Pastoral Letter August 18, 2019

She who is higher than the heavens, and more glorious than the Cherubim, and is held in greater honor than all creation; she who for surpassing purity became the vessel of the eternal Essence, today commits her all-holy soul into the hands of her Son. And together with her all things are filled with joy, and on us is bestowed the great mercy.

Doxastikon Hymn for the Dormition of the Theotokos Great Vespers

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I trust and pray that all of you who celebrated your Name Day yesterday, enjoyed a most blessed Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Our Lady and Queen is the very protector of all that is sacred in our lives and her perpetual influence, before very throne of God is a source of comfort and sustenance that can never fade. Her departure from this life, though bringing great sadness to her contemporary world, empowers her to pray eternally and to enjoy a never-ending proximity to her Son and our God, our Lord Jesus Christ. May she continue to pray for us, inspire us, guide us and protect us.

Last evening, following a day filled with her grace and love, our parish of St. Anna was able to once again, experience the continued blessings of our Lady the Theotokos, and her tender mother, our Matron St. Anna. Together, these most-powerful women of God have demonstrated their ability to progress the Name of the Lord and expand the witness of His Orthodox Church. How can we help but think that the Panaghia prayers for the faithful to grow, for the Church to expand and that more people can be led to salvation. She herself, in these last days, received the gift of eternal life…an eternal life that she made possible in bearing the Son of God. She partook of her own blessed fruit. She, herself, along with the entirety of humanity, benefits from her humble obedience and trust in the Lord.

So last night, our parish stood before the Planning Commission of Sandy City; seeking to obtain a Conditional Use Permit to operate a church on a property, and in a building, that was originally constructed as a nursery, then later converted into a reception center. The panel of officials heard the report presented by the Sandy City Planning Department, and the comments offered by our parish council president, Michael Petrogeorge. Michael, as the official applicant shared our vision, purpose, intentions and aspirations. He was not doubt guided and gifted by our precious Lady and Mother of God.

On August 15, 2019, our parish was granted our petition and we now have the go-ahead, from our new city, to establish a new spiritual center in the heart of Sandy’s east bench. We were congratulated by city officials and given well-wishes from the people who needed to tell us “yes.” If we want to establish a new church in their city, we needed to hear “yes.” If we want to plant a banner for the sake of the Gospel and the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we needed to hear “yes.” If our parish dreams, our hard work, our intensified push for a home for ourselves was to be realized, we needed to hear “yes.”

If salvation was to granted the people of God, if the Father’s plan for redemption was to be fulfilled, if the divine Logos was to take on flesh, we…needed…to…hear…”yes.”

Universal salvation was celebrated yesterday on the Feast of Her Dormition. As a local parish, as a small community of believers, as the children of St. Anna, we were also able, just yesterday, to reaffirm our responsibility in the salvation of mankind, to provide a house of worship dedicated to the ministry of Christ and the sharing of His Gospel.

While the entirety of the Orthodox World celebrated her translation from this life to the next, we, as a tiny, nearly undetectable portion of His Body, were able to share joy over the same word that changed the course of human history. Yes.

Sandy City said yes, we can operate.

So once again, the narrative switches back to us. As you will see in the latest updates of our capital campaign, we have achieved 96% of our goal to purchase the Atrium Property with putting down half of the purchase price with $1.5 million. My most beloved in the Lord, this is a staggering number. No longer is it staggering because it needed to be obtained…it is now incredible because we are only about $65,000 from responsibly attaining this dream. I ask that whomever is among us that has not yet participated in this historic and significant effort to establish ourselves with a permanent home, now is the time for your own “yes.”

Please, we are so, so close. Let’s quickly wrap this up and dedicate our God-inspired efforts elsewhere. I thank you for your tireless work, trust and vision. I thank you for your unyielding faith. I thank you for your dedication to Christ and His Church. I thank you for an infectious and sustained positive and welcoming attitude. I thank you for your appreciation of St. Anna. I thank you for your “yes.”

With Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony