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St. Vladimir's Awards Honorary Doctorate, Announces the Bishop BASIL Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music

At the May 22nd Commencement ceremony, St. Vladimir's Seminary bestowed an honorary doctorate degree on His Grace, Bishop BASIL, and also established a Byzantine music program in his honor. The commendation read:

Faithful son of God fearing Orthodox Christian parents, reared in the Church and nourished by her manifest blessings, university educated, theologically trained, and spiritually formed in graduate Orthodox seminary practice, steeped with the knowledge of church history, Scripture, and liturgical and pastoral practice, bridger of traditions, rejecter of phyletism, seeker of truth, author and translator of liturgical books and arranger of hymnography celebrating the glory of the Mother of God, avid inspirational leader of youth, teacher of liturgical music and church rite, builder of churches, lover of people, dedicated follower of the monastic rule, commemorator of the saints, archpastor and Christ loving shepherd of flocks, bearer of joy and teacher of sobriety, true friend and loyal advisor, articulate witness and dynamic defender of the faith, visionary leader and clear thinking guide, bearer of truth and defender of right, without guile and humble in spirit, “rightly dividing the word of God’s truth,” it is with great honor that the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, by unanimous decision and by the power vested in them by the Board of Regents of the State of New York, bestow upon His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and of Mid-America of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, the degree Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.

Bishop BASIL Receives Honorary Doctorate at St. Vladimir's Seminary Commencement

Thirty graduate from St. Vladimir’s Seminary

[SVS Communications/Yonkers, NY]  With jubilant ceremony, thirty seminarians from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary received their diplomas at Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 22, amid a throng of family, friends, and fellow classmates. Eager, hopeful, and grateful, the Class of 2010—among them 12 priests—celebrated the end of their formal studies and the beginning of a variety of ministries in service to the Orthodox Church in North America and abroad.

Highlights of the joyful day included the Valedictory address by Fr. Andrew Cuneo, and the Salutatory address by seminarian Michael Soroka. The seminary Board of Trustees also bestowed two honorary doctorates: one upon Mr. Albert Foundos, a member of the seminary’s Board; and the other upon His Grace, The Right Rev. Basil (Essey), bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Mr. Foundos gave the Commencement address titled “Where My Treasure Is.”

Please view the full story and gallery of Commencement 2010 photos here.

 

Metropolitan PHILIP Addresses Historic Episcopal Assembly on First Day

(File Photo)(File Photo)EPISCOPAL ASSEMBLY - MAY 26, 2010

"Your Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and Brother Bishops:

My opening remarks this morning are taken from the Vespers of Palm Sunday, “Today the Grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us together.” How wonderful and pleasing to God for all of us to meet and discuss matters related to the life of our Church on this particular continent. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman of SCOBA for his hard work to make this gathering possible.

The literature which we received from Chambesy via the Greek Archdiocese of America, raises some important questions.

ONE, Despite the vitality and the dynamic nature of Orthodoxy in North America, no member of SCOBA, not even the chairman of SCOBA, was consulted about what was discussed in Geneva. We received rules from our brothers in Switzerland which we have nothing to do with. We have been on this continent for more than two hundred (200) years. We are no longer little children to have rules imposed on us from 5,000 miles away. Orthodoxy in America has its own ethos. We have our own theological institutions, and we have our own theologians, authors, publications and magazines. We do not intend to be disobedient to the Mother Churches; we just want to dialogue with them and give them the opportunity to know us and understand us.

Bishop THOMAS Visits St. Nicholas Church in Beckley, West Virginia

Bishop THOMAS ordaining George LowenBishop THOMAS ordaining George LowenBy Fr. Samuel Haddad

During the weekend of May 1st, 2010, His Grace, Bishop THOMAS made his annual pastoral visit to St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Beckley, West Virginia. Because of a severe winter with record snowfall, Sayidna THOMAS’ visit was rescheduled twice, and it was good to have him with us during the beautiful Pentecostarian Season, with spring in full swing and no possibility of snow.

Sayidna’s THOMAS’ visit included meetings with the Parish Council, the Women of the Holy Myrrh Bearers (the parish’s women’s organization), Vespers, and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. It was truly a celebration weekend with the tonsuring of our Choir Master John Stroud as Reader, and the ordination of George Lowen to the Subdeaconate. Both men are strong leaders and ministers in the parish, and their work of service to God will only increase with His help.

