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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.

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.

Anniversaries are Marked in Special Sunday at St. John Chrysostom Church in York, PA

View the photos

On July 8, 2018, His Grace Bishop THOMAS visited St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania. July 8 is the 30th anniversary of the ordination of Bishop THOMAS to the Holy Diaconate. There was a reception for His Grace that featured much rejoicing, as well as a very unique cake on display that commemorated this important milestone in the life of the Diocese.

There was also another celebration that took place this day. Bishop THOMAS also celebrated the 40th wedding anniversary of Fr. Peter and Kh. Pamela Pier, shepherds of the St. John Chrysostom parish. Father Peter and Kh. Pamela were crowned by His Grace before the assembled congregation in a joyful remembrance of their wedding day.

College Scholarship Awarded to Isaac Gabriel Abdalla of St. George, Charleston

The Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting (EOCS) is pleased to announce that a scholarship of $1000 has been awarded to Isaac Gabriel Abdalla. He was selected from a nationwide group of highly qualified applicants who had received both the highest award of their Scout organization (Eagle or Gold, for Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA, respectively) and the highest Orthodox Christian religious award, the Alpha Omega medal. Students were evaluated on how they demonstrated love of God and their Orthodox Christian Faith through scholarship, leadership, service, and practical citizenship in their church, school, Scouting unit, and community.

Isaac Gabriel Abdalla is a communicant of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, WV. He attended Capital High School, and his most recent Scout units are Troop 64 and Venturing Crew 64. Among his many distinctions are completion of every merit badge in the Boy Scout program, Brotherhood status in the Order of the Arrow, extensive community service, and a massive Eagle Scout project that resulted in over 12,000 food items being collected for a local food bank. He graduated in the top 3% of his class, has been very active in his parish, played varsity sports all high school years, and both participated in and led state championship chess teams. Isaac will attend West Virginia University this coming fall and plans to major in engineering.

The V. Rev. Paul Schneirla + September 20, 2014

Father Paul was born on April 11, 1916 on a gold mining property owned by his family in Ophir, Alaska. In 1942 he married Shirley Dillon Warriner Page of New York and Far Hills, New Jersey. His mother’s side of the family - the Sutfin’s - arrived from Holland in 1676 and settled in what is now called Bay Ridge, home of Father Paul’s last parish. Father Paul was a mixture of German and Dutch ancestry; a cultural heritage he wore well.

William Sutfin Schneirla, taking the name, Paul, was ordained by Metropolitan ANTONY in 1942.  One Sunday when serving together in Iron Mountain, MI, the newly ordained, Father Paul, could not find a hand cross for His Eminence, so he handed him the processional cross. Looking at this large cross, ANTONY quipped: “I asked for a hand cross not a German war club!” There was great levity in their relationship.

Metropolitan ANTONY loved Father Paul: they had a symbiotic relationship all through their years together. Saidna had so much confidence in his friend that he appointed him Ecumenical Officer to represent him in these circles.Based on the Encyclical of the late Patriarch ALEXANDER and the foresight of Metropolitans ANTONY and PHILIP, Father Paul launched the Western Rite with Orthodox content, thus allowing North Americans, used to their own traditions, to be fully integrated into the Antiochian Church of North America.

Father Paul was both a forerunner and a leader of all that was best in mankind. Whether in his ecumenical encounters or the pursuit of Orthodox Unity, Father Paul was an activist and an authentic sober leader respected by all who encountered his genius of articulating what is true. He was at once subtle but poignant and profound.

Fr. Joseph Kacere

Farris Kacere was born in Lebanon in 1885 and moved to the United States in 1908. He married Mary Kawaja in 1915 and was ordained as a priest in 1916, taking the name Joseph. Though not the first priest to serve at St. George Orthodox Church in Cedar Rapids, his legacy there is extraordinary nonetheless. For the next seventeen years, Fr. Joseph’s leadership and dedication to his parish would help to build a strong and faithful community, growing the parish to over 500 persons.

The evidence of his love of and dedication to his church and parish is known through his many contributions. Father Joseph started the first Sunday School, teaching children and many of the parishioners not only English, but Arabic as well. Many were to become so fluent in Arabic that they were capable of reading the epistle during services as well as serve as chanters. He began and conducted a choir of sixty youth voices which sang entire services in Arabic. He would often give legal advice and counseling to those members of his parish in trouble. Once, his civil activism lead him to prevent the deportation of one Freddie Abdnour, an eleven year old newsboy.

In 1931, through his leadership and energy, the church was able to purchase a plot of land that would become the St. George Cemetery. Father Joseph also showed his desire to participate in civic organizations apart from the church, such as becoming a valued member of the Mt. Hermon Lodge.

Tragically, Fr. Joseph’s beautiful life came to a sudden end when he, his mother, and ten year old son, were killed in an automobile collision while on their way to perform a baptism. According to news reports, over 1500 persons attended Fr. Joseph’s funeral, including His Eminence VICTOR AbouAssaly, Archbishop of New York. He was buried in the cemetery he helped establish.

The Very Rev. Basilios George Mahfouz + January 31, 1958

Basilios George Mahfouz, the son of the priest Fr. George Mahfouz and Susan Homsey, was born in Damascus, Syria in 1889. Basilios immigrated to Quebec in November 1902 along with his parents and siblings. His father was assigned to serve the church of St. Nicholas in Montreal. Basilios remained in Quebec and worked as a fruit merchant with his older brother George. He also worked briefly as a bookkeeper in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1917, he married Takla Neimy in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were married by Fr. Phillip A. Assaley at the St. Nicholas Syrian Orthodox Church on September 30, 1917.

