Sunday, April 13, 2008

Recent Ministry Activities

So far, 2008 has been a crazy year for me. In addition to spending most of my spare time working on my book, I have spent a lot of time celebrating Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy in places other than St. Joseph’s, my own parish. There are a total of 17 Sundays in January, February, March and April of this year. Of those 17, I have served (or will serve) at St. Joseph’s only seven times. On the other ten Sundays, I will have served at St. Anthony the Great (which is currently without a priest) on eight Sundays (including Palm Sunday, Pascha, plus Holy Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday). On March 9, I had to attend my niece’s wedding in Austin.

Perhaps the most interesting Sunday for me so far this year was March 30. That entire weekend, I helped lead a SOYO retreat for Orthodox kids all over the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. The retreat was held at the very nice Camp Cho-Yeh, about an hour and a half northeast of Houston. Perhaps the best thing of all was that I was able to spend some time with the other priests at the retreat, namely Fr. Jordan Brown, pastor of Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Austin, and Fr. Nicholas Hadzellis, assistant priest at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral here in Houston. Here are some pictures from the camp:

Fr. Jordan Brown, the retreat leader -- a great priest and a true gentleman!

Censing at Saturday morning Matins

Helping lead a small-group session. You can tell that the kids are really fired up by my inspiring words about fasting!

Chanting at Great Vespers Saturday night. To my right is Camil Baba, youth director at our cathedral in Wichita, and a tri-lingual chanter! We're trying to remember the ison for Tone 9.

Going to dinner with Fr. Jordan

Here's my beautiful, almost 17-year old daughter Audrey (in the purple shirt), talking to friends from Wichita.

From the homily I preached during the Divine Liturgy Sunday morning. Every now and then when I am preaching, I get the uncontrollable urge to start singing "Stop in the Name of Love." This time, I just couldn't fight it off.

Also of interest was the pan-Orthodox celebration of the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers, held Sunday evening, March 16, at St. George Orthodox Church here in Houston. We had a total of 18 priests and 2 deacons present: quite a crowd! Fr. John Whiteford, pastor of St. Jonah of Manchuria Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Houston, gave the homily. He spoke about the recently reposed Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory, who was the primate of ROCOR, as well as the recent restoration of communion between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate. Here are some pictures from the service.
Fr. John giving the homily. Doesn't he bear a striking resemblance to St. Basil the Great (on the wall, behind Fr. John)?

Listening attentively to the homily along with a small army of other priests. Right behind me is Fr. Gregory Gibson, the pastor of our mission in College Station. To his left is Fr. Nicholas, who also helped out at the youth retreat. Four guys to my left is Dn. Meletios Marx, my good friend and the deacon at St. Joseph's.

All 18 priests in attendance standing at attention right before the end of the service. Can you find me? Hint: tall, dark, and beardless.
May the Lord bless each of you.


Clint said...

Very cool. So you were busy that week before I came, huh? I didn't realize that. It makes me appreciate your help all the more.

I have never had the urge to shout out "Stop in the name of love" or anything, but I did always wonder what I would do if one of my kids (or anyone else) starting choking or having a problem when I was preaching.

Last year, my youngest (who was either 3 or just barely 4) started choking on a piece of candy. And I mean, really choking. It was stuck and wasn't coming out.

I found out what I would do. I lept from the pulpit, over the communion table (protestant church, for the time being, for anyone else reading) and sprinted down the aisle to aid my wife. We got the candy out and everything was fine.

I think the members thought I had lost my mind, until they realized what was going on.

So, anyway, I had that question answered.

Would an Orthodox priest do the same?

Fr. James Early said...

THIS Orthodox priest certainly would!