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Katie Wilcoxson Serves As OCMC Missionary in Tanzania

Katie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatie Wilcoxson with Tanzanian ChildrenKatherine Wilcoxson, daughter of Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas, has always wanted to find ways to serve. "In Tanzania," says OCMC's website,  "Katherine is dedicating her training and experience as a registered nurse to the Orthodox Church’s Resurrection Hospital. Because Tanzania is one of the many African countries plagued with treatable diseases and poverty, this ministry of preventive healthcare and health education is vital." 

Now that she's newly settled in her mission assignment, Katie took a moment to tell her story. 

From an early age I have loved helping others. During middle school and high school, I was the youngest regular volunteer at the local food bank. The year I graduated from high school, I learned about the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). In 2000, I went on my first OCMC short-term trip to Alaska. In the following two years I also went on short-term trips to Guatemala and Tanzania. I had a real connection with the people of Tanzania, and I knew I would return as a long-term missionary.

Antiochian Priest Launches Patristic Nectar Publications

Fr. Josiah Trenham, priest at St. Andrew Orthodox Church of Riverside, California, recently launched a website "dedicated to sharing the sweet teachings and timeless traditions of the early Christian writers." States the site' introduction, "Patristic Nectar Publications is a non-profit California business created to advance the cause of the Orthodox Christian faith by the publication of materials for catechesis designed both for the edification of Orthodox believers and the illumination of a wide array of non-Orthodox inquirers. Our publications are marked by zealous fidelity to the mind of the Orthodox Church as expressed in the writings of the Holy Fathers and produces a wide range of patristic audio books in order to bring the wealth of Sacred Tradition to a generation attuned to listening rather than reading."

At Patristic Nectar Publications, browsers can listen to audio presentations of timely topics such as "An Address on Vainglory and the Proper Upbringing of Children" by St. John Chrysostom, and "The Soul After Death," by St. John Maximovitch of San Francisco. The site also hosts sacred music selections, Fr. Josiah's Arena blog, the Arena podcasts, and information about St. Andrew parish.  

St. Nicholas Cathedral of Los Angeles Profiled in LA Times

St. Nicholas CathedralSt. Nicholas CathedralOn December 4, an article in the esteemed Los Angeles Times featured St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral, see of His Grace Bishop Joseph. The piece, titled "At 60, a church blends Arabic, English and Spanish," described the Cathedral's outreach into the community of Latino families that live in the parish's neighborhood, and the adaptive liturgical schedule that includes an 8 a.m. Spanish liturgy, followed by the 10 a.m. Arabic and English liturgy.

"We are in this neighborhood, we want to do outreach to our neighbors," Father Michel Najim, Cathedral Dean, explained to the Times reporter. "When you live in a community that has a cultural background, [we] need to open up to other cultures and other denominations."

The article describes how at the Cathedral's Mediterranean festival in June, tacos are sold alongside the traditional Middle Eastern foods of falafel, shawarma and kebabs. About 1,500 families are members at St. Nicholas.

Go here to read the article in full.

An Unimaginable Experience

By Mary Salim, Antiochian Village Camper

St. George Church, Little Falls, New Jersey

“Just thirteen insignificant days at camp, out of the seventy-five days of the carefree summer, will fly by with hardly any memories,” was what I said to myself the entire time before I reached the Antiochian Village, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I dreaded the mere thought of having to go, and the activities that I eventually would do with absolute strangers. You need to know this if you’re going to see how beautifully I was surprised. 

I was presented with many joys to the eyes: the countless trees wavering in the winds, flowers blooming, shaking shrubs in which little animals lived, different-colored stones in the earth, the hills screening the horizon, and singular birds soaring through enormous blue skies. Being in the midst of God’s wonderful creations moved me; I felt blessed and in harmony on God’s good earth, as if I were in His beautiful Garden of Eden. This peaceful scene struck me as a preview of heaven, a foresight of our ultimate destination, to be one with God in Paradise.

Abiding in God This Nativity Season

By Fr. John Abdalah

In a discussion about donuts at coffee hour, a parishioner asked me what he gets from the Church besides donuts! “Opportunities,” I replied. "The Church gives you the opportunity to be the Christian you were baptized to be."

