OCA represented at annual military, VA chaplains’ gatherings

This post was originally published on this site

ChaplainChaplain (Major General) Paul K. Hurley, US Army Chief of Chaplains, with Frs. Theodore Boback and Joseph Gallick.

Archpriest Theodore Boback, Jr., Dean and Executive Director of Orthodox Military and VA Chaplains and Archpriest John J. Gallick, Deputy Director and Assistant Dean, represented the Orthodox Church in America at the annual meetings of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces [NCMAF], the Endorsers Conference for Veterans Affairs Chaplaincy [ECVAC] and the Armed Forces Chaplains Board January 9-13, 2017.

According to Father Theodore, the theme of the conference was “Emerging Trends: Serving on the Cutting Edge”.  Among the many topics considered by participants were ECVAC’s emerging role in supporting VA ministry, evolving trends in the American religious landscape, the future of education, caring for caregivers, opportunities in the Bureau of Prisons, and analytics measuring present and future trends.  Attendees also participated in a variety of workshops expanding on the conference theme.

At an evening reception, new and departing endorsers were honored.  Participants also viewed the recently released film, “Almost Sunrise”.

A highlight of the conference was a presentation by Dr. Dick Stenbakken, a retired US Army Chaplain, whose theme was “guiding the future and remembering the past”.

“Dr. Stenbakken offered a first-person narrative on the chaplain who had ministered to those awaiting the Nurnberg Trials,” said Father Theodore.  “His presentation was dynamic and well-received and should be considered by others for future presentation.”

Briefings also were offered by the three Chiefs of Chaplains: Rear Admiral Margaret G. Kibben, CHC, USN; Chaplain (Major General) Paul K. Hurley, USA; and Chaplain (Major General) Dondi E. Dostin, USAF.  Ms. Jeri Busch, Director of Military Compensation, offered a presentation on the new military retirement system for uniformed services.

Father Theodore was asked to serve on the NCMAF Executive Board and was elected to serve on the NCMAFB Board.  He also is a member of the ECVAC Board.

“We ask that the faithful remember in their prayers our military and VA chaplains and their families,” Father Theodore added.

Those interested in serving in the military or VA chaplaincies are invited to write to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for additional information.

FDF 2017 Faith, Dance, Fellowship, largest Greek Orthodox Youth Gathering in the United States

This post was originally published on this site

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America arrived in San Diego Thursday Feb. 16, for the 2017 Folk Dance and Choral Festival of the Metropolis of San Francisco, a four day celebration of Faith, Dance and Fellowship taking place this year at Town and Country Resort Hotel here in San Diego.

Blog Contributor Saturday | Maria Conte

This post was originally published on this site
0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 0 Flares ×

Hey y’all! I’m Maria Conte, your newest member in the band of bloggers (along with my other friends Mark and Kiara, eyyyy!) A little about me–I’m a SUPER senior (aka fifth year) at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Creative Advertising and Creative Writing just for fun. I’m an avid ice cream eater, runner, driver of country roads, and newly rekindling my love for playing field hockey (#clublife, #aintaboutthatD1life). I love going to the Blue Ridge Mountains when I can, and I bake brownies e’rry week for my OCF chapter. I like brownie batter so it’s a win-win situation.

My first memory of OCF was being a camper at Antiochian Village. I was eleven years old and my counselor must have gotten some free OCF garb in her staff meeting and gave it to me back in the cabin. It was a blue and red bball cap and one of those Livestrong bands we all know and love, but it was blue and said Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

And that was my intro. Fast forward eight years later, and I’m at my first college, Mary Washington (yes I’m a transfer student!!). It is a small college and I was one of five Orthodox kids there. Our group wasn’t even big enough to form an OCF, so we made a makeshift tradition called Sunday Snackin’ where instead of napping after Liturgy we would snack like kings, and I literally gained my freshman fifteen via eating a box of off-brand Honey Bunches of Oats and Nutella with pretzels every Sunday. 10 out of 10 would not recommend.

