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FOCUS North America Launches Orthodox Christian Domestic Social Action Network

image FOCUS North America established to support and build up domestic Orthodox social action ministries.

KANSAS CITY—April 7, 2009—In early 2009, FOCUS North America (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve) launched as a network of Orthodox Christian social action ministries that express Christ’s love in North America for those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick or in prison (Matt. 25:35-5). In its first 60 days of operation, FOCUS North America has partnered with dozens of Orthodox agencies and parish initiatives and awarded more than $30,000 in grants.

Chrismation of Catechumens of St. John the Baptist Church + Lewistown, Maryland

On the evening of April 10, 2009, the Eve of Lazarus Saturday and the Feast of St. Leo of Rome, twenty-six catechumens from the newly formed St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Lewistown, Maryland were chrismated and received into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America at Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Potomac, Maryland. The chrismations were conducted by the group’s catechists, including Fathers Nicholas Alford, Patrick Cardine, and Alban Waggener, as well as by the new mission’s interim priest, Father Peter Jacobsen.

Metropolitan PHILIP Meets With Metropolitan JONAH of the OCA

On Friday April 10th, 2009, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, hosted His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH, Primate of The Orthodox Church in America for an important meeting at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, NJ.

April 2009 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The April 2009 issue contains the following articles:

Fr. Peter Gillquist Interviews Metropolitan PHILIP, pg. 4

Sharing the Faith: News and Resources from the Department of Christian Education, pg. 19

Address by His Holiness Patriarch KIRILL of Moscow and All Russia, pg. 23

From Lent to Pascha: The Journey of the People of God, pg. 31
by Melanie Paulick

...and more!

How has Pascha touched your life?

Do you have a favorite memory of Pascha? Has the night filled with light changed your life? How has the risen Christ risen in you?

If you have reflections on Pascha that you wish to share with the world, we would like to see them. A selection of readers' Paschal thoughts and memories will be posted on, the upcoming Internet collaboration between the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America in celebration of the risen Christ.

Please send your Pascha-related submissions to Entries should be relatively brief (less than 300 words), and typed in e-mail only (no PDFs or other attachments, please). We are sorry that we cannot currently accept graphic submissions. Please be aware that we may edit submissions for length and style.

New Design for will be launching a new site design the first week of April. This is the last stage of a series of "under the hood" upgrades to the Archdiocese website, managed by the Department of Internet Ministry, over the past several months. We hope you find the new look refreshing and easier to use, and appreciate your patience with any difficulties with the transition. As always, we value any feedback or requests you have for us, which can be sent via email to

Our new site banner again features the work of Archdiocese iconographer Jan Isham. Jan's beautiful icons are available through Conciliar Press.

Who Are the Antiochian Women?

by Lucy Hanna, NAB Dir. of Public Relations

The Antiochian Women of North America: Who are they? And what is their Focus and Purpose?

The answer to the first question is simple: Every Orthodox woman 18 years or older who is a member of a parish of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America-- regardless of ethnicity and whether or not her parish has an organized chapter—she belongs to Antiochian Woman!

The answer to the second question, while also simple, is a bit more lengthy. Women have a natural capacity to love and nurture. This is what His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP recognized when he founded the National Organization of Antiochian Women in 1973. Then, to help us in our ministries he established a focus and purpose for our organization as a roadmap to guide us in a spirit of Christian leadership, awareness and commitment, fostering love through charitable acts and creating a sense of fellowship and understanding of our heritage and traditions.

OCA and Antiochian Archdiocese to Launch Web Site Dedicated to the "Feast of Feasts"

The Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America are teaming up to launch a web site offering articles, photo galleries, and audio files celebrating Holy Pascha, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the "Feast of Feasts."

An Important Statement from the Clergy of the Greater Detroit Area

March 6, 2009

We have heard, to our dismay, that our honored hierarchs, including Metropolitan PHILIP, are upset by a statement, which was recently circulated in the Greater Detroit Area, in support of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch, concerning all bishops in the See of Antioch. This letter is to clarify and articulate the true meaning of that statement. We, indeed, have no intention of hurting and/or intimidating any of our hierarchs. We sincerely apologize for any hurt caused unintentionally. As obedient children of the Holy Church, we accept, with humility, this historic decision with much gratitude. We assure our love and respect to all revered hierarchs, and we pray for a smooth transition for our Self-Ruled Antiochian Archdiocese. May the Lord, our God, guide our steps.