From the Director’s Desk

Greetings in the name of Our Lord,

I finished reading the book Soul Searching recently and believe that it has a great deal to say to those involved with the catechesis of children and youth. The authors, Christian Smith and Melissa Lundquist Denton, conducted a research project to find out about the religious and spiritual lives of today’s youth. The subject of my essay “Christianity’s Mis-begotten Child” is one of several topics treated in the book. Although the researchers surveyed mainly Protestant youth, the results are important to us too, as we live in a predominantly Protestant culture. My title ties the secularization of Christmas to the beliefs expressed by the majority of youth surveyed.

One major finding of the researchers was that today’s Christians are very inarticulate about their faith.

Two Antiochian Christians Publish "The Nativity of Christ" for Children

St. Stylianos Books was founded by Lily Parascheva Rowe to publish books she has written with illustrator Roland J Ford. Both attend Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum MD. In looking for children's books for her children, Rowe found that there wasn't much Bible story material available in English to give her children something to return to again and again--without the need for parental revisions or additions in order to make the Bible story books truly Orthodox.

Astounded by the overall lack of material in English for Orthodox children, Lily started writing books which combine elements from iconography and the hymnography of the Church, while interweaving these things with the Traditional narrative of the Church. "The main difference a reader will notice between these books and typical Bible story books is the completion of the narrative," she explains.

St. Vladimir's Seminary Presents Premiere Performance of St. Matthew Passion

St. Vladimir's Seminary's website has announced that the Seminary will be presenting a premiere performance of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev's moving St. Matthew Passion choral work, which blends the Church's liturgical texts with St. Matthew's Gospel story.

Reports the site, "On Monday, February 7, 2011, St. Vladimir’s Seminary will present the U.S. English-language premiere of the piece at 7:30 p.m. at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 405 West 59th Street, New York City.

Maestro Carlo Ponti, Jr. will conduct the performance, with The Salomé Chamber Orchestra, famed soloists soprano Mary Mackenzie, mezzo-soprano Ana Mihanovic, and tenor Timothy Parsons, and the New York Virtuoso Singers led by Harold Rosenbaum, under his baton. As a prelude to the season of Great Lent, the composition will convey the Gospel account—using scriptural texts interspersed with texts of the liturgical services of the Orthodox Church that are normally sung during Holy Week—in the forms of music recitative, choruses, fugues, and arias.

The composer, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, who is Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations and an episcopal member of Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, will also be present at the premiere. His musical expertise and reputation are renowned; he studied composition at Moscow Gnessins School of Music and subsequently at the Moscow State Conservatory. In 1987 he was ordained priest, and since 2002 he has been a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church."

Go here for the full story and ticket information.

Advent Reflections by Fr. Thomas Hopko on

Once again during the Nativity season, brings our readers a collection of excerpts from The Winter Pascha by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

"When the winter begins to make way into the Northern World, the Church of Christ begins to celebrate a 'splendid three-day Pascha'." Thus Father Thomas Hopko begins the first of forty meditations for the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, ending with the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple on the fortieth day after Christ's birth. A protopresbyter in the Orthodox Church and Dean Emeritus at St. Vladimir's Seminary, Fr. Hopko is a popular speaker and podcaster, and the author of numerous articles and books. In this book, Fr. Thomas draws upon the rich liturgical life of the Church as well as contemporary writers, to present thoughtful meditations focused on the preparation and celebration of Christ's birth.

Many thanks to the SVS Press staff for their kind permission and assistance. Go here to order a copy of The Winter Pascha.

Interview with Antiochian Archpriest Gregory Hallam, Manchester, UK

Archpriest Gregory Hallam, Dean of the Antiochian Orthodox Deanery of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and blogger at Antioch Abouna, recently launched a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. Titled A Voice From the Isles, the podcast features Fr. Gregory's sermons and lectures, delivered to Orthodox Christians and inquirers in the United Kingdom. Recently, caught up with him in cyberspace, where he graciously answered our questions.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Father. How does a Christian clergyman in the United Kingdom end up as a priest and Dean in the Antiochian Archdiocese?

I wasn't raised in the Anglican Church but I served it for 12 years as a priest after coming to faith in my early 20s.  My journey to Orthodoxy is a long story so I will just give you a reasonably detailed but short summary. 