Eating healthy is hard

Even though my first college did not have an official OCF presence, I was still able to get involved with OCF events. My freshmen and sophomore year of college, I did Real Break in Guatemala and Honduras. This was such a great way to meet other Orthodox friends from across the country and have a week together working and having fun. It’s amazing how small the Orthodox world is, and it starts with making friends though OCF events. Just a few weeks ago, I bumped into a Real Break friend at a wedding that I hadn’t seen for four years! God is good.

I began attending College Conference East over winter breaks, and through that, I met and connected with people who would be my future co-staffers and friends at the Antiochian Village. OCF events really helped me and others learn about summer camp opportunities.

Now that I’m reaching the tail end of my college life, I can really looks back and see that OCF events and working at an Orthodox summer camp with fellow OCFers was the most influential part of my life. Being around people my age whom I looked up to made me strive to be closer to my faith because I saw all these amazing people shining their light and smiles everywhere they went. And it was a bright light!

For the bright light, you know?

OCF is such a blessing. The friends you meet through OCF make your world smaller, and it’s so nice having a support system of Orthodox friends, even when they are states away. And who knows, maybe one day twenty years from now you’ll be vacationing with your family in Boston, doing the Freedom Trail and all that (and maybe the Patriots won’t be an NFL dynasty at that point, who knows… not tryin’ to make my Boston friends salty here), and MAYBE you’ll just walk into a church there on Sunday morning and at coffee hour you bump into an old OCF friend you went on Real Break with years ago. I’m just saying. The Orthodox world is small and happy.

Anyway, I’m super excited about joining the OCF blogging team. God bless and have a wonderful day! I’ll catch ya on the flippy floppy.


Maria Conte is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University studying creative advertising.  She is the VP and official brownie baker of her OCF.  Maria attends Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Richmond, VA.  In her free time, you can find Maria driving the back roads, jammin’ out to 70’s and 80’s music.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 0 Flares ×

Meatfare Sunday (Sunday of the Last Judgment)

This post was originally published on this site

The trumpets shall blow, and the graves shall be empty, and all mankind shall rise trembling. They who have done good shall rejoice with joy, expecting their reward; and those who have done evil shall tremble greatly, moaning and shaking, as they are sent to suffering, separated from the elect. Wherefore, O Lord of glory, be compassionate toward us, and make us worthy to be of those who love thee; for thou art good.

– from Vespers, Tone 6

For those observing the Lenten Fast, Meatfare Sunday is the last day on which meat and poultry are eaten before Pascha.

To learn more about the season of pre-Lenten preparation, please visit our Great Lent section.

Catechesis by St. Theodore the Studite on Meatfare Sunday

Read more about Meatfare Sunday, in an excerpt from Great Lent by Alexander Schmemann.

Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko’s reflections on the Sunday of the Last Judgment on Ancient Faith Radio.

Visit our full section on Great Lent.

The Liturgy After the Liturgy

This post was originally published on this site

By: Kamal Hourani

For Orthodox Christians, the Divine Liturgy is the center of our life in Christ. We must be convinced that there is no greater beauty, no greater joy, no greater privilege than to enter God’s house, sing His praises, listen to His words, and to be united to Him in the very Body and Blood of His Christ. There is no higher state for man than to sit at the table with the Lord and to simply be with Him, in Him, and have Him in us.

The sublimity of the Liturgy, however, does not mean that there is no other place on earth worth spending time. As Saint Maria Skobtsova writes, “Christ, in ascending to heaven, did not take the Church with Him…Christ left the Church in the world. It was left as a small bit of leavening.”

We Christians long for the age to come, when there will be no sickness, sorrow, or sighing. Our hearts ache to be with Christ. Sometimes we are so fed up with the suffering and horrors of this world and we wonder why Christ would ascend and leave us here in the first place. Saint Maria’s writing suggests one answer. We need a shift in perspective, not location.  We cannot yet ascend to be in Christ’s Kingdom because His plan is to use us to bring His Kingdom down into the earth. He works with us to transfigure this world as a baker transforms a heap of flour with a little yeast. There is no need to wait for the end of this age. The end of the age is now, when we work with God to overcome the world’s fallenness.

