Nick Mavrick served on the OCN Board of Directors. The OCN Board consists of volunteers, who are also donors, and are passionate about giving back to the Orthodox Church. We welcome other volunteers to join us.
Father Philemon Patitsas, Presiding Priest of the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church (Naples, FL) , presented the, “Call to Action, in Defense of Persecuted Christians”, during the First Annual National Christian Rights Freedom Symposium whose theme was, “Uplifting Christ, Witnessing for Our Faith in the Face of Radical Extremis”, on March 14, 2015.
Highlights of Father Philemon’s presentation:
While introducing the “Call to Action, in Defense of Persecuted Christians”, Fr. Philemon, prepared the audience with these words of hope on prayer,
“Pure prayer elevates our innermost yearnings to God, and is the most powerful force for good in this world. The Prophet Jonah said it clearly, “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.” (Jonah 2:2). Taking courage in this, the Psalmist David pleaded with God saying, “Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. ” (Psalm 130:1); and elsewhere he proclaimed that, “deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7) – recognizing that the very depths of our being cry out to God for divine rescue from Him who is able to rescue because He surpasses all depths, and ascends beyond all heights.
Pure prayer, therefore, provides the possibility of our soul’s return and union with the One God who, in His very essence and being, is Holy, Mighty and Immortal; but, there is a necessary element if our prayer is to be effective: “Humility”. We read in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that God appeared to Solomon after the building and dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem saying, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And what is “Humility”, we may ask? John Dickson in his award winning book, “Humilitas” has written that Humility is, “the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself.” Humility, therefore is faith in action.
The Holy Apostle James said it well, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26) As we absorb the messages and insights of our Symposium Speakers, let us pray about how we can put our faith into action in defense of our persecuted Christian brethren throughout the world.”
During the outset of his presentation, Fr. Philemon summarized the dramatic apocalyptic events occurring across Africa, The Middle East and Asia Minor: the systematic torture, maiming, crucifixion, mass execution and other disgusting, vile and offensive treatments of Christians. In repeating the slogan “Enough is Enough”, Fr. called everyone to action on behalf of the persecuted Christians, warned of the dangers of apathy, and pricked everyone’s conscience to organize and mobilize at the grass roots level, Parish by Parish, in defense of Christian rights and freedoms, and for Christians throughout the world to peacefully co-exist with everyone.
Quoting Nazi concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.”
And also quoting the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Fr. Philemon then expanded upon each of the respective elements of the Call to Action and inspired everyone to 1) Preserve our Christian Identity, 2) Organize Ourselves for Success, 3) Educate Ourselves and Others, 4) Dialogue with the Public, 5) Stand up for Ourselves, and 6) Invest for Success.
In concluding his remarks Fr. Philemon invited the audience to view a touching video entitled “Myriam’s Story and Song (Pray for Myriam)”, which is the story of a 10-year old Iraqi Christian girl, whose family was forced to flee their home near Mosul when ISIS took control of their town in mid 20014. They fled to Irbil, in the relatively safe area of the autonomous region of Kurdistan where they live as refugees. As Myriam recounts her story and sings a beautiful loving song praising the Glory of God, her innocence and ability to forgive and, yes, love her oppressors, becomes apparent to all, thereby exemplifying the theme of the Symposium, “Uplifting Christ, Witnessing to our faith in the face of radical extremism”. The house was moved to tears!
About Father Philemon Patitsas:
Father Philemon Patitsas is the Presiding Priest of the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church (Naples, FL). Ordained by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta after completing degrees at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Master of Divinity) and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (Master of Public Administration), Fr. Philemon entered the Holy Priesthood after a distinguished 20-year career as an MBA degreed Petroleum Engineer and business executive with Fortune 50 Chemical and Petroleum companies, most recently as Global Marketing Manager with Praxair Semiconductor Materials. In addition to spearheading the Christian Rights and Freedom Ministry and Growth Ministries at St. Katherine, Fr. Philemon is a member of the Board of Directors of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (St. Augustine, FL), serves on the Atlanta Metropolis’ Strategic Planning Committee, and Chairs the Village Planning Committee, an effort to establish an active living community at the Atlanta Metropolis’ Diakonia Center (220 acres in Salem, SC). He and Presvytera Maria are blessed with a son and two daughters.
