YES — “Youth Equipped to Serve” — offers a wonderful opportunity for faithful ages 13 through college to serve and love the people of Chicago. FOCUS — the “Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve” — is a national movement of Orthodox Christians, united in faith and joined by a desire to provide action-oriented and sustainable solutions to poverty in communities across America. FOCUS has operations and offers youth volunteer experiences in more than 50 cities in the USA. As an expression of Christ’s love, FOCUS North America serves the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned by providing food, occupation, clothing, understanding, and shelter.
Participants may register on-line. Early registration is encouraged as the program will be limited to 35 participants, who will be lodged at All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church, Chicago. The service learning weekend will come to a close following the Divine Liturgy there on Sunday, April 30.
A registration gift of $150.00 per participant will cover all program expenses, make it possible for YES to prepare and execute the program, and enable FOCUS’ service team to meet the needs of those who be served through the program.
Questions may be addressed to Katrina Bitar, YES Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Larissa Hatch, Trip Leader, at email@example.com.
The Spring Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America will be held at the Chancery here from Tuesday, March 28 through Friday, March 31, 2017.
According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, the meeting will open with the address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. Reports from the OCA’s Officers — Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor; Melanie Ringa, Treasurer; and Father Eric — will be presented, as will updates by Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs; the OCA General Counsel; and representatives of the Church’s boards, departments, commissions and other offices. Especially highlighted will be the work of the OCA Department of Christian Education and the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid, while an update on the OCA’s communications efforts and web site also will be presented. In addition, the Board of Theological Education will present the list of ordination candidates through the Diaconal Vocations Program.
Initial plans for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the glorification of Saint Herman of Alaska and the autocephaly of the OCA, both of which will be observed in 2020, and this year’s 100th Anniversary of the election of Saint Tikhon as Patriarch of Moscow, also will be reviewed.
On Wednesday evening, March 29, members of the Holy Synod will meet with graduating OCA students from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, who will sing the responses at the celebration of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.
The Holy Synod of Bishops is the supreme canonical authority in the Orthodox Church in America. Chaired by the Metropolitan, the Synod includes as voting members all diocesan bishops.
After six years of conflict, International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC] is urging continued support for programs to meet the needs of Syrian children and adolescents who face food insecurity, lack access to education, and bear deep psychological scars. Children displaced by the conflict in Syria, as well as those who are now refugees outside of the country, require support to address all aspects of their health and wellbeing.
The situation of more than 5.6 million children inside Syria, where IOCC has maintained an active presence since 2012 in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch’s Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (GOPA-DERD), remains the most desperate.
“The real danger for Syrian children and their families,” explained Mark Ohanian, IOCC Senior Director of Middle East Programs, “is not just the immediate need for humanitarian aid to sustain them physically, but the long-term effects on their wellbeing caused by the trauma they have experienced and disruptions to their lives.”
Majida, a 26-year-old refugee from Homs living in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, was unable to breastfeed her infant son Nader because of renal disease. He is just one of more than 1,000 Syrian refugee children in the Bekaa Valley who have been screened by IOCC staff. Ten percent of the children screened were found to be at-risk of malnutrition, either because of underlying medical conditions or lack of support for nursing mothers. In addition to providing breastfeeding assistance, children found to be at-risk are provided with protein-rich, high-calorie supplements to promote their healthy development.
Through screening and simple interventions, the prognosis for Nader has improved and his wellbeing has also benefitted his family. “A mother’s milk is the best nutrition for the baby as it provides immunity, while the bottle might catch germs and cause the baby to get ill. Nader is in better health with breastfeeding, and we are able to cut down our expenses and spend on other priorities in the difficult conditions we are living in,” Majida said.
Even for otherwise healthy Syrian children, the war is taking its toll. Three million Syrian children born since the beginning of the conflict have experienced prolonged fear from bombings and violence, the loss of family members and friends, and anxiety caused by repeated dislocation and uncertainty.
