Orthodox Education Retreat: Fr. Hopko on Almsgiving
St. John Orthodox Church
November 14, 2009
On November 14, 2009, St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Canonsburg, PA was the setting for the pre-advent retreat sponsored by the IOCC Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee. Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, provided an enlightening presentation on the timely and complex topic of almsgiving. Almsgiving is one of the critical components of Christian spiritual life. In addition to discussing the necessity of almsgiving, Fr. Tom emphasized the importance of the intent-of-the-heart in which the gift is given. The gift needs to be given out of pure Christian love, and not for any other motives.
In addition, Dan Christopulos, Development Director for IOCC, talked about his IOCC experiences. Dan described an interaction that he witnessed with a Muslim couple in Croatia. IOCC distributed aid in the form of live chickens to help farmers in the region rebuild their lives. The husband was upset when they received chickens donated by an organization that had a cross in their logo. The wife responded that IOCC helps us out of love, and this has changed our lives! And, the husband began to understand.
Nick Terezis, Chairman of the IOCC Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee, presented a brief overview of the how IOCC leverages their resources, and encouraged participation in the Pittsburgh committee. After the formal education portion of the retreat, a light lunch was held with a question and answer session.
We thank Mary Ann and Kevin Reck and the community of St. John's for organizing and providing a delicious continental breakfast and lunch. We are especially grateful for Fr. Thomas Hopko's inspiring words and presence at our retreat. A professionally recorded CD will be available of Fr. Tom's talk. The CD can be ordered by calling Mary Ann Reck at 724-263-5605.