2016 ANNUAL PARISH & MONASTERY REPORTS

MONASTERIES & SKETES

Alaska St. Nilus | Alaska St. Michael | Escondido | Platina | Safford | Wildwood 

PARISHES

Anderson | Alhambra | Anchorage | Angeles Camp | Arcadia | Bisbee | Boise | Butte | Colorado Springs | Denver | Eugene | Fair Oaks | Fresno | Honolulu | Jackson | Kalispell | Las Vegas | Mexico | Moraga | Oakland | Orange County | Phoenix St. Sava | Phoenix St. Nikola | Portland | Reno | Salt Lake City | San Diego | San Francisco | San Gabriel | San Marcos | Saratoga | Seattle St. Sava | Seattle Pokrov

  

ANDERSON, CALIFORNIA

St. Andrew Fool-For-Christ Serbian Orthodox Parish
1865 Diamond Street, Anderson, CA 96007

REPORT COMING SOON!

 

ALHAMBRA, CALIFORNIA

SAINT STEVEN'S SERBIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL
1621 West Garvey, Avenue, Alhambra, CA 91803

PARISH REPORT FOR YEAR 2015
To the Diocesan Annual Assembly – September 4, 2016
PARISH STATISTICS

Divine Liturgies: 96 Matins: 70
Vigil/Vespers Services: 65 Marriages: 5
Vigil/Vespers Services: 65 Pastoral Meetings with groups/individuals: 142
Vigil/Vespers Services: 65 Marriage Enrichment sessions: 16
Baptisms/Chrismations: 18 Visitations to the sick: 42
Funerals: 9 Catechism sessions for adults 14

It is important as we reflect back and at the same time look ahead, that we once more rediscover the importance of our life in Christ. The months and years are spent building our Saint Steven’s parish and its ministries and keeping them in use and repair. Regarding the accomplishments of our parish in some areas, or the lack of accomplishments and possible errors in other areas, we can all certainly rejoice in the good that we have seen and done.

Our Lord challenges us by asking, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his immortal soul?” That is true for families, as well as for parishes. No matter how prosperous we may become in material things, we cannot lose this battle for the heart and soul of what we are all about. Saint Steven’s is a great parish because it is a good parish. That goodness is defined not by always doing things to perfection, since no one can do that; but rather, by always striving to be obedient and faithful to our Lord and his commandments. Living in the world, we are all constantly being bombarded by negative, ungodly forces that are trying to influence us to compromise and give in and to infiltrate our minds and convince us and deceive us into making poor choices. We must assure that such voices are not louder than ours. We must never give into those temptations and secular influences around us, for they only lead to defeat and misery. We must remember that prosperity comes only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted. Therefore, we must remain grounded in the person of Jesus Christ. We must continue to stand firm in the faith. Stand firm in the faith that Christ is our Savior. Stand firm in the faith of the forgiveness of sins. Growing in joyful faith is standing firm in the faith. Growing in Christ’s love is also standing firm in the faith. For all this we must depend upon God. "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). That is our calling. That is the calling of every person and every family. It is our duty therefore to stay focused on building the living church within and around us – which is always built on the foundation of prayer. We must never stop bringing prayer to our families, especially to our children, for a child that prays is a happy child, a family that prays is a united family, and a parish that prays is happy and united parish. I am confident that we will have the desire and ability to rise to the challenges of our times. As we strive to do so in our personal lives as well as in our beloved Cathedral parish, let us always remember the Promise of God: “those that seek the Lord, shall never be in want of any good thing.” (Psalm 34:10)

Christmas and Epiphany
The beginning of January is recorded in the annals of the Christian Church as an ancient celebration of an event in the life of Jesus Christ which is considered as the beginning of His official dedication to His Divine Mission in the presence and manifestation of the Triune Christian God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Early on in the Christian experience, this Feast included the Birth of Jesus Christ (that is, the Incarnation of the Logos), His Baptism (that is, His dedication in a human manner), and the appearance of the Father and the Holy Spirit-the first and only united appearance of the true Christian God. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, "filled with the Holy Spirit", said in anticipation, "whereby the dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
In 2015, the Eve of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ (Holy Cross Day) fell on a Sunday. His Grace, Bishop Maxim, celebrated the Liturgy at Saint Steven’s Cathedral with the Cathedral clergy – Protopresbyter Stavrophor Nicholas Ceko, Dean, Protopresbyter Stavrophor Ilija Daikovich, Presbyter Norman Kosanovich – and the Diocesan Deacon, Zoran Aleksic. Near the conclusion of the Liturgy, the Altar servers led the clergy and parishioners in a procession out of the church and to the social court, where a bubbling water fountain and several receptacles of water were prepared in anticipation of the service of the Great Blessing of Water, taking place under a crystal-blue sky and in the comfortable warmth of a sunny January morning. As the Epiphany troparion hymn was sung, Bishop Maxim generously showered the gathered faithful with the blessed water, much to the delight of all the children! At the conclusion, everyone received a hand-sized Holy Water bottle, filled and labeled for use at home.

