His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, welcomed the Archpriest Dr. Daniel Buda from Geneva, Switzerland, to the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America for lunch and discussion on Thursday, August 28, 2014.
A priest of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Father Daniel currently works at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches. He holds positions in the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission and is responsible for maintaining contacts with various Orthodox Churches, including the Orthodox Church in America. During the month of August, he was on a study leave at Columbia University, New York, NY, where he conducted research for a book on pilgrimages in the early Church. During this time, he also served at Nativity of the Ever-Virgin Mary Church, Elmhurst, NY (Romanian Episcopate), where the pastor is Protosingelos Chesarie (Bertea), who accompanied him on his visit to the Chancery.
Metropolitan Tikhon and Fathers Daniel and Chesarie were joined by Archpriests John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Eric G. Tosi, Secretary; and Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs.
Saint Andrew’s House, Detroit, MI, was the site of the first annual Catechist and Diaconal Vocations Conference of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of the Midwest August 8-9, 2014.
The conference attracted 43 students and faculty, including His Grace, Bishop Alexander and Priest Elijah Mueller, Diocesan Vocations Director, who facilitated the program. Also participating was Archpriest Paul Gassios, Diocesan Administrator. The program was especially designed for those who had completed the Late/Diaconal Vocations course before the present program was initiated needing to move forward with petitioning for ordination, those interested in beginning the program but who live in areas where no local group had been established, those desiring to participate in a diaconal practicum, and those who had taken courses in the program but desired to meet for further education and fellowship. The conference featured a variety of classes, a practicum, opportunities to meet with Bishop Alexander and the Vocations Director, “hands on” assistance with petition paperwork, and presentations on lay catechesis. Presentations on Orthodox spirituality rounded out the program.
Students attended talks by Bishop Alexander, Mark Roosien, Presvytera Rebecca Luft, and Priest Silviu Bunta. Workshops on catechetical and diaconal practice were led by Priest Stephen Frase, Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Anna Strelka, and Paul Saieg.
“A good spirit prevailed amongst all,” said Father Elijah. “The faculty, together with Bishop Alexander and Father Paul, met to discuss how to increase and better the work of the program, as well as to decide a name for the program. It was decided to go under the heavenly patronage of Saint Macrina, the great saint and teacher of her brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, as the Saint Macrina Orthodox Institute.”
FOCUS has been featured on multiple TV stations in Ferguson, MO, where its St. Louis Center and FOCUS Director, Eric Shanburn, have been working to embody the “U” in FOCUS, which stands for “United” and “Understanding.”
“Eric and his team of Orthodox volunteers have spent time in Ferguson promoting discussion and understanding between the police and protesters,” said Larissa Hatch of FOCUS. “On Saturday, August 23, FOCUS hosted a community cookout that brought local shop owners—many of whom were victims of looting—protesters and authorities together. In the past few nights, protests have been peaceful and there have been no arrests. Police and protestors alike have expressed their gratitude to FOCUS and Orthodox Christians for their role in reducing tensions.”
FOCUS hosted the meal to act as a turning point, sending a message of peace at a time of unrest.
“An important part of our work at FOCUS is promoting understanding,” Larissa said. “FOCUS in St. Louis has always been deeply active in building community and relationships through our many programs that create jobs, provide housing and help homeless and disadvantaged children stay in school,” Larissa said.
FOCUS North America is a national movement of Orthodox Christians, united in faith and joined by a desire to provide action-oriented and sustainable solutions to poverty in communities across America. FOCUS has operations and youth volunteer experiences in more than 25 cities in the US. To learn more or to donate, visit www.focusnorthamerica.org or visit FOCUS on Facebook and Twitter.