In an effort to address the trauma on Syrian children, IOCC and its partners began establishing Dream Centers to provide child-friendly environments for Syrian children who are homeless, orphaned, displaced and those with disabilities. Four centers, including one serving Aleppo, in Syria have been established to date to provide psychosocial support, offer instruction in personal care and hygiene, problem-solving and non-violent communication, as well as how to express their feelings and respond and adapt to challenging social situations. Participating children and their parents learn through theater, sports, games, art and other interactive sessions that take place over the course of three months. The program is supervised by a psychiatrist who follows up with the children requiring additional support.
School-aged children also face increasing obstacles to receiving an education. The UN estimates that one in four Syrian schools have been damaged, destroyed, or occupied and more than half of Syrian children are out of school. In Lebanon, which hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country, eight out of every ten Syrian refugee children are not enrolled in school.
In Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Greece, IOCC is providing remedial classes in English, math, and other subjects to keep children engaged and minimize gaps in learning so that they are able to return to formal education. School uniforms, required in many countries, are also being provided to children. Inside Syria, IOCC has employed Syrian women displaced by the conflict to make school uniforms. The cash-for-work program provides children with the uniforms required for school and much-needed income for the women and their families who are often dependent on aid to survive. In rural Damascus and elsewhere in Syria, children and their teachers show remarkable resilience. During cold winter months, many children went to school wrapped in coats and scarves without electricity or heat so that they would not fall behind.
The Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is inviting graduate and recent post-graduate students to apply for its fellowships at the United Nations. (show less)
Scout Sunday is an annual event among all faiths which recognize the good work that is done by Scouts in our religious communities. The observance of Scout Sunday tradition was started years ago to make people in the church aware of Scouting, and to allow Scouts to live out of what is pledged each week. (show less)
The Assembly of Bishops has designated January 15, 2017 as Orthodox Christian Network "Share the Light Sunday". Now more than ever, we need to focus on the next generation of Orthodox leaders. The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has decided to take this concern and address it in a real and impactful way. In addition to our strong media ministry presence on multiple platforms, we will spend 2017 focusing on identifying and highlighting thirty Orthodox individuals who exhibit strong leadership and mentor skills in their community and who are under the age of thirty. (show less)
WHEATON COLLEGE HOST FREE PUBLIC SCREENING OF THE NEW DOCUMENTARY “MODERN CHRISTIAN MARTYRS”
QUESTION/ANSWER SESSION WILL FEATURING INDIVIDUALS INTERVIEWED FOR DOCUMENTARY
WHEATON, IL: The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago is honored to join with Wheaton College to offer a FREE Public Screening of the new documentary “Modern Christian Martyrs” on March 29, 2017, at 7:00pm in Blanchard Hall, room 339, on the campus of Wheaton College. A Question/Answer Session will follow featuring Greek Orthodox Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Antiochian Orthodox Father Nicholas Dahdal, and Robert Sweise of the Chicago Chapter of In Defense of Christians, all of whom are in the documentary.
This FREE event which is open to the public will be hosted by Wheaton College’s Department of Politics and International Relations, the Center for Urban Engagement and the World Christian Fellowship together with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago and will take place in Blanchard Hall, room 339, on the campus of Wheaton College.
The documentary “Modern Christian Martyrs” concerns the ongoing Genocide of the Christian minority population of the Syria, focusing on the Alkhoury family of Chicago and featuring Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Bishop Munib Younan, US Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Father Nicholas Dahdal, Reverend Stan Davis and Rabbi Michael Balinsky, just to name a few. The documentary was produced by the Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministeries and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago and has been aired on The Live Well Channel 7.2 each Sunday throughout March. The documentary is available on the website of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago; www.Chicago.GoArch.org.
The general public is invited to this FREE Public Screening and media coverage of this unique event would be appreciated. Media is encouraged to contact John Ackerman, Director of Media Relations for the Metropolis of Chicago, to assist with your coverage and arrange interviews. This event is being Hosted by Wheaton College’s Department of Politics and International Relations, the Center for Urban Engagement and the World Christian Fellowship along with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. Interviews with Greek Orthodox Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Antiochian Orthodox Father Nicholas Dahdal, Robert Sweise of the Chicago Chapter of In Defense of Christians and others can be arranged following the event.
