International Orthodox Christian News


HIS BEATITUDE CONTINUES HIS MISSIONARY VISIT TO NORTHERN CAMEROON

Continuing his missionary visit to the Northern Cameroon, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, accompanied by His Eminence Gregory Metropolitan of Cameroon, visited the Parish Communities of St Panteleimon Giri and St Christopher Buru on 18th February 2009, where he inaugurated the newly-built Primary School and St Spyridon Biri.

The next day, 19th February 2009, His Beatitude visited the Communities of the Three Hierarchs in Doukoula, the Transfiguration of the Saviour in Baiga and St Gerasimos in Youai, while on the 20th February 2009 he went to the Parishes of St Irene Tsatimbali and St Irene Touloum.

During his visits to the inaccessible Northern Cameroon , His Beatitude was welcomed with traditional dances and songs by the local Orthodox Christians, met with the local authorities and held discussions with the residents of the areas. He also blessed the drillings of the local Church being done to facilitate the needs for drinking water for the locals. He also went to the schools and shared out stationery to the pupils, before holding private meetings with the Priests of the Parishes, with whom he discussed pastoral and missionary issues.

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HIS BEATITUDE’S NAME DAY IN THE CAMEROON
















As it was last year in Madagascar, so too this year His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, celebrated his name day on the 17th with the children of the poor Orthodox African families, this time in Northern Cameroon, on the border with Chad. Next to the straw huts, with hymns sung by the people in their many dialects, and dancing, at the Church of Ss Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in the village of Datseka. The same occurred in the many other churches built in their majority by Greek donors in an area where civilization ceased hundreds of years ago.

Everywhere that His Beatitude visited in these arid and far off areas, where the nearest town, Marua, is at a distance of over four hours away, His Beatitude was warmly welcomed by the citizens, local leaders, representatives of other faiths and the few Greeks who all followed him on his missionary journey to see for themselves the results of the missionary effort in the Cameroon.

Addressing His Beatitude in the Church of St Raphael in Datseka, built by Abbess Eugenia of the Monastery of the same name in Mytilene, His Eminence Gregory Metropolitan of the Cameroon, wished him on his name day and asked for his continuing support for the mission. :Whatever is done, is the work for which we are inspired by the zeal of the Primate of our Patriarchate, who did not hesitate to travel thousands of kilometers from his see in Alexandria, to reach the Northern Cameroon to celebrate his name day with the Orthodox Christians of the African Savanna”, said the local Metropolitan, emphasizing the significance of the visit by His Beatitude, the first Patriarch of Alexandria to reach this border region of sub-Saharan Africa.

Immediately afterwards, in the presence of all the leaders, the inauguration of the multifunctional Hall which was paid for by His Eminence Iakovos Metropolitan of Mytilene, took place.

In his visits to the buildings and churches which were created by the Greeks of the various areas in the Northern Cameroon, His Beatitude Theodoros thanked the donors of the churches and all the Greeks who give with their whole heart – whatever each can – for the continuation of the missionary work in the Cameroon .

Addressing the locals and especially the youth, he said: “I want you to keep your traditions in our churches. Keep your language, your tradition and the way you express your thanks to God, with hymns sung in your language, your tones, drums, dance. And know that, in this manner, you are not outside of the tradition of our Church. Remember how many times in the Old Testament the chosen people of Israel thanked and praised God with the drums, songs, shouts and dancing…”.

The traditional dances gave a particular hue to the welcome of the Patriarch of Alexandria, both within and outside of the churches, especially the war dance of the Cameroonians called the “Gourna” which is similar to one of the ancient “Fire Dances”.

The traditional dances gave a particular hue to the welcome of the Patriarch of Alexandria, both within and outside of the churches, especially the war dance of the Cameroonians called the “Gourna” which is similar to one of the ancient “Fire Dances”.

His Beatitude, who the previous week had met with His Excellency Dr. Paul Biya the President of the Cameroon in Yaoundé, who gave the Alexandrian Primate the gift of official recognition of the Orthodox Church and the Holy Metropolis of the Caemroon on 12th February 2009, completes his pastoral visit next Monday.


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Catechetical Homily for Holy and Great Lent 2009


+ B A R T H O L O M E W

By God's Grace Archbishop of Constantinople,
New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church,

Grace and Peace from our Savior Jesus Christ
And Prayers, Blessings and Forgiveness from Us



"Come, all peoples, let us today welcome

The gift of fasting

The period of repentance granted to us by God"
(Monday, First Week of Fasting)

Brethren and beloved children in the Lord,

The fast proposed to us by our Holy Church is not any deprivation, but a charisma. And the repentance to which it calls us is not any punishment, but a divine gift.

When the Church urges us, through the words of Scripture, not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth "where most and rust consume" but instead to store up treasures in heaven, where there is no danger of corruption, it is telling us the truth. For the Church is not of this world, even though it lives in this world and knows it. It knows humanity: our real need and distress. It knows our time well: the time of great development and speed, the plethora of information and confusion, the time of maqny fears, threats and collapses.

This is why – with calmness and steadiness – the Church invites everyone to repentance. This is why it discourages its children from taking the wrong path by treasuring their labors and basing their hopes on unstable foundations. Rather, it encourages them to store up treasure in heaven; for where our treasure lies, there also our heart is.

The treasure that cannot be corrupted and the hope that does not shame is precisely God's love, the divine force that binds all things together. It is the incarnate Word of God, who stays with us forever. He is the sanctification of our souls and bodies. For, He did not come to judge but to save the world. He did not come to criticize but to heal. "He wounds with compassion and demonstrates compassion with fervor."

He abolished he one who held the power of death, namely the devil. He annihilated the sorrow of death, namely the joyless form and dark presence of death, which darkens and poisons all of our life and joy. This is why, when our heart and love are directed toward the divine-human Lord, who has authority over the living and the dead, then everything is illumined and transformed.

Indeed, when the Apostle exhorts us "not to set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Tim. 6.17), he is assuring us that the true enjoyment of life is exactly what God offers us, while we simply receive it with gratitude and thanksgiving. Then, the little becomes abundant, because it is blessed; and the fleeting and momentary shine with the light of eternity.

Then, not only do the joys of life contain something eternal; but the troubles and sufferings become occasions of divine comfort. The divine economy of salvation is certain. For, God is "the one who provides everything with depth of wisdom and loving-kindness." And the deposit of our labors is secure, for "we surrender all of our life and hope" to the incarnate Word.