The Faithful of St. Nicholas reviewed with Sayidna THOMAS the many activities that have brought vitality to our parish community, especially the liturgical life of the parish, and outreach projects such as Carpenter’s Corner, a downtown soup kitchen the we had the blessing to help bring into existence with Fr. Samuel serving as a member of the founding board of directors.

Chaplain's Corner: Perseverence

By Fr. George Morelli

“A time of trial is beneficial to everyone: the diligent are tried so that their wealth may increase; the lax, so that they may be preserved from harm; those spiritually asleep, so that they may prepare themselves for watchfulness; those whose who are far from God, so that they approach Him; those who are God’s close associates, so that they may come closer to Him. . . .”  St. Isaac the Syrian

Thomas Alva Edison once said: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”[i] It appears that many individuals in the world want success, but few want to persevere in the actions it takes to achieve their success. Unfortunately, some think success will occur simply by the desire for it. However, examining the lives of anyone who has achieved success actually shows that it takes great perseverance and endurance, and the withstanding and overcoming of obstacles and difficulties. Furthermore, people who are really successful are never satisfied with the level they have already attained, but persevere to achieve greater perfection.

This insight was certainly not lost on religious leaders. For example, The Koran point out: “God is with those who persevere.”[ii] But there is a caveat told to us by God. The prophet Isaiah (11: 2) tells us: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might [courage-perseverance], the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Notice that perseverance is preceded by wisdom and followed by knowledge.

Al-Kafaat Founder Honored by Archdiocese

Mr. Nadim Shwayri accepts Antonian Gold MedalMr. Nadim Shwayri accepts Antonian Gold MedalThe founder of the Al-Kafaat Foundation, Mr. Nadim Shwayri, with his wife Lily and daughter Myriam, visited His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP on Monday, May 24th for dinner. The Al-Kafaat Foundation in Lebanon provides services and housing for people with disabilities from all backgrounds; the word Al-Kafaat itself means "abilities." Mr, Shwayri has dedicated most of his life and finances to establishing the foundation that cares for these "least of my brethren" free of charge, from the cradle to the grave.

Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries Announces Two New Brochures

In conjunction with Conciliar Press, the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family MInistries has released two much-requested brochures for Orthodox Christians. "Crowned with Glory and Honor," a free, downloadable brochure, presents readers with a set of helpful guidelines for Orthodox marriage preparation, including such concepts as the meaning of crowning, and the purpose of the Betrothal Service. Readers will even learn about the wedding almonds: "The white coating symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and new life that begins in marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage, and the sweetness of the sugar encourages the hope of the sweetness of future life together. Giving of three almonds signifies the union is indivisible, just as the bride and groom will remain undivided in their union with each other and with Christ."

The second brochure, "A Guide to Parish Etiquette," lists everything parishioners need to know about respectful and reverent behavior while in liturgy. Department Director Khouria Maggie Hock encourages all parishes, couples and families to make use of these valuable, free resources.

St. Moses the Black Brotherhood Hosts 17th Annual Conference

Antiochian clergy and faithful from around the country joined with other Orthodox Christians at St. Luke's Orthodox Mission in Anniston, Alabama from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, May 16 to participate in the 17th Annual Ancient Christianity and Afro-American Conference, sponsored by the St. Moses the Black Brotherhood.

The conference spanned three days and included many church services and lectures. Notable speakers included His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH; Priest Moses Berry, President of the St. Moses the Black Brotherhood and rector of Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Mission in Ash Grove, MO; Dr Carla Thomas of Thomas Properties, LLC; Nun Katherine, superior of the St. Xenia Metochion, Indianapolis, IN; Priest Paisius Altschul, Executive Director of Reconciliation Services and rector of St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church, Kansas City, MO; and author, iconographer and rector Fr. Jerome Sanderson.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH celebrated the Hierachical Divine Liturgy on Saturday, May 15. More than a dozen clergy from across the United States concelebrated with him, from the Greek, Bulgarian, Antiochian, OCA, Moscow Patriarchate and Serbian jurisdictions.