Savindan 
On Sunday, January 25, 2015, the Sunday school presented the latest edition of the Saint Sava Day Children's Program. The day began with Matins and Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Cathedral Dean Fr. Nicholas Ceko and Cathedral clergy: Fr. Ilija Daikovich, and Fr. Norman Kosanovich. Then the children prepared for the festive program that featured song and dance by the RCA's folklore dance groups – Andjeli, Opancici, and Sokoli – a presentation by the combined Preschool and Kindergarten classes, the beautiful song presentation by our Sunday School Music class and Youth Chorale directed by Jonny Braun, as well as individual student recitations in both Serbian and English. A delicious lunch, tasty desserts, ice cream sundae bar, and folk dancing by young and old alike rounded out another satisfying celebration, for which we give thanks to our Lord and His servant, Sava.

Family Winter Camp
Over the weekend of February 6-8, 2015, the third year of the new, expanded winter camp saw even more students and parents attending than at the previous two! There was no snow to enjoy this year, but there were additions to the camp program that made up for it. The weekend began with a pizza dinner awaiting the families as they arrived at the Cathedral to board a charter bus for Wrightwood; once there, Director John Pecel greeted everyone and directed them to their cabins to stow their gear and prepare for orientation. Included in the orientation was the introduction of Jonathan Braun, newest member of Saint Steven’s educational staff, to his first Family Winter Camp. Jonny’s students, in either the Sunday school music class or the Youth chorale, made up one third of all the kids attending camp. The theme this year was “Not Just A Mustard Seed,” and class discussions explored Jesus’ assertion in the Gospel that faith like the tiniest mustard seed can move mountains. Students were divided into three age groups and rotated between discussion, music, and arts & crafts led by Cyndi Stepich, which featured using a variety of seeds to personalize drinking mugs and photo frames!
For the first time in several years, a volunteer kitchen crew consisting of camper parents prepared delicious meals Saturday and Sunday. Everyone had high praise for Marko & Kris Dobrilovic, Jeff & Jennifer Ratkovich, and Vaso Adzich. Speaking of parents, when the Friday night icebreakers ended and campers headed to their cabins, Fr. Nick led a fireside discussion with parents on contemporary song lyrics that featured a sing-a-long component with Jonny and his guitar! On Saturday, Fr. Norman discussed the camp theme with the parents, which included examples of ‘mountains that have to be moved’ in pursuit of a family’s healthy sacramental life.
A steady Saturday afternoon drizzle slightly altered the plan for outdoor recreational activities: several campers and parents were still able to hike the camp trail, but for others, whiffle ball, football, and volleyball were replaced by taking turns on a popular air hockey table and drinking hot chocolate. Something new to include during this time was preparing for the talent/variety show scheduled for after dinner! The Kindergarteners and First Graders combined to sing two songs to start the show, followed by Grades Three through Seven. The rest of the show featured campers in a variety of brief skits that had everyone laughing and applauding. Several group activities kept everyone entertained until it was time to retire in anticipation of the Divine Liturgy in the morning.
Even the worship services had some new elements this year: Saturday morning featured an Akathist hymn: Glory to God for all Things, chanted and sung almost entirely by the campers; Vespers in the evening also had more verses for campers to chant during the service, and the Liturgy provided the music class students an opportunity to lead everyone in praising God with arrangements they have been learning in class.
As the bus pulled away Sunday afternoon and headed back for Alhambra, campers shared memories just made and anticipation for 2016 Family Winter Camp Program had already begun!

Cathedral Faith Lecture Series:
The Future of Orthodoxy in America Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic)
On February 24, 2015, Saint Steven's hosting the first of two in a series of special Faith Lectures for the year. The dinner talk was about the future of Orthodoxy in America, led by His Grace, Bishop Athanasius, visiting from Herzegovina. After visiting ten American states during a month-long stay, Bishop Athanasius stated that our (Orthodox) Faith in America has a future and he believes that an authentic Orthodox mission is deep evangelization. These were among the words he shared with us that day:
Young people in America, who seek Orthodoxy, seek to confront secularism. The Orthodox Church and her missionary work needs to help them in this endeavor. Not some kind of cheap missionary work likened to that of some zealots in our country, rather a deep tilling and sowing of evangelical seed in the souls of young people. That is not only the religious teachings, nor is it catechesis or homiletics, rather it is the awakening of new life in Christ and renewing and life-giving grace which the Holy Spirit gives through the holy virtues and the Holy Sacraments. An authentic Orthodox mission is deep evangelization. Orthodoxy has existed in America for over two centuries, but it is only in the twentieth century that its existence was strengthened. Since my last visit to the United States, Iʼve noticed significant improvement in Orthodoxy in America. I served in many parishes and visited monasteries. I was especially pleased to visit and serve in the newly opened Greek, Russian and Serbian monasteries where the monks and nuns are American. Thanks to the good intentions and good will of devout bishops, clergy and people, new monasteries are now opened on the West Coast. They say that California is ahead of everyone else in America, both in the good as well as the bad. It seems as if the Orthodox believers in California are trying to keep up with the States’ advanced status. My impression is that Orthodoxy has its deeper future. There is no doubt that America is a new missionary field for Orthodoxy. Not in the sense of propagation or obtaining supporters, for there is too much religious and Christian proselytizing in America. America is, generally speaking, a Protestant country. However, the Protestant divisions, along with partial and flawed understanding of the reality of the Church of Christ has not contributed, and does not contribute, to authentic evangelization and complete ecclesial Christianization of America. Protestantism came as a reaction to the wrongful and erroneous doings of the Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless, Protestantism did not find a way to return to authentic Christianity. Even though they have accomplished much on the humanitarian, social and other aspects of life, they are in ever so great a danger of being secularized, regardless of their humanitarian organizations which suits official America and which are supported by it for the purpose of the worldly wellbeing of its society. But the Church is not “the society of this world,” yet it is in this world and she, the Church of Christ, and not America, is the salvation of the world. I have had the opportunity to reflect on Godʼs wondrous ways and works throughout the world and its history – that the Gospel as the Good News of salvation is preached to the end of the universe and to the end of the ages, and that all people, as the children of God, are called and brought home into the Church of Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father.”

