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July 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Romans 9: 4 – 13
Confirmation of the promise given Abraham and Sarah:
As we celebrate the liberty and freedom of the United States, let us be evermore mindful of Jesus, our Christ, and His being the true liberator of all mankind. For in this, He grants each of us the freedom to know Him as the Creator of all – and as our Father – through the covenant of His Baptism and our allowing this renewed relationship to happen.

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

Bishop THOMAS Greeting for the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul

June 29, 2018

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,

I greet you on this feast of the holy, glorious and all-praised leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. As we have concluded the fast, we turn our attention to two pillars of the faith, martyrs for Christ, Peter and Paul.

While there are many aspects of their lives and their ministry upon which we could reflect, two in particular stand out as worthy of our consideration and emulation. Both apostles loved the Lord Jesus Christ beyond human measure. That love was borne from profound repentance. Both had fallen but both repented with their whole hearts and the merciful Lord crowned them with glory.

Memory Eternal! + Khouria Anne Kenna

Khouria Anne Kenna fell asleep in the Lord on the morning of Friday, June 15, 2018. She was married for nearly 51 years to Archpriest James Kenna, who reposed in 2009. Her services were held on June 17 and 18 at St. Elias Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas, with Fr. David Barr. 

Khouria ​Anne is survived by her brother Charles Hollinger (Donna), her children, Siobhan Kenna, Gabhan Kenna (Maureen), Fiona Schlachter (Stephen), and Eoin Kenna (Suzzy), her niece Michelle Scott, and her grandchildren Andrew Kenna, Patrick Kenna, and Maryanne Kenna. They all miss her terribly already and are thankful to have been a part of her life. We love you Mom and Nana! 
In lieu of flowers, Anne requests that her friends and family consider a gift to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center​.

Memory Eternal! + Jamila H. Nawfel

Jamila H. Nawfel, 92 of Waterville, ME passed away unexpectedly at her residence on Dec. 29, 2017.  She was born in Natick, Mass. on Feb. 20, 1925, daughter of John A. and Rose J. (Homsy) Haddad.

As a young woman, Jamila was very involved in her church, Saint John of Damascus in Boston, MA, where she was a member of the Syrian Orthodox Youth Organization (SOYO). She played the lead in many Arabic musicals in her church, and continued to recite some of her verses until the present day.

One of the most important aspects of her life was maintaining her Arabic heritage with her family. She demonstrated this through cooking many traditional dishes, as well as baking many Arabic sweets up until the present.

Memory Eternal! + Nicola Haddad

Englewood, NJ — June 13, 2018

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." (John 11:25)

We are saddened to inform you of the passing into eternal life of Mr. Nicola Haddad, father of Archdiocese Board Member Ms. Darlene Haddad, who reposed in the Lord at the age of 88 on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Funeral arrangements are listed below.

Nicola died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his family. Born December 19, 1929 in Salt, Jordan to Deifallah and Fathiah Haddad, he was the beloved husband for nearly fifty years of Yasmin Haddad, the loving father of Nick Jr. (Rana), Nancy (Nabil) Khoury, Donna (George) Conopeotis, Darlene, and Michael; proud grandfather (Jiddo) of Jennifer, Dina, Hala, Haya, Linda, Diana, Nicholas, Albert, Amanda, Theodore, Alexandra and Katherine; caring brother to Jameel Haddad and Nada Khalifeh, and the late Tamam Nasser and late Iteiwi and Fadwa Haddad. He is also survived by his loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends.

Find Us At The PLC!!







The Department of Christian Education will have a representative at each PLC this summer. If you are interested in speaking with one of our Coordinators or Associates, please let us know. Do you need training for your teachers? Have questions about curriculum or current issues? Our staff is available for trainings and workshops at your Parish. Speak to our staff at a PLC or look for their contact information under Staff and Volunteers on our website.

Here’s where you’ll find us:

DOWAMA – Vasiliki Oldziey will be staffing our information table at various times and speaking to different groups throughout the conference. Stop by to discuss your needs, ask questions or just find out what the AODCE is up to!

MIAMI – Our Director Carole Buleza will be at the conference with a display and information table and a workshop on Thursday, June 14. She’ll be discussing Fr. Anthony Bloom’s book “Churchianity vs. Christianity.” Come discover the difference between being a churchgoer and being a Christian.

“For Those who Serve in Thy Holy House”: Antiochian Heroes in North America

In the petition we pray during the Litany of Fervent Supplication in the Divine Liturgy, the deacon or priest intones: "Again we pray for those who do good works, for those who serve in this holy house, for those who labor, teach, and sing, and for all the people here present who await your great and rich mercy." In the spirit of that prayer, a project was created to gather the biographical information of clergy known to have served the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America since the first immigration of the late 1800s. 