My first encounter with the Orthodox Church was at Anglican seminary 30 years ago when I attended a liturgy in English at a parish in the Greek Archdiocese in Southampton.  This was in the context of an ecumenical visit from our college to the church there.  I was blown away by the worship much in the same way that the emissaries of Kiev reacted after experiencing the Liturgy at the Great Church in Constantinople.  I then began a theological exploration of Orthodoxy while still at Anglican seminary and found that it rang true in every aspect of Christian life.

OCPM Urges Faithful to Remember Prisoners During Holidays

During the Holiday season, Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, a ministry of SCOBA, has encouraged all Orthodox faithful to remember those who are behind bars, with our love, prayers, visits, and gifts. Go here to donate to OCPM.




Chaplain's Corner: What Happened to Christmas? A Lesson For All Godly People

By V. Rev. Archpriest Fr. George Morelli, Ph.D.

It is no secret that God and religion are being marginalized, that is to say considered irrelevant in modern secular society. Many work hard to remove all reference to God in our culture and nation. Consider Christmas, although a legal holiday by Act of Congress (signed 1870, June 28, by President Ulysses S. Grant) the religious significance is being systematically eradicated. For example, the secular “language police” have made sure a Christmas Tree is now a Holiday Bush and the proper greeting is no longer “Merry Christmas!” but “Happy Holidays!”” Here in San Diego a popular community celebration, for years called “Christmas On the Prado” and held in beautiful historic Balboa Park, was renamed a couple of years ago as December Nights in order to mollify the secular language police. The list goes on and on.

Orthodoxy Today Smart Parenting-Preparing For The Extinction Explosion


by V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli, Ph.D.

"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God." (Lk 18: 16) 

In previous essays (Morelli, 2008c) on marriage and parenting I have pointed out the importance of parents perceiving the spiritual and the psychological implications of their vocation.  A male and female, blessed by God in Holy Matrimony, are called up to be "[united] in one mind and one flesh, and grant them fair children for education in Thy faith . . . ."  This has to be  in the context that the married couple are individuals themselves, as are their children, made in God's image and called to grow in Divine illumination and  become like Him.

Bishop Joseph's Thankgiving Greeting

"O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever." (Psalm 107:1)

Beloved in the Lord:

Greetings and blessings in the Name of our Lord.

I wanted to wish all of you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. I thank God for all of you, and for your commitment to His Holy Church. May our time together this week with family and friends give us the opportunity to thank God for all that we have.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving, I remain,

In His Service,

+ Bishop JOSEPH

New AFR Podcast "Let My Prayer Arise" Focuses on the Psalter

The Psalms have been called the “Hymn Book of the Church” and contain rich and prophetic references to Christ. In this new Ancient Faith Radio podcast, "Let My Prayer Arise," Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth, priest at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois, will be taking listeners through the Psalter to help them make the Psalms the prayer of their hearts. "The Lord's Prayer is the flower and the fruit, of the roots, stalk and stem of the Psalms," says Fr. Ellsworth. "When we pray, we are not alone," he adds. The Psalms, he explains, have three important aspects. First, they are a historical connection to the prayers of God's people. Secondly, the Psalms are Christological--Jesus Himself pointed out that the Psalms spoke of Himself. "They are nothing less than the prayers of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He would have been immersed in these prayers from infancy." Third, the Psalms are liturgical. "In this podcast, we will often reflect on where and how these Psalms are used in the Orthodox liturgy," promises Fr. Wilbur.

"I encourage you to listen with the Psalm text before you. Begin to read, and then, to memorize."

OCF's Four Holiday College Conferences Feature Notable Speakers

Orthodox Christian Fellowship reminds college students that registration for the 2010 College Conference is open HERE. This year’s conference focuses on the theme of “Behold, I make all things new,” (Rev. 21:5) and is being held in four locations, Chicago, IL area, Salem, SC, Bolivar, PA, and Dunlap, CA.

Hundreds of college students from throughout North America gather each year at College Conference in order to learn and grow with one another in their Orthodox Christian faith. With student organizers and participants coming from all jurisdictions, the event is an exemplary display of pan-Orthodox coordination and unity. During the Conference students participate in workshops facilitated by clergy and lay leaders which address topics relevant to college-aged students. As well, shared witness and Christian fellowship are woven into the time together making the event a truly edifying and transformative experience. Speakers include a scientist and professor Dr. Gayle Woloschak (Pennsylvania), Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA (Chicago), Archimandrite Meletios Webber (California)  and Father John Parker (South Carolina).

