A year ago, 12-year-old Maria and her family were refugees, adrift on the Ionian Sea in the hold of a rotten ship. Today, she and her brothers are getting an education at a school in Athens supported by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
Maria and her family have a lot to be thankful for. They’ve been able to make a fresh start because of an IOCC program made possible by the support of Orthodox Christians throughout the United States.
This Sunday, Nov. 24, Orthodox Christians will observe IOCC Sunday, a day designated by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) to focus on the humanitarian work of the Orthodox Church. Founded by SCOBA in 1992, IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians.
Parishes traditionally observe IOCC Sunday by taking a special offering, mentioning IOCC in the homily, or reading the IOCC Sunday encyclical letter by the SCOBA hierarchs.
This year’s encyclical encourages people to think of IOCC’s mission in light of Jesus’ command to the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give to the poor: “Though we may not be able to achieve the ideal and sell all that we have, we must, as followers of Christ, do all that is possible to alleviate the hunger and the pain of all who suffer on this small planet that God created for us.”
“In the midst of our feast of plenty, we, your Archpastors, invite all Orthodox Christians to manifest the unity of Christ and the love of God,” SCOBA said. “We ask you to join us in supporting the work of IOCC.”
The encyclical makes special mention of IOCC’s 10th anniversary, which is being celebrated this year. In just 10 short years, IOCC has distributed more then $140 million in relief and development programs in 21 countries. “Through IOCC, let us join together to respond to the call of Jesus Christ to help those in need,” the nine hierarchs said.
In other IOCC news, a series of presentations will be given in the New York Metropolitan area for those Orthodox faithful interested in learning more about the current domestic and international relief efforts and development activies being handled by IOCC. Commemorating 10 years of global relief initiatives, Fr. John Kaloudis, a Development Officer of International Orthodox Christian Charities will given the presentations in the following locations:
Manhattan, New York
6:30 PM, Friday, November 22
IOCC Metropolitan Committee Social & Presentation*
59 West 21st Street (between 5th & 6th Ave.)
Wayne, New Jersey
6:00 PM, Saturday November 23
Vespers & Presentation
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church
285 French Hill Road
10:45 AM, Sunday, November 24
Divine Liturgy & Presentation
St. Nicholas Shrine Church
196-10 Northern Boulevard
7:00 PM, Sunday, November, 24
Presentation & Reception
St. Mary’s Orthodox Church
121 East 7th Street
To learn more about IOCC’s pan-Orthodox mission and other giving opportunities, including the Thanksgiving “Lunchless Lunch” appeal, please visit http://www.iocc.org or call toll-free 1-877-803-IOCC (4622).