V. Rev. Joseph Antypas

V. Rev. George Shalhoub

V. Rev. George Baalbaki

Rev. Ayman Kfouf

Letter from Metropolitan PHILIP Regarding Decision of the Holy Synod

Metropolitan PHILIP writes:

March 4, 2009

Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese:

Greetings and blessings during this Holy Lenten Season!

There have been some questions raised regarding the February 24th decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which addressed the status of bishops across the entire See of Antioch. The purpose of this letter is to try to answer these questions so that confusion may be avoided.

The first question deals with whether or not I am supportive of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which was taken on February 24, 2009. I am supportive of this decision, for a simple reason. I am convinced that the institutional structure of our Archdiocese here requires it at this time.

Archpastoral Directive + March 3, 2009

Metropolitan PHILIP writes:

To all clergy of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

We greet you in the spirit of this Great Lent.

Some of our clergy have inquired about hierarchical commemorations in the divine services. In order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, we would like to direct your attention to the following:

Decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch Regarding All Bishops

Metropolitan PHILIP writes:

Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese,
Beloved Clergy and Parish Councils and all Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese,

Greetings and blessings to all of you in the spirit of this Holy and Great Lent.

Enclosed, please find two copies of the Holy Synod decision regarding all bishops within the Holy See of Antioch. This decision was adopted by the Holy Synod of Antioch which was convened at the Patriarchate in Damascus, February 24th, 2009. The Patriarch and the Holy Synod are the highest authority in our Antiochian Church. You will find enclosed the Arabic text and the English translation which is mine. Since this was a special Synod meeting with only one item on the agenda concerning the bishops, the proposed text of this decision was sent to the members of the Holy Synod, who were not present, for their approval.

Ancient Faith Radio Interviews Metropolitan PHILIP


"...our church is a church of hope. Our Lord said, 'Lo, I will be with you until the end of time.' So as long as He is in the church, our Christ, the Savior is in the church, as long as the Holy Spirit is working in the church – I mean in every baptism, there is a Pentecost. In every wedding, there is a Pentecost. In every Divine Liturgy, there is a Pentecost. So the Holy Spirit is still working in the church....

Let me talk about the Antiochian Archdiocese. In 1966, we had 65 parishes. Today, we have 253 parishes. We almost quadrupled the size of the archdiocese. Why? We've been working."

In this historic interview on Ancient Faith Radio, Metropolitan PHILIP talks candidly about such things as Orthodox unity, music, our witness to the world, his most memorable accomplishments as well as his biggest disappointments. This two part interview was conducted by Fr. Peter Gillquist, Chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Click here to listen to the interview!

Click here to read a transcript of the interview.

March 2009 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The March 2009 issue contains the following articles:

A Sketch of the Life of His Holiness Kirill, pg. 5

Building Faith by Reading, pg. 8
by Maria Khoury, Ed.D.

Expectations for Giving in Christ's Love, pg. 11
by John Truslow

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family, pg. 14
by Dn. Stephen Holley

...and more!

IOCC Expands Assistance to Gaza’s Families

IOCC will provide 6,000 families in Gaza with food, blankets, and hygiene supplies through a new $750,000 grant from ARD, Inc. through funding by the US government. (photo credit: IOCC Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza)

(Gaza City, Gaza) – International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will provide 6,000 families in Gaza (about 42,000 people) with food, blankets, and hygiene supplies with a new $750,000 grant from ARD Inc. through funding by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). IOCC is targeting the neediest, including those who have been displaced or are living in war-damaged  homes, have experienced the death or injury of a family member, or who have a primary bread winner that is unemployed as a result of the conflict.