On Sunday, May 16 His Beatitude celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the feast remembering the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. Joining His Beatitude were clergy from neighboring jurisdictions and nearby parishes.

The St. Moses the Black Brotherhood hosts chapters in Detroit, MI and Anniston, AL. 

Joint IOCC and Philoptochos Effort Combats Dreaded Ethiopian Disease

By Sara Tomczyk/IOCC Ethiopia

Addis Ababa — Lidya grew up on a small farm in southern Ethiopia and spent sunny afternoons playing barefoot in the fields. At 13, she began noticing a slight swelling in her feet. For a year Lidya hid this swelling from her family and school friends under long skirts. However, the swelling continued and a painful oozing wound appeared between her toes.

Lydia was afflicted by a debilitating disease called podoconiosis, a condition caused by the exposure of bare feet to alkalic clay soil that causes open sores and ulcers, infection, and burning, itching, or swelling of the feet and lower legs.

Like so many who suffer from her affliction and the misconceptions that surround her disease, Lidya's mother reacted harshly and blamed Lydia for bringing a curse upon their family. Yet, for Lidya and approximately one million people who are affected by podoconiosis in Ethiopia, a simple pair of shoes and daily foot treatments can change all of this.

Lydia fell into despair after realizing she must stop going to school and would never marry. Her mother forced her to stay inside the house and hide from the community. Then Lidya's father heard about a relative who also suffered from the condition and arranged for this relative to show Lydia how to wash her feet with soap and water and taught her the importance of shoes and socks. Within four months, the oozing stopped, and the outgrowths on her feet disappeared. She returned to school and raised awareness about the condition and its treatment among her classmates.

"So many Ethiopians, especially the children, face a host of dreadful diseases," said IOCC Ethiopia Country Representative Sigurd Hanson. "The numbers are brutal and stark, but most of these diseases are preventable."

Video Celebrates Parish's Fifteenth Anniversary

Recently, a video celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Church, Houston, Texas, was released via YouTube.

Created by videographer Doug Burns, "The Beginning" includes vintage photographs and clips, and chronicles the story of the lively, multi-ethnic parish. The parish is led by the Very Rev. Fr. Matthew B. MacKay.

Blog Records Young Adult Holy Land Pilgrimage

Jordan RiverJordan RiverFrom May 15-24, a group of young adult Orthodox Christians are making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land under the guidance of Fr. Mark Leondis (GOA) and His Grace Bishop Savas of Troas.

An entry from Monday, Day 2, reads: "We took a 45 minute drive to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration of Christ took place. We drove up to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, where we were greeted by bells in honor of the Bishop. Some of the men (Jim, Paul, Matthew, Alex, Chris and George) decided to wear shorts -- so they humbled themselves with a sarong (borrowed from the women), so that they could enter. We took mini-buses up the mountain and it took us 10 minutes . . . to think that Jesus and His closest companions, walked up the mountain, just amazed the pilgrims.

Following the visitation to the mountain where Jesus was transfigured, we went to the river where Jesus submitted and humbled Himself to be baptized by his cousin John the Baptist. We stepped into the water up to our knees and read from Scripture and chanted hymns of Epiphany, and each received a blessing in the name of the Trinity. Some of the pilgrims decided to enter the water fully (Christina, Giselle, Alex, Ivonne, Stella and Leanora). Very interesting was to see the Gospel narrative from Mark 1:9-14, in dozens of languages (some of which we never have heard) -- for example, have you ever heard of "Fang?" or "Tagalog?" It reminded us of Jesus' command in the last verses of Matthew (28:10), 'Go and baptize all nations.'"

To follow the travel blog, click here.

Improved Liturgical Resources Page Launched

The editors of Antiochian.org recently launched a newly improved Liturgical Resources section, accessed on the menu bar of the website's home page. One of the site's most popular destinations, the Resources page now features categories such as "Articles," "Music Resources," and "Podcasts and Audio." An aggregation of the most critical liturgical tools required by chanters, choir directors, deacons and priests, the page is also helpful to laypeople involved in Bible study groups or choir. Browsers can download music, an Akathist, even the Antiochian Archdiocese's well-loved "Little Red Prayer Book."

