Bishop John Visits St. Michael Church in Whittier, CA
The visit of a Bishop is a very important and special event in the life of a parish. This is not because of the personality of the man, or the fact that he holds a position of authority in the organizational structure of the church. Rather, Bishops are successors of the Apostles. In other words, they are very much like "direct descendants" of the men who were specifically chosen and sent by Our Lord Jesus Christ to go forth in His Name. Furthermore, it is their faithfulness to the teachings of those first Apostles which constitute the unity of the Church.
This was most certainly the case when Bishop John, the Vicar Bishop for Western Rite Vicariate parishes, visited St Michael's Church in Whittier, California March 11-13. His Grace met with all the clergy, the members of the Parish Council, the Antiochian Women of St Michael, and the youth. His Grace also spent an entire morning with the Society of St Benedict, which is a prayer society committed to the principles in the Rule of St Benedict.
His Grace also presided over several liturgical services, and preached the homily on the Sunday before Lent encouraging the faithful as they entered the Lenten journey. Following the Sunday Mass, a banquet in His Grace's honor was held. Bishop John joyfully answered numerous questions from parishioners and catechumens, and then spent several hours visiting with individual parishioners.
Our recently appointed parish priest, V. Rev. John W. Fenton, presented His Grace with an embroidered icon made by one of the parishioners, and a signed copy of "Iron Blood" by HSH Eleonora Kantemir, Princess of Moldavia, who has been attending St Michael's.
The presence of the Bishop in the congregation—both during the liturgical services and even during meetings—brings to life the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in our midst. The loving care, continual encouragement and self-sacrifice of His Grace both was evident to the parishioners, and has inspired them to remain constant in their faith and witness.