If we are going to truly be part of this Church, part of the leaven of the earth, we need to know how to express God’s Kingdom on earth. Christ gives us the necessary instructions, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:3). Saint Maria compares this beatitude to the monastic vow of non-possession. Just as a monk must renounce all earthly possessions, every Christian must sell away the barriers we put up to cut ourselves off from God and the pride we cling to in order to avoid serving others. Saint Maria compares these to dirty rags that we must sell away in favor of the incorruptible richness of the “laying down of our soul for our friends.”

In the Divine Liturgy, in return for our offering bread and wine, Christ gives His very self to us in the Eucharist. This mutual relationship of eucharistic offering becomes the icon for all of our relationships in this world. As Christ gave his life for us on the Cross, so we must give our lives for the sake of our neighbors. Just as Christ overlooks all of our imperfections, so also must we overlook the shortcomings of our neighbors and serve them all the more. This work of serving others is the only way that the work of the Divine Liturgy becomes complete.

Each of us are constantly given opportunities to serve others. In our interactions with our families, coworkers, and friends we can choose to be servants. We are also called to go out and actively serve the poor. While this sometimes takes a little more initiative, the spiritual benefits are unending. By giving our time, talent, and treasure to ministries like FOCUS North America, we are not only having important community with the poor, but also training ourselves to be ready to serve whenever the Lord sends an opportunity our way.

In this fallen world, we are hungry, thirsty, beaten, and stripped naked by tragedy and suffering. Ultimately, only Christ can satisfy the needs of the world and overcome our poverty with His riches. But it is through human beings, even us, that Chris is manifest. In our own life of love, we offer our neighbors Christ himself, who heals the wounds of this world.

Christian charity, though FOCUS and other ministries alike, must not only address the physical needs of the poor but also the internal poverty that comes from separation from God. When we hand a man a piece of bread, we also hope that he will be nourished by our love for him. When we give clothing to the naked, we hope that they will be wrapped in dignity as well. This art of loving the world takes a lifetime to master, but we must begin each day with a new resolve to build on this universal Christian ministry of service. Approaching the chalice on Sunday cannot be a mundane chore that we check off each week. It has to be the fountainhead of the torrent of our love for the world. We must translate the liturgy in our parish churches into the liturgy after the liturgy that takes place in the entirety of God’s creation.

Kamal Hourani is a student at Hellenic College in Brookline, MA. He is a graduate of FOCUS North America’s YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) Program and has also become a leader in that program. To learn about how YES is shaping the leaders of our church visit www.focusnorthamerica.org/yes.

February OCAreview available for downloading, parish distribution

This post was originally published on this site

OCAReview

The February 2017 edition of “OCAreview: The Orthodox Church in America’s Monthly Hard-Copy Digest” is now available in color and black and white PDF formats for downloading and local distribution.

With the blessing of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, OCAreview made its debut in October 2015.  Each monthly edition features stories that had appeared on the OCA web site during the previous month.  Parishes are requested to download and duplicate each edition, especially for distribution to those without internet access.  OCAreview also makes an ideal general monthly bulletin insert.

In addition, all parishes and clergy receive PDFs of the digest via e-mail.  Others who wish to receive the monthly e-mail version may subscribe at no charge.

To All High School Seniors…And, You Know, Everyone Else | How To Transition

This post was originally published on this site
0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 0 Flares ×

There are a few major transitions in life that you know will change your life forever. Going to college is one of them. For anyone who commutes to college, perhaps the transition is not as stark (I wouldn’t know because I’ve only lived at school), but if you’re going from living at home your whole life to suddenly living in a dorm room with one or more strangers and taking care of yourself, there is absolutely no way to be fully prepared for it.

How could you be? You’ve never experienced anything like this before. You can’t go into it expecting to know every detail of how it will be.

Despite all this, I think I handled my transition pretty well. I figured out some of the things I did that worked, and others that didn’t. And here’s the thing: now that I’m a senior in college, I will be undergoing another one of these major changes, so I’m really writing this article to myself. All that being said, here’s Paul’s Guide to Major Life Transitions (Editor’s note: trademark pending), written specifically for transitioning into college.

1) Find a church

If you haven’t done so yet, do it right now.

Look up the school you’re going to (or the ones that you might go to if you haven’t committed yet), the city you’ll live it, etc., and find a church there. Doing that is way more important than anything I have to say in the coming paragraphs, so just stop reading this and go do that, it’s a better use of your time.

