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Meeting Summary: His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and St. Vladimir Seminary Leadership

Summary of the Special Meeting of the Leadership Team of St. Vladimir Seminary and His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America


September 15th, 2009


Englewood, New Jersey


On Tuesday September 15th, 2009, a meeting was held in Englewood, New Jersey between the leadership team of St. Vladimir Seminary and His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The purpose of the meeting was to review the recent events that have transpired, especially with regard to the redirection of two seminarians (one from St. Tikhon and one from St. Vladimir) to Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA


The meeting was attended by the following:


His Eminence Metropolitan Philip


His Grace Bishop Antoun


Very Rev. Joseph Allen


Very Rev. Paul Tarazi


Very Rev. Elias Bitar


Very Rev. Thomas Zain


Very Rev. John Behr


Very Rev. Chad Hatfield


Mrs. Anne Glynn Mackoul


Rev. George Kevorkian – Secretary


His Eminence Metropolitan Philip led the participants in opening prayers.


His Eminence welcomed everyone to the meeting and made introductions. He reviewed the history of the relationship between St. Vladimir Seminary and the Antiochian Archdiocese, with a focus on the very close and positive working relationship that has been built.


His Eminence reviewed the sequence of events surrounding the recent redirection of two students (one from St. Vladimir, and one St. Tikhon) to Holy Cross.

Meeting Summary: His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and SVS Leadership

Summary of the Special Meeting of the Leadership Team of St. Vladimir Seminary and His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America


September 15th, 2009


Englewood, New Jersey


On Tuesday September 15th, 2009, a meeting was held in Englewood, New Jersey between the leadership team of St. Vladimir Seminary and His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The purpose of the meeting was to review the recent events that have transpired, especially with regard to the redirection of two seminarians (one from St. Tikhon and one from St. Vladimir) to Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA


The meeting was attended by the following:


His Eminence Metropolitan Philip


His Grace Bishop Antoun


Very Rev. Joseph Allen


Very Rev. Paul Tarazi


Very Rev. Elias Bitar


Very Rev. Thomas Zain


Very Rev. John Behr


Very Rev. Chad Hatfield


Mrs. Anne Glynn Mackoul


Rev. George Kevorkian – Secretary


His Eminence Metropolitan Philip led the participants in opening prayers.


His Eminence welcomed everyone to the meeting and made introductions. He reviewed the history of the relationship between St. Vladimir Seminary and the Antiochian Archdiocese, with a focus on the very close and positive working relationship that has been built.


His Eminence reviewed the sequence of events surrounding the recent redirection of two students (one from St. Vladimir, and one St. Tikhon) to Holy Cross.

SCOBA Hierarchs Convene For Special Session

Press Release


September 25, 2009


SCOBA Hierarchs Convene For Special Session


New York, NY— A Special Session of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) met on September 25, 2009, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., hosted by the Chairman of SCOBA, Archbishop Demetrios of America, at the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in Manhattan. The session was attended by the following Members of SCOBA: Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Philip, Vice-Chairman (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Christopher, Secretary (Serbian Orthodox Church), Archbishop Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Joseph (Bulgarian Orthodox Church), Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox Church in America), Archbishop Antony (proxy, Ukrainian Orthodox Church), and Archpriest Alexander Abramov (Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA).


Also present were the General Secretary and members of the SCOBA Study and Planning Commission representing the SCOBA member Churches.


The entire discussion was focused on the documents related to the “Organization of Episcopal Assemblies” in the regions of the world that are outside the borders of the Autocephalous Churches. These Episcopal Assemblies have been authorized by the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference which met at the Orthodox Center of Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland from 6 – 13, June 2009. It was decided unanimously by the Hierarchs that the first such Episcopal Assembly shall be convened during Post-Pentecost Week of 2010, which will fall in the last week of May. The likely days of the Assembly will be May 26-27, 2010. There was also discussion as to the location of the Assembly, with a specific venue to be decided after investigation of locales and resources.

Reflections on the 2009 Archdiocese Convention

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

In response to a popular wish for more information on the subject, it will be useful, I believe, to share my impressions of the recent Archdiocesan Convention. By way of organizing these reflections, I want to consider the varying expectations of those who attended the Convention. After all, those sundry expectations necessarily established the individual criteria for judging whether or not the Convention was a success.

