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September 2009 Newsletter: The Dormition of Mary

Dear Friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

In August, the last month of the Church year, we honored the Dormition of Mary, the Mother of our Lord. In September, we start the new year by celebrating the great joy of the Birth of the Theotokos, the virgin and first-fruits foreshadowed in the Old Testament by type, the Prophets, and promise. She who would choose to become the God-bearer. She who is to hold in her own womb, the very One who gave her life – the uncontainable Creator of all. Therefore let us rejoice with awe, in the mystery and anticipation surrounding this new life and its hope of fulfillment. Truly, the Theotokos is our window of new Hope; the door and the ladder to our return to eternal Paradise. And it is her son Jesus, and our Christ and Savior, Who leads us as our Good Shepherd, on this straight and narrow path.

See the attached PDF file for this month's full teaching.

Many Hats, One Person: Sin and Anxiety

By Douglas Cramer

There’s a phrase I like that sums up our life in the modern world: “We all wear many hats.” It’s true – we do. Time management gurus like Steven Covey encourage us to structure our schedules according to the different roles we play, the different hats we wear – spouse, parent, child, worker, householder, friend, athlete, volunteer. But here’s what’s great about the phrase “many hats” – if we think about it, it reminds us that even though we wear many hats, there’s one person, the same person, underneath each of them.

You know what’s wrong about focusing on our hats instead of the person underneath? It can lead us to fall in to a dangerous sin – the sin of anxiety. You may not think of anxiety as a sin. But Jesus Christ teaches us that anxiety leads us away from Him, and from our salvation. And whatever separates us from God is sinful. We must overcome anxiety and worry. And thank God, the Scriptures and the teachings of our Church teach us how.

Let me tell you though one thing that makes me anxious – the statistics on anxiety in America! According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 8 Americans between 18 and 54 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. That’s 20 million people! Anxiety is the number one mental health problem for women, and second only to drug and alcohol abuse for men. Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in America, more common than even depression.

Now Ben Franklin once said: “Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” Keep in the sunlight. And as Christians, don’t we know the source of the True Light? And don’t we know that we can learn to live in that Light?

Statement Issued by Metropolitan's Office Regarding Placement of Antiochian Seminarians

From the Office of Metropolitan PHILIP:

Unfortunately, there has been much speculation and incorrect information on the Internet and elsewhere regarding our recent decision to send our incoming seminarians to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. This decision effected two students. The third new student was already planning to attend Holy Cross. Over the years we have tried to keep a balance between the distribution of our seminarians to various Orthodox seminaries here and abroad, especially St. Vladimir’s, St. Tikhon’s and Holy Cross. In fact, this year, we will have 10 students at St. Vladimir’s, 9 students at St. Tikhon’s and 6 students at Holy Cross.

It has been our primary concern over the years to insure a strong priestly formation for our future priests. While all three schools have helped us in accomplishing this task for generations of clergymen, we feel Holy Cross most closely mirrors the practices and customs of the Patriarchate of  Antioch in general and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America in particular. This is true for a variety of reasons, first and foremost being the common Syro-Byzantine liturgical and musical tradition that we share. Given the changing demographics of the majority of our seminarians and the reality that many of them are not rooted in this Syro-Byzantine expression of our one Orthodox faith from birth, we feel it is vital to immerse them in this tradition in a more complete way. It is our hope to have our own seminary in the future. In fact, much of the foundational work has already been done. Nevertheless, since we do not have our own seminary at this point in time, we feel Holy Cross is best suited to accomplish the task at hand.

At the same time, however, we will and have always assessed the common needs and concerns of both the seminarians and the Archdiocese and therefore leave all doors open for the future with regard to their placement.

August 2009 Newsletter: Transfiguration and Dormition

Dear Friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

While on Mount Tabor, Jesus Christ shone forth from Himself, a most radiant white Light; a Light of glory so brilliant His disciples, Peter, James, and John, could not comprehend it. It is here that Moses, the giver of the Law, and Elijah the prophet, speak face to face with the Lord in His glory. Here Jesus shows Himself to be the God, not of the dead, but of the living. It is here the "I AM" manifests Himself to us. Here He reveals to us the true beauty of our human nature, created in His likeness and image, when we freely choose to be in union and communion with Him.