Each one of these early priests to a greater or lesser extent contributed, through their labor and ministry, to the building up of the Orthodox Church in North America. Each one deserves our gratitude for their dedicated and sacrificial service. A central depository of records for Antiochian clergy does not exist and so the information contained in this list was gathered from numerous sources including but not limited to: archival issues of The Word magazine, Antiochian and Orthodox Church in America (OCA) clergy files, local newspaper articles, parish histories, published articles and books, immigration records, census reports, vital records, obituaries, cemetery records, family histories, and several other sources.

Working with children has always been my goal! An interview with Anna Rowe

Anna Rowe is in her second year as church school director at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Van Nuys, California. The parish had 70 students enrolled in church school for the 2017-2018 school year.

Please share with us a little about yourself:

I love working with kids and helping them learn about Christ. I am from Kansas, and recently moved to sunny California! My favorite things to do in my new state are go to the beach and to hike the mountains. When I am not at the beach, hiking, or at church, I am teaching kindergarten.

Did you have previous training/experience that prepared you for the Director role?

I have a degree in education, and I am currently a teacher. Working with children has always been my goal! I was also a church school teacher at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.

Are there books, resources, etc. that you would recommend to Directors for their own development/enrichment/training in the role of Director?

I really like the The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers book because it leaves so much room for discussion. I also love using Google Drive to keep everyone involved with church school in the loop about registration and attendance.

Crown Them With Glory And Honor

In 2016, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and author, gave the commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania in which he didn't offer the graduates platitudes about the future or praise for what they've accomplished. Rather, Brooks focused on what constitutes a fulfilling, meaningful life. He was dismissive of the notion that money, fame, or power could offer fulfillment or meaning. Rather, he focused on the necessity of making permanent commitments involving faith, family, and community.

In this article, we would like to use this as the framework for a discussion of Christian marriage, divorce, and their relationship to one's commitment to the Church.

Before we discuss the nature of Christian marriage, it is important to note what it is not. It is not merely a contract entered into by two persons who have chosen to make a legal commitment to live together and form a partnership. In the Orthodox marriage ceremony, there are no spoken vows and no "until death do us part."

June 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

The Blood Of Abraham: The Blood And Water Of His Life-giving Cross

As Summer approaches with its many fun things and family vacations, let us hold onto our constant remembrance of Jesus, as He asks. Let us keep the teachings and inspirations of His Cross, Ascension and Pentecost close at hand and near in heart. For by being our Christ, Jesus is our Savior and Deliverer, and only way to His eternal Father.

Please remember our prisoner-students. Let them know we care. (Mat. 25:34-40)

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

Denver to Host Third Orthodox Young Professionals Conference


Denver, May 18, 2018: The Young Adult Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America invites all young adults to register and attend the 2018 Orthodox Young Professionals Conference (OYPC) from August 16-19, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. 

The OYPC will benefit hundreds of young adults as they gather together for four days and three nights of powerful discussions from dynamic speakers, spiritual edification including divine services, and fun social events. They will leave as new friends with strong networks to face the pressures of being an Orthodox Christian in today's world.

The weekend's three amazing speakers, Fr. Milad Selim, Protodeacon Peter Danilchick and Ms. Katrina Bitar, will offer their unique expertise and guidance to the attendees. Each afternoon and evening, the young professionals will connect with each other as they explore exciting venues in Denver.

Saint George Cathedral Celebrates 65 Years

Browse the photo gallery and watch the video

Saint George Cathedral in Coral Gables, Florida celebrated "65 Years of Legacy and Growth" at the Annual Saint George Love Ball on Saturday, May 12, 2018. The black tie event—the annual fundraising gala for the Cathedral—was sold out, bringing together the community to celebrate this momentous occasion. The Love Ball was designed to celebrate many wonderful occasions. To name a few: the patronal Feast of Saint George, the 2018 graduates of middle school, high school, and college, Mothers' Day, the honorees of the Dean's Certificate of Distinguished Service, and the Cathedral's highest award, the Medal of Merit.

Bishop ANTHONY'S Pastoral Letter for Pentecost, 2018

May 27, 2018
Great Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost

Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest:

Glory to Jesus Christ!

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

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

2018 Ascension and Pentecost Greeting from Bishop THOMAS

Beloved in the Lord,

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

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

May 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support the Department of Sacred Music

Support the Department of Sacred Music

Pascha, 2018

Dear Friends,


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

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

Report From St. Philip in Souderton, PA

Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is Risen!

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

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

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

By Bishop Thomas Joseph and Peter Schweitzer

Download the PDF

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

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

Book Review: Removing Barriers

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

By Anna-Sarah Farha

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

April 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

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

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

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

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

2018 Paschal Letter to the Diocese from His Grace Bishop BASIL

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

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

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

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

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