Sunday of Orthodox: Triumph of Faith
The first Sunday of Great Lent commemorates the return of Icons to the worship of the Church in 843, A.D., following the defeat of the heresy of iconoclasm. Orthodox Christians in the metropolitan Los Angeles area gathered here at the Saint Steven’s Cathedral on Saturday, February 28, 2015, and Sunday, March 1, to conclude the first week of Lent with a youth rally for students in Grades 5 through 12. The Vespers Service for the feast included an icon procession with the participating clergy, and a homily by special guest speaker, Very Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, NY. The Vespers hymns were sung by the newly-formed POYAC singers established by Cathedral Dean, Fr. Nicholas Ceko and Cathedral lay assistant, Jonny Braun. The evening then concluded with a short concert by POYAC, the Pan-Orthodox Young Adult Choir and with refreshments fellowship in the Social hall. On Sunday morning, the Matins and Liturgy were celebrated with Father Chad as guest and another festive procession of icons in honor of the feast.

Pascha, The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord
Following the solemn services of Holy Week, Saint Steven’s Pascha Celebration on April 12th was bursting with joy, complete with a Midnight candlelight procession and Liturgy, Agape feast banquet and afternoon picnic with a traditional Easter egg hunt for all of the children of the parish.

3rd Annual Festival of Learning
The Central aim of Christian education in our Church is to evoke and nurture faith in Jesus Christ according to the Orthodox Teaching and vision, out of which issues a genuine Orthodox way of life. The Church nurtures a living awareness of the risen Christ in our midst, who is the true Celebrant of Sacraments and the true Teacher of His people, and makes Himself known to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The whole range of Orthodox educational material- books, visuals, Bible Studies, lives of saints contemporary discussion of Christian values-becomes effective to the degree that communicates the love and sprit of Christ. 
Throughout the school year, beginning in September, children, parents, family members, and our Sunday School staff begin collecting samples of work from ongoing lessons and projects and reserve them for display, reflection, discussion, and expanded learning during the festival in May. The theme each year is merely to showcase aspects of the program that we are already working on with our children and teens, and helps to make visible how students are growing in the Orthodox Christian faith and learning through our Cathedral School Program.

The Feast of Saint Nicholai
Cathedral Young Adults celebrate their Patron Saint
On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Saint Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, Los Angeles California, celebrated the feast day of Saint Nicholai Velimirovic, the patron saint of the Cathedral’s Young Adult Fellowship.
To help honor this day, with the blessings of His Grace, Bishop Maxim, the young adults invited Fr. John Finley to be their guest for the feast. Fr. John serves St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara and is an active field staff member of the Department of Missions and Evangelism for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. For more than a decade, Fr. John has admired and studied the writings of Saint Nicholai, incorporating them into his daily prayer, reading and study. In his homily, Fr. John shared his personal joy in celebrating this feast day, and elaborated on how Saint Nicholai views suffering as an opportunity for repentance and spiritual growth towards the Kingdom of God.
The feast day featured the full participation of the parish in the Matins service, Divine Liturgy, lunch and program presented by the young adults of the Cathedral. The program featured a hymn of Saint Nicholai sung by Saint Steven’s Youth Chorale, excerpts from the writings of Saint Nicholai shared by young adults Pace Rommel and Cassie Vossmeyer, and a keynote address by Fr. John Finley. Fr. John shared his observation as to why Saint Nicholai is known as the “New Chrysostom,” reflecting on the preaching and writing style of the saint, in particular his Paschal homilies. The Cathedral parish has special devotion to Saint Nicholai for many obvious reasons, including the fact that the Cathedral Church was consecrated in 1952 by this beloved saint.

June Vidovdan and Special Olympics

On Sunday, June 28, 2015, with Matins, Liturgy and a festive banquet, Saint Steven's Cathedral parish gathered to celebrate the feast of the Great-Martyr Lazar of Kosovo. The holy prince Lazar (affectionately known as Tsar to his people) and those who perished with him are numbered among the martyrs of the Serbian Orthodox Church. They gained the Heavenly Kingdom on June 15/28 1389, on the feast of the Holy Prophet Amos (St. Lazar's family patron) and of the Holy Martyr Vitus (from which we get the name of tile. day-known in Serbian history as Vidovidon), on the "field of blackbirds" (Kosovo). And though Prince Lazar was betrayed by the of his closest nobles. (arising from a discord sown by the evil one), he and his brave warriors merited the crown of martyrdom. In a way they symbolize the martyrdom of the entire Orthodox people by the impious Turks. Through St. Lazar and those with him on the field of Kosovo, the Orthodox people laid down their lives for their Faith-submitting themselves to continuous martyrdom and slavery for over 500 years, rather than give up or compromise their Orthodox Christian Faith.
Also commemorated was Saint Anastasia, the Patron Saint of our Cathedral Women's Auxiliary. The legacy of Holy Anastasia, the beloved Mother of St. Sava and Saint Steven, is one of steadfast love and committed faith to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which she manifested in her earthly life by her support of her husband, Holy Grand Zhupan Stephen-monk Simeon the Myrrh-gusher, by her zeal for her sons Sava, Steven the First-crowned, and Vukan, by her love of all God's people, and by her beautiful imaging of the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love which were brought to fruition in her by the power of the Most Holy and Life-giving Spirit of God. For all these reasons, our Women's Auxiliary honors her and asks for your prayers in their ministry at Saint Steven's. Honored as kuma for the feast, was Tanya Skundric, who is a marvelous and inspirational example of virtue and love for God and His Church. On behalf of the auxiliary, Vera Russo presented Tanya with a beautiful icon in gratitude for the example that she sets for all of the woman and all parishioners.