7 Steps: How You Can Help in Defense of Persecuted Christians
The co-chairs of the Christian Rights and Freedom Ministry (Dr. Harry Dimopoulos, Archon Harry Demas and Richard Pappas) and Father Philemon Patitsas of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church (Naples, FL) invite your questions and involvement. The following 7 steps can assist you in “Uplifting Christ, Witnessing for Our Faith in the Face of Radical Extremism”:
1. Preserve Our Christian Identity
- Align our minds and hearts with God’s calling. See Christ in others.
- Glorify God daily; PRAY, fast & give alms.
- Identify empathetically with the plight of persecuted Christians of the world.
2. Organize Ourselves for Success
- Establish Christian Rights and Freedom ministries in communities throughout America. Do you belong to one?
- Organize local events & initiatives to educate, advocate, defend & counteract the antagonists of our faith.
3. Educate Ourselves and Others
- ’Know Ourselves’ – Study our history, faith & culture
- Develop clear policy positions so the public knows where we stand.
- Expose misinformation to the light of truth.
4. Dialogue with the Public
- Network with people concerned about the rise of Islamofascism.
- Boycott producers of products that may be underwriting radical extremism & terrorism, such as oil produced by certain member states.
- Advocate for energy self-sufficiency for America, and alternative energy sourcing options.
- Advocate withholding foreign aid and military assistance to countries that are not aligned with our national interests.
5. Stand Up for Ourselves
- Establish “Anti-Defamation Teams’ to call out Christophobes.
- Petition officials who have the ability to influence public policy.
- Advocate for economic sanctions; exercise our freedom of assembly.
6. Invest in the Cause
- Donate to organizations that help the oppressed and promote the preservation of Western culture and values.
- Fund infrastructure & activities that advance the cause of Christian Rights & Freedom
7. Purchase a ‘I Too Am a Nazarene’ pin
Purchase a ‘I Too Am a Nazarene’ pin to benefit persecuted Christians and refugees in the Middle East Conflict. The Arabic letter “N” has been painted by ISIS/ISIL to target the homes of Christians for expulsion and obliteration. The symbol “N” stands for ‘Nazarene’ signifying that its residents are followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Pins are on sale through the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox church’s website. Pins are one inch square, and sell for $5 each, plus shipping and handling, shipping is waived for orders over 50 pins.
All proceeds from pin sales will be directed to the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Middle East Fund to aid these suffering people. IOCC has had a continual presence in that part of the world almost since its inception in 1992, and was chosen as the recipient because its effectiveness in providing relief to the suffering people of the Middle East.
All churches and concerned organizations are encouraged to participate. For further information please contact ChristianRelief7100@gmail.com.
About First Annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium
On Saturday, March 14, 2015, St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Naples Florida and the South Florida Archons hosted its first annual National Christian Rights and Freedom Symposium – ‘Uplifting Christ and Witnessing for our Faith in the Face of Radical Extremism.
The First Annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium featured several prominent speakers including Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander and Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Rev. Father Fouad Saba, Dean of the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral (Coral Gables, FL), Father Philemon Patitsas, Presiding Priest of the St. Katherine Greek orthodox Church (Naples, FL), John Scurtis, Regional Commander and Archon, Harry Demas, Archon, and Dr. Harry Dimopoulos, Chairman of the Christian Rights and Freedom Ministry
To watch video highlights of the First Annual National Christian Rights and Freedom Symposium, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnDiwtAs52o.
To learn more about the First Annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium visit http://stkatherine.net.
By Nick Mavrick
You can find Nick Mavrick on Google+