The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
Orthodox Woodworking

December 21, 2011
If you are looking to have any wood working done for your church, consider Toroney Enterprises.  Fr. Joseph Toroney is an Orthodox Priest in Pennsylvania, and his company has experience making Altar Tables, Iconstasis and other cabnitry items used in Orthodox worship.  Please see his Facebook listing here, or check out the pictures below to see an Iconostasis recently built and installed for St Tikhon's.
Request for Orthodox Books in Africa

December 21, 2011
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please see this request for books to educate the new faithful of the Orthodox Church, and assist if you have Orthodox books you are not using.

Thank you!

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Almost two weeks ago I had an unexpected meeting with HE Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe. He told me the story of how his missionary work is rapidly growing throughout Central and Southern Africa.
Many new missions are being established and in just the past year he has ordained 119 new priests to serve the growing Orthodox Church in   metropolitanate. On a per capita basis, that is a lot faster than the growth of the Orthodox Church in the U.S.
However Zimbabwe is poor. The average wage earner brings home about $400 per year -- just over a dollar per day. Many others have no work as unemployment is over 90%. Parishes face problems such as food shortages for parishioners, increasingly frequent droughts, an expanding range of new diseases - caused by the warming and drying climate, a high rate of HIV/AIDS, and even a lack of floors in some mission parishes.  Despite all this, the literacy rate is over 90% and Zimbabweans are avid readers. A big need, says the Metropolitan, is Orthodox books -- in English.
One of HE's hopes is to develop a library for clergy and seminarians. When he asked me for help with books, I told him, YES, I will provide some books. AND I would invite others to assist in this drive for Orthodox books. Therefore this letter. They particularly need books on saints and theology. He says they also need books on how Orthodoxy relates to issues such as farming, water, and issues of the land and the environment generally. I suspect good quality, edifying books on many subjects would be welcome.
As a Christmas gift from you or from your parish, please consider this invitation to help our brethren in the Church in Africa by sending Orthodox books in good condition to HE at the following address:
HE Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa
P.O. Box 2832
Harare, ZIMBABWE

One more thing. He asks that if someone sends books, please add a notation on the package saying,
“DONATION -- Not for Sale.”
Without this note, the post office may charge them a tax for receiving the books.
Thank you, and a blessed and holy Christmas to you.
Yours in Christ,
Fred Krueger
P.S. Please feel free to circulate this request to other parishes and Orthodox Church members.
Covering Our Neighbors: Help Us Help Our Neighbors in Need

December 20, 2011
On Wednesday, December 28th, during the 7th Annual Winter Service Retreat for older teens and young adults hosted by St. George Orthodox Church, St. George Food Pantry will, in addition to holiday food boxes, be distributing special items to our neighbors who are in need. Among the items needed for this distribution are new and lightly used blankets, coats and jackets, baby and children's clothing, new and lightly used toys and diapers of all sizes.
 
If you live in this area, please make arrangements to drop off any of these items at St. George Orthodox Church located at 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr between now and Tuesday, December 27th. Please call 956-781-2388 first so someone can meet you and receive your donations. Cash donations to support St. George Food Pantry are also very much needed, as the Food Pantry feeds over 125 families on a regular basis.
 
Although we no longer take our Service Retreat participants across the border to Reynosa, we still also try to support the Casa Amparo Orphanage for girls which is located there and which is operated by a dedicated group of Roman Catholic nuns.  Rather than going there, the nuns come and pick up our donations here. If you would like to make donations to the orphanage, they need items such as toiletries, girl's socks, bulk food items and cash donations.
 
For more information, call Fr. Antonio Perdomo at 956-781-2388 or at 781-6114 or email mateliza@aol.com. If you would like to make an online donation either to St. George Food Pantry or to Casa Amparo Orphanage, please do so at: http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/foodpantry.html. Send an email specifying to which ministry you prefer your donation to be credited. Many thanks!
2012 Planting Grants

December 19, 2011
Two missions in the DOS were awarded the 2012 Mission Planting grant this year.  Holy Resurrection in Augusta, GA/Aiken, SC, was awarded a second year, and Nativity of the Lord in Shreveport, LA was awarded a full grant this year.  Please support them in your prayers as they are working to grow into parishes.  For more information on the 2012 Mission Planting grants please see the OCA article.
7th Annual Winter Service Retreat for Older Teens - Young Adults

December 13, 2011
See: http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/winteryouthretreat.html
 
Amazing Opportunity for Older Teens & Young Adults! Seventh Annual Winter Service Retreat
 
This December, we will host our Seventh Annual Winter Service Retreat for Older Teens and Young Adults. Each year, we schedule this during the week after Nativity, when students are out of school for their winter break in studies. Our parish of St. George Orthodox Church (OCA) is located right on the Texas border with Mexico. In year's past, the week included a visit and work project in an orphanage for girls just across the border in Mexico. However, because of increased border violence in recent years, we no longer cross into Mexico. Thanks be to God, this year, we will have a Brand New Church Hall to help accommodate both our Retreat Participants and our Service Projects! Our Retreat Master will be Fr. Melitios Webber, Abbot of St. John of Shanghai Monastery in Manton, California.
 