This day is also celebrated as "Endowment Recognition Day." Steve Burge, Cathedral Treasurer and Trustee highlighted the work and progress of our Cathedral Endowments. The newest endowments that have been established over the past year were especiall acknowledged with gratitude and they include: The Ann Petrovich Memorial Endowment, Bozidar L. Vasiljevich Memorial Endowment, Steven Daniel Colich Memorial Endowment, Danica Marvosh Legacy Fund, Bessie R. Ball Memorial Endowment, Michael P. Mitrovich Memorial Endowment, and the Mildred Zarubica Memorial Endowment.
This year's celebration was dedicated to Special Olympics. With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and some 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games – in Los Angeles July 25-August 2, 2015 – was the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. Special Cathedral guest, Jodi Price spoke to the Cathedral community on the upcoming 2015 Special Olympics World Games, reflecting on the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events. The Opening Ceremony, held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, attracted over 80,000 spectators. Saint Steven's Cathedral joyfully dedicated all proceeds from this banquet celebration to Special Olympics, earmarked for athletes participating from Serbia. Another guest on this day was Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir's Seminary. Fr. Chad spoke with gratitude about the annual support that the Cathedral and its members give to Saint Vladimir's. He also spoke about the role that the Seminary publishing house, SVS Press has played in the spiritual growth of so many through its work and ministry in the Church and world. He introduced the newest publication, a children's book "Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins" which was made possible by a generous donation from Cathedral member and Trustee Emeritus, Brian Gerich. He then called upon Brian to say a few words about this book. In his remarks, Brian revealed that he made this gift in gratitude and honor of our Cathedral Dean, Fr. Nicholas Ceko, "an ardent laborer in the vineyard of Christ," as the book dedication reads. This special gift and dedication truly surprised Fr. Nick, who emotionally thanked Brian for such an expression of love. 
The program also featured the popular song "Jecam Znjela Kosovka Devojka" so beautifully and inspiringly performed by our Cathedral Youth Chorale, under the direction of Jonathan Braun. All in all, each aspect of this memorable day, planned and unplanned, was honored and celebrated by the over 300 gathered with love and joy, and gratitude to God for His many blessings upon our Saint Steven's Cathedral.

Cathedral Vacation Church School
“Holy Everest: Climbing the Mountain to Heaven,” was the Vacation school theme for August 3-6, 2015. Fourteen students and seven staff participated. The lessons illustrated what was beneficial for mountain climbing – strength, energy, protection, rest – and offered the spiritual equivalents for ascending in one’s faith. Additions to this year’s program included a full family breakfast each morning, and a brief children’s presentation to, and shared lunch with, the Senior Citizen’s Club on Thursday, August 6, before the children began their water-slide fun!

First Annual Pan-Orthodox Music Festival of Greater Los Angeles
With the blessings of the canonical Orthodox bishops on the West Coast, some two hundred Orthodox faithful from Southern California gathered on August 22 for the First Annual Pan-Orthodox Music Festival of Greater Los Angeles when various parish choirs presented a concert of hymns dedicated to the Theotokos, “the Mother of Life, our unshakeable hope, ever-vigilant intercessor and protector.”
Co-founders of the event, Fr. Nicholas Ceko and Jonny Braun welcomed everyone and especially expressed their gratitude to his Grace, Bishop Maxim, host bishop and to His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, for his presence, blessings on behalf all the bishops, and inspiring all with his words and special greeting. Each of the choirs that performed shared the beauty of Orthodox music and above all, glorify God by offering back to Him the gifts He has graciously given to them, in honor of His Most Holy Mother.
The day was especially exciting as everyone witnessed the debut of POYAC, the Pan-Orthodox Young Adult Choir, a vision which Fr. Nick and Jonny started at a Young Adult Forum in June, 2014, when in a conversation, they acknowledged the abundant talent of young adult Orthodox singers in the area of Greater Los Angeles. Sharing both a love for Orthodox Church Music, as well as gathering young adults together within the Orthodox Church, this opportunity was too golden for to ignore. Thus, this vision inspired to build POYAC, the Pan-Orthodox Young Adult Choir.

