Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America
The Antiochian Women at St. Mary's is an organization open to all Antiochian Orthodox women of this Archdiocese. This organization has the following structure. Picture in your mind an orgainzational chart with three levels and look first at the lowest level. This first level and the most important is the local chapter. Every parish has a local chapter in the form of a women's group or club with officers and members. From this first level comes all the charitable works we do. We would cease to be an organization without the hard work and charity of all the local AOCWNA groups.
Here at St. Mary's, our Women's Club is the local AOCWNA chapter. St. Mary's Women's Club is a major fund-raising arm of the parish and is responsible for financial support of the Church School and its activities, with outreach to the community, as well. We meet monthly for fellowship activities and for planning and working on various projects. Some of our yearly activities include: Fall Food Sale, Book Club, Charity Bake Sale (we sponsor two during the year, with the proceeds going to orphanages in the Middle East and throughout the world). We make Christmas baskets for the Battered Women's Family Shelter, and we supply monthly Sunday dinners to the Shelter. We sponsor a parish Christmas Card Drive, Lenten Parish Family Dinners, Lenten Food Sales (NOTE: the women hand-make traditional arabic Lenten items to order; this is a wonderful occasion for the many younger women in the parish to learn how to make these delicious, traditional foods. The Webmaster). We also sponsor speakers and organize other activities designed to increase the knowledge of our Faith.
The second level is the Regional AOCWNA. There are seven regions in the North American Archdiocese: Can-Am, Eastern, Midwest, New England, Southeast, Southwest, and Western. St. Mary's is a part of the New England Region (N.E.R.). Our regional association is made up of officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Public Relations Coordinator, and Treasurer), of appointed coordinators, and of four delegates from each of the eight churches and two missions in our Diocese. These regional representatives meet quarterly in General Assembly Meetings. The final meeting of the year is held in June, at the New England Region Parish Life Conference. These meetings include a business portion, a luncheon, and an informative speaker or program.
The third level is called the North American Board (N.A.B.). This level has a similar structure to the second level. Like the regional associations, the N.A.B. meets periodically throughout the year, with a final meeting at the annual National Archdiocesan Convention.
It is possible for women from any parish to serve at any of the three levels of the AOCWNA. St. Mary's Parish currently has women members serving at both the regional and the national level. The work of this organization is vital to the ongoing life of our Archdiocese. We invite all women to join us in this special and important ministry.
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America - AOCWNA - was founded in 1973 through the vision of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba) as an organization of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
The purposes of the Antiochian Women are:
- (1) to develop among women throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese a spirit of Christian leadership, awareness and commitment as taught in the Holy Orthodox Church
- (2) to foster among women throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese a genuine expression of love and service through works of charity
- (3) to instill among women throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese and the community at large a sense of fellowship and a deeper understanding of the heritage and traditions of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church.
The Antiochian Women follows the structure of other organizations of the Antiochian Archdiocese, with member chapters at the local parish level, regional leadership - elected by delegates of the local member chapters - for each of the geographical regions established for the Archdiocese, and North American leadership (the North American Board or "NAB") - elected by delegates of the regions to the meeting of the Antiochian Women coinciding with the biennial convention of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
The history of the Antiochian Women has been rich and varied. As the organization celebrated twenty years of history, it had raised over $600,000 towards its annual Projects, funding humanitarian programs and projects of the Antiochian Archdiocese and participating in the preparation of a legacy for the generations to follow. It has encouraged a new generation of women to explore the fullness of their ministry in the Orthodox Church, and has provided a network of retreats and symposia providing a forum for the development of fellowship and the deepening of faith.
The primary areas of focus of the Antiochian Women are represented on the North American Board by several standing committees, the coordinators of which are officers of the NAB or are appointed by the president of the Antiochian Women. These standing committees include the following:
- Religious - The Religious Committee promotes spiritual activities, including retreats and other special programs for women, adult education programs and special programs observing specific feasts and fasts of the liturgical calendar.
- Humanitarian - The Humanitarian Committee promotes and encourages projects and programs of a humanitarian nature, drawing from the legacy of humanitarian good works performed by women in the parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese throughout its history.
- Project - The Project Committee has the responsibility for coordinating the raising of funds from women throughout the Archdiocese to benefit one specific fund-raising project adopted each year by the Antiochian Women.
Posted on the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
of North America website, March 25, 1999