Then figure out how you’ll get there. Is the church close enough to walk to? You may want to give that a go. Will you have a car? If not, get in touch with your campus’ OCF advisor, president (talk to your regional leader if you can’t figure out who that is), or the parish priest of the church to see if someone could get you to church.

I am blessed with a parish here filled with people who were constantly offering to drive me to church, which was only a mile from my school. I got rides to every service I wanted to go to for three years until I finally got a car here.

I stress to you: do this now. Before you get to school. Once you get there you will be so overwhelmed with everything else going on that church can slip away way too easily. Do your research beforehand so that you can get in the habit of going to church early.

2) Be prepared, yet adaptable

This one is more my personal philosophy that may not work for you, but I’m thinking it might. You need just the right level of mental and physical preparation transitioning to college or elsewhere. Saying, “I’ll figure it out when I get there,” is probably not the best preparation method, yet if your planning is too detailed, you will be completely thrown off the first time something contradicts your plans.

You will want some ideas of how you will approach your classes, your social life, your church life, etc., but don’t write anything in stone in your head. There are so many factors that you can’t control, so write all of your plans in pencil with a great big eraser waiting to rewrite things as necessary.

(Side note: I strongly recommend taking this same approach with your major. Go into college knowing what you like and what you might want to do if you can, but keep an open mind and be willing to make adjustments to your plan.)

3) Do stuff

College is amazing. You get to be in an environment where your job in life is just to learn as much as you can, taking it all in from the experts, so that you can go out into the world and be the best you can be at whatever you do. So go take advantage of it. For example, my school brings in a guest speaker every week and gives pizza to anyone who goes and listens to the talk. I go as often as I can regardless of the topic because that’s what college is about.

Outside of academics, keep doing what you love. In my case, I had the opportunity to keep playing trombone after I got into college, so I joined the band and the orchestra. But even more importantly, try new stuff. One of the best decisions I made in college was joining the ultimate frisbee team. I knew nothing about the sport besides the rules when I went to my first practice, and I instantly fell in love with it.

(Editor’s note: We will neither confirm nor deny if this is Paul.

It is.)

College is about learning as much as you can and developing as a person, but that can happen outside of the classroom, lab, or lecture hall. My opinion is that if you live at school and the only commitments you have are class-related, you’re not doing college right.

4) Every once in awhile, remember you enjoy what you do.

Most college students would tell you college is overwhelming, and in my experience, they’re right. If you’ve been adding up all the things that I tell you I do, you may conclude that I’m a busy person, and sometimes I get stressed and collapse into a state of wanting to ignore my responsibilities.

But I found a trick to avoid reaching that state: it’s to remember that I actually do enjoy what I’m doing. My classes this semester are in psychology (my major), Spanish (my minor), and philosophy (I’m a nerd, so that’s my ‘fun class’).

(Editor’s note: this is also Paul.)

I chose to study that stuff because I enjoy it. I do music stuff and ultimate frisbee stuff because I enjoy those things, and the truth is that when I’m home too long for a break, I’m begging in my head for the opportunity to do all of them again. So basically what I’m saying is, have fun every step of the way.

5) Talk to adults

I didn’t do this intentionally, but a few times it came up. I’m guessing that many of the adults in your life have been to college: ask them about it. What did they enjoy? What weren’t they prepared for? What do they regret? What advice do they have? You’re allowed to learn from other people’s experiences, not just your own.

As with all my lists, these are the things that help me that I think would help you. What would you add? What would your friends in college/older siblings/parents add? I pray that your transition goes well, and that those of us currently in college can still take what we can from these lessons and apply it.


