This Week in Orthodoxy, January 15th, 2016

This Week in Orthodoxy, January 15th, 2016



Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy”, the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church. I’m Emmy Louvaris. These are some of the stories making headlines this week.

  • Orthodox Christians Worldwide celebrate Epiphany in many different ways
  • The Philoxenia Mission House for Mayo Clinic  opens its doors to all faiths
  • OCN launches its Digital Disciples Scholarship Program

First up, Epiphany Celebrations worldwide and state side bring Orthodox faithful together.

Also referred to as Theophany, Epiphany commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ and when the Trinity was revealed to us.

From Cyprus, EURONEWS   reported that the first Epiphany in over 42 years was celebrated in the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta! 1200 Orthodox faithful attended Epiphany celebrations at the St George Church for the first time since the Turkish invasion against Cyprus in 1974!

Being able to return to the occupied side of Cyprus, even just for the day, was bitter-sweet for many.

Euronews reported that Greek Cypriot Philippos Yiapanis, stated, “This is a very moving moment for me … our presence here means we haven’t forgotten, and we still believe one day we will return,” But until that time, the faithful had to return home and leave their beloved parish behind.

And from Turkey, according to the Greek Reporter the First Greek Orthodox Epiphany Celebration took place in Izmir since the 1922 Catastrophe!  The city of Smyrna, today named Izmir, is remembered for the tragic Great Fire of Smyrna, where thousands of Greek and Armenian were massacred.

Through the Ministry of the Interior, the Turkish government issued a license, to hold the service in public, across from the old Greek consulate.

Father Kyrillos Sykis was elated to make the announcement.

The remaining Orthodox community includes about 300 Greeks, while there are also many other Orthodox ethnicities including Russian and Georgian bringing the total between 7,000 and 8,000 faithful.

Father Sykis said, “It’s nice to see the Orthodox faithful able to express their faith and customs in Izmir/Smyrna once more.  And we pray for many more years to come!”

And closer to home, in Tarpon Springs, FL Epiphany was first Celebrated by Greek settlers in 1903, held in a Episcopal church with a few people attending but now it is the largest in the western hemisphere and takes place on January 6th.

Over 20,000 spectators watched as 49 boys, ages 16-18 dove into the Spring Bayou to retrieve the cross, tossed in by Archbishop Demetrios. One young man successfully emerged with the blessed cross in hand from the New Port Richey community of St. George.

While milder Florida weather makes diving for the cross more conducive, some towns are not so lucky!

In Tulsa, OK, three area churches, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, St. Antony Orthodox Christian Church and Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church,

were very creative in their Epiphany celebration last Sunday by blessing the water of the Arkansas River with a cross chiseled from ice, instead of one made of wood.

With temperatures too cold to dive to retrieve the cross, this seemed like the best way to bless the waters without worrying about losing it.

The ice sculpture, carved by Fr. George Eber, was not the only cross in the river that morning.  Little ice crosses were also available for the children to toss in as well.

The crosses simply melted away and continued blessing the waters as they flowed through the river.

And in Florence, SC, families of the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church held their Inaugural Blessing at Oakdale Lake in honor of Epiphany.

As part of Saturday’s service, a basket full of reed crosses made by the church’s Sunday school students was immersed in holy water and then cast into the lake to carry the blessings downstream – Parish priest, Fr. Athanasios Haros said,  “When Orthodox Christians bless material things, we are asking God to use those things for a special purpose. Especially in the case of water, which is the single most important physical requirement for life, blessing water means blessing life itself…whether to the Atlantic or into the nest of birds or other animals that might find the material useful’.

Next up, Philoxenia Mission Across the Mayo Clinic will be Open to All.  Saint’s Kosmas & Damianos Greek Orthodox Church in Rochester, Minnesota, is proud to announce that their Philoxenia Mission located across the street from the world renowned Mayo Clinic will now be made available to individuals from all faiths, looking for shelter while family members receive treatment.

Originally opened in 2004 to provide shelter to Orthodox families, the Philoxenia Mission Committee recently voted to expand their reach by offering the facilities to members of all faiths.