The deadliest conflict in Gaza in four decades has killed 1,300, wounded 5,300, and displaced more than 26,000. IOCC’s Jerusalem-based staff responded quickly to the crisis, coordinating efforts with local organizations and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem to deliver fortified biscuits and milk to 23,000 children and adults residing in shelters and affected communities throughout Gaza. IOCC also assisted beleaguered hospitals and shelters by providing thousands of quilts and hygiene kits.

St. Basil Award Earned by Antiochian Seminarian

The Rev. Aaron Warwick (right), a third-year student at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, receives the seminary’s St. Basil the Great Award for Academic Achievement on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, January 30, 2009, from by His Beatitude JONAH, primate of the Orthodox Church in America.
(Photo by Fr. Anthony Falsarella)

From St. Vladimir's Seminary:

The Rev. Aaron Warwick, a third-year student at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS), was one of two recipients of the seminary’s St. Basil the Great Award for Academic Achievement, presented to him on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, January 30, 2009. The award—established in 2003 by an anonymous benefactor who wished to recognize and encourage students who have excelled in their studies at the seminary—was presented by His Beatitude JONAH, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) after the Divine Liturgy in the seminary chapel. Second-year student Dr. Andrew Cuneo, of the OCA, also received the award.

Fr. Aaron has been a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA) since his chrismation on April 16, 2001, at St. Mary Church in Omaha, NE. He and his wife, Gwen, were married in that same parish on June 2, 2001. Fr. Aaron served on the parish council for three years, holding the offices of treasurer and parish council chairman; and he and his wife also served as Teen SOYO advisors during that time. The couple has three children, Emmelia (4) and Adrian (2), and another boy due at the end of May.

The Past and Future of Liturgical Theology: Celebrating the Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann

Fr. Alexander Schmemann Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), in partnership with St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS), is offering podcasts of the lectures from the international academic symposium titled “The Past and Future of Liturgical Theology: Celebrating the Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann,” held on the seminary campus January 30–31, 2009. Fr. Alexander served as the dean of SVS from 1962 until his death in 1983, and his seminal work in the field of liturgical theology is recognized throughout the globe. His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and a student of Father Schmemann during his years as a seminarian at SVS, attended the symposium and offered the concluding remarks.

Renowned liturgist The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Robert F. Taft, S.J. presented the keynote titled “The Liturgical Enterprise Twenty-five Years after Alexander Schmemann (1921–1983): The Man and His Heritage”—the centerpiece of the colloquium and this year’s Father Alexander Schmemann Annual Memorial Lecture—to a capacity crowd on Friday, January 30, 2009.

Metropolitan PHILIP Congratulates His Holiness KIRILL on His Election as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP has written the newly elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to congratulate him on his elevation. His Eminence writes in part:

"I have no doubt from our personal meetings and from your writings that you are a firm believer that the Orthodox Church cannot live in an ivory tower, but must reach out to the poor and needy and address the brokenness that exists throughout the entire world; a brokenness that only our Lord Jesus Christ can mend."

Click here to read Metropolitan PHILIP's letter in its entirety.

Maddex appointed president and CEO of Conciliar Media Ministries

CHESTERON, Ind. - John Maddex has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Conciliar Media Ministries, a publishing and online media organization of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

The appointment was made by Conciliar's board of directors with the approval of the Most Rev. Philip (Saliba), archbishop of New York and metropolitan of the archdiocese.

Maddex assumes responsibility for Conciliar Press, Conciliar's publishing company, while continuing to serve as general manager of Ancient Faith Radio, Conciliar's online radio and podcast ministry.

Maddex succeeds the Rev. Thomas Zell, who will continue as vice president of Conciliar Press and editor in chief of AGAIN magazine. He also serves as parish priest at St. James Antiochian Orthodox Church, Modesto, Calif.

February 2009 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The February 2009 issue contains the following articles:

Care at the End of Life: What Orthodox Christianity Has to Teach, pg. 4
by Bishop THOMAS

Ministry at the End of Life, pg. 7
by Fr. George Morelli

Preaching Christ Crucified at the Meeting of the Lord, pg. 22
by Fr. Stephen C. Salaris

...and more!