The fourth and fifth weeks of Great Lent 2012 were especially spiritually blessed for St. Mary Church in Hunt Valley (Baltimore), Maryland. His Grace Bishop Thomas’ pastoral visit to the parish during the weekend of March 23-25 for the Feast of the Annunciation coincided with these two critical weeks of Great Lent, prayerfully and powerfully linking them in the Church’s journey to Pascha.
During an eleven day stay in the Baltimore area, Sayidna presided over St. Mary’s daily English and Arabic Lenten services in the weeks both preceding and following the weekend of the Annunciation Feast. His Grace’s gentle pastoral presence, sensitive and profound spiritual guidance, and wisdom offered at the end of these services deepened and strengthened the spiritual preparation of the attendees to receive the Risen Lord at Pascha.
The principal liturgical highlights of His Grace’s visit to St. Mary’s were his presiding over the offering of the fourth Akathist Hymn on March 23, Great Vespers of the Annunciation on March 24, and celebrating Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Liturgy marking the Feast of the Annunciation. Bishop Thomas’ recurring message to the faithful throughout the Annunciation weekend services was that they must constantly strive to fully comprehend the meaning of the “good news” announced to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel and individually live out the reality of the Lord’s redemptive love for humanity demonstrated by the Incarnation, just as did the Theotokos.
At the conclusion of the Hierarchical Liturgy, His Grace and all those present proceeded to the newly constructed road that will access the construction site of the new Byzantine-style church the St. Mary’s community is building. Bishop Thomas prayed over and blessed the new road, aptly named “Heaven’s Way."
St. Anthony Church in Bergenfield, NJ Welcomes Bishop Thomas to Commence Parish Life Conference Registration
His Grace Bishop Thomas honored St. Anthony Church of Bergenfield, New Jersey with his annual visit on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. During the beautiful Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Dn. Peter Boulukos was elevated to Archdeacon as his proud brother and sister-in-law and entire St. Anthony family beamed. After Liturgy, the parish hall was filled as all enjoyed breakfast and entertainment by our children. Inspired by the Creative Festivals theme “The Bible…fills us with eternal joy,” church school students sang a song about Old Testament patriarch Abraham and teens hosted a radio call-in show - featuring audience participation – about the prophesies of the Old Testament.
St. Anthony Parish Life Conference chairs Jim Bach and Lisa Fares, under the guidance of V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Allen, have been working hard to make sure every aspect of this year’s Dioceses of Charleston and New York Parish Life Conference—to be held July 4-8, 2012 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, New Jersey— is a great event. Bishop Thomas spoke to the faithful about our role in making sure that we use the PLC as a way to spread The Word, as we are all called to do, during this registration kick-off event. A table of materials, a “Top 10 Reasons Why All Should Attend the Parish Life Conference” slide show, and a guided tour of the dedicated PLC web site helped ensure that every parishioner knew “The Top 10 Reasons to Attend,” including to enjoy the camaraderie of diocese Orthodox Christians and participate in the traditional and fun events the conference offers for adults, teens, and children!
To register, obtain schedules, purchase an ad for the souvenir journal, or learn more, please visit http://EasternDiocesePLC.weebly.com.
Fr. Wayne Wilson, Senior Pastor of St. Barnabas, writes a greeting for visitors to the parish's new website:
"Welcome to our new parish web site. We designed it to give you a snapshot of our church community and our life together as Eastern Orthodox Christians. I hope that you can join us in worship and also give me an opportunity to meet you and introduce you to our fine parish members."
The new website features an block of professional-quality rotating photos, easy access to information for newcomers, a variety of spiritual writings and Orthodox news of interest on the home page, daily Scripture readings, and "Fr. Wayne's Corner," a priest's blog.
His Grace Bishop Thomas visited the community of St. George Cathedral in Oakland, Pennsylvania over the first weekend of Lent, arriving on the evening of Thursday, March 1st and departing on the afternoon of Monday, March 5th.
During the weekend, the clergy and the faithful of St. George were blessed to worship at eight different services with His Grace! On Thursday evening, we prayed Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. On Friday evening, we prayed the Little Compline with the Akathist Hymns to Our Lady Theotokos. On Theodore Saturday morning, we had Orthros and Divine Liturgy and, in the evening, had Vespers. On Sunday morning, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we had Orthros and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Later in the evening, the Orthodox community of the Greater Pittsburgh area gathered for the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers, which was presided over by His Grace Bishop Thomas and His Grace Bishop Melchisedek of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (Orthodox Church in America). Over 20 priests and deacons from every jurisdiction of the Greater Pittsburgh Orthodox community participated in the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers! Of course, every service was followed by the joy of coffee hour and fellowship in the Church Hall.
Lenten Retreat 2
"That They All May Be One"
Speaker: His Grace Bishop Basil
The retreat is gifted by our Bortherhood and meals will be provided through your love offering.
Lenten Retreat 3
“Voices from the Crowd on the Via Dolorosa, The Way of the Cross”
Speaker: Fr. Lester Michael Bundy of St. Columba Antiochian Orthodox Church
Retreat cost is $49 per person though Sunday, $39 through Saturday. St. Laurence campus is a mountain valley ten miles west of Canon City on Hiway 50, then north eleven miles on Hiway 9 and then west on County Road 21. Call 303-722-0707 or go to saintlaurenceosb.org for directions.
From the March 2012 edition of The Word:
St. Andrew – Intercessor for the Orthodox in America
St. Andrew the First-called Apostle began work as a fisherman and, as proclaimed by our Lord Jesus Christ, he became a fisher of men particularly through his missionary journeys along the Black Sea. Not only did he work during his life here on earth, but he continued to pray and nurture the seeds he had planted in small villages such as Byzantium and Kiev to such a degree that these areas flourished over the centuries and became glorious and mighty centers of the Orthodox Faith. Thus St. Andrew is recognized as the patron saint of Constantinople, Ukraine, Russia, and Romania, as well as several other places. But to what degree does St. Andrew care for the Orthodox Faith here in America?
God revealed St. Andrew as a powerful intercessor for the Orthodox Church in America on the weekend of December 3–4, 2011, when two church temples dedicated to St. Andrew were consecrated in our Archdiocese – one in Riverside, California, and one in Pensacola, Florida. Both of these consecrations share in the blessings of God’s grace through St. Andrew, overcoming earthly hardships with a heavenly respite; temporary sickness with an eternal hospital; demonic despair with divine glory; and murky sin with the light of salvation. Having an incarnate location in these communities in which to bring such cares to God mercifully provides the spiritual nourishment the body requires.
On Sunday, March 4, 2012, St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York hosted the annual Pan-Orthodox Vespers service celebrating the Triumph of Orthodoxy. His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn presided at the service and was guest speaker. Over 20 priests and deacons from the greater New York area were present. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a Lenten meal and fellowship in the Cathedral hall.
His Eminence Archbishop Joseph recently inducted seven new members into the Order of St. Ignatius at St. John the Evangelist Church in Orinda, California. Pictured above (L to R): Fadwa Samara (sponsor), Hanada Fashieh, Howard Ashcraft, Reene Carr (sponsor), James Potts (Life Member), Najat Nicola (sponsor), His Eminence Archbishop Joseph, Tiffany Kirby Gantus, Brandon Gantus, Khalil Mounzer, Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Nick Nicola, Jr. (Sponsor), Kristin Nicola (Order of St. Ignatius, Diocese Vice Chair).