Saint Steven’s hosts Special Event: The Canonization of Sts. Mardarije and Sebastian
The Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session on May 29th, 2015, added the names of Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovich) of Jackson, and Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville, the Clergymen and Preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of the holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries, to the Dyptich of Saints (Calendar of Saints) of the Orthodox Church.
On September 4-6, 2015, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej, together with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, His Eminence Archbishop Alejo Mexico City and all Mexico, His Grace Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, vicar of the Moscow Diocese, His Grace Bishop Sava of the Georgian Patriarchate in the US, His Grace Bishop Daniil of the Bulgarian Diocese, His Grace Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America, His Grace Bishop Mitrophan of Eastern America, His Grace Bishop Justin of Zicha, His Grace Bishop Grigorije of Hercegovina and host hierarch, our bishop, His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America and the faithful of the Western American Diocese assembled for the Canonization of two new American Saints in the Orthodox Church, Sts. Mardarije of Chicago and Libertyville, and Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson.
“How beautiful and what a great blessing it is to be gathered here in church, in God's house," His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej exclaimed with joy at the conclusion of the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on the third and final day of this year's Diocesan Days. And truly what a blessing it is each and every year when the entire diocese - the clergy and laity - come together and gather in one place, around one altar, around their hierarch on that most sacred day of Sunday, the Lord's Day, for the Holy Eucharist. This year the faithful of the Western American Diocesan had the added joy of having the first hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, lead them in that Eucharistic joy. 
In his homily following the gospel reading, His Grace Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West interpreted the morning's gospel reading of the marriage feast and the need for us to lead such lives that our garments be without blemish when we too are called to the feast. The bishop touched upon St. Sebastian's many great qualities and the great blessing of his glorification that he be an example not only to the Serbian community, but to all Orthodox. He thanked Bishop Maxim and presented him with an icon of St. Sebastian holding the Russian church he grew up in as a child in San Francisco. 
The faithful who filled the church for the morning's liturgy filled both the main hall and patio for the banquet. The host priest, Protopresybter-Stavrophor Nikola Ceko, emceed the program which included a performance by the Phoenix singing group "Breza" and a reading of the life of St. Sebastian by Zeljka Gortinski. A wonderful moment during the banquet was the bestowing of the Order of St. Sava to Ron Radakovic and Brian Gerich, two instrumental members of the Western American Diocese and active members of their respective home parishes. His Holiness, in his keynote address, could not contain his delight at the gathering, not only of the Serbian community, but the pan-Orthodox community which gathered this weekend for the canonization of not only a Saint of Serbian origin, but for the entire Orthodox Church. It is true, the Patriarch noted, we are divided administratively, but we share one faith, we are one church!
The Diocese of Western America, with the glorification of the new St. Sebastian, established a new award of recognition, the Order of St. Sebastian which, during the banquet, was bestowed to two very active parishioners and stewards of the church, Pance Smirkovic from the St. Petka Church in San Marcos and, His Grace Bishop Maxim surprised the receipt of the third Order of St. Sebastian, Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Nikola Ceko, for his many years of dedicated and selfless service.

With the conclusion of the banquet, the rest of a very beautiful Sunday afternoon was spent in fellowship, concluding a most memorable weekend of inspiration in holiness and Orthodox Christian witness.

Annual Parish Festival—SerbFest
On September 19-20, with the help of so many volunteers and generous donors, our Cathedral held our Annual Festival, hosting many guests and friends from throughout Southern California. Once again, we express our gratitude to everyone who helped make the festival a success!

Cathedral Faith Lecture Series: Salvation: An Individual or Ecclesiastic Event?
Visit of Professor Christos Yannaras, Ph. September 24

Author of more than 30 books and Professor Emeritus of Social and Political Science in Athens, Greece. “Professor Yannaras has been for several decades one of the most prolific, original and contemporary Orthodox writers in Greece...and perhaps one of the most significant Christian philosopher in Europe” - Rowan Williams, Ph.D., former Archbishop of Canterbury. Professor Yannaras was guest speaker for the second in our Cathedral Faith Lecture Series. The topic was salvation, and the ramifications of individualism in the spiritual life.

Cathedral Slava: The feast day of Saint Steven
On Sunday, October 11, 2015, the Cathedral celebrated the feast of it's Patron Saint, Steven, Simon the monk. The festive liturgy had a special dynamic quality of antiphonal singing with the Cathedral Choir and the Cathedral Youth Chorale and Sunday School singers. Honored kumovi for the feast were John and Ilona Pecel, Ian and Renee Kleinsasser and Paul Kosanovich, who all faithfully serve the Church in numerous capacities. John is a member of the Cathedral Board of Trustees and Cathedral Family Winter Camp Director, while Ilona is always helping out in the kitchen for Sunday lunches, including being part of the team that prepared the slava banquet, and they both are regular volunteers for our annual "facility clean up day." Ian and Renee are both Sunday School teachers, and participate in the young adult forum, where they met and in 2014, were married in the Cathedral. Ian also serves in the altar and Renee is one of the Cathedral cantors. Paul represented the Sunday School. He regularly serves in the altar, is a member of youth chorale and epistle reader.
The festivities for the day which followed the matins and liturgy, included the festive procession around the Cathedral temple, a memorial service for all departed founders, benefactors and faithful Cathedral members, as well as the blessing of the festive bread (slavski kolach) and wheat.
The program included greetings from Cathedral Dean, Fr. Nicholas Ceko, Executive Board President Christopher Nikchevich, and Executive Board Vice-President Steve Spilker. It also featured a performance by some of the members of the Youth Chorale, under the direction of Jonny Braun. The audience enjoyed the two songs they performed: "Jecam Zela Kosovka Devojka”, a beloved from Kosovo, and "Love never fails," a song from the writings of Saint Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians.
The delicious banquet and beautiful table decorations were all prepared by the Cathedral Women's Auxiliary, with Sylvia Simpson and her dedicated crew preparing a meal thoroughly enjoyed by all!

