Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
May our Merciful Lord bless all of you and our Holy Parish!
It was just one year ago (March 13, 2020), at the end of the second week of Great Lent, that Covid-19 was declared a “National Emergency”. On Sunday, March 15, 2020, the beginning of the third week of Great Lent, we celebrated Divine Liturgy without restrictions. However, the following Sunday, March 22nd, we were restricted to ten people and a very few of us celebrated Divine Liturgy without hesitation. During the remainder of Great Lent, we celebrated Divine Liturgy on Saturday and Sunday and Pre-sanctified Liturgy every Wednesday and Friday and we keep the entirety of Great Lent and Pascha without hesitation. Since Pascha of 2020, we have celebrated Great Vespers seven days a week and Divine Liturgy every Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and on Great Feasts.
With all of my heart and mind I know that the Divine Services are a well-spring of Grace and, when the services are celebrated, the Eternal and Living Water of the Holy Spirit invisibly flows from the Sacred Altar into the lives of those who with unwavering faith turn to their Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ as the only source of life and salvation. In addition, I know with certainty, that the effects of this grace are not limited by space and time. Toward this end we have tried to make the services available to all of you by celebrating them here in our Holy Church and through our online presence.
On the other hand, we give glory to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Most Holy Mother of God, the Holy Apostles, our Patron St. John the Russian and to all of the saints for their protection which has covered us during these unprecedented times! Glory to God, though a few of our faithful have had the virus, none of which originated in our community, all have been preserved and recovered their good health.
In addition, we all need to thank a very small group of parishioners who have continued the Divine Services on our behalf, always within the official guidelines, with the help of God and by your Holy Prayers.
Need I say that Matushka Xenia and I, and our whole family, cannot wait to see all of you back in church, may God grant, by Pascha, or soon thereafter! On the other hand, each person best understands their own medical and health circumstances and you must make decisions about the appropriate time to return to the Divine Services knowing that you have the love and respect of the whole community.
- Colin James Joyce began attending Divine Services this past Spring and he was Baptized on Nativity.
- In addition, Mark Shan is preparing for Holy Baptism which is scheduled for Lazarus Saturday.
- We welcome Elizabeth and her son Jack who have recently joined us for Divine services.
- We deeply appreciate the many visitors who have visited our Holy Church over the past several months.
- As you may recall, our beloved Parishioner and friend, Stanley Zapustas reposed in the Lord on October 4, 2020. Stanley loved our parish and always came to church on Sundays. He arrived at 8 am and he prayed the Jesus Prayer unceasingly until the beginning of Divine Liturgy. Stanley’s beloved sister, Carol Ann Zapustas, arranged for Stanley’s funeral and after the service and interment Carol asked if she could dedicate something to our church in Stanley’s memory. After a bit of thought, I asked Carol to dedicate an Icon of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia for the Church in Stanley’s memory.
The Holy Icon was written/painted by Peter Dyzuba, the same iconographer that painted the Holy Dormition Icon over the rear doors of the church, in loving memory of Joseph Elias, Marina’s beloved son. Like the Holy Icon of the Dormition, this Holy Icon is a profound spiritual presence in our Holy Church, and it comes to us for our protection and enlightenment in these remarkable and difficult times.
Last Sunday, Stanley’s sister, Carol Ann Zapustas, came to the Sunday Divine Liturgy and we blessed and dedicated the Holy Icon. Please see the icon below.
May the Lord bless you and keep you as we pass through these troubled times. And, may He bring us together in Holy and Sacred Worship as is expedient for each and every one of you according to your need and best judgment.
As we stand on the threshold of Holy and Great Lent, I bow down before each and everyone of you and ask you to forgive all of my offenses, known and unknown. Forgive me a sinner! God Forgives!
With Love in Christ,
Icon of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia for the Church, in loving memory of Stanley Zapustas