Pastoral Letter July 16, 2017

“Rejoice, divine and blessed Anna! Grandmother of Christ our God! You are the blessed ground who caused to blossom the earth which brought forth God for the world! You unceasingly studied the law of God, inscribing grace for all! By your giving birth you broke the bond of barrenness; you overcame death with incorruption; you passed over to divine splendor, after you gave birth to the Theotokos, the Light-bearing lamp. Pray with her that great mercy may be granted to our souls.” – Vespers Hymn for the Dormition of St. Anna

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I pray that you have all enjoyed a blessed week. I must say that our experience up at Strawberry Reservoir for our annual Parish Fishing Trip was a weekend filled with Christian fellowship and great fun. We prayed, ate, danced, ate, fished, ate, laughed, ate…you get the idea.

What a great time! God bless our trip organizers, Chuck Karpakis and Mark Vrontikis. We enjoyed the company of over 140 people who came up during the weekend, and around 70 people who remained for the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. This is continuing to be a lovely July tradition in the life of our community.

July is just full of traditions. We’ve already celebrated Independence Day. Fireworks, BBQ’s, parades, and fun. Every other year (when I’m not attending the National Clergy/Laity Congress) I very much enjoy spending the 4th of July with family and close friends. And let’s not forget our own local holiday toward the end of the month. Pioneer Day! Yeah!!!

So here it is: this message is meant to serve as an important announcement, as well as an appeal to your spiritual sensibilities. While the customs and traditions of our own parish are still growing and forming, I feel it necessary to still send out the reminder that the Feast of the Dormition of St. Anna, our Parish Name Day is the 25th of July.

What does that mean, practically? And what should be developing in your mind’s summer calendar?

Firstly, that while your neighbors and co-workers are commemorating their ancestral journey into this Valley, and celebrating their pioneer spirit, we will be celebrating Great Vespers on the 24th of July.

Great Vespers for the Feast of the Dormition of St. Anna is on Monday, July 24th at 5:00 pm.

I scheduled the service in the late afternoon in case you have evening plans that are also long-standing traditions. Since more and more places are outlawing areal fireworks, your night should be freed up to attend church for your PARISH NAME DAY. Yes…capitalized for emphasis since, I pray, we really should come together, in the church, to honor the Mother of the Theotokos and our Matron Saint Anna.

Please plan on being with us that evening for services, including the Artoklasia, or the Blessing of the Five Loaves.

Secondly, the Divine Liturgy will naturally follow the next day. While I am aware that it is not possible for everyone to take the morning off of work to come to church, but I am really imploring all of you, who are able to be in church, to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in commemoration of our Parish Feast.

The Orthros and Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Dormition of St. Anna is on Tuesday,
July 25th at 9:30 am and 10:30 am, respectively.

Thirdly, please remember that our Parish Name Day Picnic is on Sunday, July 23rd at Canyon Rim Park. This will be our opportunity to gather around each other, commemorate our Third Anniversary as a parish and give thanks to our loving Lord for putting our spiritual home in the hands of Christ’s Maternal Grandmother. I will never, ever, cease praising and thanking God for the name He bestowed upon us.

Our church family is united with a member of His family.

Our mystical identity is forever intertwined with His identity.

Our sacred Mother is the Mother of His Mother.

Please, never let the knowledge of this great honor diminish or fade.

Also, please be mindful that we will be discussing some extremely important details concerning our ongoing Capital Campaign at the Picnic. This effort will take the sacrificial and generous support of all of us to have any hope for success.

So there you have it: our July Traditions. Sacred Traditions. Fellowship Traditions. Holy Traditions.

Wow. Just wait until August…

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony