Message from Fr Gary - November and December 2018

The Cure for Disappointment, Fr. Gary’s Message


We have all experienced disappointment in life. Disappointment is bred from a variety of matters, from the most trivial to the most crucial. We have been disappointed by a friend or family member. The outcome of our favorite sports team in the World Series can add disappointment to our lives. We may disappoint ourselves by not properly preparing for a test at school or a project at work. We encounter disappointment, for the most part, because things just don’t go the way we want or expect them to. There is a cure for disappointment.

There are three important realizations to make about disappointments and understanding their influence in our lives. First, disappointment is inevitable. Everything and everyone, in every situation, at some point or another, will eventually provide us with a good dose of disappointment. A close friend, a loving family member, and even your parish priest will disappoint you some way, somehow sometimes. When our expectations are not met we feel disappointment. Second, realizing this first point, helps us recover from the feeling of being let down. Having an understanding that no one and nothing is perfect, and things will not operate the way we expect, lessens the pain of our distress. Lastly, Christ never disappoints. Using this last point, with the understanding of the first two points, allows us to properly understand God’s will and to be grateful for the true blessings in our lives. We are reminded of the cure for disappointment each time we recite the Lord’s Prayer. That remedy is four simple words, “Thy will be done.”

When we reflect on a disappointing incident in life it is easy to identify its spiritual, psychological, and emotional importance. Our response reflects our relationship with Christ. Our frustrations fade when we put our trust in Him- even when the results are NOT what we truly wish. Identifying an unrealistic expectation is a step towards spiritual, psychological and emotional maturity.

Moving through the pain and towards an understanding of God’s dominance in our life will increase our faith and lessen life’s stress. A perfect example from scripture is from Luke 8:41-56. In this passage we learn about two people dealing with horrible life challenges. The first, Jairus, a ruler of a synagogue, is dealing with an illness that is threatening the life of his daughter. He has no where else to turn. He doesn’t know what to do. He manages through the crowd to get to Christ, falls at the Lord’s feet and begs Him to come to his home to heal her. In the meantime, a woman with an issue fights her way through the mass of people to find relief from Christ. St. Luke explains that she spent all her “living on physicians and they could not heal her.” Disappointed by conventional solutions both are distraught and overwhelmed by their tragic circumstances. Notice, though, that finally, after enduring disappointments, they both realize that their hope and relief will come from God. Although the woman is immediately healed, the ruler’s daughter is pronounced dead. St. Luke explains, “a man from the ruler's house came and said, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.’” What comes next, from the mouth our Lord, is the cure for disappointment! Christ says, “"Do not fear; only believe.” Jesus enters the room; the girl’s spirit is returned, and her amazed parents rejoice.

It is essential that we take our challenges, needs and issues and lay them before God. Attempting to endure life’s tribulation without the influence and guidance from God will intensify our agony. We must be wise and sensible with which challenges we seek God’s assistance. Asking that our sports team win is not a sensible prayer. Rather as we look for relief during illness, to find strength in times of weakness, and clarity in the fog of life’s trials, we ask our Lord, on bended knee and humble heart, for His “will to be done.” Along with a desire to comply with His will it is wise to request, strength and stamina to faithfully endure as His “will be done.”


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - September and October 2018

More than a Fan, Fr. Gary’s Message


I know you won’t believe me, but I really didn’t want to go to the Dodger game. When I was up visiting my brother in Seattle he had tickets to the Seattle Mariners vs. the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. Peter bought the tickets at the beginning of the season and was not anticipating his illness when he made the purchase. As he was working through his physical therapy he looked at me and said, “you gotta go. It’s meant to be. Take Fr. Photios and have fun.” How could I have fun I thought? I was troubled by his ailment. Finally, after lots of persuading from my mom, and then confirmation by my dad, I considered leaving the hospital for the game. In a call with Christie she agreed that it would provide a good distraction for what we were all experiencing. Fr. Photios picked me up and we went to the game.

I was amazed as we approached the ballpark. It was a festive atmosphere and felt as if we were part of a parade. Hordes of people marching toward the stadium for what was the city’s major event that evening. Vendors selling peanuts and hot dogs in the streets. Kids walking with balloons and cotton candy in hand. There was even a guy dressed as Mr. Incredible giving people rides in a carriage he pulled with his bicycle. There was something very odd about this crowd though. Most of the people sauntering this parade were Dodger fans.

Dodger blue reigned. They were waving Dodger flags, chanting, “Let’s Go Dodgers,” and wearing jerseys of their favorite players. Fr. Photios, wearing a Seattle Mariners jersey, accidentally bumped into massive guy wearing Dodger gear. As Father apologized the guy said, “No problem MAN, but look, you’re in Dodger country now!” He was right. It looked as if it were a Dodger home game. No joke, the Dodger fans made up most of the stadium. As we found our seats an enormous Dodger flag was being waved in right field. It was awesome.

Everyone around us were cheering for the Dodgers and showed their Dodger pride by wearing the team logo and hats. I turned to the family behind me, the couple in front of me, and the people across the aisle – all decked out in Dodger attire - and asked, “Are you from Seattle?”

They all said, “No!” They each explained how they flew up from various parts of Southern California, got tickets to the game (some had seats to all three games), and hotel rooms in the city to watch and rout for their beloved team. They were proud! I was astounded. The love and devotion they shared was profoundly displayed by the time invested and valuable resources exhausted to attend. It was a reminder that people are willing to support that in which they believe.