See the attached PDF file for this month's full teaching.

General Assembly Continues on Friday, July 24

Today is the second day of the General Assembly of the Archdiocese Convention. Douglas Cramer and Ginny Nieuwsma, of the Dept. of Internet Ministry, will be updating this post with news from the assembly throughout the day. Ancient Faith Radio will be posting audio segments of the General Assembly throughout the day as well. Please check back as the day progresses for updates.

2:05pm: Extensive discussion continued during and following the report from the Dept. of Legal Affairs. Scheduled new business regarding the 2013 Convention and the appointment and election of Archdiocesan Trustees concluded the General Assembly, which adjourned at 2:00pm with concluding prayers led by Bishop JOSEPH.

1:05pm: Reports followed from the Dept. of Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Ministry, and from Charles Ajalat concerning the new Pan-Orthodox charitable ministry FOCUS North America.

12:50pm: Metropolitan PHILIP's presentation was followed by the report of the Dept. of Finance. Many comments from the floor followed, initiating a lengthy back-and-forth discussion with Metropolitan PHILIP, Robert Laham, the bishops, officers of the Archdiocese, and others, around the topic of the need for and nature of financial audits of the Archdiocese. Much of the discussion centered on the technical details of auditing, what entities would need to be audited, the costs of auditing, auditing requirements and pros and cons, and more. The discussion was closed when a motion was approved to accept the Dept. of Finance report.

General Assembly Begins on Thursday, July 23

Today is the first day of the General Assembly of the Archdiocese Convention. Douglas Cramer and Ginny Nieuwsma, of the Dept. of Internet Ministry, will be updating this post with news from the assembly throughout the day. Ancient Faith Radio will be posting audio segments of the General Assembly throughout the day as well. Please check back as the day progresses for updates.

4:00pm: Reports were delivered by the Dept. of The Word, after which Fr. John Abdalah was presented with bound sets of recent issues of the magazine with a special inscription from Metropolitan PHILIP; the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America; the Dept. of Lay Ministry; and the Dept. of Convention Planning. These were followed by a rousing presentation from Fr. Joseph Purpura of the Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries, recognizing the central role of our youth in the Archdiocese, and from Amanda June Sahawneh, President of NAC Teen SOYO. Gifts prepared for Metropolitan PHILIP by Teen SOYO are to be presented tomorrow, as His Eminence has not been present at the Assembly after lunch.

Antiochian Women Releases CD Collection of Orthodox Saints


Over 500 women saints, with icons & troparia & kontakia for each

Major feast days devoted to Our Most Holy Theotokos & Ever-Virgin Mary

Miracle-working icons to the Theotokos

Compiled & Edited by Dianne O’Regan, 2007-2009 NAB Religious Coordinator

Download order form: PDF format - Microsoft Word format

For two thousand years, the Orthodox Christian Church has been blessed with a plethora of materials on women who have been called by God to a life of holiness. Now, for the first time, the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America has compiled this information into one, easily accessible resource – Holy Women of the Orthodox Christian Church. Each copy is priced at $5.00 to cover reproduction and postage costs.

St. Nicholas Uganda Children’s Fund

When Peter and Sharon Georges were working as Orthodox missionaries in Uganda in 2003, they made a decision that seemed minor at the time, but would have far-reaching consequences.  They agreed to pay school fees for two orphans who were living with an elderly grandmother. 

Upon returning to Uganda in 2005, they learned that there were now nine children living with the old woman in a deteriorating mud hut wedged between a main road and a swamp.  There were more grandchildren living nearby, some with a single ailing parent, some with another relative.  Within weeks the two children became thirteen.  Soon other situations presented themselves:  a family of five kids living completely on their own; a little girl abandoned to a poor but caring neighbor; children living with HIV-positive single parents; and many more.