Children’s Day Festivities
An annual combination of observances every December makes for a most special day and this year’s edition on Sunday, December 20, 2015, was no exception. As the Matins service led into the Divine Liturgy, and Father Nick intoned “Blessed is the Kingdom…,” the sound of the “Amen” indicated the first treat of the day: the combined Music class and Youth chorale was leading the congregation in responses. These singers from throughout the Sunday school enjoyed offering praise to the Lord with the beautiful voices He has bestowed upon them. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, the singers and all the school children headed straight for the social hall to rehearse and fine tune one of the special observances on this day: the Nativity pageant. After a delicious luncheon was prepared by the parents of the RCA-Religious Cultural Association, the children got into costume and took their places, as did the student singers, for a production of The Other Wiseman, a Nativity play with a unique way to consider the idea of “audience participation.” The story of “The Other Wise Man” is an adaptation from a book by Henry Van Dyke, and an addition and expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It tells about a "fourth" wise man, who like the other Magi, sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the Child. The story is about his journey to the manger and only at the end do we learn of his surprising and inspiring identity! He is revealed to be every believer, each one of us, who worships the Lord and, like the Magi, offers him our gift, a life of virtue. This is what we are all in fact called to do. We are all “the Other Wiseman,” called to be like the other three and do the same: bring the gifts of our life of virtue, love, praise, and worship to our Lord, and minister to our neighbours with acts of kindness in obedience to God’s teachings. To really honor the birth of Christ, our gifts to Him will not be confined to the season of Christmas alone, but, rather, all throughout our life.
The play concluded with the singing of the popular Christmas carol, “Hark the Herald.” As soon as the last refrain of “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” ended, the chorus led everyone in singing “Nicholas The Saintly” just as Saint Nicholas surprised the children on the stage, another special observance on this day, and led them in procession to the Christmas tree at the other end of the hall, in order to present each of them with a gift: Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins, a beautifully-illustrated inspirational story book about this man of great compassion and generosity. Many of the children were tied with red string by their parents in observance of Children’s Day on the third Sunday before Christmas. The tying emphasizes, in part, the holy bond of love children have with parents and the holy bond we all share with God, who created us out of love. This day vividly illustrated that love!

Yours in Christ,
Steven Spilker
Dean Congregation Board President

 

EUGENE, OREGON

St. John the Wonderworder Serbian Orthodox Church
304 Blair Blvd., Eugene, Oregon 97402

Total number of parishioners (Orthodox who identify our church as their parish): 109. Average weekly attendance is 60, of whom usually -32 are communicants prepared to receive. We have 7 catechumens actively preparing for baptism. Our statistical breakdown for liturgical services and pastoral work includes: The Divine Liturgy: 88, Matins: 205, Vespers: 202, Vigil & First Hour: 74, Third Hour: 75, Sixth Hour: 75, Hour: 3, Typika: 13, Compline: 8, Molieben with Akathist: 5, Paraklesis: 2, Pastoral meetings (with either groups or individuals): 130, Catechism sessions (for adults): 22, Book Studies: 39, Baptisms/Chrismaiions: 1, House Blessings: 34, Marriage enrichment sessions: 3, Marriages: 0, Visitations to the sick:. Visitations to prison/jail: 2, Funerals: 0, Panikhidas: 8.

Financial Outlook and Stewardship: Our financial base of stewardship and donations is stable but we appear to be on track to fall short of our budget goal, primarily because donations have been consistently low every month.

Summary: On July 2, 2016, His Grace Bishop Maxim led the community of St. John the Wonderworker in a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy on the 50^ anniversary of the repose of our beloved Holy Hierarch John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco. Concelebrating were eight priests and Protodeacon Stephen, who was elevated to protodeacon on October 31", 2015. In addition to the 50"' anniversary of St. John's repose, we also celebrated the 25"* anniversary of the founding of the parish (May 1991) during this year's Slava. Former parishioners and visitors from as far as Pennsylvania, Chicago, Seattle (where St. John reposed) and Chilliwack, British Columbia, traveled to Eugene to celebrate the memory of St. John. An eighty-page commemorative book featuring the life of St. John, history of the parish, and other features was given to everyone present. The celebration was attended by 150-170 people. At the Slava, the people of Eugene and guests were given an exceptional opportunity of being the first parish to hear of Bishop Maxim's experience as a participant of the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church in Crete. 

The Slava also marked the culmination of thirteen months of a mostly-volunteer remodel of the church building, whose purpose was to conform our eighty-year old building to the aesthetics and symmetry of Orthodox Christian architecture and design. During the remodel, the ceiling in the back of the nave was vaulted and plastered to match the ceiling of the original nave, two pillars were added, as well as arches, The configuration of the north and south entrances to the nave were changed and arched. The bathroom hallway was relocated to be accessible from the narthex instead of the nave, a kitchen pantry was added in addition to a back entrance to the kitchen to reduce traffic flow through the nave. Four unnecessary entrances to the nave were walled up and custom benches now line the perimeter of the nave. Custom storage cabinets were built for the children's room and the door to the office was moved. Extensive dry rot in the office was repaired and drainage was improved. Egress lighting, emergency lighting and signage, and lights were aestheticized, including the addition of two chandeliers and the preparation for a custom-made choros by Presvytera Sara Gascoigne to be installed in September. Approximately one third of the church was rewired. Complimentary projects included a hand-carved cathedra (for the High Place) made by a parishioner; two custom-built benches for priests around the High Place; two custom-built pieces for the Altar: a new Proskomedia Table and new chest-of-drawers; also two new chairs were purchased for the Altar; the Altar Table was trimmed out with decorative stone at its base. One intention of the remodel was to prepare the walls and ceiling for iconography, which has now begun by local iconographer Daniel Baiter.

