Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy New Year - If You're Orthodox

There Church New Year is celebrated on September 1st. Before the creation of the Julian calendar, the Roman secular calendar began on September 1st. But for us Orthodox Christians, we celebrate the Eccesliastical New Year today. The Church New Year is also called the beginning of the Indiction, which is a Latin word meaning "to impose."

According to Holy Tradition, Christ entered the synagogue on September 1st to announce His mission to mankind as recorded in the Gospel according to St Luke (4:16-22). Our Lord quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 proclaiming, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me; because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim release to captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…"

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- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Monday, August 22, 2011

MARRIED: Not Me, But My Best Friend

I'd like to offer my congratulations and well wishes of "many years of health and happiness together" to the newly-crowned and wedded couple, Drs James & Zoe Salman!

Newly-crowned Drs. James & Zoe Salman
Click HERE for their wedding video!

They were married at St Thomas Greek Orthodox Church in Cherry Hill, NJ on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011, and I feel very blessed to have been apart of such a beautiful occasion, serving as the "best man."

Maid of Honor & Best Man
Giving my toast to the Bride & Groom
My "Best Man" Toast to the Bride & Groom:

Good evening, I'm Paul, James' brother from another mother.

James had been dating Zoe for a while before I had the chance to finally meet her. After hanging out for only one evening, James pulled me aside and quietly asked, "what do ya think of Zoe?" I was like, "dude, I just met her!" But that answer wasn't good enough, he pressed me further, "I know, I know, but what do ya think of her?" Now Zoe, I'm not saying that the fact that we are all gathered today on such a beautiful occasion to celebrate your wedding depended upon my answer to James' question, but I'll just say, "you're welcome!"

I replied to James, "I'll say three things for her: she's a gorgeous girl, has a great personality, and James this last one I say with nothing but love for ya...she seems willing to put up with you!"

James, Zoe humor me for a second with a small exercise: Zoe please hold out your hand, and James place your hand ontop of Zoe's hand. I want you both to cherish this moment, look around the room at all those who love you very much, and take a second to think of your beautiful future together - but really, James remember this exact moment as your hands clasp together, because its absolutely the last time you'll ever have the UPPER HAND!

On a more sentimental note, please bare with me as I recite a movie quote (don't worry, its some wise words from a Greek father to his daughter): "When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement...for that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn't sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

And on a lighter note, I'll end with one more movie quote if you'll allow me...for all those Godfather movie lovers, "may your first child be a masculine child!"

May God grant many years to James & Zoe Salman!

Enjoy some pictures from all wedding festivities and of James & I through the years:

Wedding ceremony!
Chanting the Epistle
First steps as Man & Wife, "Dance of Isaiah"
Holding the candle, as we circle around the table
Dancing up on chairs - its how we roll!
Back in our college days, College Conference at the AV
Kentucky boys at a ballgame
Dancing away with Charles Abdelahad & Wayne Parr

Older days, at the Rehearsal Dinner...friends reunite!

Dabke time with Greg Abdalah & Charles Abdelahad
Our longtime parish priest and spiritual father, Very Rev. Fr. Alexander Atty
is a huge Penn State fan...that's his car we jumped onto!
At the wedding of our good friends, Constantine & Mandy Nasr
Dancing the night away with the happy couple
and Nicole Salman and Jeremy Jabara
New Years 2011 with James & Zoe!
Wedding photos courtesy of Noah Papas & Brittany Abdelahad

- A Day in the Life of the "Best Man"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Agia Sophia Cafe & Bookstore: Harrisburg, PA

Just had to share this; its such an amazing concept!

May our Lord bless and make fruitful this unique witness to Orthodoxy!

Agia Sophia Cafe & Bookstore

I must give credit to Rev Fr Stephen Vernak (family friend), pastor of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (OCA) in Harrisburg, PA, as well as the dedicated clergy and laymen of the Orthodox Christian Charities of Greater Harrisburg (OCCGH).

Visit HERE for their website to learn more about their mission, progress, and awesome atmosphere!

The Blessing of this new establishment was held recently (7/31/11), presided over by His Grace, Bishop TIKHON (OCA - Diocese of Eastern PA); news on the event and awesome pictures and videos of the ceremony can be found HERE.