So when the Gospel refers us to heaven, it is speaking literally. It brings us down to the reality of the earth, which has become heaven. This is the certainty experienced and confessed by the Church.

Through your Cross, O Christ, there is one flock and one church of angels and human beings. Heaven and earth rejoice together. Lord, glory to you." The Church grants us the opportunity to experience this miracle of earth-become-heaven. Our roots lie in heaven. Without the Church, we are uprooted and homeless. For the Church is our home. So long as we return to the Church, we are returning home; we come to ourselves. So long as we are estranged from the Church, we are lost and meaningless.

So long as we approach the Church, we perceive the authenticity of what is true. We behold the heavenly Father awaiting us outside the house. We are convinced by the sense of goodness and beauty; we sense the presence of God's powerful love, which overcomes death; we no longer sense the corruption and doubt, which mock the world. Therefore, let us heed the divine invitation to enter the ocean of fasting in order to reach the harbor of light and resurrection with all the saints.

Holy and Great Lent 2009

Your fervent supplicant before God,

+ BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople

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March 8, 2009
The Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy


The Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas


To all the Clergy and the Laity of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We, the Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, greet you with love and blessings on the Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of Holy and Great Lent. This year, amidst the tumult and the insecurity that seem to pervade the globe, we exhort all of you to stand firm in your Orthodox Faith in God, the Faith that has established the world, the Faith that is the bedrock of our Holy Church, the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

We, who have been blessed with the continuation of the Apostolic ministry, understand well that it is in the most difficult of circumstances that our Faith is tested. In times of trial and tribulation we are confirmed as believers, or contrary to that, as the Lord said, those identified as people of little faith (Matthew 6:30). But it is in these very same moments that by grace and through the work of the Holy Spirit, we can experience transformation of spirit and soul, as we realize the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

This revelation of God’s love and purpose for our lives is oftentimes unanticipated by us, and certainly not always heralded by blaring trumpets. More likely, it comes through the still small voice (1 Kings 19:12) that speaks volumes. It is the voice that speaks only truth proclaiming Orthodoxy, the sound that comforts the soul, the music that lifts20our hearts heavenward.

Therefore, in these times when the pressures of daily life have taken on greater weight, and our world appears confused and confusing, let us re-commit ourselves to the practice of believing. Let us live each day with gratitude to God for the gift of faith: the Faith of the Apostles, the Faith of the Fathers, the Faith of the Orthodox, the Faith that has established the world.

With paternal blessings and love in Christ,


+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
of North America

+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America

+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese
in the USA

+Archbishop NICOLAE
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese
in the Americas

+Metropolitan JOSEPH
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church

+Metropolitan JONAH
Orthodox Church in America

+Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

+Bishop MERCURIUS of Zaraisk
Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate i n the USA

+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America

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Georgian Patriarch prompts Population Boom


Georgia has stemmed a long-term population decline thanks to an unpredecented offer by the head of its Orthodox Church to be godfather to thousands of children, the civil registry agency said Friday. The agency linked a sharp increase in births and marriages to improved living standards and the offer by the patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church to become godfather to every third child born to a Georgia family.

In a statement, the agency said the number of births in 2008 had increased by 19 percent over 2007 and by 37 percent since 2005. The number of marriages grew by 20 percent last year and by 72 percent since 2005.

"The number of marriages and births has increased dramatically in Georgia... The demographic situation is significantly improved," the head of the agency, Giorgi Vasadze, said in the statement.

"The demographic growth is directly linked with the economic growth as well as the initiative made by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia that he will be a godfather for every third child in a family." The head of Georgia's influential Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, announced the initiative in late 2007 and has since become godfather to more than 2,000 children, the head of the patriarch's charitable foundation, Irakli Kadagishvili, told AFP.

The number of births and marriages had been falling every year before 2005 as Georgia suffered through economic chaos and civil wars following its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But living standards have improved as the country posted record economic growth over the last three years following sweeping free-market reforms by President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Government estimates put Georgia's current population at 4.6 million. The country is due to conduct its next population census in 2010.

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Patriarch Is Back to Georgia

2009-02-20, Today, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia returns from Germany back to Georgia. His Holiness and Beatitude together with accompanied persons take a charter flight. The Patriarch is expected to be in Tbilisi at 7pm. The Patriarch will be welcomed by Holy Synod members, the clergy, and the parish at the Tbilisi Airport. The Catholicos Patriarch left for Germany on 4 February. His Holiness and Beatitude has had medical examinations there and feels well now.

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Ordination in British Orthodox Church


Ordination of Peter Farrington to the Priesthood

On the 22nd February, 2009, Abba Seraphim ordained Deacon Peter Theodore Farrington to the Priesthood within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. Father Peter has served as a Reader and Subdeacon, and then as Deacon for many years within the community of St Alban and St Athanasius in Maidstone and now Chatham.

He will now serve as a priest with Father Michael Robson.

Axios, Axios, Axios

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Indonesian Orthodox Church

News From Friends of Indonesia

Please pray for the repose of the soul of a Priest of the Indonesian Orthodox Church, Fr. Gregory Momongan, who fell asleep in the Lord Wednesday, February 21, at 11:30 pm local time. Fr. Gregory was hit by a truck earlier that day, and was taken to the hospital in a coma, where he reposed.

He was struck by a truck while operating his motorcycle, which he used as a taxi in downtown Manado. Fr. Daniel Byantoro–the Dean of the Indonesian Clergy and founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Church–had repeatedly asked him to stop, given the dangers of driving a motorcycle in a congested urban area, but Fr. Gregory felt he had no choice, as he had no other way to provide for his family. Once an Orthodox Christian is ordained as clergy in Indonesia, they are "marked" in that overwhelmingly Muslim society, and are not allowed the opportunities for employment and advancement that most other Indonesians enjoy.

Ordained in 2005, Fr. Gregory, 32, leaves behind his young wife Maria and year-old daughter Paskhalita, as well as his parish, St Mary the Theotokos , Manado City, North Sulawesi. Fr. Gregory was the spiritual son of Fr. Daniel Byantoro, the Founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Church, and was especially close to Fr. Daniel, caring for Fr. Daniel's dying mother for several months while Fr. Daniel was in the United States and unable to return to Indonesia.

