Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Welcome to a special edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy,” the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church.
Segment 1: News from around the Globe
Metropolitan Philip Saliba (1931-2014): In Memoriam
This week, we’ll be highlighting the life and legacy of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, who reposed in the Lord on March 19th.
Metropolitan Philip was the longest-serving Orthodox primate in the United States, having served at the helm of the Antiochian Archdiocese for nearly half a century since the age of 35. He oversaw a period of tremendous growth. When he was enthroned in 1966, there were about 60 parishes in the Archdiocese. Today, there are more than 260.
Metropolitan Philip was known in this country as the most passionate advocate of Orthodox unity and evangelism, calling for an American Orthodox church open to converts and engaged in witness to the broader society.
In the Middle East, he was known as a passionate supporter of education and human rights. In the wake of the Israeli-Arab conflict of 1967, the Metropolitan became an international figure, meeting with presidents of multiple countries, including presidents of the United States, and coordinating responses to humanitarian crises, especially for Christians in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and, later, in Iraq.
In his role as primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese for almost half a century, his influence and successes are too numerous to list. Four accomplishments are often held up as being particularly significant.
In 1975, he healed a longstanding schism amongst Antiochian Christians here in America, uniting all Antiochian churches into one Archdiocese.
In 1978, he founded the Antiochian Village in rural Bolivar, Pennsyvlania, which has since grown into one of the most successful summer camps for Orthodox children in the nation.
In 1987, some two thousand (2,000) Evangelical Christians embraced the canonical Orthodox Church after Metropolitan Philip famously welcomed them en masse. Leaders of these formerly Protestant churches proved to be essential in the Archdiocese’s later efforts at evangelism and in projects like the Orthodox Study Bible.
In 2003, the Antiochian Archdiocese requested and received “self-rule” status from the Patriarchate of Antioch, after which it reorganized itself along diocesan lines and added three new bishops.
Several days of viewings, a regular cycle of Trisagion services, and the funeral for His Eminence were held at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York from March 26th through the 29th. He will be buried on Monday, March 31 at the Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania, near the tomb of his predecessor, St. Raphael of Brooklyn, the very first Orthodox bishop in this country to minister to Orthodox Christians of Arab heritage.
All of us here at OCN join in praying for the repose of Metropolitan Philip’s soul and offer condolences to our Antiochian brethren. May his memory be eternal!
New Website to Feature Mayan Orthodoxy
Our next story highlights another area in which the Orthodox Church is growing in exciting ways.
A new website, MayanOrthodoxy.com, has launched to tell the amazing story of the tens of thousands of Mayan people who have recently converted to the Orthodox Church.
In 2010, a famous Guatemalan priest, Fr. Andres Girón, entered the Orthodox Church along with his flock of tens of thousands of native Mayan people.
Although these new Orthodox believers have more than 300 churches, there are currently only 8 priests, leaving each priest to serve as many as 50 parishes, often spread across a vast expanse of mountainous territory, located in very rural, small villages to which it is hard to travel.
To make matters even more complicated, as indigenous Mayan people, most of the Orthodox believers in Guatemala speak one of seven different native languages, not Spanish, as their first language, and may not speak Spanish at all.
Thanks to the efforts of two Orthodox priests from the United States, a seminary is being started to train native priests, and a project is being planned to translate important Orthodox texts, such as the Divine Liturgy, into the native languages and dialects.
Visit MayanOrthodoxy.com for more information, including an interactive Google map of the rural churches and updates from the missionaries themselves.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship Concludes “Real Break” With Trip to Romania
Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the official collegiate campus ministry program of the Assembly of Bishops, is wrapping up a month of “Real Break” excursions.
Real Break encourages college students to spend their Spring Break traveling to religious sites and doing humanitarian work in the name of Christ.
Trips this year have included service projects in Detroit, Honduras, Constantinople, Guatemala, Alaska, New Orleans, and Romania.
The trip to Romania is just wrapping up. Students traveled to the remote village of Valea Plopului, where the local priest has encouraged members of his community to take in about 220 orphans, handicapped children, future mothers who have been sent away by their families, and children from families with financial hardships.
The villagers themselves accept these children into their homes, and the priest has established a private charity to help cover some of the costs. Because the villagers earn their living through agricultural activities and small crafts, their incomes are extremely small and it is a significant cost to feed so many kids.
The American students on the Real Break trip worked on maintenance projects at the charity’s facilities, as well as interacted with the children who live there. They also spent a day seeing some of the sites and Orthodox churches in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
Segment 2: News from OCN
Two Special Events Happening at OCN on April 7th
Be sure to visit our website on Monday, April 7th for two special programs.
First, at 7 PM Eastern Time, The Ark, OCN’s online radio station featuring contemporary Orthodox music, will be streaming Pascha Around the World, a live show featuring the music of Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pacha as it is heard in parishes and monasteries of many different musical styles and ethnic traditions.
Also, be sure to look for our latest podcast, launching that same day. “Orthodox Life with Fr Jason Roll” is a casual, catechetical show for Orthodox young adults and emerging leaders, aimed at discussing contemporary moral issues in addition to teachings of the faith. The pilot episode is entitled “What is Orthodox life?”
That’s it for “This Week in Orthodoxy.” Let us know if you enjoyed watching. See you next week!