Basilios George Mahfouz was ordained a priest by Archbishop AFTIMOS Ofiesh on Sunday November 18, 1917, becoming the 21st priest in direct succession of the Mahfouz family of Damascus. His priestly ancestry extends to the fifteenth century. The ordination took place at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Holyoke, Massachusetts, during the consecration of the church.

Following his ordination, Fr.Basilios was appointed pastor of St. George Syrian Orthodox Church of Lawrence, Massachusetts. In April, 1920 he went to serve as the first priest of St. Ellian Syrian Orthodox Church in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. After a few years in Brownsville, Fr. Basilios moved to Sioux City, Iowa where he served as pastor at St. George Syrian Orthodox Church. He then relocated to Boston in April 1926 to serve at St. John of Damascus Syrian Orthodox Church. In Boston, like his father Fr. Basilios, he would concentrate his efforts on unifying the community and ministering to their spiritual needs. In 1927, Archbishop AFTIMOS appointed Fr. Basilios to serve as secretary of the "charter council" established to draft and present an official charter for the Archdiocese. In April 1928, he was elevated to the rank of archpriest.

Ideas for Summer Fun

In the northern hemisphere, it’s summer time! For many families, this means a break from our usual school year schedule. We want to provide our children with plenty of time to regroup and rest after the intensity of their studies, because they have worked very hard. We want them to learn to have some unstructured time - and perhaps even a little taste of boredom - to give them the opportunity to invent and play their own games. But we also want them to continue learning, although perhaps in a different way than they are learning during the school year. And in the midst of all of of that, we want to make fun memories together as a family. 

To these ends, here is a small gathering of fun activities, learning opportunities, and ways to make this summer a little more fun. Try one or all of them, if you are so inclined! Tuck your favorite ideas into your back pocket if you’ve already got a good handle on your summer. It could be that one or more of them will come in handy at the last minute!

Regardless of how we spend the summer, may we enjoy the change in schedule and savor the additional time to be together! 

Summer is already partly spent, so you may already have a routine that works for your family. But if not, or if you want to switch things up a bit, here’s a clever way to do something fun together each day of the week during summer vacation:

Need ideas for preschoolers? How about some of these? 


This page offers 30 educational, creative, and budget-friendly (not to mention fun) ideas of summer-y things to do with kids!

Teachers and Summer Break

It is summertime in the northern hemisphere, and for many of us, that means a break in the Sunday Church School routine. During this break, let us take time to be refreshed! Having a break gives us time to rest and to evaluate our work. How are we doing? What is working with our students? What is not? What other ideas are out there? What might we want to try that could improve the quality of our students’ education in the Sunday Church School classroom?

Here are a few resources that may help us to evaluate and recharge. (Note: not all of these are Orthodox. Each of them does, however, contain ideas that can help to refresh us and be ready for the next Sunday Church School year.) 


Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut or just need to breathe a little? This page offers 25 hands-on ideas that people in Christian ministry can do to reset their creative juices.

St. George Cathedral to Host Florovsky Week Events

Florovsky Week, a newly established ecumenical dialogue hosted in part by St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, will take place on July 10–14, 2018. Dr. Bradley Nassif, a leading Antiochian theologian who is Visiting Professor at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary and the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, will deliver inaugural lectures for the DialogueThe new annual Florovsky series honors the late Orthodox scholar, Fr. George Florovsky, one the greatest Orthodox theologians of the 20th century. 

The conference, commemorating the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, will explore the topic "The Patristic View of Salvation: Justification by Faith Alone?"

Fr. John Saba

John Saba was born in Fia, El Koura, Syria in 1872. He married Anna [family name unknown] in about 1905 in Syria. They immigrated to the United States in 1908. John Saba was ordained a priest by Archbishop GERMANOS Shehadi of Zahle on Sunday October 14, 1917 at St. Symeon the Stylite Syrian Orthodox Church in Ironwood, Michigan. Father John was appointed pastor of the parish that same day.

Father John Saba is listed among the Syrian clergy loyal to Metropolitan GERMANOS Shehedi of Zahle. He served in Ironwood, Michigan from 1917 thru the early 1920's. In 1922 he served as pastor of St. George in Kearney, Nebraska. He is listed as serving at St. Michael the Archangel Syrian Orthodox Church in Geneva, New York in 1923. Father John also served at St. George Syrian Orthodox Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1924 and 1925. In 1926 he is recorded as the priest at St. George Syrian Orthodox Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The Very Rev. Abraham Shaheen Zaine + May 4, 1970

Abraham Shaheen Zaine, the son of Shaheen Zaine and Shateela Della, was born in Damascus, Syria on 15 September 1878. He married Najla Saad Thome, the daughter of Melhiem Saad Thome and Sada Shahady of Damascus, in about 1901.

In 1905, Abraham immigrated to the United States, leaving his wife and two daughters in the care of her parents, while he sought greater opportunities to provide for his family. He arrived in New York on July 12 from Naples, Italy aboard the SS Rapiteno. He settled in Boston where he found employment as a cutter in one of the local shoe factories. He resided at 84 Kneeland Street in the heart of the city's "Syrian Colony." Abraham became an active member of St. George Syrian Orthodox Church on nearby Oxford Street and assisted the pastor Fr. George Maloof as a chanter and reader. He also accompanied Fr. George on mission trips to the New England 'Syrian' communities.

Abraham became a shoe maker at the factory and by 1907, he had saved enough money to send for his family. On November 16 twenty year old Najla Zaine and her two young children, Julie and Linda, arrived in New York from Le Harve, France aboard the SS La Lorraine. Settling first at the Kneeland Street address, they soon moved to larger accommodations at 36 Hudson Street. Five more children, Charles, Rashalla, Mary, Alice, and Elaine, were born over the next ten years. Abraham petitioned for American citizenship on June 26, 1912 while living at 39 Albany Street and employed at the shoe factory. His occupation is listed as a bookkeeper.

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