Recently, Antiochian.org spoke with the Very Rev. Fr. David Barr, respected Antiochian liturgist and Director of the St. Romanos Chanter's Training Program, about the importance of liturgy and music in the life of the Church.

1. Generally speaking, do parish musicians usually need formal training to chant in church? Why/why not? What would you recommend for that musically inclined parishioner who might be interested in chant, but shy?

To chant properly using Byzantine chant, one needs some formal training. Even though a great deal of Byzantine music exists today in western notation, it is important to understand the ethos.

Bishop BASIL Requests Prayer for Important Upcoming Meetings

His Grace, Bishop BASIL writes: "Your prayers are requested for our Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops which will convene in Englewood, N.J. next Thursday and Friday, May 20th and 21st, and for the Episcopal Assembly of all Orthodox hierarchs in the United States, Canada and Central America which will convene in New York City on Wednesday and Thursday, May 26th and 27th. God being my Helper, I will depart Wichita on Wednesday, May 19th and, by your prayers, return on Friday, May 28th. Should an emergency requiring my immediate attention during my absence from our Diocese, I may be contacted through Subdeacon Joshua at the Chancery office (316-687-3169).

OCF Invites New Members to Student Activity Board

Are you a Student Leader?

OCF offers students the opportunity to lend their voice to this ministry by serving on the Student Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB was instituted in 2002 with an enthusiastic and God centered group of young people. This inaugural SAB initiated integral OCF programming such as Day of Prayer and organization of regional OCF structure. These student leaders have now moved on to leadership within the Orthodox Church serving in positions such as the OCF Board of Directors and Greek Archdiocese Department of Internet Ministries. Subsequent SAB's have continued the inspiring vision set forth by the first SAB.

Do you have the interest, the passion, and the dedication to be a part of the newest chapter in the Student Advisory Board? Applications are now available.

Click here for further information concerning SAB available positions and job expectations.

Over 500,000 Guatemalans Received Into Canonical Orthodoxy

Announcement from the Ecumenical Patriarch Secretariate in Mexico, April 7, 2010:

In conformity with the canonical responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the diaspora, and sharing the vision of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW, the Holy Metropolis of Mexico is pleased to announce that, in an unceasing and continuing mission outreach ministry effectively being pursued by the Holy Metropolis of Mexico for these past twelve years, with active ministries in Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and following months of catechetical and pastoral preparation by the Mitered Archimandrite Andrew Vujisi, Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Holy Metropolis, and upon the written request and petition of Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos, leaders of a religious community in Guatemala, the heretofore Orthodox Catholic Church of Guatemala (OCCG), has been canonically received into the Holy Metropolis of Mexico.

In announcing this exciting development, His Eminence Metropolitan ATHENAGORAS of Mexico expressed his great pleasure in welcoming the OCCG which was received in its entirety, including their former clergy, seminarians, lay ministers, catechists and affiliated membership into the canonical family of the Orthodox Church. Following their official reception, the leaders of OCCG, Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos traveled to Mexico City where on the weekend of March 19-21, they were ordained to the Holy Priesthood, receiving the title of Archimandrite.

Bishop BASIL To Receive Honorary Doctorate from St. Vladimir's Seminary

During Commencement at St. Vladimir’s Seminary on Saturday, May 22, 2010, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary will award a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, to His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL (Essey). 

His Grace is a 1973 alumnus of St. Vladimir’s. "He has served tirelessly to build up Orthodox Christianity in America and has contributed greatly to the field of liturgical music," reads the seminary announcement. The institution has invited the public to join in the graduation events, and to commemorate this "honorable and dedicated servant of God" in the Commencement exercises which begin at 2 p.m. on the campus of St. Vladimir's, in Crestwood, New York.

MICHAEL Consecrated as OCA Bishop of New York and New Jersey

On Saturday, May 8, 2010, Archimandrite MICHAEL [Dahulich] was consecrated as Bishop of New York and New Jersey for the Orthodox Church in America, at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Jersey City. His Grace formerly served as a dean and professor at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and other members of the Holy Synod of Bishops presided at the consecration Divine Liturgy.

The weekend's events commenced on Friday, May 7. Prior to his consecration, on the evening of May 7, clergy and faithful celebrated Bishop-elect MICHAEL'S formal Nomination with Great Vespers. Then on the following day, over 600 attended Saturday's consecration banquet.