A limited number of scholarships are available and offered on a first come-first served basis. For more information and to register online please visit OCF's website.

Orthodox Christian Teen Survival Guides Available Online

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has announced that their newest resource, the Orthodox Christian Teen Survival Guide Brochure Series, is now available for free download. Each brochure offers teens the information they need to navigate through tough issues, some facts and statistics, the church's response, Q&A's, and resources for more information. The one-page handouts can be used for starting discussions, youth group gatherings, Sunday School, or even the church bookstore.

Starting in January, a podcast on OCN will supplement these materials. "Our kids today need a sacred image: our adults need to take a role," notes Fr. Christopher Metropulos, Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Network. "It's tough being a parent, one of the most difficult jobs in the world," echoes Fr. Mark Leondis, Director of Youth Ministries for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Both priests will be hosting the podcast, which will target parents, youth workers, and all those who love teens. The podcast will mirror the online Survival Guide material for youth and help parents use the guide to discuss issues kids are faced with on a daily basis.

OCMC Mission Team Sign Ups Open for 2011

St. Augustine, FL – In 2010, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) sent 119 people on short-term mission teams around the world to offer a living witness to the Orthodox Christian faith through loving service and fellowship. Orthodox Mission Team opportunities are now available for 2011, and by the prayers of the Faithful in North America, OCMC hopes that even more people will answer the call to share in a journey of faith by spending one to three weeks abroad teaching the faith, providing healthcare, participating in outreach, ministering to youth, or helping to build and maintain churches.

Please contact Andrew Lekos or Pres. Renee Ritsi by phone at 1-877-GO-FORTH (463-6784) or by e-mail at for more information. Visit the website here for additional details about, or to apply for, 2011 OCMC Orthodox Mission Teams.

House of Studies Alumni Society Formed

Visiting Fort LigonierVisiting Fort LigonierOn September 3, 2010, under the guidance of Bishop Thomas and Fr. Joseph Allen, the Antiochian House of Studies created the framework for the new AHOS Alumni Society. Writes the Rev. Martie Johnson Jr., U.S. Navy Chaplain and Association Vice President, "On this historic day, after some eight full hours of meetings, nearly thirty students erected the framework for the AHOS Alumni Society under the auspices of Bishop Thomas and Father Joseph.  The By-Laws, Board of Directors, and Officers are now in place to take the next step of ratifying, reviewing, and fully implementing the follow-on elements necessary to launch this organization after the prayers and counsel of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and Metropolitan Philip." Go here to view a photo gallery of the Village meetings.

Vice President Johnson's report reads as follows:

From:  AHOS Alumni Association Vice President

To:  His Grace Bishop Thomas

RE:  Report – Initiation and Planning Meeting for Alumni Association (ANECDOTAL)

Abstract:  On this, the thirtieth anniversary of our beloved Metropolitan Philip’s dream of educating the church and the world more fully in the Orthodox faith, the students of the AHOS, consistent with the vision and inspiration of Bishop Thomas and Very Reverend Joseph Allen, endeavored to construct a framework to establish an Alumni Association.

Antiochian Fr. Hans Jacobse Counters Atheism in OCF-Sponsored Debate

The University of Maryland's (Baltimore County) Orthodox Christian Fellowship, and the campus' Secular Student Alliance, co-hosted a formal debate on November 16. Titled "The Source of Human Morality," the discussion pitted well-known atheist Matt Dillahunty against the Antiochian priest and American Orthodox Institute President, the Rev. Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse. About 450 people attended the lively exchange, which is posted for viewing on YouTube in nine installments.

Fr. George Morelli Offers Resources For Clergy and Laity

Priest and clinical psychologist Fr. George Morelli has published a treasure trove of informative, insightful articles readily available on this website. In his Chaplain's Corner, Father addresses pastoral concerns with a frank and practical approach. His "Good Marriage" articles blend the best of current psychological insight with the writings of the Fathers, and in-depth reflections such as "Beauty-the Divine Connection," draw extensively from both his clinical experience and his knowledge of Scripture and Holy Tradition. In his recent treatise, The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis (published in six parts), Fr. George examines in depth the singular Orthodox approach to catechism, and how parents, teachers and pastors can integrate a truly Orthodox ethos in their teaching ministries. 

