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Interviewing Antiochian Women President Cindy Nimey

Cindy NimeyCindy NimeyThe editors at recently interviewed Antiochian Women President Cindy Nimey about the active archdiocesan organization and the critical role they play in carrying out the Church's gospel mission. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has designated every March as Antiochian Women's Month, saying of the charitable group, "Through their hard work, dedication and commitment, they have continued to find many ways to strengthen their ministry." Or as President Nimey expresses it, "Alone we can only do so much, but as a group much work can be done."

1. Cindy, what does your role entail?

As the current president of the NAB (North American Board) Antiochian Women, finishing my second two year term, my role entails many tasks over the course of the year. The president presides over the two annual meetings held each year. Our mid winter meeting is usually held the first weekend of February at the Antiochian Village, our summer meeting is held mid July during the Archdiocese Convention and on the off year at the Antiochian Village. Our meetings are held coinciding with the St. John the Divine and Teen SOYO meetings.

During the year there are numerous tasks to perform, such as writing letters to the married seminarians at Christmas time-this includes a monetary gift of $500 which is gifted from a special account which was set up from funds raised through one of our many Antiochian Women projects. I also represent the Antiochian Women at the Archdiocese Board of Trustees meeting twice a year. As president I keep in contact with my officers on a monthly basis; there is always something that comes up and needs our attention.

The other officers and coordinators work very hard developing religious programs, humanitarian works, programs to increase membership, and newsletters.  Over the course of the year I do my best to support the Diocesan presidents in any way that I can. Most NAB presidents have worked their way up the ladder so to speak. We have all been involved in our own parish organizations and moved onto serving on a diocesan level as an officer. As president of a diocese you attend the NAB meetings representing your diocese. So attending these meetings throughout the years helps us to become true sisters in Christ. Many friendships are formed with women from one end of the continent to the other, US and Canada.

2. Why did you first become involved with the organization? Over the years, what about your participation has ended up being the most meaningful to you?

My Antiochian Women “career” began in my home parish of St. George, Utica, NY where I was serving as president of the Antiochian Women. I was invited to attend my first Parish Life Conference in Ottawa, Canada, by Kh. Helene Hajal. I immediately felt welcomed by the wonderful group of women there. I felt like I had known them all of my life! I was soon appointed to serve as the project coordinator of the Can-Am Region, now the Diocese of Upstate New York and Eastern Canada. From that point on it was one office after another, one term after another until the present. Many, many years of good friendships, weekends spent praying together, sharing of problems, sharing our successes and thinking up new ideas to keep the Antiochian Women a strong organization. I’d have to say that the one thing I will miss most of all when I’m not able to attend the meetings will be the women, who have become more than my friends, they are truly sisters in Christ. We have formed bonds that make us a very large family. When one of us is hurting, we all hurt, when one of us experiences joy we are all happy, we grieve when one of our sisters passes from this earthly life and thank God that however long or short their stay with us was, we have been grateful to have them in our lives. So, yes the most meaningful and memorable aspect of being an Antiochian Woman would be the women.

3. What has changed about Antiochian Women over the years you've been involved? Is it harder or easier to grow local chapters these days, and why?

I think the biggest change and challenge to the Antiochian Women in recent years is the fast pace our lives have taken. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the most technological person but I have learned to use and depend on Blackberries, laptops, high speed internet. It’s easier to shoot an email, or text, than it is to actually have a conversation with someone. When we want to know something, we Google it, or use other sites on the information highway; we don’t need to wait for answer or a return phone call. Quick, instant, that seems to be what we all want, but with all the quickness are we actually getting any more free time in our lives, time to do “good works”, or spend more time learning about our faith? I think the Antiochian Women’s group will have to strive to keep focused on our mission statement, ”Serving Christ, through serving others-” not serving technology. We need to gather together and become familiar with each other’s needs and communicate with other women about the good work we do. If we don’t gather together we miss that human connection. Please remember this is only my opinion and not that of the organization.


4. What in your opinion, has been the most successful project the group has done so far? Tell us about this year's project and why it is so important to the women of the Antiochian Archdiocese.

I don’t like to say that one project was more successful than another since they are all successful, and our projects are chosen with much consideration from his Eminence Metropolitan Philip, and with love. The women of the Archdiocese work very hard and unselfishly to raise the funds needed for each project. The one project that drew more emotion than any other I would say, was Project Orphanages. As women it is our natural instinct to want to take care of children especially those less fortunate. If we could we fix it; we would; we’d make everything right in their worlds. In reality, we can’t but we try. Many children were adopted from the attention that was brought to the orphanages especially from the Hogar Raphael Ayau Orthodox Orphanage. There are many Antiochian Women who have been and still travel to Guatemala to volunteer at the orphanage. This was one of our longest running projects and most heartwarming. We dedicate the first Sunday of March to all of the orphaned children in the world and ask everyone to pray for all children. All of our projects tug at our heart strings in one way or another, whether we’re supporting our seminarians, campers, children with special needs, widowed clergy wives, retired clergy, monasteries or hospitals, we are always there to raise the funds needed to support them.

My hope and vision for the Antiochian Women would be for the women in the parishes to become more involved in their own women’s group, send representatives to their diocese meetings, help each other, learn from each other, pray with one another. There is so much we can accomplish together, that’s the key word. Alone we can only do so much, but as a group much work can be done. It may seem like a lot of work to give up a weekend or two a year but trust me, being with other women of your faith and working for a common goal, is so very rewarding and faith strengthening.

It is always a challenge to bring new members into any group, and even more challenging to keep them. But an Antiochian Orthodox Christian Woman is an Antiochian Woman, therefore each and every woman should feel welcome and needed. We all have special talents, everyone has something to offer and should share that talent with the rest of us. Become a Sister to the Antiochian Women and join a meeting this month.