1 Dear Parishioners, God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16) More and more people are asking during the Christmas season: What did you get for Christmas? The trouble with this emphasis on what we get at Christmas is that the whole point of this Holy season is lost. We Christians give gifts at Christmas in humble imitation of the Gift that God gave-his only Son, our Lord Jesus. For the Christian the emphasis is on giving. A man told what happened to him one Christmas Eve when he was a boy, after the Christmas story had been read. After he and his brothers and sisters had opened all their presents, his father asked for quiet, and said Of all the presents you received tonight, I want you to decide which one you like the best, and set it in front of you. When this was done, the father continued, Now I want each of you to think of someone you know who is less fortunate than you, and who is not getting presents as you are, and tomorrow we will have the fun of delivering to this person the presents you have chosen as the very best. This man said he could never forget this experience. It taught him what Christmas was all about-when God gave to mankind the very best He had. Let us think together about gifts the Christian can give, the gifts of time, friendship, love, care, concern, forgiveness and understanding, not only at Christmas, but every day the year round to help make real to people the true spirit of Christmas: the love of Christ. With Love in the Incarnate Christ, Father Anargyros Aγαπητοί Ενορίτες, Η κατά Σάρκα Γέννησις του Σωτήρος Χριστού είναι Μεγάλη εορτή, Μεγάλη καί απροσπέλαστη διά την ανθρώπινη διάνοια. Και είναι μεγάλη διότη κρύπτει το μεγαλύτερο θαύμα και τη φωτεινότερη πραγματικότητα. Το θαύμα είναι, το πως ο Άπειρος Θεός εσμικρύνθη και έγινε ταπεινός άνθρωπος. Το πώς, «ο αχώρητος παντί εχωρήθη εν γαστρί». Η απάντησις είναι μία και δίδεται σαφής και ολιγόλογος από την Εκκλησία μας.
2 «Όπου Θεός βούλεται, νικάται φύσεως τάξις». Αυτή είναι η απάντησις διά κάθε περίπτωσι θαύματος. Καί στην περίπτωσι λοιπόν της κατά σάρκα γεννήσεως του Κυρίου μας, η απάντησις είναι ότι ο Θεός της αγάπης ηθέλησε καί έγινε άνθρωπος. Το «πώς» δέν μπορεί ο μικρός άνθρωπος να το ερευνήση. Στά θαύματα δέν ταιριάζει να βάζωμε μπροστά την πεπερασμένη λογική μας, διότι αυτά είναι «υπέρ λόγον». Πρέπει να βάζωμε μπροστά το φακό της πίστεως που έχει δύναμι ισχυρότερη από την πιό τέλεια τηλεόρασι. Ξεπερνάει τους ορίζοντας του παρόντος κόσμου και εισχωρεί μέσα στα μυστήρια του πνεύματος, «του υπέρ πέραν», της αιωνίου ζωής. Με την πίστι λοιπόν καλείται o κάθε άνθρωπος να ιδή το μεγαλύτερο και υψηλότερο θαύμα: το ότι «ο Θεός γεγόνεν άνθρωπος καί εσκήνωσεν εν ημίν». Είπαμε όμως, ότι η κατά σάρκα Γέννησις του Σωτήρος Χριστού κρύπτει και τη φωτεινότερη πραγματικότητα. Πράγματι κρύπτει τη λύτρωσι και τη σωτηρία του ανθρωπίνου γένους. Διότι, Ένας είναι ο Σωτήρας του κόσμου, ο Ιησούς Χριστός. «Έν ουδενί άλλω» λέγει ο θείος Απόστολος Παύλος υπάρχει σωτηρία, «ει μή έν Χριστώ Ιησού». Διά τούτο και Λυτρωτής ονομάζεται. Είναι ο μόνος Λυτρωτής και Σωτήρας, αρκεί ο άνθρωπος να πλησιάση ταπεινός κοντά του και νά ανοίξει τήν καρδιά του, γιά να γεννηθή ο Κύριος μέσα σε αυτήν. Δυστυχώς όμως αρνείται ο άνθρωπος σαν άτομο και σαν σύνολο να δεχθή το Σωτήρα Χριστό και δίνει τήν καρδιά του στην απιστία, στην άρνησι, στην αμαρτία, και στο κακό. Ακριβώς σε αυτό το σημείο υπάρχει το μεγάλο δράμα κάτω από το οποίο «οδυνάται» ο ταλαίπωρος άνθρωπος. Αλλά γιατί; Άς το ακούσωμε γιά μιά ακόμη φορά «Ετέχθη ημίν Σωτήρ» Με Αγάπη Χριστού, Πατήρ Ανάργυρος
3 GOYA I am certainly proud to say that I am a member of the St. Athanasios Paramus GOYA. The year started off with excellent participation in the Holy Cross Celebration at Asbury Park and the Harvest Dance at the Westfield Church in October. We also had the Mr./Miss GOYA pageant which was a wonderful experience for the GOYAns that were there. Congratulations to Nikita Alexiades and Maria Kovoros for receiving the GOYA scholarship award from last year. We are very happy that our GOYA Buddy System, which is the older GOYAns mentoring the new GOYAns, has been successful and with positive feedback. Also, our Community Family night on October 19 th was well attended this year. Thank you to all the advisors and parents for getting the decorations, table settings, and to all the GOYAns for entertaining the children that night. As the year continues, our GOYA needs to raise funds in order