On Sunday, May 9, Bishop MICHAEL celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, 59 East Second Street, New York, N.Y. at 9:30 a.m.

Additional information and photographs will be posted on oca.org as they become available.

All of the clergy and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese exclaim Axios! to Bishop MICHAEL, and pray that the Lord will bless his episcopacy!

Click here to see a gallery of photos from the Consecration and Liturgy

Register by May 15th for St. Vladimir's Summer Programs

YONKERS, NY [OCA/SVOTS] — During the month of June 2010, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary here will offer a wide array of educational opportunities to the public. Registration fees will be waived for participants signing up by May 15th. Among the programs being offered are the following:

JUNE 3-9 —  Iconography Workshops

Two master iconographers, one painting in the Russo-Byzantine style and the other painting in the Greek-Cretan School tradition, will offer iconography workshops. Protodeacon Nazari Polataiko of the Saints Alipij and Andrei Rublev Icon Studio, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, and Khouriya Erin Mary Kimmett, Norwood, MA, will limit each of their classes to 12 students. Iconographers with experience ranging from novice to master are welcome. Additional information is posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0603-iconography-workshops-upcoming.

JUNE 10-12 —  Summer Symposium

“Hellenism and Orthodoxy” will be the theme of the annual Summer Symposium. His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will deliver the public keynote lecture on Friday, June 11, at 7:00 p.m. Orthodox clerics and scholars from Turkey, Greece, and North America will round out the program. Additional information is posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0610-s....

JUNE 13-19 —  Summer Academic Program

Archpriest John Behr, renowned Professor of Patristics and SVS Dean, will teach a course titled “From Gospel to Creed.” The course will examine key Christian figures and explore the historical and thematic paths that led to the formulation and promulgation of the Creed of Nicaea. A course description and requirements, schedule, registration, and fees are posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0613-s....

Orthodox Composer Featured in New York City Concert

[New York, NY] -- On May 8, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., composer Nicholas Reeves presents Deliverance Through Devotion: The Triumph of Orthodox Music Over Oppression, an evening of music and lectures at St. Vartan Cathedral, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY. The Canticum Novum under the direction of Harold Rosenbaum will perform works by Andriasov, Pärt, Murov, Popovici, and Schnittke. The evening honors the work of artists from five different ethnic backgrounds, Armenian, Estonian, Russian, Romanian, and Jewish, whose works were banned or controversial due to their connection with or influence from the Orthodox Church.

In the shadow of oppressive atheistic ideology such sources as Matthew the Evangelist or the Armenian saint Gregory of Narek were employed by Murov and Schnittke at the price of official ridicule or censure. Other composers' careers were stifled for their overtly Christian themes (Pärt) or were forced to remove the sacred text altogether (Popovici). In one case, Andriasov's, the fame for his ethical writings among dissident circles and accolades from the Catholicos of Armenia, coupled with his audacity to refuse the Lenin prize for music composition, incensed the Soviet authorities to wreak academic sabotage on his wife and impel exile. Yet, these artists responded to the inhumanity of an impersonal regime not with anger or violence, but with beauty and truth.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship Holds Spring Board Meeting

OCF BoardOCF BoardCHICAGO, IL, 5/04 -- The spring meeting of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship Board of Directors was held at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral April 22-23, 2010.

Board members discussed a wide range of topics and evaluated the delegation of day-to-day responsibilities, due to the recent vacancy of the executive director position, in order to ensure the normal operations of the OCF offices in Fishers, IN. Ongoing preparations for programs -- College Conference, Real Break, College Student Sunday, and Day of Prayer -- will be overseen by various board members. A search committee was formed to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the executive director position and to develop a formal search process, which will begin at a later date. Father Mark Leondis, OCF Board Chair, serves as the Interim executive director.

A report prepared by Brigham and Nahas Research Associates, summarizing student focus group surveys carried out in December at the East Coast College Conference at Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania, was reviewed. Seventy of the 238 student participants volunteered to take part in the surveys, which provided valuable insight into the effectiveness of the OCF ministry. Board members initiated a process to strategize methods of utilizing the results of the report, which was performed in cooperation with the Office of Vocational Ministry at Holy Cross School of Theology.