Contact: John C. Ackerman Director of Media Relations Phone: (309)635-7624 Email: John@JohnCAckerman.com
Chicago, IL: The Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, together with an anonymous donor from California and the Greek America Foundation’s Project Hope for Greece, recently helped repair two commercial fishing boats, restoring the livelihoods of their owners on the Greek island of Lesvos. The boats were severely damaged in winter storms this January following their use throughout much of 2015-2016 to rescue refugees whose own boats stranded or were sinking in the Aegean Sea.
“When I learned of this story, I immediately desired to do all I could to help these fishermen who had helped so many others,” said Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, assisting in the administration of 58 parishes in six Midwestern states.
“Mine was a small part, but it was important that these two generous men, who had set aside their commercial interests to assist their fellow human beings in time of crisis, not also be victims,” said Bishop Demtrios, “I was glad to assist where I could.”
Thanos and Kostas were amongst the Greek islanders from the tiny village of Skala Sikamnias who were thrust into the center of the worst refugee crisis Europe has experienced in generations. Almost a million people landed on their island and a majority of them arrived in rafts in and around their tiny village — with its population less than 100 permanent residents.
For much of 2015 and 2016, they were forced to stop fishing for fish and instead, they became part of an integral team of average people saving lives — plucking children and helpless people from the waters around their once-peaceful village. Often times, they were awakened in the middle of the night and asked to rush to the scene of sinking rafts to pull people out of the water and bring them to safety.
This past January, Lesvos experienced snowstorms never before seen on the Aegean island. Extensive damage to livestock, crops, olive trees and citrus trees sustained heavy damage from the snowstorm and extreme weather conditions. Thanos and Kostas also took a hit. Their fishing boats — their sole livelihood — were also destroyed, submerged in the water with electrical and mechanical equipment destroyed, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damages and making their boats inoperable.
“We weren’t able to fish and make a living because we chose to help human beings survive, and now that we want to reclaim our lives, we have this,” Thanos said of the tragic irony that befell him and his fellow fisherman, Kostas.
Far away in Beverly Hills, California — one man with no direct connection to two fisherman in a tiny Greek fishing village of Lesvos— made a gift that would not only impact the fisherman, but their entire community. Watching the news unfold about the tragic fate of the fisherman who did so much to help thousands of humans, he couldn’t sit back and do nothing.
The donor — who chose to remain anonymous — wanted Thanos and Kostas to get back to fishing and feeding their families and their community, so he decided to act, making a $28,000 gift and also reaching out to friends who also pitched in to make up the difference needed and create this ripple effect of kindness.
In coordination with the Greek America Foundation’s Project Hope for Greece campaign and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, the donation was made and monies were directed to the purchase of new motors, mechanical electrical equipment, as well as all of the labor and logistics needed to get the equipment to the tiny village all the way from Athens to repair the two damaged fishing boats.
In the end — a donor in California, inspired by news thousands of miles away was motivated to act, while two Greek American community organizations mobilized their resources to help two worthy Greek villagers reclaim their livelihoods for their own good, and also the good of their entire community.
Contact: John C. Ackerman Director of Media Relations Phone: (309)635-7624 Email: John@JohnCAckerman.com
With this light that shines in our hearts we will also offer a witness through our observance of Lent and through our lives. As we know and experience God’s grace, others will see His offering of forgiveness. They will see the power of grace to transform life and bring healing and restoration. They will find salvation in Christ as the grace of God works in and through us to show all His redeeming love. (show less)
This period is one of constant contrition before the mystery of God that daily unfolds before us, the mystery of our salvation. This is why the opportunity granted to us with the Sacred Fast has a special characteristic: the renewal and vigilance of the soul that is called for during this time filled with divine exhortation and sanctity to become aware of the ephemeral and material, while gradually being transferred to the eternal and spiritual. (show less)