to participate in certain events and activities throughout the year. So far this year, our GOYA was very successful in fundraising with our Loukoumades and Yankee Candle Sales. In the beginning of November, several of the GOYAns attended the bowling Tournament and Awards Dance at the Fairview Church which was a lot of fun. Our community Wide Family Retreat on November 23 rd sponsored by our Sunday School, FOS Ministy, PTO, and St. Irene Philoptohos Society was very enlightening and successful. Thank you to all the GOYAns for staying afterwards and helping set up the Christmas tree in the lobby. We have started working on raising funds for our charities. So far, we have raffled two baskets quite successfully for the Hellenic Relief Fund and have been able to donate school supplies to Saint Basil s Academy. We have also collected gently used jeans for Teens for Jeans which will be distributed to homeless teens by DOSOMETHING.ORG with the help of their partner Aeropostal. The final collection is December 31 st. Please continue to bring your jeans and drop them off by the bin near the church office. In addition, we have partnered with other churches throughout the state to support and raise awareness for childhood cancer in memory of our late GOYAn Benjamin Venezia. People have been donating $15 per lawn sign or by giving a donation to Benjamin s Hope 4 the Future fund. Please go to to find out more information. On December 27 th, our Parish will visit St. Michael s Home, and is also the State GOYA Dance at the Union church. As for our Vasilopita fundraiser, it is still ongoing, and the orders are being finalized on December 15 th. If you will like to pre-order, please see our flyer in the Sunday Bulletin, and the newsletter, and drop off your forms in the GOYA mailbox. The vasilopites this year are from the Agia Skepi Monastery in PA, and they are a lot bigger, tastier and come individually boxed. They will be ready for pick up on Sunday,
4 December 22 nd.. To conclude, I would like to thank everyone for making this GOYA year one to remember, for myself and the GOYA executive board. I would also like to take the time to encourage all GOYAns to attend Sunday School, and be part of our Church Community. In our parish s Sunday School classes, we learn about our Orthodox faith and how to live a Christian life. As Christians, we need to be humble and thankful for all we have, and continue to help others in need. I look forward to the rest of the year being just as rewarding as the first half. With Christ s Love, Eleni Backos GOYA President PHILOPTOCHOS The ladies of St. Irene s Philoptochos worked diligently towards making our annual fashion show a success. On behalf of the Philoptochos Board and myself we would like to thank our sponsors and all our members who assisted in making this wonderful event prosperous. Our 50/50 raffle was a success. Proceeds from this raffle were donated to the Lustgarten Foundation to help fund pancreatic cancer research. The profits from this event will go towards making a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are in need. We are happy to inform you that our ministry sold 170 tickets and raised $ from the Lord & Taylor Shop Smart, Do Good Charity Fundraiser. The funds raised were donated to Benjamin s Hope 4 The Future Foundation, which will help raise the awareness and fund research for childhood cancers. We wish Mr. and Mrs. Richard Venezia success with this endeavor and pray for a future cure of childhood related cancers. A special tray was passed on October 13, 2013 to support our children in Greece and Cyprus who are suffering from the severe economic crisis. Our Philoptochos donated $1,000 towards this cause. We thank you for your donation. To celebrate the beginning of our Christmas Advent, our community held the retreat Growing Faithful Families in Christ on Saturday, November 23, FOS, Sunday Church school, PTO, GOYA and Philoptochos all came together for this wonderful purpose and providing our community with this magnificent experience. This retreat reminded us that we need to live our faith each day and bring up faithful children in Christ. We thank our FOS ministry for