For over a decade we have served hundreds of fellow Orthodox Christians who have come to Rochester seeking medical treatment. It has been our distinct honor to shelter them, love them, and cherish their dynamic presence within our local parish family” explains Father Mark Muñoz. “Notwithstanding the much ‘good’ God has allowed us to realize over the years, we recognized the fact that we were limiting our focus to assisting those who share the same faith, tradition, and many times cultural background”.

Father Muñoz continued by stating, “All are welcomed into God’s eternal and Heavenly Kingdom“. Now all in need are welcomed at the Philoxenia House Mission!

Consisting of two houses, many families have been hosted from throughout the United States and internationally including Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ukraine and Venezuela. both are fully furnished and feature all the comforts of living in a home away from home, for family members of patients who are  receiving care at the Mayo Clinic.

Also located nearby, is the Saint Kosmas & Damianos Greek Orthodox Church where for  years, Father Mark Muñoz and his parishioners have been ministering to the patients of the Mayo Clinic and have always opened their parish and their hearts to anyone looking for Christ’s healing and comforting touch.

For more information, please visit

And lastly Disciples Fishing in a Digital Ocean: OCN opens a Media Lab at Holy Cross Hellenic College Holy Cross.  The calling is the same: to be fishers of men. In the early days of Christianity, “fishing” was as simple as speaking face to face, and the challenges were in the dangers of travelling and in publicly speaking about the good news of Jesus Christ.  Today the dangers may not be so different, but how we go about fishing for men is.

Made possible by a generous donation, the OCN Media Ministry Lab at Hellenic College Holy Cross was funded by the OCN Board. In addition to their studies, students now have the opportunity to learn how to apply the many areas of internet and digital media in setting and casting a wider net in order to be better fishers of men, using all the technical advances available today.  Called the Digital Disciples Scholarship Program, students can apply for a two-year term and receive personal development in publication, web, video, audio, and graphic arts, as well as, witness the impact on lives being transformed through the power of faith.

To learn more on how you can become a digital disciple at Hellenic College Holy Cross or help fund a Digital Disciple scholar, log on to

And in News from OCN, January 17th is OCN’s designated annual Share the Light Sunday where any parish can support OCN in several ways, and if this Sunday doesn’t work for your parish, you can schedule one that does!

This is a day that gives you an opportunity to speak to your faith community about OCN, and how we are breaking down communication barriers and building up avenues to connect with Orthodox Christians & seekers worldwide using digital media.

Log on to to access the Share the Light Encyclical and for a Checklist of support materials with the many ways you can organize a successful Share the Light Sunday in your community.

And in honor of OCN’s 20th Anniversary, Anonymous Donors have issued a $20,000 matching challenge, where for every dollar you give, $2 will be donated!

Much like public radio & TV, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on support from its viewers, listeners and visitors like you! Be a part of our growth and sponsor a Share the Light Sunday in your parish or make a contribution today!

And Remember:  You can access the many breaking stories, blogs, podcasts and videos available on the latest topics of interest, on, on Facebook or watch us on our you tube “OCNVideochannel”.

That brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy,” to a close. For everyone here in our OCN studios, I’m Emmy Louvaris. Let’s go forth in peace.



OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life.   We also report on news events in the Orthodox Church and produce This Week in Orthodoxy, a weekly news video with stories and issues of interest to Orthodox Christians around the world.

The Orthodox Christian Network is a commissioned agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. Our mission is to comfort, inspire, and inform Orthodox Christians and seekers around the world using digital media. OCN is not underwritten financially by any one organization, jurisdiction, or individual. Rather, OCN is supported entirely by parish and personal donations. Please remember OCN in your parish’s charitable giving. The Orthodox Christian Network is a 501(c)(3) corporation.


Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners.  Anonymous donors have issued a $20,000 matching challenge in honor of OCN’s 20th Anniversary! For every $1 you give, $2 will be donated! You can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website.

Be on the lookout for our new mobile app, “Spark”, to be launched in the near future. The app will raise awareness of Christian persecution worldwide and provide you and millions of Orthodox with different ways to act.


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About author

Emmy Louvaris

Emmy Louvaris is the host of This Week in Orthodoxy, the first weekly news show to cover the international Orthodox Church and community.