Fr. Daniel will be traveling to Indonesia immediately, cutting short his speaking engagements in the US. There is a pressing financial need to pay outstanding hospital bills, funeral expenses, and to make some long-term provisions for Fr. Gregory's wife, Paskhalita, and infant daughter Maria.

All emergency donations will go directly to these needs, with no deduction for Friends of Indonesia expenses here in the US. This would be a wonderful opportunity to reach out to our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Indonesia, with a generous gift of love. If you're able to assist, please visit our support page and donate online. Or, if you'd prefer to send a check, please make the check payable to "Friends of Indonesia" and place "Fr. Gregory"; in the memo field. Mail to:

Friends of Indonesia
PO Box 9484
Baltimore, MD 21228


Please keep Fr. Gregory;s family and parish in your prayers, as well as Fr. Daniel, who has lost a spiritual son and close friend, and the clergy and faithful of the entire Indonesian Orthodox Church.

May the Lord have mercy on us sinners.

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The Nativity Readings Discuss Youth Ministry

The 17th Annual Nativity Readings held at Metropol Hotel in Moscow on February 16, 2009, included a conference on forms and methods of youth ministry (“New Forms and Methods of Work With Youth: Orthodox Youth Organizations and Projects”), chaired by His Grace Bishop Feofilakt of Bronnitsa, President of the Moscow Diocese’s Commission on Youth.

Speaking at the event were Bishop Feofilakt; Hieromonk Serafim (Petrovsky), Vice President of the Synod Youth Department; Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Vice President of the Synodal Youth Department of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and Protopriest Maxim Kozlov, Rector of St Catherine’s Church at Moscow State University.

Vladyka Feofilakt noted that youth ministry in the Church is first of all missionary work, which demands not only contemporary forms of communication but professional training. Vladyka recalled the words of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, spoken on the feast day of the Meeting of Our Lord, that today, each parish must have a specialist on catechism and youth ministry, and that if necessary, church communities must provide material support for them.

Vladyka Feofilakt feels that every institution of higher education should have, if not a church, then at least an Orthodox community which would witness the Truth before members of their age group. For this reason, one of the most urgent challenges, according to Vladyka Feofilakt, is to nurture creative and charismatic leaders for such groups.

Fr Andrei spoke about the experiences of Orthodox youth in the diaspora. One of the more effective methods of working with ROCOR youth, according to Fr Andrei, is holding youth conferences of various sizes (from all-diaspora conferences to meetings within individual deaneries), which are devoted to a specific topic. The youth not only hear lectures but hold workshops. Workshops address parish life, just as parish schools do: young people learn liturgics, Church Slavonic, etc.

Fr Andrei also proposed the idea of forming a social web network along the lines of Odnoklassniki [“classmates”] Vkontakte [“in contact”] and FaceBook, which would unite Orthodox youth throughout the world.

Fr Serafim offered surprising methods of working with youth: leaving some churches open and accessible in later hours, doing missionary work in these churches by holding divine services, night-time molebens and Liturgies. In his opinion, no means should be overlooked in working with youth, including forms of art, culture and sports.

Fr Maxim concentrated on what he called “the negatives,” the “underwater rocks” that are obstacles the Church faces in working with young people.

First of all, we should not treat young people with kid gloves, for the soul of a babushka is no different from the soul of a young person, this is not good for the youth nor the Church itself. Secondly, youth ministry should not ignore the Heavenly Kingdom nor mankind itself: “the goal of the spiritual life, towards which we must strive, is without a doubt the salvation of the soul, but we are dealing with living people, not easily-trainable robots.” Fr Maxim feels that the matter of finding a common language has not yet been resolved, yet we must avoid the two extremes: oversimplification and moralizing.

Fr Maxim feels that an Orthodox television network broadcasting on a central channel during prime time would have great missionary effect. In order to establish one, Fr Maxim said, we must use all available resources. It content should be vibrant, earnest and honest.

Some of the proposals evoked lively debate: the idea of an Orthodox social network found supporters and also skeptics who feel that existing social resources are sufficient.

The idea of Liturgies geared towards youth or children was also controversial: as attractive as that goal appears, it may prove to be an unwise reduction of divine service.

A series of other lectures rounded out the conference, in which participants shared their experiences and discussed the great deal of work they face, especially since 2009 was named “the Year of Youth.”

The next day, the missionary program of the Nativity Readings was held at the Church of St Tatiana. The lectures concerned the theme entitled “Experience and Possibilities in Youth Missionary Work.”

Fr Andrei was the first speaker. In his opinion, the existence of the Orthodox Church in a heterodox environment is in and of itself a powerful form of witness of the faith for outsiders. Cooperation, speed and effectiveness among the youth is especially strong, and these must not be ignored in preserving and dissemination Orthodox traditions.

Priest Igor Palkin of St Tatiana Church, a professional photographer, shared his experiences as head of the Pozitif Photography School under the auspices of the Moscow Diocese. The school is open to all, offering the fundamentals of photography (on a tuition basis for beginners) and documentary photography (through scholarship based on creative competition). Application information is distributed throughout colleges. The school now teaches 40 students, of whom 30 are not church-goers. “Unfortunately, I did not find churchgoing professional photographers,” said Fr Igor, “that is why I invited teachers from the best photography schools of Moscow without consideration of their church attendance.” The problem lies in avoiding making the school a place unrelated to faith. But there are other missionary possibilities for its participants. For example, assignments are given to make a photo-documentary of people in various professions, but all of these are people of great faith. By meeting them, beginners can learn about the Orthodox faith. “Respect for someone’s profession supports trust for him as a member of the Church,” said Fr Igor.

Priest Daniel Sysoev, Rector of the Church of Prophet Daniel in Kantemirovskaya, told of the problems of building a missionary youth center. Fr Daniel believes that a system of teaching catechism to a newcomer to church must precede missionary work. Most often, a curious person will ask a question of another parishioner who appears experienced rather than the priest himself. It is important to further the teachings of Christ and call things by their proper name—intriguing words of the Church as a pillar of culture and patriotism have nothing to do with missionary work. Consistent study of Holy Scripture along with parishioners must be a part of the parish priest’s work.

Dmitry Igorevich Serov, representative of the Missionary Department of Moscow Theological Academy, also spoke, noting that before determining a target for ones mission, the status and interests of the audience must be understood.