From July 19-22"", the four-unit apartment that we purchased with the intention of demolitioning in June of 2015 was knocked down. During the past year we had used it to provide homeless with housing. The property will allow us to develop a traditional western approach to the church with parking.

The 2016 St. John the Wonderworker Family Camp, hosted by the parish, included 175 participants over fivedays: July 4-8"'. The 13'" annual Camp, which takes place in a beautiful lakeside natural setting a half-hour from Eugene, is now the only Orthodox Christian Family Camp in the country, offering unique opportunities for Orthodox Christians - single adults, parents, infants, toddlers, pre-teens, and teens - especially those throughout the Northwest, for prayer and fellowship together. The theme this year, the SO"* anniversary of the repose of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, was, appropriately, "The Holiness of the Life of St. John." Our keynote speaker was His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey. This was the first visit of a bishop to the Camp, which began in 2000.

Our First Saturday Neighborhood Breakfast, which feeds anywhere from 100 to 180 homeless people and neighbors in our area with a full service dining experience, continued. The Breakfast has now entered its twelfth year. It remains an important opportunity to work alongside our brothers and sisters from St. George Greek Orthodox Church. For the first time in twelve years, we had to cancel a Breakfast in July due to the Slava. However, despite the construction for thirteen months, we were able to serve meals to the homeless, usually
passing out bagged meals in the front of the church.

This August, we continued our involvement in the local neighborhood festival, the "Whiteaker Block Party" that is now in its tenth year. Eight-to-nine thousand people are on our doorstep for the first Saturday of August. During this event, we have our Pilgrim's Way Bookstore open, a food booth ("The Onion Dome"), bell-ringing demonstrations and tours of the church, and a "bicycle valet parking lot" with on-site security until midnight for the hundreds of bicyclists who attend the event and look for a place to lock their bicycles. These events generate
good will with our neighbors.

In August, we had a "tiny house," constructed by students of Lane Community College, delivered to St. John the Wonderworker to house a homeless member of the community.

Classes continued at St. John the Wonderworker. Fr. Daniel teaches an ongoing Adult Education series on alternating Tuesday evenings. These classes are preceded by Vespers and a potluck meal so that learning about our Faith follows prayer and fellowship. He also leads a book study on Tuesday mornings.

Our Pilgrim's Way Bookstore continues to offer the people of Eugene a storefront location that sells icons. Orthodox Christian books, and imports from various Orthodox countries. We have Pilgrim's Way open during the once/month Friday Art Walk. The Bookstore is the "public face" of the church during the week.

In November of 2015, the new St. John the Wonderworker website (stjohnthewonderworker.org) debuted. Two years in the making, it is an attempt to accurately depict the community-focused life of our parish as well as be a useful resource for both parishioners and inquirers. This website is now the home to Fr. Daniel's three-part slideshow movie. What is Orthodox Christianity? An Answer in Three Parts, which has been viewed now 15,000 times in XX countries. The website also gives access to an exhaustive 13,000-word history of the St. John the Wonderworker community that Fr. Daniel finished in November after interviewing a dozen people. The website also features webpages for the Pilgrim's Way Bookstore, St. John the Wonderworker Family Camp, The First Saturday Neighborhood Breakfast, and the Onion Dome Food Booth; in total, the website provides access to XX words worth of documents.

Respectfully submitted.

Rev. Daniel Mackay
Parish Priest
St. John the Wonderworker Serbian Orthodox Church

 

ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA

Christ the Savior Serbian Orthodox Church
1424 S. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91007

REPORT COMING SOON! 

 

FAIR OAKS, CALIFORNIA

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Serbian Orthodox Church
7777 Sunset Avenue, Fairoaks, California 95628

REPORT COMING SOON! 


 SAFFORD, ARIZONA

St. Paisius Serbian Orthodox Woman's Monastery
P.O. Box 1075, Safford, AZ 85548

Your Grace Bishop Maxim,

Asking your archpastoral blessing! This past year was again a year of blessings and continued building of the monastery.

Our Sisterhood
Your archpastoral visit just before Great Lent was a joy to us, especially with the tonsure of Sr. Syncletica. We also received into the sisterhood with your blessing, Sr. Eulalia, from a Serbian monastery in France, and await the arrival of a young novice from Romania later this year. Young women continue to come to try monastic life, with two more coming this summer.

Liturgical Services
With God’s help, we continue fulfilling the daily cycle of services, along with our night vigil, and with the blessing of having four Liturgies served every week. A memorial service is served each Saturday, and the Blessing of the Waters several times a year. We also had one baptism, of an infant whose family lives nearby, and one burial.

Hospitality
We received about 2500 guests this past year, with several groups brought by their parish priests or presbyteras.

New Serving Priest
With your blessing, Priest Michael Boyle with his presbytera are moving to Safford to help with serving the liturgical services and to be part of our extended community.

Building
Construction has begun on the cemetery chapel dedicated to Archangel Michael with plans to finish later this year.

