Pastoral Letter July 17, 2016

“O marvellous wonder! The noble Anna who wondrously conceived the wellspring of life who alone is blessed and pure among women, is translated from perishable life to life everlasting, being taken up from the earth to the heavenly places. She rejoices today with the companies of angels, and we now celebrate her holy festival.” – Vespers Hymn on the Dormition of St. Anna

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A week from this coming Sunday, our parish will celebrate our first opportunity to hymn and praise our matron saint, and protectress, St. Anna, as we commemorate her Dormition. Though there are several opportunities in the calendar of the Church to commemorate St. Anna, the 25th of July is the day we recognize her falling asleep in the Lord.

I am sure that many of our St. Anna families have created long-lasting traditions as God-fearing and patriotic Utahans, reaching back into our “history” and appropriately celebrating Pioneer Day every July 24th. Only in this state, do the sellers and providers of fireworks get to hang around for another 20 days, capitalizing on a unique market and extending their season.

But now this day is most sacred in our calendar, together with our local neighbors and friends who acknowledge their past and the eventual formation of our state. Each year, we will gather on the evening of July 24th to celebrate Grate Vespers for the Feast of St. Anna. We chose the time of 6:00 pm, earlier than our typical evening services so to not conflict with the evening activities you may have been conducting for years. Now is the time for new traditions and commemorations. Now when your co-workers ask you, with excitement what your plans are for the 24th, you can answer with equal interest and authentic enthusiasm.

I pray that all of us who may have the 25th of July off of work can join us for the Divine Liturgy in celebration of the Dormition of St. Anna. We have the unique and most-sacred responsibility to come together as a Christian family and lift up the Name of St. Anna in the partaking of the Eucharist. This year will obviously be the first time we come together as a parish and celebrate the Divine Liturgy in honor of our matron saint. Let’s please, not miss out on this precious opportunity.

Of course, what should be attached to any Orthodox Feast is a proper celebration or party. Perhaps anywhere in the world, it would be easy to find a park, recreation facility, blank space on the map, or even an abandoned softball park to picnic for the Feast of St. Anna. Not so easy, to find such a place on the 24th and 25th of July here in Utah. This is why our picnic plans are on hold until the end of August.

Now that our name has been given to us as a parish, and we know when our commemoration is to be held, we can plan much further in advance. This year was just too late to book a place on or around our desired weekend.

Let us look to the Mother of the Theotokos with wonderment and awe, for her unrepeated place in the history of our salvation. Her fruit bore the fruit that was to grant everlasting life to a fallen world. I look forward to sharing these events with you, our St. Anna family!

With Love in Christ,
Fr. Anthony

P.S.

I also want to thank all of the faithful who participated in this week’s Paraklesis Service for the health of Fr. Matthew and for the peace of his family. As I am sure many of you know by now, it has been determined that the cancer has not spread to his brain, giving him the opportunity to enjoy the love and company of his family.

We will continue to pray that this victory will be the first of many healing miracles that the good Lord sees fit to bestow upon His faithful presbyter, Fr. Matthew.

Many of you have offered your financial assistance to the Gilbert Family through the St. Anna Altar and Benevolence Fund. That is much appreciated. Please feel compelled to offer your participation if you are able. This was a swift and violent force that came upon the Gilberts suddenly in a manner, in which no family could possibly be prepared to absorb. Please be generous.

Holy One heal him! God comfort his family! Lord have mercy!