Professor Walter Schpecht of Germany told of “mobile work” with youth. One must set a clear-cut, strict ideological base for this. Social workers are needed. The German professor's lecture drew a great deal of interest and intense debate.

Nikolai Filippovich Mariashin, Head of the Physical Education Department at St Tikhon Orthodox Humanitarisn Institute and teacher at the Orthodox Tradition High School in Moscow, told of the important role sports play in working with Orthodox and lay youth.

The youth group “Joy in Old Age” told of its missionary work, assistance to invalids and the elderly in nursing homes. The group is a small team of some fifteen people, enthusiastic students of Moscow who believe in good deeds and in people. Their goal is to let those who live in nursing homes and veterans' shelters know that they are not alone, not forgotten, that they are needed. More on their work is available on their website: starikam.ru.

In conclusion, Fr Maxim said a few words about his missionary visit to Kolychevo and the good relationship the young parishioners of St Tatiana’s Church had with the youth of ROCOR.

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On February 3 - 5, over 130 servants from the Coptic Mission countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia gathered together with His Grace Bishop Paul and 10 priests to conduct seminars, trainings, and workshops for the future of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Africa. The three-day conference was a time of spending long nights in prayer for God to lead the mission and give us His ideas, strategizing, and seeing a united vision for our churches. Also, the conference was full of fellowship, praise and worship, and many hugs and smiles all around. Truly, it was a wonderful way to unite our churches within Kenya and the other African countries. One year ago, the many tribal problems within Kenya were completely forgotten with different tribes working together for one purpose - to grow the Kingdom of God.

Many surrounding churches were also excited about this conference that they requested to join so that they can learn from our church in order to take it back to their churches. Over 70 visiting members from various churches, including Catholic, Anglican, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant, came to learn and share ideas from their own churches. We learned a valuable lesson that we are all one body serving Jesus Christ without competition.

From our strategic planning sessions, we discussed the three stages of a member in the Coptic Orthodox Church, which are New Member, Mature Member, and Missionary. Once we bring in a new person, when they are ready, they will attend a Catechism course on the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Once baptized, the new member will move into the Mature Member stage. In this stage, we focused on creating a lively worship service for the member. This includes understanding the Liturgy and learning the songs of worship. Also, the member will create a loving and accepting church for other new members. As the member grows in the church, we will also focus on discipleship of that member. Through discipleship, there will be many things such as joining a pre-servant’s class, servant’s class, deacon’s class, and if applicable, the St. Athanasius Theological School in Maseno, Kenya. In the final stage in the growth of a church member, we are creating missionaries to go out, evangelize, share the Word of God, and serve Him.

The servants were excited to be a part of the vision and strategy planning. The servants came up with many creative ideas within each stage of a member’s growth during the group workshops. Further, the servants created steering committees to implement the strategies discussed as well reporting and follow-up for each area discussed.

The conference was an accomplishment to all those that prayed and worked so hard. Yet, it began even before the conference when H.G. Bishop Paul and all the priests had a planning and prayer time before the conference. This time was used for spiritual nourishment as the priests learned about the life of Joseph. Also, the priests came together to create this vision for the churches and to establish various curriculums for courses, such as catechism, pre-servants, servants, retreats and deacons classes. Although an exhausting time of late nights, preparation, and team meetings, the planning time proved to be a success.

Overall, the time together was truly fruitful and time of bonding, working together, sharing ideas, praying for our challenges, and uniting to create one vision and mission for all the churches in Africa under the leadership of our shepherd, H.G. Bishop Paul and through the prayers of our father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. We thank God for this opportunity and we ask the rest of the world to pray for us and the future of our church in creating strong leaders for the Coptic Orthodox Church in Africa.

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Grand Opening of the Expanded Hope Centre


January 26th was a memorable day, which saw the many close partners of Coptic Mission, coming together in celebration of the newly expanded Hope Centre. The Hope Centre now boasts a pediatric clinic, counseling rooms, various offices and further nursing stations. Amongst the guests, conveying their respective countries’ support, were the US ambassador to Kenya, Mr Michael Ranneberger, the Kenyan minister of health, Ms Beth Mugo, the Finnish ambassador to Kenya and the acting Egyptian ambassador to Kenya, Mr Ahmed ElBakri. Also joining us on this joyful occasion was Professor King Holmes, the Dean of the University of Washington.

In their speeches, given to the attentive audience of hospital workers and members of the community, the speakers unanimously praised the Hope Centre’s work in tending to the needs of those affected by HIV/AIDS. They particularly highlighted their delight with the commitment of staff to the provision of excellent healthcare. Of further note, was their pleasure that the Hope Centre is the outcome of the collaboration between the Coptic Church and her various sympathetic organizations.
In his word of thanks, Bishop Paul emphasized that this expansion was only possible through the companionship and blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Hope Centre belongs to our King and serves as His hands and feet, demonstrating His love for the people of Kenya. It is an honor to be fellow workers with God in this most recent endeavor. Please join us in praying for God’s continued guidance in all that the Coptic Mission does.

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Bulgaria's Christian Orthodox Honor All Souls Day


All Bulgarian Orthodox Christians honor Saturday All Souls Day by performing and attending memorial services for the Faithful Departed.

According to the Bulgarian tradition, women boil and sweeten grain to take to the services and hand it to other attendees. The tradition also includes wine and bread while in recent times cookies, crackers and pastries have been added.

The services are held at the cemetery, the church or at home. At the cemetery the priest usually performs the Parastas (Panikhida) - a liturgical observance in honor of the departed which is served in the Eastern Orthodox Church. If the service is for an individual, it will often take place at their graveside. If it is a general commemoration of all the departed, or if the individual's grave is not close by, the service will take place in a church, in front of a special "memorial table".

According to Orthodox beliefs, the Souls of the Departed come back on this day and stand at their own graveside. For this reason their relatives bring them wine and food. The ritual giving away of food to other people is believed to help satiate the Departed's hunger. The relatives also light a candle to illuminate the Departed's road so that they do not get lost in the dark.

Sunday, the day after All Souls Day, is the so-called Sunday of the Last Judgment or the second Sunday before Great Lent. The second Sunday before Great Lent is observed on a different date each year because it depends on the date of the Orthodox Easter. The Second day before Lent is the first holiday of those from the Easter cycle.