5 coordinating this event and making available many worthwhile books and brochures to all who attended. Our community trip to St. Michael s Home for the Aged will be on Friday, December 27, The bus will be leaving promptly at 11:30 a.m. Please let us know, if you will be attending as seating on the bus is limited. Our Christmas party will be on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 6:30PM at Seasons in Washington Township, NJ. All members of our Philoptochos with their guests are invited to attend. We thank Amy Papalouka and Georgia Eleftheriou for chairing this event. We wish you a blessed Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. With Love in Christ, Karen Scoullos President SUNDAY CHURCH SCHOOL The Sunday Church School has been busy with its annual Fall Activities that include the Annual Plant Sale, the Thanksgiving Food Drive, and working with the other church ministries on the Family Retreat. New Initiatives- This year we have two new initiatives: a parent group, and a music program. We are excited about these two new programs and feel they will enhance the Sunday Church School ministry. Music Program: Sotiria Stavropoulos, who has a degree in music education, will be teaching Church Hymns to our Sunday School children. Hymnology is an important part of worship and engages us in church services so that we can be active - not passive participants in the worship service. It is also a traditional way that we learn about our faith. She will be working with every grade level, from L/A, and Pre-K to Seniors; and the children love it! Thank you Sotiria. Parent Group: We have also started a parent group, which provides parents with an opportunity to meet and discuss topics relevant to raising children in the Greek Orthodox faith in today s challenging society. The group meets once a month in the classroom located in the coffee room while the students are in class. We encourage all parents, mothers and/or fathers to attend. Check the s and bulletin for upcoming meeting dates. This year we are also encouraging our parents to take a more active role in the
6 religious education of their children. Making Sundays a day of family worship and bringing children to church on time is an important step to teaching children about their faith. Please make an effort to dedicate Sundays to family worship. Upcoming Events: Communion Breakfast December 21 Christmas Pageant December 22 Celebration of Epiphany January 5 Celebration of Greek January 26 Letters Day Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Blessed and Joyous New Year! The Sunday Church School Faculty GODPARENT / GODCHILD SUNDAY February 2nd On Sunday, February 2nd, the Church Sunday School will be hosting Godparent Sunday. Invitations will be prepared for each child to send to their respective Godparent. This is a special day for Godchildren and Godparents to gather with family and friends for worship and fellowship. There will be a brunch following the Divine Liturgy. Additional information will be forthcoming. GREEK SCHOOL Στις 28 Οκτωβρίου, το Ελληνικό μας σχολείο παρουσίασε όπως κάθε χρόνο, την γιορτή της 28ης Οκτωβρίου, στην κοινοτική αίθουσα. Χαρούμενοι και με μεγάλο ενθουσιασμό, οι μαθητές μας απήγγειλαν πατριωτικά ποιήματα και τραγούδια. Ιδιαίτερη χαρά μας προξένησαν οι μικροί μαθητές μας 3 και 4 ετών! Η σημαντική αυτή ιστορική επέτειος της 28ης Οκτωβρίου, με τις ηρωϊκές θυσίες των αγωνιστών μας, είναι βαθειά χαραγμένη στην ψυχή μας, γι αυτό και όλοι μαζί βροντοφωνήσαμε: ΖΗΤΩ Η ΕΛΛΑΔΑ ΖΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΕΠΟΣ του 1940 Μετά το τέλος της γιορτής απολαύσαμε τα ωραιότατα γλυκίσματα που
7 ετοίμασε ο Σύλλογος Γονέων, και τους ευχαριστούμε πολύ. Την Κυριακή 22 Δεκεμβρίου, οι μαθητές των Σχολείων Ελληνικού και Κατηχητικού σχολείου, θα παρουσιάσουν το Χριστουγεννιάτικο Πρόγραμμα. Παρακαλείσθε όλοι οι γονείς, να φέρετε τα παιδιά σας, στην εκκλησία την μέρα αυτή, και όλοι μαζί να γιορτάσουμε την Γέννηση του Χριστού. Το Ελληνικό μας σχολείο θα πα ραμείνει κλειστό από τις 24 Δεκεμβρίου, έως τις 5 Ιανουαρίου. Τα μαθήματα θα αρχίσουν και πάλι στις 6 Ιανουαρίου. Η ημέρα των Τριών Ιεραρχών, θα εορτασθεί την Κυριακή, 26 Ιανουαρίου. Eυχόμαστε σε όλους ΚΑΛΕΣ ΓΙΟΡΤΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΥΤΥΧΙΣΜΕΝΗ Η ΝΕΑ ΧΡΟΝΙΑ! On October 28th, our Greek School celebrated the "OHI"day (the 28th of October), in the community center. Our students recited poems and sang patriotic songs, with a lot of enthusiasm. We will always remember this important historical day of our homeland Greece, and the sacrifices of all the heroes who fought for our freedom. LONG LIVE GREECE LONG LIVE THE HEROES OF 1940 At the conclusion of the program, the PTO offered coffee and