present "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The concert will be held at St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts and will be livestreamed here at 6 pm Eastern Standard Time. In this program, the Choir will take us on a journey of sacred chant through the twelve days of Christmas starting with the Nativity and ending with Epiphany. Each day from December 25 through January 6 brings its own hymnography rich in the theology of the season, beautifully expressed through the Byzantine musical tradition.

For the past 25 years, the Boston Byzantine Choir has endeavored to make Byzantine chant and the Orthodox Christian faith accessible to the English-speaking world. The choir grew out of the chanting tradition of St. Mary's in Cambridge, and has chanted at services and performed in concerts and festivals in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Montreal and California. The Boston Byzantine Choir is best known for its five recordings of Byzantine Chant in English: First Fruits, Mystical Supper, Thy Passion, Thy Resurrection, and Lenten Journey. This program, which includes the New England premiere of new Byzantine chant compositions in English by Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis, will form the basis for a sixth recording entitled Twelve Days, to be released later in 2018.

Diocesan Deacons' Retreat Held at St. George Cathedral in Charleston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Friday, October 20, to Sunday, October 22, 2017, the annual retreat of the deacons of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid Atlantic took place. This year we were hosted by the parish of St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia and their priest, Fr. Christopher Eid. In attendance were Sayedna Thomas, Fr. Anthony Roeber (the chaplain to our deacons), and seven deacons. This year our retreat was pan Orthodox, as Deacon Wayne Paul Wright of the Romanian Orthodox Church of Fairlawn, Ohio heard about our retreat, and he asked Sayedna Thomas if he could attend.  Sayedna Thomas enthusiastically invited him, and Deacon Wright’s participation was most welcome and instructive.

Memory Eternal! + Sylvia Jean Joseph, Mother of His Grace Bishop THOMAS

Sylvia Jean Joseph, mother of His Grace Bishop THOMAS, reposed in the Lord on Christmas Eve, 2017. She was 93 years old. Writes His Grace, "As you know, she had been suffering for a good period of time. Although this was unexpected, she was visited by both a deacon and priest today....There are so many of you who prayed for my mom and offered all kinds of support. My father, my sister and I are eternally grateful to you. More importantly, Mom is grateful. I'll ask again for your holy prayers for her soul. May she rest in peace, and may God give us the strength to bear this loss."

The funeral arrangements Sylvia Jean Joseph are as follows:

On Friday, December 29, 2017, there will be a viewing from 2-4pm at Holy Cross Orthodox Church, 2365 South South Olga Drive in Ft. Myers, FL 33905. Included in this will be a Trisagion service at 3:30pm.

Nativity Greeting From His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH

Nativity 2017

Today doth Bethlehem receive Him Who sitteth with the Father forever. Today the angels glorify, as worthy of God, the babe that is born, shouting: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth be peace, and goodwill among men.

Beloved in Christ,

With great joy I greet you at the dawn of this bright and glorious feast of the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, making the cave a heaven and the manger a noble place!

May He Who deigned to be born in the cave and rest in a manger take up His abode in us. Let us join our voices with the angelic choirs and glorify God, beseeching Him to bring peace, justice, and reconciliation to our troubled world.

The Simplicity of Christmas

By Fr. George H. Shalhoub

It is truly a wonderful time of the year. As we approach the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the question on many minds, especially children is: what kind of gift am I getting for Christmas? And adults agonize over what kind of gifts are we giving? In between these questions, often asked with a sigh, we hear exhaustion from families as they pace the malls of America looking for the perfect gift to give. Gift giving with the right meaning and attitude is wonderful, but this message is often lost in the obligation of holiday, forgetting the “real reason for the season.”

The reality is still the same, Christmas has never changed. It is the birth of our Lord, and always will be. When we exchange gifts with one another, the gifts should be an expression of one’s own gratitude, to God first and then to our loved ones.

Winter 2017-2018 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Winter 2017–2018 issue of DIAKONIA, the newsletter of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, is now available online. This issue features the Diocese of New York, and the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic, and includes special messages from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH and His Grace Bishop THOMAS.