The Sunday before Lent is the last day when meals cooked with meet are allowed on the table. On Monday, Christian Orthodox begin observing a 40-day lent until Easter.

The Eastern Orthodox Church dedicates several days, (usually four), throughout the year to the dead, mostly on Saturdays, because of Jesus' resting in the tomb on Saturday.

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Posted on Wed Feb 18 2009 EAST BRUNSWICK — The viewing for Very Reverend Father Bishoy Demetrious drew 2,500 mourners for three days straight at the St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church on Riva Avenue last week.

At Saturday's funeral services, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, current pope of the Coptic Orthodox church founded in the first century in Egypt by apostle St. Mark, was in attendance. He was joined by 40 priests and and five bishops from around the United States.

The pope shed tears, as did others, for their beloved priest who succumbed to a lengthy illness just shy of his 59th birthday. Revered as a pioneer, charismatic leader and founder of the congregation, Father Bishoy was hailed for his legacy of growth and vision.

"This man was a legend," said Rafik Wahba, secretary of St. Mary's. "The history of the church will look upon him as one of the pioneers of the Coptic Christian community in the United States. I don't think we will see another leader like him for many generations to come.

Arriving in the United States from Egypt in 1971, Father Bishoy started a church on the corner of Riva and Hardenburg Lane which originally consisted of one building, 3 acres and a congregation of about 50 families.

By 1999, under his stewardship, a church had been built on the site, along with several other buildings, and membership had swollen to about 1,250 families. To help alleviate the overcrowding, Father Bishoy spearheaded efforts to create three Coptic Orthodox churches in Holmdel, Howell and Edison.

"He had the ability to reach your heart through his humbleness, firmness, show of love, communication and conviction of his mission as a leader of the church," said Wahba. "His sense of firmness, leadership and extreme organization skills, he controlled the church through his love."

Onsy Youssef, church treasurer, shared a recent story of Father Bishoy's charisma when he recently asked his congregation to contribute $200,000 toward acquisition of the former Webber School for use as an expanded Sunday School and day care center.

"Within 45 days, we collected $210,000 including legal fees and everything," said Youssef. "He knew how to reach people. Without his strength, personality and all his vision, we could not have gotten all this property."

Youssef noted that plans to turn the Webber School into a day care center are going well and that the church hoped to begin construction "'within a month or two."

About 600 children currently attend Sunday School classes Friday through Sunday.

"He believed in the importance of youth in the church," said Wahba. "His motto was: The more time they spend in the church, the less time they spend in the malls — doing all the wrong stuff."

Youssef noted that he and his fellow church committee members have committed themselves to completing the vision of their founder.

Born on March 1, 1950, in northern Egypt, Father Bishoy Demetrious came from a religious family — his father and two of his brothers entered the priesthood. He attended theological school in Cairo, where he studied under His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.

A classmate of Father Bishoy's under the pope was Father Michael Tobia, who will now assume the role of senior priest at St. Mary's, which also has two younger priests — Father Mark Hanna and Father Kyrolos Said.

Father Bishoy Demetrious is survived by his wife, Sonya, and two daughters, Mariam and Monica.

"First of all, he was a man of prayer," said Nabil Khalil, a trustee at St. Mary's. "When we faced any problems, he did not get panicked, he went and prayed and the problems would get solved."

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On the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr, the delegation of the Synodal Department for Relations with Armed Forces and Other Law-Enforcement Agencies of Ukraine, headed by its chairman - Archbishop Augustine of Lviv and Halych, took part in the work of the International Conference of the Military Clergymen, that took part in Cape Town (Republic of South Africa).

Every year this conference gathers about 150 participants from 60 countries of the world and is an influential world forum, where the most important issues of military ethics and spiritual and pastoral care in the troops are discussed.


This year the subject of the conference was "The role of a chaplain in peace-making and recovering after military conflicts". The Orthodox participants of the conference were given possibility of taking floor to express their wishes and thoughts; this time they underscored necessity of establishment of the international conventions under the auspices of UN dedicated to military clergymen's activity, and also called the chaplains' community not to remain silent when the evident war crimes are committed. On the whole, the majority of heads of the chaplain services from various countries emphasized the growing importance of peace-making and restoration of the relations, interrupted during the military conflicts, for the activity of a military clergyman.


Thus, one can state the change of attitude to a military clergyman, who was assigned to a military unit just for the spiritual and pastoral care with military personnel with a purpose of moral justification of the commandment's actions. Today the chaplain, or a military priest is more a carrier of the religious worldview, which calls to reconciliation, he is a conscience for the soldiers and officers, who perform their military service duties under conditions of complex ethical conflicts.


During the conference the Orthodox participants from Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Croatia, United States and Ukraine were given possibility to discuss the cooperation issues in separate sections, and to conduct the divine services in the Church of St. George of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Cape Town city, where orthodox community came at the invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Sergius of Cape Town and Cape of Good Hope.

Fr. Victor Yatsenko,
Member of the Synodal Department of the UOC for Relations with the Armed Forces and other Law-enforcement Agencies of Ukraine.


On February 15, on the feast of Meeting of the Lord in Temple, a social action in support of pediatric oncology patients was held by the Youth Department of the Kyiv Diocese in the Central Botanic Garden named after M.M. Gryshko, at the Holy Trinity St. Jonah Monastery. The action was held with the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr.

That Sunday the world community marked the Day of Orthodox Youth and Child Cancer Patients. It was for them that the Candlemas charitable action, organized by the young people of the orthodox social organization "St. Jonah of Kyiv Fellowship", was dedicated.

The event was opened by the festive service. Vicar of the Kyiv Metropolis, Bishop Ilary of Makariv conducted the Divine Liturgy on the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr. In his address to the parishioners of the monastery he called all those present to take part in the action and to give a piece of their hearts to those in need of attention and support.

Right after the service the monastery superior, archimandrite Jonah (Cherepanov) and numerous guests of the monastery solemnly welcomed the children from Kyiv Oncology Institute inside its walls. The Moleben was conducted during which the parishioners prayed for granting health to little patients of oncology department.

Thereafter, at the initiative of the administration of the Botanic Garden, little ones together with their parents visited the exotic flower greenhouse. Then the monastery brethren treated their honoured guests to some tea and sweets.