Conciliar Media Messenger, Nov. 2010, Features Interviews and Profiles

This month, in keeping with the theme of our new release, Letters to Saint Lydia, our Conciliar Media newsletter Messenger is focusing on saints and icons. We have an interview with Melinda Johnson, the author of Letters to Saint Lydia; a feature about Paul Hibberd, who mounts icons for Conciliar Press; an icon-related announcement from AFR; a look at some children’s books that focus on saints and icons; and an excerpt from Fr. Patrick Reardon’s book on the saints of the Bible, Christ in His Saints.

Fr. Aaron Warwick Reviews Fr. Tarazi's Book, Land and Covenant

From The Word, November, 2010

Fr. Paul Tarazi’s book, Land and Covenant, is a must-read for Orthodox Christians or anyone else who desires to acquire a Scriptural mindset. When I decided to read Land and Covenant I was expecting a technical and academic study of precise biblical terms – land and covenant. Although the book is certainly precise and intellectually deep, it was written in a manner that would make it understandable and appreciated by those with little prior biblical knowledge. In the end, Land and Covenant is a brilliant summary of the entire body of Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation), showing clearly how the message of Jesus Christ to all nations and people had always been God’s will, from the very beginning (Genesis 1). The most disappointing aspect of Land and Covenant is the book’s title: it is so much more than a study of these technical terms!

A consistent theme emerged in my reading of Land and Covenant, one that is present throughout Scripture and is also very much present in the tradition of the Orthodox Desert Fathers: non-possessiveness. Fr. Tarazi indicates that his desire to write Land and Covenant stemmed from the common misreading of the Bible that has led to much bloodshed over who “owns” the Holy Land. By offering a purely Scriptural – as opposed to political or historical – critique of the current situation in the Holy Land, Fr. Tarazi shows that the wrong question is being asked. Scripturally, God is the only “owner” of any land; we humans who were taken from the earth are given the gift of a certain earth/land on which we may subside, but it is never our property – all things belong to God. Likewise, no human society “possesses” God – He is the God of all people and all creation.

November 21 is IOCC Sunday: "A Day of Sharing"

As Orthodox Christians finish up the first week of the Nativity Fast and prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will be observing IOCC Sunday on November 21. Themed "A Day of Sharing," the event will be spotlighting the ministry of IOCC at parishes all across the United States. Orthodox Christians are being encouraged to:

  1. Make a generous donation to support the humanitarian work of the IOCC
  2. Become a volunteer for the organization
  3. Become a Parish Representative (information available here)
  4. Participate in a local IOCC Event and
  5. Pray for all those in need.

For more information, or to download Sunday bulletin inserts, go the IOCC website's special section devoted to IOCC Sunday.

Old Testament Women at The Annunciation: Gleanings from the Western Rite Lectionary

From The Word, November 2010

Not All by Herself

Orthodox believers of both the Eastern and Western Rites celebrate major feast days in honor of the events in the life of the Theotokos. St. Luke records three of these important occurrences: the Annunciation, March 25 (1:26–38), the Visitation, July 2 (1:39–56), and the Presentation, February 2 (2:21–39). A common feature in the three stories is that our Lady is never alone; other people share in the events of her life.

'Mary deliberately goes to be with her cousin Elizabeth after Mary’s annunciation. Mary is not alone at the Temple when she presents the infant Jesus, because the Gospel tells us that at least her husband, Joseph, the priest, and Saints Simon and Anna are there for the occasion. Mary’s annunciation itself, however, seems a little different. Yes, the archangel Gabriel comes to her, but he leaves after delivering his message, and we do not read that she has anyone else with her. Or, does she?

In fact, those who attend Orthodox Western Rite parishes discover in the lectionary readings for the Feast of the Annunciation that five women from the Old Testament spiritually join with the Blessed Virgin Mary. These women, in order of their liturgical appearance, are Eve, Sarah, the Psalmist’s royal Queen, the conceiving Virgin in Isaiah, and Hannah.

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