New Orthodox Veterans Website Commemorates Faithful Who Serve

Saint Nicholas Cathedral (OCA), Washington D.C., invites all Orthodox parishes in the U.S. to add the names, ranks, and photographs of their US military veterans to the newly established Orthodox Veterans Memorial website, a 21st century extension of the cathedral's continuing commitment to praying for our Orthodox fallen.

"Our chaplains serve Orthodox of all jurisdictions and, as such, our War Memorial will honor all Orthodox Christians whose names have been submitted to be honored," wrote His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, in a letter to the faithful and friends of Saint Nicholas Cathedral. "We must never forget their sacrifice and those who have, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently stated in his Gettysburg Address, 'given their last full measure of devotion.'"

The Orthodox Church has a longstanding tradition of dedicating churches to the memory of Orthodox Christians who have fought and died in defense of Church and country. Saint Nicholas Cathedral, modeled after the 12th century Church of Saint Dmitri in Vladimir, Russia, was built in the early 1960s as the National War Memorial Shrine. A decade-long effort to raise funds for the cathedral's construction had been blessed by the Holy Synod of Bishops in 1949. The cathedral was dedicated in 1963 to the memory of Orthodox Christians who died fighting for freedom in the Russian Revolution, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War. A bronze dedicatory tablet hangs at the entrance of the cathedral, and a book listing the names of the fallen, collected from parishes across the nation, is kept in the altar. Each year, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, these names are read aloud during the Divine Liturgy.

The cathedral's new Veterans Memorial web page features a growing list of Orthodox veterans by jurisdiction and parish.

Antiochian Author and Speaker Fr. Joseph Huneycutt Records Syrian Pilgrimage

Metropolitan SABA and Fr. Joseph HuneycuttMetropolitan SABA and Fr. Joseph HuneycuttAntiochian Orthodox priest and author, Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston, made a pilgrimage to Syria visiting Metropolitans, monasteries, and ancient churches from April 11-24. Father shares his journal here, and in his Ancient Faith Radio podcast "The Blindside."

The airport: It was a 16-hour flight from Dubai to Houston, having left Damascus the previous day.  The lines to get through American Customs were long.  When it finally came my turn, I approached the counter to see a sight not seen in my two-week absence:  a very white woman with red hair and freckles.  “Where you coming from?” she asked.  “Dubai,” I said, “I’ve been traveling in Syria.”  “Syria!  On business?” she asked.  “No, I was visiting the holy sites,” I replied.  The fair skinned Customs Agent looked at me as if I had six heads and said, 'Why Syria?!'

That They May Be One

by The V. Rev. Nicholas R. A. Sorensen

Disunity in the Church causes great trouble, frustration, anger, jealousy and despair, but true unity always bears the beautiful and gentle fruit of joy.

FOCUS North America Releases First Annual Report

FOCUS North America Executive Director and CEO Fr. Justin Mathewes has released the first annual report for the year 2009. As he said in a letter to ministry friends and supporters, "We are excited to share with you our 2009 Annual Report. We have had an amazing and blessed first year. Thank you so much for making FOCUS North America a living reality.

 In the annual report, you will find updates on our programs such as the Youth Equipped to Serve Program and our Parish Education Program, our FOCUS Centers, and our Partner Ministries. Also in the annual report, you will find reports from our chairman and founder, Mr. Charles Ajalat, and me about our hope and aspirations for the future and our 2009 financial report.

 Thank you again for helping the poor and needy here in North America. Your gifts are helping to restore the living icons all around us."

The report can be viewed here.

Antiochian Parishes Celebrate Pascha

Fr. John Oliver, St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church, Murfreesboro, TNFr. John Oliver, St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church, Murfreesboro, TNChrist is Risen! Across the United States, in the Canadian Provinces, and around the world, Antiochian priests and laity joined together in the triumphant Paschal hymn, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" The editors of Antiochian.org have assembled a photo gallery picturing Pascha as it is celebrated, in parishes from California to New York, and Calgary to Florida. If your parish has photos to share, send them to editor@antiochian.org and we'll add them to our collection. Click here to enjoy the photos.

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