All that time the other guests, whose number reached two thousand, were invited to various competitions and games prepared by the orthodox scouts, as well as workshops (salsa, Jumpstyle, theater arts). The artists' work studio was given special attention, since it gave everyone a chance to display one's creativity. There were enough possibilities for that - to begin with painting the leaded panels and handiwork of hay and to finish with pictures of melted chocolate. The participants of the actions passed their handicraft to the child cancer patients.

The performance of the orthodox Cossacks was also of much interest for the guests. The Cossacks not only demonstrated their target hitting accuracy, but also helped all those willing to take part in this entertainment. Real zest of the action was a demonstration performance of the RPG players, who fought in armor suits in duel fights or group combats.

The organizers also treated the action guests to tasty sweet pancakes.

It should be noted that due to the pleasant and homelike atmosphere at St. Jonah's, most of the guests immersed themselves into all the entertainments suggested, in spite of cold weather and many-hour duration of the action.

The final stage of the first part of the action "Youth is not indifferent" was a charity auction, that gathered huge crowd and mass-media representatives at the central scene (5th channel, TV-Radio Broadcasting channel ‘Era', TV-Radio Broadcasting channel "Ukraine", UNIAN agency, "Glas", KRT). There the 10 best works made by the children from the Oncology Institute were presented.
The action ended in the evening, at Maidan Nezalezhnosti, where the youth made a written message out of candles ‘There is hope". And all those sympathizing left their wished to the children on the large colored leaflet.

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SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- From Wednesday, February 18 through Friday, February 20, 2009, the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America held its 2009 spring meeting.

The Metropolitan Council is composed of the His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, chairman; the three statutory officers of the Church -- the Chancellor, the Secretary, and the Treasurer -- one priest and one layperson from each diocese, elected by their respective diocesan assemblies; and three priests and three laypeople elected by the All-American Council.

Earlier this year, the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops decided that the Lesser Synod of Bishops would also take part in Metropolitan Council meetings. Lesser Synod members present for the meeting were His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest, and His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West. Also present was His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, who took the place of Lesser Synod member, His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, who was unable to attend the meeting.

The meeting opened with a retreat Wednesday evening lead by Metropolitan Jonah in the Chancery's St. Sergius of Radonezh Chapel. The theme of the retreat was "The Spiritual Process."

In his retreat talk, the Metropolitan said that the essence of the spiritual process is to overcome one's ego. "All of our thoughts about ourselves constitute our ego," he explained. "We live in our heads and we make the mistake that our ego is who we really are."

Metropolitan Jonah said that the teaching of the Orthodox Church is that true human identity is not found in the self but in God. Authentic human life may be found only through overcoming the passions -- distractions rooted in the obsessions and compulsions for things in the world -- and through the complete surrendering of human will to the divine will -- synergy. He offered a basic rule of life, grounded in the spiritual tradition of the Orthodox Church: do not resent, do not react, and keep inner stillness.

Following Metropolitan Jonah's presentation, the hierarchs and Metropolitan Council members discussed issues raised in his talk. An emphasis in this discussion was on the role that Church leadership will play in the ongoing healing and growth of the Church.

Thursday's sessions opened with a Divine Liturgy at St. Sergius Chapel, celebrated by Metropolitan Jonah. In his homily, he made reference to the Epistle reading of the day, which warned that, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20). Metropolitan Jonah stressed that those in positions of leadership in the Church must always be on guard to carry out their responsibilities out of love and not animosity; animosity is not of God and therefore actions born of animosity cannot be said to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

After the Divine Liturgy, business sessions opened with an address by Metropolitan Jonah, who spoke about the vision of the local Church as outlined in Orthodox Tradition. He stressed that in the process of strategic planning, the basis for moving the Church forward must be the sacramental vision of Church that is essential to Orthodoxy. Related to this, he added, it is important to be mindful of the fact that the current OCA Statute, written almost 40 years ago, no longer reflects the structure and life of the Orthodox Church in America today as the local Church in North America.

The Metropolitan continued by outlining several areas that he identified as requiring the immediate attention of the OCA's administrative bodies: financial support for the Church, legal issues, St. Tikhon's Seminary and Monastery, and theological education.

Regarding financial support for the Church, Metropolitan Jonah said, "The task at hand is to strengthen the parishes and the dioceses, and encourage them to develop their own lives, ministries, outreach and missions within their territories. We need to have the Office of the Metropolitan, and its administrative functions. But the greatest need is to have our parishes and dioceses financially stable and supported." He also said that, "the Metropolitan Council must take the lead in this, not only by setting an example of tithing within their own communities, but by promoting the vision of percentage giving within their dioceses." His Beatitude noted that the real point of tithing is "an active, vibrant church on the local level."

On the topic of theological education, Metropolitan Jonah shared his vision of harmonizing institutions and programs to create "a single system of institutions which complement one another, and which conveys a single vision of the Church. My hope is that we can build the existing institutions into a single system of theological education, from the college-seminary level through the masters'-graduate level all the way to a Ph.D. in Theology."

His Beatitude's thoughts on the ecclesiological vision of Orthodox Church in America may be read here.

After the Metropolitan's address, the Council turned to a review of Metropolitan Council committees. The composition of current committees was examined with a goal of ensuring that every Metropolitan Council member sat on a committee. Furthermore, upon the recommendation of Metropolitan Jonah, the Council decided that each of its committees will include as non-voting liaisons one representative from the Lesser Synod and one from the Chancery administration.

In other discussions on committees, the Metropolitan Council decided to merge the finance and investment committees in order to improve operations between the Council's financial and investment operations and to assist the treasurer in his duties.

The Metropolitan Council is now engaged in a search for members of the OCA's Audit Committee. Previously, the OCA Statute directed that appointments to this committee be made by the All-American Council. However, at the 15th All-American Council in November 2008, a Statue amendment was passed that authorized the Metropolitan Council to make appointments to this committee.

Council members also heard reports from its committees on their ongoing work and from three members of the OCA chancery administrative team: Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs; Secretary, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi; and the Director of Ministries and Communications, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus. The report of the Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos, followed in a subsequent session.

One issue arising from the reports was the question of Church policies and procedures on sexual harassment, which are slated for revision in the near future. It was noted that the line of delineation between pastoral and legal aspects of such issues must be clearer. The definition of what is meant by "pastoral" needs to be clarified, as well, since this term can cover various aspects of such an issue. Likewise, it must always be known that there are legal ramifications in such matters and which cannot be neglected or denied.