I begin with Metropolitan Philip, who has presided over several such conventions during his long service as our Archbishop. As a steady listener and reader of everything he has to say, I was able to identify only one personal expectation mentioned by the Metropolitan---to wit, that everything at the Convention be public and transparent. He several times spoke of “the light of the sun” to describe what he wanted to prevail at that gathering.

By that criterion, Metropolitan Philip must be pleased by what transpired. He not only insisted on total openness of information at the Convention; he also took direct and effective steps to insure that such a policy would prevail. Chief among these was his provision that each part of the Convention would be broadcast over Ancient Faith Radio.

Metropolitan Philip should receive proper recognition and credit on this point, because the provision for radio coverage required a measure of resolve on his part. I violate no confidences by mentioning there were influential individuals at the Convention who endeavored to undermine the Metropolitan’s policy.

I am very glad he resisted those efforts, because scores of Antiochian Christians all over the country are already listening to those radio recordings and drawing their own conclusions about the Convention. Indeed, I encourage everyone to do so.

Q & A with Jane Meyer, Author of The Life of St. Brigid

The Life of St. Brigid was recently published by Conciliar Press. To order your copy, click here.

1. Tell us about what sparked your interest in St. Brigid, and inspired you to write the book.

Working with illustrator and seminarian Zachary Lynch on The Life of Saint Patrick: Enlightener of the Irish, I learned about Saint Brigid. After diving into research on Brigid, I absolutely fell in love with her. Her story is not well known outside of Europe and I felt that more folks should be inspired by the life she lived.

2. St. Brigid inspires us all, but what can today’s young girls especially learn from St Brigid’s life?

Saint Brigid is just the kind of example we should be putting before our children, and their children. She was better than a superhero--she was the epitome of goodness and giving. In a world where we are taught to work hard--so that we might have more, we find Saint Brigid showing us how we can gain all we need by giving some of what we have away. She loved her neighbors with such ferocity that she, in the wake of Saint Patrick, helped evangelize an entire land for Christ. I wrote The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare to inspire others to walk in her footsteps—I wrote it that I might be inspired myself, and reach out more—every day, even if that simply means baking an extra loaf of bread-one for me, and one for the man next door.

3. Tell us about your involvement locally in your parish and community in a group inspired by the saint.

Lest We Forget: Keeping Traditions

To hear Mother Victoria of the St. Barbara’s Monastery tell it, growing up in the Ukranian Orthodox Church was a rich and memorable experience at special times of year. On Christmas Eve, for instance, she remembers looking for the first star in the sky, which would signal the start of the Nativity meal. Before eating, she and her family always fed the animals first, in honor of their role on the night of Christ’s birth. Then the family would go to the table, where the meal consisted of twelve dishes ranging from appetizers to desserts, all honoring the Twelve Apostles. Under the tablecloth, her mother would place straw or hay as a reminder of the manger, and they would interrupt their meal from time to time to sing a carol.


We are all familiar with the Holy Tradition, of course, which is composed of our liturgies, the Scripture, the Ecumenical Councils, the writings of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church, the body of doctrines we subscribe to, and the teachings about fasting and feasts. These are traditions with a capital “T.” Yet also woven into the tapestry of our vibrant Faith, are numerous small “t” traditions practiced by faithful Orthodox down through the centuries. Layer upon layer, these have been added, differing from culture to culture and evolving over time. We bless fruit at Transfiguration, decorate with flowers in our homes and churches on special days, bake and eat breads which hide pennies, cross ourselves before leaving our homes or going to bed, bake prosphera according to certain prayers and instructions, dispose of icons using certain guidelines.


Why do we do these things? What difference does it make whether our dyed eggs on Pascha are red or blue? What meaning is there to eating a special recipe in remembrance of our departed loved ones? And why should we teach our children what these things mean?

May 13, 2009 + History of the Missionary Growth of the Church (Part 1)

By Fr. Daniel Griffith
From The Word, February 1979
Click here to read Part 2
Click here to read part 3

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

These are the parting words to His Apostles of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ just before His ascension in glory to the right hand of the Father. It is interesting that our Lord did not make His final words words of comfort but, rather, a summons to action. However, this great commission to proclaim the Gospel awaited one further divine action, which was to occur on the day of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles says that on that day, as a result of the preaching of St. Peter, “So those who received his words were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (2:41)

Initially the mission of the Church confined itself mainly to Palestine and was limited exclusively to the Jews. The reason for this is that the Jews, even those who had heard and responded to the Gospel, were accustomed to see themselves as God’s chosen people, not only in an explicit sense, but in an exclusive one. It would take a few years before the infant Church could come to terms with the fact that she herself was the means by which the prophecy of Joel would be fulfilled, “And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” (Joel 2:28)

Living in God’s Time

by Fr. John Oliver


In our family, there is a fine line between two stages of toddler-hood - the generally-easy and the almost-unbearable.  Over eight years and four children, I have come to know exactly where that line is:  it is found in the family mini-van, and it marks the difference between a peaceful road trip and a road trip that, with every passing mile, grows increasingly tense, suffocating, and loud.


