On October 14th members of St. George Orthodox Church joined with other local Orthodox communities to help children in Philadelphia get ready for the start of a new school year. With the generous help of Tom's Shoes Focus was able to provide several thousand shoes for students in Philadelphia. It was our joy to once again be part of this wonderful way for students to start the school year with hopefully a little bounce in their step.
On the weekend of October 3-4 the St. George community welcomed Bp. THOMAS. On Saturday morning the Sunday school had breakfast with him and got to ask him questions about the vestments he wears, if he likes sports, and why he became a bishop. In the evening His Grace presided at Vespers and then joined the Parish Council for a wonderful dinner. On Sunday morning His Grace served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and preached on the need for us to reach out to the community around us and to love everyone we encounter and invite friends and neighbors and even strangers to the beauty of the Church. After Liturgy our parish family gathered in the Hall for a wonderful lunch provided through our communities loving hospitality.
One of the ways that Orthodox Christians remember those who have reposed is to make Kolyva. On August 29th after celebrating the Liturgy for the Beheading of St John the Forerunner some of our parish family gathered with Fr.Joel and Anastasia to discuss the history of Kolyva and to learn to make it. It was a delicious time for everyone.
On October 18th the community of St. George hosted a Choir Workshop lead by Nadeen Nerenberg. This event, a project of the eastern PA clergy, was a chance to bring a small taste of the Sacred Music Institute to those of our parishioners who are unable to attend the regular SMI. Nadeen was a great fit for this program because she was once the Choir Director for St. George under Fr. Anthony Bassoline. The day began with the 15+ participants chanting the Supplication service of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. This was followed by a light meal and some fellowship. The 1st session of Nadeen’s presentation was a reading of an article once written by Bp. BASIL that addressed the solemnity of the choir ministry. It truly helped to set the tone as one of worship. Having addressed the spiritual side of singing in the Church the 2nd session was dedicated to understanding our physical space and preparation for singing the services. Nadeen covered such things as basic breathing exercises, how to look at the director and not always the book, and how to listen to those around us. The attendees took a break for lunch and more fellowship, enjoying the learning experience and getting to know each other. The final session of the workshop had the participants look at music from different Orthodox traditions and practice them. The goal was to show how each tradition spoke of the same faith while using different melodies; that the belief was the same even if the music was a little different. The day ended with the chanters and combined choir singing the Vespers service. Our hope is that this event can become an annual gathering here in eastern PA.
Our parish was blessed to have Bp. THOMAS visit October 3 - 5. During these days he met with students from some of the local OCFs, some of our Sunday school children, our Ladies and our Parish Council. The weekend culminated with His Grace presiding at the Divine Liturgy. On Monday October the 6th Bp. THOMAS visited with the 8th grade class of St. Laurence Roman Catholic School. His Grace and Fr. Joel spoke with them about some of the similarities and differences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
The Convent of St. Thekla is a monastic community for nuns in Glenville, PA, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
Mother Justina is the Abbess of the Convent. She and Sister Katharina form the community of nuns at present. The Very Reverend Mark Sahady is the Chaplain for the Convent. Mother Justina is a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and raised in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. She received her monastic formation in the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Kaftoun, Lebanon, where she was in residence for 18 years.
Sister Kathrina is a native of Homs, Syria, and raised in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. She received her monastic formation at the Convent of St. Thekla in Maaloula, Syria, where she was in residence for 15 years
Father Mark Sahady is a native of the area an hour South of Pittsburgh, PA, and raised in the Antiochian Orthodox Church of St Ellien in Brownsville, PA. He is a graduate of St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY, in the class of 1989. His wife’s name is Barbara. He served as the pastor of the Church of St. Mary in Wilkes-Barre, PA, from 1989-1994 while serving as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. He became a full-time active duty chaplain in the Air Force in 1994 and after having served at various bases in the U.S., in Ramstein, Germany and Tokyo, Japan, he retired in 2014 to serve at the monastery.
St Thekla Convent is a place for prayer through personal prayer and community worship. Visitors are welcome, however, please call 717-630-8298 and speak with the Abbess to make such arrangements. Prayer is to the Christian what food is to the hungry. Without prayer our spirits die. We become carnal and spiritually dead without nourishment for our soul. Without prayer, we belong to the earth instead of heaven; we lose not only our communication but also our communion with God. Prayer begins when we open our hearts to God and proceeds into silence, the language of heaven. It is in silence that we learn to hear and know God. God is not far away that we need to strain to hear or know Him. God lives within our heart of hearts or the spirit within the spirit, what the Church fathers call the nous. Only with a quiet mind and a quiet heart can one begin to hear the ‘still, small voice’ of God. (Joy Corey, from her book, The Tools of Spiritual Warfare)
Please, keep the monastery, Mother Justina, her sisterhood and Fr Mark in your prayers.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has announced the following three appointments for the Convent of St. Thekla in Glenville, PA. The Convent of St. Thekla is a monastic community of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
Effective immediately, Mother Eisodia is appointed the Acting Abbess of the convent, and Sister Kathrina will join the community. Effective September 1, 2014, Very Rev. Mark Sahady is appointed the Chaplain of the Convent following his retirement from the Air Force.
Mother Eisodia is a native of Los Angeles, California, and she attended college in Portland, Oregon. She has worked in the secular world as an engineer, and was raised in the Presbyterian faith. Her journey to Orthodoxy was fulfilled with her reception into the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. She received her monastic formation in Greece, and later moved to the U.S. She has travelled to Orthodox monasteries in Romania, Greece, Great Britain, France, and Mexico.
Sister Kathrina is a native of Homs, Syria, and received her education in Syria. She received her monastic formation at the Convent of St. Thekla in Maaloula, Syria, where she was in residence for more than 10 years. We welcome her to the U.S. as she comes here for the first time.
Father Mark Sahady is currently a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force and holds the rank of Lt. Col. He is a native of Waynesburg, PA, and is a graduate of St. Vladimir Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, NY in the class of 1989. He has served as the pastor of St. Mary Church in Wilkes Barre, PA, and initially was a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. He became a full-time active duty chaplain in the Air Force in 1994. In addition to his service at various bases in the U.S., Fr. Mark has served in Ramstein, Germany and Tokyo, Japan. He will assume his duties as chaplain to the convent in September 2014, after his retirement from the Air Force.
We rejoice in these appointments, and thank God for the blessings that he has bestowed upon our newly formed monastic community in Glenville, PA. May the work of this community be always blessed.
Join us and the parishes throughout the Archdiocese of New York and Washington D.C. and the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic as we pray, work and minister together. The host parish this year is St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA. For more information and a schedule please visit:
St. Paul Orthodox Church - PLC 2013