Pastoral Letter February 9, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There is so much on my mind and in my heart at this time, that I am finding it impossible to put my thoughts and feelings into writing. The events of the past week are still surreal to me. So much has transpired on so many levels: spiritually, personally, ministerially, institutionally, practically and realistically.

We are in our new building.

That sentence is simple enough, but the factors that have contributed to that statement, and the nuances that support it as reality are still elusive to me. We are still setting up offices, creating classroom space, figuring out where things are, identifying vendors, creating procedural documents and finding our way around.

I am still prayerfully working on crafting some sort of a semblance of all I am thankful for at this time. The individuals, our parish council, our ministry leaders, my family. It’s all swirling around in my mind and I know that very soon, I will be able to properly give thanks to you all. You have accomplished so much as a parish in such a short amount of time. God’s love shines brilliantly upon you.

So for now, and at this time, I am going to jump into some normalcy and call attention to some activities in the life of our St. Anna Parish.

Last Saturday evening, as you well know, we sponsored a Gala Celebration in commemoration of finalizing our move to the new church and giving thanks to the good people of St. Thomas More. As I have shared before, I felt it to be burdensome to our parishioners to hold a Glendi and an Apokreatiko (Meat Fare) Celebration in such close proximity to each other. We went forward (successfully) with the Glendi. But, Great Lent is still upon us and we should usher it into our lives – of course spiritually, but also with some good fun.

So please join us on February 21 at 7:00 pm for our Mardi Gras Family Night. Just like our other Family Nights throughout the year, such as Halloween and Christmas, we will come together in a more casual atmosphere; this time easing ourselves into the rigors of the Great Fast. Remember that Family Nights are a celebration of our St. Anna Family. If you don’t have children or grandchildren, it does not mean that this party is not for you.

Please remember that Sunday School Classes resume this week. There are many things different about the program at this time. Notably the children will be excused for class at the conclusion of the Liturgy.

IF WE HAVE NEGLECTED TO BE CLEAR ABOUT THS BEFORE, LET ME BE CLEAR NOW: SUNDAY WORSHIP WILL NOW BEGIN WITH THE ORTHROS AT 9:00 am FOLLOWED BY THE DIVINE LITURGY AT 10:00 am. WE ARE STARTING EARLIER BECAUSE SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES WILL BEGIN LATER. THIS WAY, WE SHOULD FINISH THE DAY’S ACTIVITIES AT THE SAME TIME AS BEFORE. THIS IS OUR PLAN. WILL IT WORK OUT PERFECTLY? I HONESTLY DON’T KNOW. WE WILL FIND OUT TOGETEHR AS WE BEGIN OUR NEW NORMAL.

I do want to share one final thought about last Sunday. It’s a personal thought. After the conclusion of our first Liturgy, His Eminence elevated my priesthood by bestowing upon me the title of “Protopresbyter.” This was a great and humbling honor, as this is the highest office a married clergyman can hold in our Orthodox tradition. Through the work of the Parish Council, you the parishioners of St. Anna’s gifted me with a pectoral cross that is lovely beyond measure. I am ever grateful for your generosity and Christian love. Thank you so much!

As gilded and bedecked as it is, it is still a cross. It bears the image of the crucified Christ. It is a symbol of our collective sacrifices and labors unto God’s glory. As a parish, we all share in the successes and celebrations we enjoy. Just as we all carry our responsibilities and suffer each others challenges. We are One. We have been blessed as One.  We glorify God as One. 

Thank you for your patience in this disjointed writing. I am praying for focus and clarity in these busy days. But as I said before, normalcy is returning. God bless you for all that has been accomplished. Let us go forward in peace, joy and Christ’s love.

With Blessings and Gratitude,

Fr. Anthony