In executive session, the Metropolitan Council reviewed ongoing legal matters facing the Church. Also in executive session, the Council heard an informational update on the review of the affairs at St. Tikhon's Seminary and Monastery that is being spearheaded by His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania.

The report of the Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos, was made in conjunction with the report of the Metropolitan Council's Finance Committee Chair, Archpriest Matthew Tate.

Fr. Matthew introduced the report on finances by stating that, after three years of balanced budgets, 2008 was a failure. Through the first half of 2008, the budget was balanced; overages came through unexpected expenses in the second half of the year, in particular during the fourth quarter. He apologized on behalf of the finance committee for allowing this to happen. The projected overage for 2008 as a result of anticipated legal expenses was expected to be about $100,000.00. In reality, in 2008 the Church was over $200,000.00 over budget.

Fr. Tassos also expressed his personal regret at this situation. He noted that, while areas such as Chancery personnel salaries and benefits and departmental expenses were under budget, overages largely resulted from expenses that were not expected when the 2008 budget was passed, such as the enthronement of a new Metropolitan and travel costs related to committee work and extraordinary meetings.

In looking at the 2009 budget, Fr. Michael reported that cost-cutting measures include cuts to pension contributions for clergy working at the OCA chancery; a new, less expensive health insurance plan for all chancery staff; limits on the frequency in publication of "The Orthodox Church" magazine; and stricter procedures for the approval of travel expenses.

Fr. Matthew stressed that the real issue in 2008 was that the budget was used more as a list of suggestions rather than a strict guideline for spending. He emphasized that this cannot be the case. Absolute adherence to the budget and to procedures for requesting non-budgeted spending is crucial in order to regain and maintain a better financial status.

The final major agenda item was a discussion of the strategic planning process mandated by the 15th All-American Council in response to recommendations of the Special Investigating Committee. A report was presented by a three-person team organized by Metropolitan Jonah to offer ideas to the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council on possible approaches to the strategic planning process. The members of this team were Protodeacon Peter Danilchik, Deacon John Zarras and Dr. Dmitri Solodow.

During the strategic planning presentation, it was noted that the key to a successful process is that it be based on principles of active leadership and oversight from the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council working in harmony; on an inclusive process that allows broad participation of all "stake holders;" on a decision making process based on consensus; and on the need for patience as the plan develops and is embraced by the Church at large. The next step in the formation of a strategic plan procedure will be further deliberations by the members of the Holy Synod, who will present the final outline of the planning process.

Official minutes and other information from the Spring 2009 meeting of the Metropolitan Council will be posted as they become available.

The next regular meeting of the Metropolitan Council will take place in the fall of this year.

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St. Volodymyr Cathedral, Chicago, IL was the site on the weekend of February 6-8, 2009 of one of the most ancient rites of the Holy Orthodox Church – the enthronement or installation a bishop as ruling hierarch of his Episcopal See – as His Grace Bishop Daniel (Zelinsky) assumed the leadership of the Western Eparchy of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Bishop Daniel was elected Bishop at the 18th Regular Sobor of the Church in October 2008.

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On Thursday, February 19, 2009 a regular annual session of the Assembly of the Society for building St. Sava Cathedral at Vrachar, where was discussed about the works on the cathedral in last year. Then there were presented a plan and a building program for 2009 and aplan of activities of the Society for building St. Sava Cathedral for current year.

Before the Assembly there was served a fervant prayer at Cathedral by His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, in presence of the members of the Head Board and members of the Assembly of the Society for building Cathedral. After it the present visited the works in Cathedral and a subsurface floor of Cathedral.

The session was presided by: the president of the Society - Miodrag Babic (Hemopharm Concern), the president of the Society Head board - Boris Tadic (president of Serbia), in the presence of Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral - on behalf of the president of the Society His Holiness Patriarch Pavle.

The head architect of Cathedral Prof. Dr Vojislav Milovanovic submitted a report on accomplished construction works,and the main architect for interior design of Cathedral Dragomir Acovic presenteda report on planned works during 2009.

Due to the forthcoming celebration of a great jubilee - 1700 years since issuing the Edict of Milan (2013) , in which Serbia will have a great part, it is required to intensify the final construction works in Cathedral , said the president of the HB Boris Tadic.

An initiative of Milka Forzan, the coordinator of the Society for building Cathedral, to start a project « CATHEDRAL: RENEWAL OF THE NATIONAL INTEREST» is greatly supported at the Assembly. Its goal is to put Cathedral as a symbol of the nation, the city of Belgrade and the orthodox people.

Also the future first multi-media guide and book about Cathedral was showcased and soon it will be published. The Assembly was informed about preparations for making amovie "Constantine the Great''.

The Society for building Cathedral St. Sava also reports that the planned construction works for the last year were realized and that the Plan and program for year 2009 has been accepted. As well, it also states that in last 8 years, since the foundation of the Society for building Cathedral, it has been done more than in last 100 years.

Source: The Society for building Cathedral St. Sava at Vrachar


The great Christian holiday the Presentation of Our Lord is also the Statehood Day of the Republic of Serbia.The Holy Hierarchal Liturgy at the church of the Ascension of Our Lord in Orashac, served His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral withthe concelebration of His Grace Bishop Jovan of Shumadija, priesthood and deacons.

Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral held a speech during the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy, which was attended by HRH Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic and Princess Katarina, the vice-president of the Serbian government Jovan Krkobabic, minister ofagriculture Sasa Dragin, minister of education Dr Zarko Obradovic, minister of trade Slobodan Milosavljevic, and minister of faith Dr Bogoljub Sijakovic.

At the Holy Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral held a speech before thefaithful and all Serbian people, pointing out the significance of the holiday of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple, because in symbolic meeting at the actual historical moment of the Presentation of Our Lord, it is the whole truthful history of mankind. The holiday of the Presentation of Our Lord is a holiday of human nature, a holiday of Man, and hence the great wisdom and inspiration of our ancestors who just on this holiday of the Presentation of Our Lord passed and confirmed the Constitution of the Principality of Serbia in 1835. That constitution was actually one sprout, one small ray that shined from this meeting of God and man, the meeting of mercy of God and truth of God, justice and peace. In those hard times of liberation of the violence, our ancestors brought the Constitution, so as to, according to it, fix everyday life of the state and the people of that time.


After the Holy Liturgy, Their Graces Bishops, priesthood and people went in the procession to the Maricevica`s gorge, where was held the commemoration to Karadjordje and all rebels suffered for the freedom of the Serbian people. The commemoration and the cultural program was attended by the highest state and military dignitaries, among them were Prime Minister of the Government of Serbia Mirko Cvetkovic and President of the Serbian Assembly Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic.

After the Holy Liturgy, the prayer for peace and progress of the Republic of Serbia and for the salvation of all citizens who are living in Serbia, the independent state and recognized by the world, began celebrations which all the present reminded of the greatness of the Serbian statesmen,soldiers, peasants, professors and pupils, workers and scientists, who presented their Homeland and Church proudly through history. Then there was paid the state and military tribute to all the suffered for faith and Fatherland with a ceremony of laying laurel wreaths in Maricevica`s gorge andthe cultural program.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic held a speech pointing out that the Government of Serbia took the responsibility for solving the problem in Kosovo and Metohija, reminding that the declaration of independence of Kosovo endangered the international law, safety and security in this region.

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The Order of Saint Andrew's Greater Delaware Valley region will be hosting a symposium entitled, "The Ecumenical Patriarchate: A Church in Captivity and the Religious Freedom Crisis in Turkey" at St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall, PA on March 7, 2009. Dr. George E. Demacopoulos, Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Fordham University, will be the main speaker and offer insight on the ecclesiological and historical significance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

An afternoon session will feature the National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, MD who will offer a presentation highlighting the history of the crisis with recent news and developments pursued by Archons with leaders in Washington, Ankara, Istanbul, Brussels, and Strasbourg.

The symposium is open to all Archons, their spouses, and other faithful Orthodox members interested in the religious freedom pursuit for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. A detailed itinerary can be found below and further questions for information can be directed to Dr. Cary Limberakis at 215-886-8866 or cjldmd@verizon.net.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate: A Church in Captivity and the Religious Freedom Crisis in Turkey - A Symposium

Saturday, March 7, 2009

9:00 am Divine Liturgy Saturday of Souls
10:00 am Light Breakfast
10:30 am Ecclesiological & Historical Significance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Guest Speaker: George E. Demacopoulos, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Historical Theology
Fordham University

12:00 pm Buffet Luncheon
12:45 pm The Order of Saint Andrew Religious Freedom Initiative

Guest Speaker: Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D.
National Commander, Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle
Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

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Though he lived more than 17 centuries ago, the Greek Orthodox saint Athanasius is an exemplary model for Orthodox Christians today, a scholar and theologian said at Fordham on Feb. 18. "St. Athanasius stands as the supreme model of successful surviving, learning and living for Christians in a hostile world," said the Rev. Stanley Harakas, Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology Emeritus at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.

Father Harakas, a prolific author and priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, was the keynote speaker at Fordham's Orthodoxy in America lecture, which took place on Fordham's Rose Hill campus. His talk, "The Future of Orthodox Christianity in America: A Normative Approach," was the sixth in the annual series.

Father Harakas said St. Athanasius is a useful model for Orthodox Christians as they anticipate their future in this country because "his battles for the Orthodox faith, his acceptance of repeated exiles and his unrestrained resistance against opposing forces in high places earned him in history a description as Athanasius contra mundum, or 'Athanasius against the world.'"

Also, Alexandria, the city in which St. Athanasius was born and raised, was, in the first few centuries of Christianity, "a pluralistic place, full of variety and within the Christianfold of a wide range of contrasting beliefs, especially about the person of Christ," Father Harakas said.

"In that vital and pluralistic context so similar to our own, the life of St. Athanasius stands out as a model for the Orthodox Church to prepare for its future in the United States."

Father Harakas said Orthodox Christians have "a message and a way of life" that they must present as "an alternative to the morally and spiritually down-spiraling contemporary American lifestyle."

Christianity in the United States faces a challenge in that the secularizing spirit of Europe will continue to spread in the fabric of American life, Father Harakas said.

"It should not be perceived as the essence of America," he said of secularization. "It is one of many variant ideologies seeking expression in American life, but as a church and as Christians we must not succumb to it, but we need to engage with it."

In regards to whether Orthodoxy can be American, Father Harakas said:

"Being American is the acceptance of the fundamental principles of freedom in community as declared in our Constitution. We must believe that we are free to be Orthodox Christians and that we will be good Americans if we affirm our identity as Orthodox Christians, while acknowledging that others have the same right."

"Neither secularism, nor capitalism, nor socialism, or any other ‘ism' is an authentic component of what it means to be American," Father Harakas added. "Freedom of belief, of worship, speech and political exercise are the only things that are authentically American."

Father Harakas emphasized the importance of teaching youth about the faith, referring to St. Athanasius, who was brought early in life under the immediate supervision of the church in his native city of Alexandria.

"One of the important keys to the formation of a strong Orthodox identity in children is the full immersion in the liturgical worship," Father Harakas said. "It is not everything, but if we do not immerse our children in the worship experience, unconsciously, semiconsciously and ultimately, consciously, there will be only a tepid future for Orthodox Christianity in America."

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, said the University has great ambitions to be a center of Orthodox study, thought and debate.

"This evening we were really quite fortunate in Father Stanley [Harakas]'s address to us did precisely that," Father McShane said. "It did not shy away from any of the difficulties that Orthodoxy in America faces. He examined and explored the topic with great honesty and with great breadth of wisdom as well as learning."

About 300 people attended the event, held at the McGinley Center Ballroom at Fordham's Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, was present.

In addition, Fordham announced at the event that it has received a $2 million gift to establish the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture. The gift comes from the Jaharis Family Foundation, which provides grants to arts, cultural and religious institutions.

The Orthodoxy in America Lecture Series is designed to strengthen the ties that bind the Fordham and Orthodox communities and address the history, theology, spirituality and worship of the Orthodox tradition as it relates to contemporary American culture. Additional information about the lecture series is at www.fordham.edu/orthodoxy.

Fordham is the only university in the United States to offer an interdisciplinary minor in Orthodox Christian Studies, and has the only theology department in the United States with two graduates from an Orthodox seminary on its faculty. The co-founding directors of the Orthodox Christian Studies program at Fordham are Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D., associate professor of theology and associate chair for undergraduate studies, and George Demacopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor of historical theology.

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y.

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