desserts, and we thank them very much. On Sunday December 22, the students of the Greek School along with the students of the Sunday School, will present the Christmas Pegeant. We ask all parents to bring your children to church on that day, to celebrate the Birth of Jesus. The last day of Greek School before the Christmas Holiday, will be December 23rd. The feast of The Three Hierarchs will be celebrated, the 26th of January We wish everyone HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND HAPPY THE NEW YEAR! P.T.O. Thank you to everyone that helped make our PTO spanakopita sale such a wonderful success. It was a great pleasure working together. It has brought us yet another step closer to accomplishing our goal of replacing the window treatments in the classrooms and renting a parade float for our Independence day parade.
8 Gyro night was a little bit of a mess however it turned out well in the end. Next time we plan to be more organized. We are also planning our children's Christmas party with a book reading and signing from author Anna Prokos followed by a visit from Santa Claus. Please keep an out open for our upcoming event flyers and sign up sheets. Without working together none of this would be possible. Merry Christmas, St. Athanasios PTO F.O.S. Greetings from the FOS Ministry. The FOS Ministry was proud to organize and co-sponsor the communities recent Family Retreat. We contracted with The Center for Family Care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese under the direction of Father Constantine Sitaras to lead us in a day of family fellowship and reconnection with Christ s Teachings and The Church. We are pleased to report that we have a full inventory of books, prayer books, liturgicals, bibles, icons, stefanothikes, komboskinia, karvounakia and incense. We are running a special sale on The New Orthodox Study Bible for $35.00 (retail price $50). The Orthodox Study Bible contains the entire Old Testament of the Orthodox Church, including The New Testament and the "Deuterocanonical" books. Although based on the New King James Version, it offers a fresh translation from the Greek text. We are also have in stock A Guide to Greek Customs and Traditions in America by Marilyn Rouvelas. Available for $30.00 Since its publication in 1993, this book has become a best seller and a standard reference in homes and libraries throughout the world. Marilyn Rouvelas captures the essence of religious traditions and cultural practices for Greeks and Philhellenes who want to preserve this remarkable heritage and pass it on to succeeding generations.
9 Both of these editions, plus the many other items we have in stock would make wonderful Christmas, Wedding or Shower Gifts. See Thea Portelos or Karen Scoullos to purchase, or for more information. Love in Action Our St. Athanasios parish continue the Homeless Outreach Program to bring much needed food and care to men, women, and children in our area who are in need. As many of you already know, last year we began an effort to collect food for donation in a Food Collection Box at the rear entrance of our church. This effort has already been a big success in helping to feed lowincome families, and this year we would like to give even more. We will be putting our desire to help into action by partnering with a homeless shelter in Northern NJ to help prepare and serve warm meals for the needy. We hope to make this a community-wide effort, with every age group involved in some way - whether through food donation, meal preparation, driving, serving, or some other facet. We are still at the early stages but before we can begin this fruitful work, we are looking for volunteers who are interested in helping to develop and sustain this new program. Thank you to everyone who has donated time, food, or supplies to our ministry! Let us keep the spirit of giving alive in our parish, for it is truly in giving that we receive. May the Peace of Christ be with everyone this holiday season! If you would like to get involved, please contact Christina Georgotas at ALTAR BOYS The Altar Boys will hold a mandatory meeting on Saturday, January 11th at 11:00 a.m., in order to prepare for the Feast Day of St. Athanasios. All Altar Boys are called to serve during the Great Vespers on Friday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday, January 18th at 8:30 a.m. Absence from school excuse letters will be available for those who wish to participate.