The following are some of my favorites:

- A Day in the Life of the Non-Coffee Drinker

Friday, August 5, 2011

Transfiguration of our Lord: Orthodox Feast

In the Life of the Church, we celebrate the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord on August 6th. During this Feast, the farmers use to gather the early fruits of their summer harvest (grapes, apples, figs etc.) and to present them in the Church to be blessed and to give them for free to congregation. This is an ancient Christian custom; these fruits are called the “beginnings”.

Transfiguration of our Lord
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"Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'"

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!' And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, 'Arise, and do not be afraid.' When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, 'Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.'"   -Matthew 17:1-9 (Gospel lesson of the Feast)

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When O Christ our God, Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, Thou didst reveal Thy glory to Thy disciples, in proportion as they could bear it. Let Thine everlasting Light, also enlighten us sinners. Through the intersessions of the Theotokos, O Thou bestower of Life, glory to Thee.  -Troparion of the Feast of the Transfiguration (Tone 7)

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- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Orthodox Young Adult Conference 2011


“I’m Orthodox…My Friends Are Not”

led by Rev Fr James Shadid & Rev Fr Symeon Kees


*Bar Social
*Houston Astros Baseball Game
*Orthodox Trivia Game

Registration Cost of $30 along with Medical Liability/Registration Form due by September 12, 2011

Four Points by Sheraton Hotel
713.942.2111 ONLY $75 per night
“St George Church” Group Discount Code

Conference sponsored by Young Adult Ministries (YAM) of Greater Houston, Antiochian 20/40 Fellowship, and Fellowship of St John the Divine of the Diocese of Wichita

For more information, please contact:

Paul Fuller
Youth & Young Adult Director
St. George Houston, TX
Phone: 713.665.5252 or 502.592.9981

- A Day in the Life of the Conference Planner

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shreveport DOWAMA Parish Life Conference 2011: Revisited!

Much love and gratefulness goes out to the Parish Family of St Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Shreveport, Louisiana for hosting the DOWAMA Parish Life Conference this summer (June 15-18, 2011)!

2011 Antiochian Conference Theme
It was truly a blessed gathering, filled with lots of Christian love, fellowship, and fun! St George Houston was well represented with about 40 conference participants. As for myself, I was lucky enough to travel with a great group of teens and a very helpful female chaperone (Ms. Amanda Zabaneh). Our Teen SOYO joined in many of the activities provided by the hard-working folk hosting this Conference. Some highlights included numerous liturgical services, Bible Bowl Competition, Oratorical Festival, and Creative Arts Festival, as well as a SOYO General Assembly, Service Project to a local Nursing Home, and a fun afternoon in the sun at a neighborhood pool and games spot.

Congratulations to our own local chapter Teen SOYO President, Danielle S., who was elected to serve as President for the Diocese of Wichita & Mid-America Teen SOYO! Mabrouk!

A yearly highlight of the Conference is the Bible Bowl Competition, in front of a packed house of cheering fans, Teen & Adult teams competed in a fun and tightly contested event! Our St George Houston Teen (Kathrine S., Mariam K., Areen B.) & Adult teams courageously battled, and our Adult Team came in 2nd place among the other Adult teams, falling short by only a few points in the competition.

So, who took the "gold" you ask among the Adults? The DOWAMA SOYO Youth Directors (Ms. Erin Learned of St Elijah OKC, Ms. Andreea Balan of Ss Constantine & Helen Dallas, and myself)! After the victory, I learned that there was actually a trophy presented to the Adult team - its ridiculously large! We decided to rotate churches to house the trophy, so look for it soon in my office at St George probably this fall.

The competitions, elections, and awards aside, it was just wonderful to spend quality time with everyone in attendance! As a Youth Director, its awesome to see the teens gather with their friends and interact - yes, they even let us chaperones join in on the fun! Their smiles simply light up the room, and its a blessing to witness!

Don't forget to join us next year in Houston for the 2012 DOWAMA PLC hosted by St Joseph - enjoy a very funny intro video HERE.

Enjoy some pictures from the Shreveport PLC 2011 below:

St George Houston, TX family at the PLC
St George Houston Teen Bible Bowl Team
Border of TX & LA, Houston crew
Dallas crew with Fr Antony Bahou & Ms. Andreea Balan
Just swingin' away in the sun!
DOWAMA Youth Directors - 2011 Adult Bible Bowl Champions
Erin Learned, Paul Fuller, and Andreea Balan
Serious faces, except for the priest in the background, nicely done
Fr. Anthony Baba of St Anthony in Spring, TX
Championship pose!
- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director