Psalms 99:2 commands us to “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with great joy.” St. Michael Church  in Van Nuys, California did just that when it came together on the weekend of January 12-13, 2013 to honor and celebrate the 30 years of joyous service in the holy priesthood of their pastor, the Very Rev. Timothy Baclig.
The festivities began with the celebration of Great Vespers, presided by Archbishop Joseph with several clergy from throughout southern California in attendance. We then proceeded to our community center ballroom that was decorated with an elegant Hawaiian theme in honor of Fr. Timothy’s birthplace.
It was a joy for our parish to have Fr. Timothy’s son Michael, daughter-in- law Rebekah, and his grandchildren “home” with us for the weekend. Additionally, we were delighted to welcome several members of the Baclig family, many who came from Hawaii, including his brother and sister-in-law Andy & Rosemary Baclig, Jr., his sister Carol Bissen, along with Father’s nieces, nephews and cousins.
One of the most moving moments of the weekend came when we managed to catch Fr. Timothy off guard with the unexpected arrival of his very dear family friends, Randy and Gay Hongo. The Hongos are Hawaiian Christian music entertainers and have been close to the entire Baclig family for years. Their beautiful music was a warm prelude to the event’s tribute, culminating with Fr. Timothy joining them in a selection of Hawaiian melodies.
It was an evening full of both warm remarks and memories including those shared by master of ceremonies Don Meena, parish council chairman Constantine Nasr, and Los Angeles councilman Dennis Zine who presented a proclamation on behalf of the city. Constantine also produced an extraordinary video retrospective highlighting Father’s call to Orthodoxy and his life in the holy priesthood.
Just when we didn’t think it could get more emotional, we were blessed by a surprise video greeting from His Grace Bishop Antoun, who is also celebrating his 30th year in the holy episcopate. Sayidna Antoun’s remarks reflected on Fr. Timothy as his first ordained priest and their serving many paschal liturgies at St. George in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. The videos were followed by Michael Baclig delivering a moving tribute to his dad and the St. Michael parish community.
We were blessed to have Archbishop Joseph with us as our guest speaker. In addition to his sincere sentiments about Fr. Timothy’s service to his flock, the diocese and his Christian ministry, the archbishop delivered another special surprise when he bestowed upon Fr. Timothy the Antonian Silver Medal on behalf of Metropolitan Philip for his unwavering dedication to the Antiochian Archdiocese.
Fr. Timothy addressed the many family and friends who were present with heartfelt remarks, reflective and thankful as he paid tribute to the love he and his family have always been shown from the parishes he served both in Upper Darby and Van Nuys. He offered a special tribute to the founders of St. Michael parish, several of whom were in attendance.
The celebration culminated on Sunday with the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, presided by Archbishop Joseph, followed by a beautiful reception hosted by the Antiochian Women, which also included an encore performance by the Hongos. It was a wonderful conclusion to a weekend filled with joy, Christian love and fellowship to honor our much-admired pastor.