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CSHACSHA members Matushka Kitty Vitko, Donna Karabin, Arlene Kallaur and Nancy Van Dyken with the nuns of the Monastery of the Transfiguration.

The start of the new year brings with it the opportunity for the departments of the Orthodox Church in America to review and evaluate past accomplishments and establish goals for the months ahead.

In mid-December 2016, four members of the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid [CSHA] met at the Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PA to review the department’s ministry and plans for the year ahead.  Joining Donna Karabin, Department Chair, at the meeting were Matushka Kitty Vitko, McLean, VA; Arlene Kallaur, Syosset, NY; and Nancy Van Dyken, Bozeman, MT.

In their effort to promote and strengthen compassionate ministries by clergy and laity at all levels of the Church—especially Matthew 25, parish, senior and family life ministries—the department members considered a variety of prospects for 2017.

  • A summer Parish Ministries Conference, focusing on the theme of “Helping the Hurting in our Families, Parishes and Communities,” is being planned.  Particulars—still “in the works”—will be submitted for the blessing of the Holy Synod of Bishops in the spring.
  • In line with the challenge of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon at recent Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council meetings, CSHA plans to partner with the Office of Institutional Chaplaincies to offer mentor development to support and bolster the establishment of “Compassion in Action” programs in every parish.
  • CSHA continues to promote two documents offering an Orthodox Christian approach to living wills and end-of-life issues.  A Gift for My Loved Ones offers essential resources should one become disabled or incapacitated and unable to make decisions.  The document includes examples of Health Care Power of Attorney and Advance Directives for Health Care.  A companion resource—Another Gift for My Loved Ones—offers advanced directives that may be used in planning funerals and interments.
  • New articles for the popular on-line Parish Ministry Resources will report on the OCA’s involvement in two successful pan-Orthodox Matthew 25 outreach programs and related topics.  Articles on successful parish ministries are always welcomed.  For details on submitting articles please contact Donna Karabin at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

CSHA members also spent time in retreat with the Mother Christophora and the monastic sisterhood and deeply appreciated their warm hospitality.