Some retreat highlights include:
 
* A Speaker/Retreat Master Sharing Talks on Topics the Participants Themselves Have Requested
 
* Hands-On Orthodox Service Projects, including Preparing For and Staffing a special Nativity Season Distribution at our St. George Food Pantry - which has fed over 50,000 people in the last few years.
 
* Working as Teams to Actively Help with Retreat Functions
 
* Praying Together: Actively Participating in Reading, Singing, Praying & Participating in Liturgical Services
 
* Time for Fun, Christian Fellowship, including a South Padre Island Beach Trip and Talent Show
 
Who:  Geared for Older Teens, College Students & Young Adults plus Adult Chaperones & Orthodox Clergy. Orthodox Christians, Catechumins, Inquirers and their Friends from All Jurisdictions are WELCOME
 
Retreat Master:  Fr. Melitios Webber, Abbot of St. John of Shanghai Monastery in Manton, California will be this year's Retreat Master. Participants from past year's events requested that the following be our 2011-12 Winter Service Retreat topic:
 
SPIRITUAL TOPIC: Why Become (or Remain) Orthodox? How Do We Stand Up for & Live the Faith?
 
Expanded Version: Why become or remain Orthodox rather than simply following the "easier" more populated versions of Christianity practiced by friends and society in general? Why would/should we choose or continue on the more narrow path, which often includes isolation since most parishes are smaller and within which we have few if any peers? How are we to become knowledgeable "apologists" and stand on a firm foundation in the faith? In everyday life? In times when we face special challenges and/or temptations?  How do we stand with our heads held high knowing that our beliefs are right and true? How do we do this without being prideful or thinking "low" of our brothers and sisters in Christ outside of the Orthodox Church? What are the real dividing lines which separate our Orthodox beliefs from those held by other Christians?
 
Dates:  This year's actual activities will begin on the morning of December 27th.  People will travel, arrive and get settled in on the evening of December 26th.  The event will end after Divine Liturgy and a meal on Sunday, January 1st, but anyone is welcome to stay until the following day before returning home.
 
Cost:  $225.00 Per Participant - Includes all Food, Lodging, Local Transportation and Fees. Note: If Adult Chaperones prefer an on-site Motel-type room, we can reserve one for an additional fee.We try to keep our registration fees as low as possible so as many students and other young people (who often are financially challenged and/or do not have wealthy parents) can attend. To help with this, we even cook most of the food and the retreat staff do not receive salaries. We do this for the love of Christ and in hopes that this experience will touch the lives of the young people who attend.

Where: St. George Orthodox Church; Pharr, Texas - Rio Grande Valley of South Texas near the Texas-Mexico Border. See Driving Directions: http://www.stgeorgetx.org/directions.html  The church is located at 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr, Texas and overnight lodgings will be at the Valley Baptist Retreat Center in Mission, Texas. See the retreat center's website at: http://www.valleybaptistretreat.org/

What:  A week of hands-on Service Work, Spiritual Talks & Sessions & Prayers, Christian Fellowship, & Fun. Reunite with your friends and make new friends in a wholesome and spirtually-profitable atmoshere.

Special Dietary Needs: We do make and have available vegetarian and vegan food for our retreat participants, especially those who are still observing the OS Nativity Fast. Let us know if you have additional special dietary requirements or needs!

To learn more or to see photos from previous year's Winter Service Retreats, see links at:
http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/winteryouthretreat.html
 
Please let me know if you have additional questions at mateliza@aol.com or by phone at 956-781-2388.
 
In Christ, Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo
St George Food Pantry, Pharr TX, recieves $3800 grant from Metropolitan Council Charity Committee

December 7, 2011
Please click here to read this inspiring story of the work going on in the Diocese of the South on the OCA website.
Archbishop Dmitri Memorial Chapel

December 1, 2011
Dear clergy, faithful, and friends of the Diocese of the South,

The plans for the Archbishop Dmitri Memorial (Burial) Chapel to be built at St Seraphim's Cathedral are awaiting their final approval.  Please see the preliminary drawing of the Chapel (to be built on the southwest 'corner' of the cathedral).  We will continue to update the diocesan website as more information --- final plans, construction schedule, and proposed date for the reinterment of Vladika Dmitri --- is available.  In the meantime, if anyone would like to contribute to the construction of the chapel in His Eminence's honor and memory, checks may be made out to the Diocese of the South with "Archbishop Dmitri Memorial Chapel" in the memo line.  The address is Diocese of the South, PO Box 191109, Dallas, TX 75219.