WELCOME TO SAINT MARY ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, St. Mary’s is found in the Wyoming Valley in northeast Pennsylvania. Surrounded by mountains, the area has a natural beauty that reflects the beauty of God’s creation. The area has a large tourist industry, with winter ski resorts and summer water resorts, and area shopping centers and outlets. The area hosts multiple entertainment opportunities and theaters for everyone’s interests. The hospitality industry is served by many hotels and restaurants., including a wide variety of ethnic eateries. In the immediate area there are over a dozen different Orthodox parishes, and an hour north is the oldest Orthodox Monastery in America, St. Tikhon Monastery, where the Orthodox Seminary of St. Tikhon is also found. The area is noted for many beautiful housing communities, particularly in the mountains, but even with this attractive setting the area has reasonably priced housing, which in recent years has attracted many people to move to the area from New Jersey and New York. This is especially true because of the several interstates which quickly join the area to New York City and Philadelphia, both within two hours, as well as other surrounding cities.
Wilkes-Barre is also a town with two colleges in the city and several others both private and public in the surrounding areas. For people who are able to work at home, it is a particularly attractive area because of all the beauty and amenities.
We Orthodox Christians of St. Mary’s trace our roots trace directly back to first century Antioch, the city in which the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26) to the original Church established by Saints Peter and Paul. The Orthodox Church is the oldest Christian group in the world. It is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ and his Twelve Apostles to which all the Churches of East and West belonged until the Roman Church, the Patriarchate of the West, broke off communion in the mid-eleventh century from the four Patriarchs of the East who remained faithful to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As Orthodox we are called by God our creator to worship and follow Him, and to proclaim to the world His message of love, peace, salvation and Theosis.
The Parishioners of St. Mary Parish welcome you and are pleased you have visited our Parish Web Page. We hope you will decide to visit our Parish and worship Almighty God with our Parish Family. Our Worship goes back to the first century and has grown over the succeeding centuries in the form that we serve at every Divine Liturgy. It is the worship of heaven brought to earth. We encourage you to learn about our Orthodox Faith and Worship, and our Antiochian Orthodox Parish, if you are not yet Orthodox. We are ready to answer any questions you have about Orthodoxy. It is our hope that through visiting our web page you will come to share in the life of Saint Mary’s, and some day will come to visit us and worship with us in our Church Temple dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Theotokos.
SOME INFORMATION ABOUT ST. MARY ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
St. Mary is a parish of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America in the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic.
St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church is located in the Wyoming Valley among the beautiful Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania. St. Mary is one of the oldest Antiochian Orthodox parishes in America, founded by Saint Raphael Hawaweeny, Bishop of Brooklyn, in 1904. It is sixth in his list of parishes. The parish is now 109 years old. Its first pastor, Father Michael Saba, began his work in March 1904, the same month St. Raphael was consecrated bishop of Brooklyn.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARISH FAMILY: At the present time St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church has some 250 parishioners, and the parish is noted for the active involvement of its people. The parish has an active Parish Council, Church Sunday School and Teen SOYO group, Women’s Group—the Ladies of St. Mary’s, Senior Citizens Group—Father Nahas Senior Citizens, and the Fellowship Group. All of these organizations work for the growth and welfare of the parish. By their commitment the parish of St. Mary continues to grow and prosper in its Orthodox faith. There are 21 members of the Order of St. Ignatius who come from St. Mary Orthodox Church. These members are involved in all activities of the parish. They see the Order as an opportunity to serve the needs of the Antiochicn Archdiocese.
A WELCOMING COMMUNITY: Of the parishioners about two-thirds are Arab-Americans from Syrian and Lebanese families. The other third of the parishioners are from a great mix of ethnic backgrounds. The parish is noted for its hospitality to all who come to it. The language used for worship is English, with some parts of the Liturgy occasionally sung in Arabic. The Parish hosts some of the Antiochian Seminarians who attend St. Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, who come to St. Mary’s for part of their Antiochian Orthodox Pastoral training.
PARISH CLERGY: Among the clergy there is the Pastor, the Archpriest George Alberts, and three Subdeacons, Subdeacons William Obeid, Norman Namey and John Moses. The Pastor Emeritus who retired in 1986 is the Archpriest Herbert Nahas as well as the Pastor Emeritus, Archpriest David Hester who retired in 2017.
CONTACTS: Parish Office: 570-824-5016; Parish Hall: 570-824-1674.
Quote of the Holy Fathers
A brother went to see Abba Silvanus on the mountain of Sinai. When he saw the brothers working hard he said to the old man, “Do not labor for the food which perishes (John 6:27). Mary has chosen the better part (Luke 10:42).” The old man said to his disciple, “Zacharias, give the brother a book and put him in a cell without anything else.” So when the ninth hour came the visitor watched the door expecting someone would be sent to call him to the meal. When no one called him, he got up, went to find the old man and said to him, “Have the brothers not eaten today?” The old man replied that they had. Then he said, “Why did you not call me?” The old man said to him, “Because you are a spiritual man and do not need that kind of food. We, being carnal, want to eat, and that is why we work. But you have chosen the good portion and read the whole day long and you do not want to eat carnal food.” When he heard these words the brother made a prostration saying, “Forgive me, Abba.” The old man said to him, “Mary needs Martha. It is really thanks to Martha that Mary is praised.”
It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.
St. John of Damascus (8th century)
It is necessary to establish a pattern of going to church as often as possible, usually to Matins, Liturgy and Vespers. Have a longing for this, and go there at the first opportunity and if you can, stay without leaving. Our church is heaven on earth. Hasten to church with the faith that it is a place where God dwells, where He Himself promised to quickly hear prayers. Standing in church, be as if you are standing before God in fear and reverence, which you express through patience, prostrations, and attention to the services without wandering thoughts.
Saint Theophan the Recluse (19th century)
The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit.
Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (4th century)