Paul Murray is a senior psychology major and Spanish minor at Franklin & Marshall College, and he attends Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Lancaster, PA. His home parish is St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in New Kensington, PA, and he has spent the past three summers serving as a counselor at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh Summer Camp and the Antiochian Village. In his free time, Paul ties prayer ropes and writes descriptions of himself in the third person for blog articles.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 0 Flares ×

St. Sophia’s Seminary Van Receives the Installation of the Official Logo

This post was originally published on this site

The Board of Trustees, faculty and entire Seminary student body is grateful to the Ukrainian Orthodox League for the most generous donation of the minivan (during the 2016 Annual UOL Convention, it was decided the League would fund raise to cover the cost of the van purchase) and to Affordable Zorick’s Signs in Philadelphia, PA (www.affordablesignguy.com) and Mr. Zinovij Belkin for the design and installation. The logo and installation was made possible through the generous donation from Mr. Vitaliy Hrytsay and VH Service Sign Company (www.vh-service.com) in Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Hrytsay is a parishioner of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA.  

From now one, whenever seminarians travel to parishes of the Church or All Saints Camp, look for the logo of St. Sophia Seminary.

St. Sophia’s Seminary Van Receives the Installation of the Official Logo

This post was originally published on this site

The Board of Trustees, faculty and entire Seminary student body is grateful to the Ukrainian Orthodox League for the most generous donation of the minivan (during the 2016 Annual UOL Convention, it was decided the League would fund raise to cover the cost of the van purchase) and to Affordable Zorick’s Signs in Philadelphia, PA (www.affordablesignguy.com) and Mr. Zinovij Belkin for the design and installation. The logo and installation was made possible through the generous donation from Mr. Vitaliy Hrytsay and VH Service Sign Company (www.vh-service.com) in Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Hrytsay is a parishioner of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA.  

From now one, whenever seminarians travel to parishes of the Church or All Saints Camp, look for the logo of St. Sophia Seminary.

Save the Date!  Fourth Small Parish Forum to be held July 13-15

This post was originally published on this site

SPFArchbishop Melchisedek and Bishop Paul with 2016 Small Parish Forum participants, Canton, OH.

The Orthodox Church in America’s Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania and Diocese of the Midwest will co-sponsor the fourth annual Small Parish Forum at Saint John the Baptist Church, New Kensington, PA July 13-15 2016.

“The Forum will focus on specific parish situations common to the numerous ‘small’ parishes throughout the OCA and other Orthodox jurisdictions,” said Joseph Kormos, Forum co-chairperson and Parish Development Ministry leader for the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania.  “Workshops and presentations will explore ways to assist parishes with memberships of 75 or fewer souls to achieve stability, build a positive self-image, and accept their calling to live a life in Christ without necessarily becoming ‘big’.

“Most Orthodox parishes are small, yet just as a clinic is not a large metropolitan hospital with fewer beds, so too small churches are not immature, mini-versions of larger parishes,” Mr. Kormos continued.  “Small parishes can bring people to Christ in intimate and exciting ways often unavailable to larger parishes.”

The theme of the 2017 Forum is “Becoming a Community of Engagement—On Behalf of All”.

“With this theme as a framework, we will explore how small parishes with limited resources can worship well, care for one another, teach, serve their community, communicate the parish to the neighborhood and share Christ’s love with others,” added Archpriest Daniel Rentel, Forum co-chairperson.

“Previous forums held in Byesville OH, Weirton WV and Canton OH were successful because people left with actionable ideas, tips and good practices valuable to clergy and lay leaders,” Mr. Kormos said.  “The agenda for the fourth Forum will include an array of speakers, case studies, interactive workshops, sessions focusing on worship, and parallel sessions for clergy and laity.”

Past Forums attracted attendees from seven OCA dioceses and four other Orthodox jurisdictions.

“The 2017 New Kensington, PA location is just a two-hour drive from Cleveland, four and a half hours from Detroit, less than four hours from Buffalo, and five hours from Philadelphia,” Mr. Kormos concluded.  “Over half of the OCA’s parishes are within a manageable drive of the site.”

Registration will open May 1.  To maintain an atmosphere of fellowship and dialogue, registration will be limited to 65 persons.  Sessions will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 13 and conclude at noon on Saturday, July 15.  Blocks of rooms will be reserved at local hotels.  The $100 per person registration fee will include meals, breaks, a hospitality reception and forum materials.  Attendees from the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and the Diocese of the Midwest are eligible for tuition rebates and grants to assist with travel costs.  Many other OCA Dioceses offer scholarships to small parishes desiring to send attendees.

Additional information will be posted as it is received.

« Older posts