The glorious space on this side of the threshold looks exactly like this:  "Daddy, when will we get there?"  "Sweetheart, we'll get there as soon as we arrive."  Time passes.  "Daddy, when will we arrive?"  "Sweetheart, we'll arrive as soon as we get there."  Silence.


That circular conversation has been loaded with benefit.  For the child, her curiosity is humbled before the dark mountain of parental knowledge.  Since daddy "knoweth" all things she is satisfied with my answers to her questions, and can once again sink agreeably into the cocoon of her car seat.  For the parent, it buys me precious time and sanity on long car rides, and I can more easily put the miles behind us.


Sometimes, however, when knowledge is gained innocence is lost...or naiveté, at least.  Eventually we cross over into that side of the threshold, where the circular conversation no longer works.  The children grow wise to the time-space continuum.  They no longer live wholly in the present moment, but get a feel for past and future.  They develop expectations about them, especially about the future.  "Arriving" begins to matter more than simply "being."

The Modern Pastorate

On March 10, 2008,  His Grace Bishop Joseph addressed the faculty and seminarians at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, New York.

Father John Behr, Dean, Father Chad Hatfield, Chancellor, Reverend Presbyters and Deacons, Seminarians and Distinguished Guests:

Over the ages, the practices of the Church have evolved in the ever-more difficult quest to save mankind from spiritual death. While our Lord, Jesus Christ, through His Resurrection, has saved us from the consequences of humanity's fall, i.e., death and tyranny of the evil one, the devil's temptations have remained relentless.

Although religion has played a major factor in shaping the identity of the American Culture, the secularization of the society is inflicting evil on the American mindset. The attempts of de-Christianizing the American culture are ruthless. These malicious attacks are driving the new generation to forsake their centuries-old culture for the sake of self-gratification and alleged compensations.

Whereas the American population is still manifesting religious observances, the genuine characters of these observances are not for the most part worthy of acceptance. Many Churches are undergoing the worst predicament of Faith and Morals in their History. The fragmentation of American Churches into conflicting bodies has uprooted the Christian ethos from the Churches.

For this reason, many individuals and groups are changing their religions and their denominations, inasmuch as they are changing their jobs, their habitation, and their spouses. Many adults leave their cradle faith for another one. Becoming a highly competitive marketplace, religion is a buyer's market where many groups dilute their traditional beliefs in order to compete.

On the Holy Icons

On February 25, 2007, His Grace Bishop Joseph gave the Sunday of Orthodoxy Address in Worcester, MA.

Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Reverend Deacons, and brethren in Christ:

On this first Sunday of the Holy Fast, we commemorate our Holy Fathers who struggled, suffered and, in some cases, perished for the sake of the Holy Icons. Since 843 AD, the Church has celebrated this day in honor of those martyrs and confessors whose faithfulness to the theology of icons was upheld at the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and the holy Empress Theodora, who ended decades of persecuting the Church, and restored the Icons.

The question many ask is why would a man or woman suffer and choose death for the sake of mere works of art? The truth is that icons are not simply works of art, but they are something more.

The icon is a type and an image of spiritual reality which constitutes the highest truth. It is a testimony of what exists, showing in itself what it depicts. The icon is a depiction of real people transformed by real grace. The icon bears testimony to the existence of both holy people and the Living God who has true relationships with these people. Icons express the hope for us all, that God has not abandoned mankind.

In the icon, we see that God is not some abstract concept. He is real because we can see His marvelous works in the faces of the saints depicted in iconography. Icons bring all of the truth of God and the saints into us as we gaze upon them, kiss them, and venerate them.

The second council of Nicea (7th Ecumenical council) clearly states: “I venerate the icons and the relics with honor (τιμητικῶς), hoping to have a share in their holiness.”

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