The issue also contains:

  • Introductions to the diocesan officers and coordinators
  • Numerous reports and photographs from parish chapters of Antiochian Women
  • Reflections on the spiritual life

And more! Download the PDF

Bishop Anthony's Pastoral Letter for Nativity, 2017

Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 2017

Dear beloved Clergy and Faithful of our Midwest Diocese,

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
ُ المسیح ُ وِلد!َ فمجدوه!

Home, family, friends, decorations that adorn both hearth and hearts, the texture, feel and color of love that, somehow, is renewed in us this time of year, is our greatest blessing. Christmas is composed of the rhythm, rhymes, and hymns that carry more of a presence than a present.

Jesus Christ comes into the world prepared for Him through the prayers of many generations of faithful people. His birth in a wilderness cave begins our rebirth in the wilderness of a world that has failed to find happiness, peace on earth, and goodwill toward men and women.

"Living Orthodoxy" Podcast Features Interview with Bishop Thomas

December 19, 2017

As a part of the "Faith Stories" series in the Living Orthodoxy podcast, His Grace Bishop Thomas (Joseph) of the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston and the Mid-Atlantic was interviewed in a recently posted podcast. Living Orthodoxy strives to provide "an invitation to a deeper life in Christ," and is hosted by St. Philip Orthodox Church in Souderton, PA.

The wide-ranging discussion with Bishop Thomas covers a variety of topics, including: a brief recap of his upbringing and background, his collaborative approach to ministry, his reflections on the history of the Antiochian Archdiocese, his observations about parish growth and ministry, and his advice to priests and parishioners.

Listen to Living Orthodoxy with Bishop Thomas.

 

Memory Eternal! + John George Burbules, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)

John George Burbules, COL USA (Ret.), 84, of Sellersburg, Indiana, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday morning, December 14, 2017 after a brief illness. He had a Christian ending to his life – painless, blameless and peaceful.

John’s life was simple. He served his God. He served his country. And he served his family and friends. Each with endless dedication and tremendous love. The rest of his story lives on with the thousands he’s touched.

A long-time member of St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky, he served in various offices on the Parish Council, and – for decades – taught Bible Study and Catechism classes. Those whose lives he touched remember his humility, grace and humor.

Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada Holds Annual Gala Event

Bishop Alexander with Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada membersBishop Alexander with Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada membersThe Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada held its annual gala event on November 4, 2017, at the Chateau Royal Reception Hall in Laval, Quebec, Canada. Presiding at the event was Bishop Alexander (Mufarrij), and he was joined by all the Montreal area clergy. Close to 500 people attended, among them dignitaries from all levels of government—federal, provincial, and municipal.

After Sayyidna Alexander blessed the food, Dr. Nadim Korban, President of the Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada, spoke about the many accomplishments of the Union. Among them: helping the local Orthodox Scouts chapter, sending kids from all Montreal churches to attend the Camp Transfiguration summer camp, helping the elderly, aiding students in need in the community, and helping the newcomers from Syria.

Statement by Metropolitan JOSEPH on the Recent Announcement by President Trump Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Englewood, NJ/The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Statement by His Eminence, Archbishop Metropolitan JOSEPH, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of North America on the Recent Announcement by President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”. Luke 2:14

We in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church stand with religious and world leaders in expressing concern over the recent announcement by President Trump in which the United States officially recognizes the city of Jersusalem as the capital of Israel and will therefore be moving the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Our main concern is that this is a unilateral decision being made from outside of the framework of the Middle East peace process and that this will serve to undermine an already complex and difficult situation.

Youth Worker Conference to Feature the Theme of Gratitude

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, chairman of SOYO and the Department of Youth, encourages all parish and Archdiocese-wide youth leaders to attend the pan-Orthodox Youth Worker Conference in early 2018. Themed "The Place of Gratitude in Youth Ministry," the Conference is slated for February 1–3, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. More information is available here.

The Orthodox Youth Worker & Camping Conference is sponsored by the Jurisdictional Youth Departments of the Assembly of Bishops. The Youth and Camping Departments of the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA will host the 2018 conference.

 

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