Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter May 15, 2016

“But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” – Mark 16:6-7 (From the Paschal Gospel Reading)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday will mark the Second Sunday of Pascha, which is celebrated as the Sunday of the Myrrh Bearing Women, commonly understood to be Mary Magdalene, Mary the Theotokos, Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, Mary of Bethany, and Martha of Bethany. Of course Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are also commemorated on this day.

Of all the figures in the New Testament, there are no other groups of people, or individuals who were more committed to the ministry and person of Jesus Christ. The realities of their bravery and commitment escapes us as we tend to romanticize their role and minimize the dangers involved in carrying out their sacred task.

At the point of our Lord’s Crucifixion, both political and religious tensions had reached an explosive climax. Pilate was one decision away from a riot, the leadership of the Temple had finally come to the place where their paranoia, anger, resentment and jealousy had become literally blood-thirsty, and any follower of Jesus was seen as an enemy to the State and especially to the Jewish community.

Yet, there stood these brave women of extreme love and faith. They had no idea how events would unfold before them; there is no way they could have anticipated the Father’s plan and the Resurrection of Christ. That said, they risked everything in order to care, most tenderly, for the dead body of their beloved Rabbi and Master.

They stumbled around in the dark, risking authorities, soldiers, robbers and wildlife. They could not carry lamps, for fear of detection. They did not have the protection of the disciples, since they were scattered in various places of hiding. Unaccompanied women wandering in the darkness of the wilderness was, to be sure, a recipe for disaster. Or was it an opportunity for unimaginable joy and anticipation? At least it would eventually prove to be.

For their commitment unto the end (even well past the end) the Holy Myrrh Bearers, most especially and notably Mary Magdalene, were afforded the due honor of being the first to proclaim the Resurrection. The reaction of the disciples was not instantly absorbed and accepted by the ranks of the disciples (moreover, some women of our company amazed us…(Luke 24:22)). Their message was too good to be true.

But it was true.

It is Truth incarnate.

So from the time the faithful women departed from Christ’s tomb with the angel’s message of Christ’s instructions, the communication of the Gospel has been at the forefront of our Christian responsibilities. As a parish, our means of effectively communicating our activities, services and ministries is critically important. Like the Myrrh Bearers, we must share, proclaim, inform and inspire.

This is precisely why we want to introduce to you our St. Anna Mobile App! Tomorrow evening, you will receive an email that will link you to the demonstration of our new app. As I announced on the morning of Pascha (hey, like a Myrrh Bearer) we are currently awaiting our licenses through Google and Apple so that our app may be made available through their App Stores.

Until then, play around with the App in its demo mode. You won’t be able to do everything we intend, but you will get the idea. The plan to develop a mobile app for the use and ease of our parishioners was my goal, together with our parish council for quite some time. We figured the best time to release such a project was after we received our parish name.

And with the help of a few individuals, we wasted no time. Leo Davis helped with some technical intricacies, while Michael Petrogeorge maintained a consistent hand on all of our parish communications. I wish to especially thank Georgiann Petrogeorge for heading up this effort with her expertise and enthusiasm. She has dedicated many, many hours to this project. We could not have produced such an amazing product without their efforts.

This useful tool will enable you, the parishioners of St. Anna, to have at a glance and at a touch every form of communication our church has to offer. But please, as you begin to get a feel for our app, let me know what you feel is missing and where we can improve.

A photo library is currently in development and at some point, we will have the opportunity to make donations and pay stewardship directly through the app. Please email me (and you’ll see how easy that can be) with your feedback and suggestions. This is going to be a wonderful tool and it will grow, as we grow. The Myrrh Bearers have a fantastic and life-giving story to tell. And we will continually strive to find creative ways to share it. I remain,

With Love in our Risen Lord,

Fr. Anthony