Record Number of Children Attend Camp at Antiochian Village

His Grace Bishop THOMAS passes on the following message:

Beloved of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic:
May God bless you always.
This summer a record number of our children are spending time at the Antiochian Village Camp.  I've been blessed to share some of this time with them at the Camp.  I encourage you to go on the Camp website to view what has been happening this summer of 2009.  In order to see the photos, go to the Camp website and see the Summer Memories section.
Thank you.
Yours in Christ,
+Bp. THOMAS Launches Youth and Family Section

The Antiochian Archdiocese is home to a range of ministries laboring for the sake of our youth and our families. Although all of these programs together encompass a broad range of activity and age groups, all share the same goal: to encourage full participation in the life of the Church through worship, witness, service, and fellowship. All of these ministries are looking for ways to build up our youth and help Orthodox parents navigate the challenging parenting climate of today.

Click here to visit the new Youth and Family web page.

Kh. Leonida Reinhold

It is with great sadness that we announce the  falling asleep in the Lord of Kh. Leonida Reinhold, wife of the late  Archpriest John Reinhold of
blessed memory. The funeral for Kh. Leonida Reinhold was scheduled for Tuesday, June 23 at 7 PM at St. Michael  Church in Van Nuys, California, and the graveside was scheduled for Wednesday  morning, June 24.
May  her memory be eternal.

Soliciting Convention Photographs for will have two people attending the Archdiocese Convention. Along with meetings, presentations and posting updates from the convention, we'll also be taking as many good digital photos for posting on this web section as we can. But since we won't be in attendance for the entire gathering, and can't be everywhere at once, we're eager to consider using any images other convention attendees may be able to submit to us. (There will also be a professional photograph chronicling the convention.)

Convention Planners Release Information on Local Meal and Service Locations for Attendees

A 10 minute WALK from the hotel (plan your walk for the early morning or late evening) 
Directions:  follow the marked pedestrian walkway along the hotel entrance drive; cross Country Club Drive at the light; turn right following the sidewalk; turn left at the entrance to the Desert Springs Marketplace.

Ralph’s (supermarket) – open from 6 a.m. to midnight every day; provides an excellent Boar’s Head Deli with salads, hot meals for less than $10, sandwiches, soup bar, salad buffet, fresh fruit, juices, cold beverages, Coffee Bean kiosk, full bakery and much more.  For discount at check-out provide cashier with Ralph’s member number: 6617990131

Liturgy Reminder for Early Arrivals

Should you be arriving in Palm Desert a day earlier:  We will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, July 19, together with Father David Kruse, and the Palm Springs Antiochian Mission of St. Raphael and those who will be attending the Pre-Convention Youth Leadership Meetings.  Orthros will precede Liturgy, beginning at 9 a.m.  On Monday, July 20th, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Elias with Liturgy, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa Reservation Information

Good news to all who were late in making their reservations after the deadline for a room at the Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa:  We have reached our goal of an additional 120 room night reservations.  Your room rate will be the same $133/night originally offered to early convention registrants.  Some rooms are still available by phoning the hotel at (760) 341-2211.

Odds Stacked Against Them, Boys in Inner-City New Orleans Get Fighting Chance

From IOCC:

New Orleans, Louisiana - Kirk Stevens uses everything he has - even the homemade tattoos on his arms - to gain credibility with his kindergarten to 12th grade students. Stevens is the academic director of the afterschool program at Desire Street Ministries, a school and community outreach program founded in 1995 to help boys who typically fall through the cracks of the public school system in New Orleans' Upper Ninth Ward. "They're so streetwise, they have this attitude of 'if you haven't been there, then I don't want to hear about it,'" says Stevens.

Stevens has been there. The 59-year-old former oil company accounting assistant who left his career to answer the call of "black men helping black men," was raised by a single mother in the notorious Desire housing project during the 1950s and 60s. At its height, the project housed 14,000 individuals and was so infested with drugs, gangs, and crime that "you thought twice about venturing across the street to the supermarket," recalls Stevens.