Publications
With God’s help, we published two new Akathists in our series this past year: the Akathist to St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon of Simferopol, and the Akathist to Sts. Peter and Fevronija, named by the Russian Orthodox Church as Protectors of Orthodox Marriage. Later this year we will finish work on reprinting The Spiritual Life and The Path to Salvation by St. Theophan the Recluse, with a new design and cover.

Ever grateful for your prayers and intercessions before the Lord,

Abbess Michaila
   and the sisters in Christ with me

  

 

 

Helping to avert a food crisis in Kosovo and Metohija

Beloved Readers,
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you… (Philippians 1:3)
May our Gracious God always bless you!

The faithful of Kosovo/Metohija send their heartfelt thanks for making their Paschal meals joyous this year. Through your generosity, the Decani Fund provided 125 pork roasts for local families. If only you could have seen their grateful faces! 
Remember the nearly 1000 seed packets you sent with me to Kosovo last fall?  They are being sown and tended by those who pray to God for a bountiful harvest! Your kindness and love have helped sustain some people who would otherwise have lost hope by now. What can I say to you except THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU—the Lord bless and reward you! Your prayers, love and practical gifts mean more to the faithful than you’ll ever know.
Now, may I ask you a question? What would you do in this situation…
What would you do…if there was not enough food to feed your family more than once a day? What if the one meal consisted of bread and soup? What if you had growing children in your home? “Mom, dad, I’m hungry! Why don’t we go to the shop and buy?” What if you had an elderly person in the home? Even though the elder is hungry, the person insists on sharing their small portion to feed someone younger. And you watch them grown frailer by the day. Perhaps it is your beloved mother or father or your spouse’s. 
Would you risk going to a local shop to buy food if you knew it would mean harassment? Harassment —in the form of verbal, emotional or even physical abuse from a shop owner, staff or other shoppers?  Hatred and hostility simply because you are Serbian living in Kosovo? What would it be worth to get food to eat? To feed your family? What would you do?
The Serbian Orthodox Christians living in Kosovo face this situation daily. Most of them do not go to local shops for these reasons. And if they decide to chance it, they never go alone. It’s dangerous. It’s oppressive. It’s a form of Christian persecution. The people in power want them gone from the area. They respect neither them nor their God. Their goal is to make their lives miserable. And, to a large extent, they succeed.

Serbian Orthodox now facing acute food shortages in Kosovo

A recent phone call with the Decani fathers prompted me to write to you today. They report that food shortages in the area are truly acute right now. They have asked me to ask you, our beloved brethren, if you would help them avoid a humanitarian crisis by de-escalating the current condition.
You’re probably aware that the Decani Monastery Relief Fund operates six soup kitchens in Kosovo/Metohija. Due to lack of funds to purchase enough food in recent months, the soup kitchens had to scale back to offering just one meal a day—bread and soup. Many families rely strongly on this supplementation. Believe me, the kitchen staff would be overjoyed to be able to serve two meals a day again. God willing, it will happen. 
People need nourishing food and the Fund’s goal is to provide enough food for those being served. During the school year, the kitchens provided a hot lunch meal at local schools. This was a plus for every student. Now that school is out, the students no longer have this meal. And they miss it—as do the families who want their children to be healthy. The children miss that lunch meal—they feel extra hungry and parents feel hard pressed to meet their needs.
Some Serbs have fled cities for safety’s sake. They now live in remote mountain areas where shops are non-existent. They, too, feel the lack of food.  But there are no soup kitchens there. The Decani fathers purchase food and deliver it to these villages to sustain those living there. Fear and desperation sent people to these areas. The fathers routinely bring comfort and sustenance to these out of the way villagers.
The Decani fathers grow food on monastery lands and share it with local people. They also regularly take a truck across the border to buy food and supplies from outside the province. This sustains the soup kitchens, other local monasteries and people who dare not brave the local shops. The Decani fathers are God's hands and feet on the ground. You and I are their co-laborers and God’s channel for these sustaining ministries. 
Hostility against the Orthodox Christians of Kosovo is something that God is allowing for a time. The Providence of God allows the faithful to continue pressing forward with faith, despite hardships. They pray for their oppressors and for us, their benefactors. They thank God for you and ask that your hearts remain open to them in their oppressive situation. Their circumstances are not ours, but in today’s world, someday they could be. Let us relieve the suffering of our faithful brothers and sisters while we are able. Believe that God will eternally remember your faithful works done out of love. 

Are you able to help us avert a pending food crisis there?

Will you help the Decani Fund de-escalate the growing food shortages in Kosovo? Would you send a gift to the Fund today? Together, let us alleviate this growing humanitarian crisis as soon as possible. 
Kindly send a check of any amount payable to:  Decani Monastery Relief Fund. Write “Food” in the memo. Mail to:


c/o Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes

2618 West Bannock Street

Boise, Idaho 83702 


The Decani Monastery Relief Fund also accepts donations via Paypal. Please visit our web site http://www.thedecanifund.org/ and use the “donate” button near the top of the page.  The Decani Fund is a 501c3 tax exempt charity.

God bless and keep your kind and loving hearts!

Your Brothers and Sisters in our Lord,

+ Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, President
+ His Grace, Bishop Teodosije, First Vice President
+ Very Reverend Archimandrite Sava, Second Vice President
Irene Panagopoulos, Exec. Director/Secretary
Joseph Sarigianopulos, Treasurer/Web Design
+ Reverend Father John Behr, Member
Ariane Trifunovic Montemuro, Member
Thomas Bohm, Member
Presbytera Candace Schefe, Member
westsrbdio.org
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