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.