Articles for Married Couples

Fr. George Morelli:

Visit Fr. Morelli's Featured Author page for a selection of articles from his "Good Marriage" series!

Ensnared by Mindless Helping


Frederica Mathewes-Green:

Why Humans Mate

Marriage: Seriously, Now

Smart Parenting XVII: Love and Worship in the Domestic Church - Of God or Idols?

by Fr. George Morelli

"I am the Lord your God … You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20:2–3)
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house …” (Dt 6:4–7)
Jeremiah the prophet (4 Kings 19:19) reminds us: “…Thou, O Lord, art God alone.” How many who call themselves Christians, let alone Orthodox-Catholic Christians, live their lives according to Jeremiah’s insight that the Lord God is God alone, and according to the commandment that we are not to have any other gods before the Lord God?
The domestic church or little church in the home
The existence of home churches dates from apostolic times. In his instruction to the Romans (16:3:5) St. Paul says: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus … greet also the church in their house.” And to the Corinthians (16:19) he says: “The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.” It is just such a similar domestic church, or little church in the home, that couples in blessed marriages are ‘ordained’ to establish (Morelli, 2008b). The building of a home church can only take place if each spouse loves God, loves Him alone, and has no other gods before Him, making the aim of the blessed, Godly marriage to form a Christian way of life and teach that way of life diligently to children.

Honest Friendship?

by Fr. George Morelli

Chaplain's Corner

How many times has someone you are talking to and whom you hardly know, labeled you a ‘friend?’  Or how many times have you been talking about someone with whom you have casual familiarity and said: “Oh! My friend, so and so,  ..” etc? I think if we were to count all those whom we know or interact with whom we call ‘friends,’ most of the world would be one happy group of ‘friends.’
However, consider the words of Jesus: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  (Jn 15: 12-13).

Psychologist Abraham Maslow, (1970) wrote that the feature of such love is a “profound interpersonal” relationship. He indicates that such a relationship “is not a matter of moment,” “demands a good deal of time,” which implies the “circle of [true] friends is relatively small.” War veterans would also add their understanding of the depth of the lasting, true friendship of comrades-in-arms who literally place themselves in the line of fire, allowing their lives to be laid out for their companions.

Featured Mission: St. Elias Mission + Peoria, IL

St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Peoria, Illinois began in 2005 under the guidance of Fr. Peter Gillquist, Mission Director of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, and Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, pastor of St. George Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois to spread the word of God’s truth through the teachings of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, with an invitation for all to become followers of the Orthodox Christian faith and members of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Mission.

In June 2005, His Grace Bishop Mark ordained Fr. Habib Ghantous into the priesthood during the Parish Life Conference hosted by St. George Orthodox Church, Cicero, Illinois where he was serving as a Deacon.

On July 16, 2005, His Grace, Bishop Mark came to Peoria, IL to bless the newly renovated building where we currently hold our worship services.

Featured Parish: St. Mary's Church + Goshen, IN

In 1993 a group of Episcopalians lead by Reverend Father Antony Bell were chrismated in Toledo and soon formed St. Mary’s of the Dormition in Goshen, Indiana. For years the young group of Orthodox converts met in various places, including homes, the upper room of a local funeral home, and store-front rental facilities. The parish grew with their beloved priest Father Antony. Eventually they were able to purchase property in Topeka, Indiana, where they stayed for several years. Many of the faithful drove many miles to attend services out in the country area surrounding the small town of Topeka. The beloved people remained faithful and believed.
Unfortunately, their beloved leader and priest became ill with an aggressive form of cancer. After a long but gracious battle with cancer, the beloved Father Antony reposed in June of 2006. His wife Kh. Melanie moved on to Pennsylvania and settled there with family. Soon after, Father George Smith and his wife Kh. Anna (Charlotte) faithfully pastored the church until His Grace Bishop MARK would appoint another priest.

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