Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message May 8, 2022

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

I hope, pray and trust that these days of the Resurrection bring you joy, hope and inspiration. We are heading into the summer with much anticipation, many changes to our physical campus, and a continued sense of urgency to keep us gathered together as a family in Christ. We are one family in Christ.

A couple months ago, we started to notice an increase in church attendance and ministry activities. This is a great blessing.  Seeing faces from a pandemic ago as Holy Week and Pascha emerged made us all feel very happy. What can make us feel better as a faith community, than rekindled relationships?  We’ve also been blessed to meet many new visitors, inquirers and families who have recently moved into the area.

But I want to make something very clear and publicly known that neither myself nor our parish council take a single family or individual for granted. Our St. Anna parish is barely eight years old. Even in these few years, people have come and gone, attended and moved, bought in, bowed out. Especially as we headed into the pandemic. This reality was certainly not unique to our parish. No matter your industry, institution, enterprise, or otherwise, disbursement, displacement and disappearance has been a harsh reality. 

As a pastor, my vocation and life’s work is relationships. I try to foster stronger ones, strive to mend broken ones, and hope to create new ones. That is, relationships between you and me, you and each other, and absolutely, positively, most-importantly, between all of us and God. During the rest of the Spring and into the Summer, you will really see how serious I and your parish council are about the good health of our relationships. 

Parish Council President, Steve Simos and I have identified several, distinct ministry and demographic groups within our St. Anna parish. Working with our parish council, we are going to be planning and hosting several open houses with these individual groups. That way, we can listen to the exact reasons we may have drifted these last couple years. We can learn what to do better as a parish, irregardless of pandemic-related issues. We want active feedback and hope for a strong and shared commitment to the spiritual well being of our community. We can all work together with a shared vision for our immediate and long-range future.

Much investment in time and resources are being dedicated to just that – our future, with the build out of our sanctuary and facilities. The exterior of the church will soon be unmistakably recognizable as an Orthodox Christian church.

Again, will it look like a post card from the Greek Islands? No.

Will it have whitewashed walls and a blue dome? No.

Will it convey traditional and defined characteristics of a Greek Orthodox house of worship? Absolutely!

And of course, that’s just the outside. Inside the sanctuary itself, there will be no question about the sacred atmosphere of which we are accustomed. 

Just like our building is transforming somewhat on the outside, but especially on the inside, this is what must take place within each one of us, as well. Every individual person and family, lay people and clergy, young and old, cradle Orthodox and adult converts, must be inspired to grow, expand and change. All of us!

Just like the physical structure of our church, the spiritual structure of our parish must be transfigured as well – ministries, classes, gatherings, parish communications, outreach, individual witness and worship – they all need sharpening in delivery and in participation. What a blessed opportunity for us to press upward and forward.
I hope to mirror our spiritual transformation with our physical transformation. Otherwise, what would be the point of repurposing our building in the first place?

Doing all of this just off a disruption of coronavirus’ magnitude is, what I believe, perfectly timed. We’re going to make lemonade out of a two-year lemon!

Even though the actual Feast of Pascha has come and gone, we are still very much in the days of the Resurrection. We find warmth in the glow which continues to radiate from Christ’s empty tomb. In the life of the Church, these are the happiest, most joy-filled days. Let Pascha, the Feast of Renewal, the Feast of Restoration, the Feast of Transformation come alive in the change of our building and the change in our hearts. Let the expansion of our building parallel the expansion of our horizons. Let the beautification of our space make our souls, once again, white as snow.

Dear and lovely people of our St. Anna family. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished. God bless you for your vision and focus. Let me, once again thank you for your unyielding commitment and sustained generosity.

When you are called upon to participate in your Open House(s), please don’t hesitate or hold back. Get ready! Changes are coming. In brick and mortar. And in hearts and souls.

With Much Love in our Risen Lord,

Fr. Anthony Savas