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2009 Delegates Meeting of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Diocese of Miami and the Southeast

from The Word, May 2009

In late January 2009, the clergy and delegates of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast joined His Grace, Bishop ANTOUN, for the annual meeting of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine (FSJD) at St. Andrew the Apostle Mission in Pensacola, Florida. The clergy arrived on Thursday, January 22, to pray the Akathist to St. Raphael and for a fellowship meal. They then met on Friday morning with Sayidna ANTOUN, preceded by a spiritual talk from Fr. Gregory Rogers, who elucidated some pastoral examples and instruction from his patron saint, Gregory the Theologian. Friday evening saw the arrival of the rest of the delegates and Teen SOYO members, who joined the clergy to pray Vespers at the church. The parish and the local FSJD then provided a delicious meal.

The delegates’ meeting began with a exhortation by Bishop ANTOUN to encourage more lay participation throughout our diocese. His Grace also made clear his expectations for increased attendance at future meetings, expressing his disappointment with the low level of clergy attendance and the lack of financial commitment by some parishes to the Fellowship and missions. During the Fellowship meeting, the Teen SOYO met with their spiritual advisor, Fr. Philip Rogers, as well as with Fr. Joseph Purpura and Bishop ANTOUN. Fr. Andrew Moore also addressed the Antiochian Women with a spiritual talk on the theme, “How to be Sisters of Sarah.”

On Saturday, Fr. Stephen Rogers gave the second part of the spiritual talk to the Antiochian women. Frs. Andrew and Stephen encouraged the women to follow the example of Sarah’s compassion, commitment, courage and chastity in their own lives. The women then met with Bishop ANTOUN, who gave them some direction in how to apply these characteristics in their work for the diocese and archdiocese. The Teen SOYO went on a service project to the Gulf Breeze Zoo, where they helped create a new habitat for tigers. All gathered for Vespers at St. Andrew’s and the teens went for a cookout at the home of Mike and Ann Papadelias.

Several clergy and delegates remained in Pensacola for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with Sayidna, including the area Dean, Fr. John Henderson; Fr. Michael Byars, the Spiritual Advisor of the Fellowship; and Dn. Ken McMillan. The parishioners of St. Andrew’s were thrilled to have their beloved Bishop in their midst and grateful to him for blessing their new altar and prothesis tables. Bishop ANTOUN met with the Sunday School, which sang the First Katabasia from the Othros Canon for the Nativity (“Christ is Born!”) and “Rejoice, O Virgin,” in Byzantine Tone 5. Everyone expressed their thanks to the host parish, especially for the cooking efforts of Subdeacon Ted Werthmuller and the hospitality of Mike and Ann Papadelias, who opened their home to the clergy on Thursday evening and then to the teens on Saturday. A thank-you is also due the parish council of St. Andrew’s and their chairman, Sam Waite, for their willingness, as a young mission, to host the meeting.