Much like the love we show for our beloved parish of St. Demetrios, but in a different way. We are not fans or spectators, we are participants in the game! We are called to be more than just loyal fanatics on a journey to “witness” an exhibition. We are called to be transformed through our involvement in sacramental life. We have made a commitment to something greater than the Dodgers or any other professional team. We are part of the Church of Christ. Our participation, our investment, our desire, leads towards our salvation. The Church is the vessel that guides us toward a more perfect and peaceful life. How can we learn from the investment the Southern California Dodger fans made to enhance our life in Christ and His Church?

They proved that they are willing to forsake other plans and make attendance and participation at the stadium a priority. Is the worship cycle of the Church, and are Sunday mornings? Have we acknowledged Sunday mornings, from 9:00AM to 11:30AM, as time to come together as God’s people, to glorify Him at the Divine Liturgy? I know that getting up early on Sunday mornings is hard. Having to be up early all the other days of the week gives one a good reason to pull the sheets up over his head as the alarm clock rings on that Sunday morning. Make Sunday significant. Come and pray. Try to be on time. The fans of the ballgame all arrived before the singing of the National Anthem and the first pitch. Service begins at 9:00AM on Sundays.

A great number of those Dodger fans were familiar with the line up and the names of the players. Those fans could name the players on the field and the dugout. They all knew the rules of the game and were experts at its strategy. How familiar are we with our Orthodox Christian Faith? Do we read scripture? Do we understand what is happening in the services? Do we know the teachings our Faith? Attend Orthodox Study, ask me questions, even through email or text, it is important to know why we believe the way we do.

As much as I love the Dodgers, and enjoy an evening at the ballpark, there is nothing greater than the being in Church and serving Christ. Understandably, our world drives us in a million different directions. Our time and resources are limited. Inevitably, we are defined by how we spend our time and resources. Take a moment and reflect on your faith, relationship to Christ and His Church. Is it a priority for you in your life?

Take into consideration the following ways you can become more than just a fan at St. Demetrios:
NEEDS OF OUR PARISH:
1. Webmaster- someone to maintain and update our website. Currently I (Fr. Gary) am doing it, and boy, I think I need to take a few classes and add a few hours to the day to keep up with this amazing beast. Our website is one of a kind. We want to keep it that way. Please let me know if you have the talent to help.
2. Volunteer at Feast Day Celebration- The weekend leading into our Feast Day, we will celebrate with a TRADITIONAL PANAGYRI! That is a mini-Greek Festival. The fun will be held on our Agape Campus on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21. Volunteers and teams of people are needed to achieve success. Call the Church office (805) 482-1273 to help.
3. Assistance in visiting and calling our Shut ins. These are people that cannot attend Sunday liturgy for a specific reason. They may be too old to drive and have no one to rely one, or they may be recovering from surgery. Whatever it is, we want them to feel the love of our community. I (Fr. Gary) try to visit as often as possible, but having a caring team oversee and nurture our loved ones will ensure that they stay connected to our Parish. Please contact me if you are interested in receiving an “assignment.”
4. Sunday morning chanters for Orthros. Come help Michael. Do you like to sing? Do you want to learn the hymns of the Church and exercise the depths of your faith? Come and assist with (shoot, even if you don’t want to sing, still come) Orthros. This is the hour in which preparation for liturgy is made. Special prayers are offered, exciting hymns with an array of liturgical beauty. Come, give it a shot. Call me for more information.
5. Make it a point to participate in weekly Paraklesis (Supplications to the Mother of God, for the health and well-being of our loved ones), which is then followed by Orthodox Study on Wednesday evenings beginning at 6PM – service and 7PM Study. This is a great way to reconnect in the middle of the week. These services begin weekly on Wednesday, September 12. Come!
Lastly, it would be amazing if we could create a team of people that would walk the building and the property on a weekly/regular basis to check for abnormalities, insects, and unwanted guests of the furry kind. Maybe on a regular basis they would inspect the refrigerators both large and mini, to make sure that nothing stays in there too long and grows appendages. This team could check the status of the sprinklers, pick the fruit off the trees, and make sure all looks good.

We are all capable of these tasks. See which one fits your talents and give me a call. It would be greatly appreciated! 805-443-3376


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary February - March 2018

Christ-Centered Parish, Fr. Gary’s Message


I learn a lot of interesting things at committee meetings. At one meeting, when discussing the newsletter of our parish, The Myrrh-Bearer, someone frankly said, “Nobody reads that.” That person is either right or wrong depending on how much further you go into this message. At our most recent Parish Council meeting, a parish council member, politely, combined the conversation about healthy church finances with the status of our relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t preaching, it was one of YOUR ELECTED OFFICERS, that was sharing this thought. I was mesmerized by his conviction; I looked around at the other members and they were too! The Holy Spirit was present. His inspiration moved us to take the conversation about Parish financial health to a new level.

“Every year we consider ways to raise money. What fundraisers can we hold? How will we meet our obligation to the Metropolis and Archdiocese? How can we motivate better giving? Instead,” he went on, “How can we serve Christ? How can we instill a deep love for Jesus, in every member, young and old, so that our Parish becomes financially healthy and shows greater concern for how Christ-Centered we are as a group?”

It was refreshing to hear a leader of our community express these thoughts. I have offered them in the past, but it is cliché for the priest to say it, because I’m supposed to. A group begins to reexamine the metric for success when a respected member of the Parish Council looks intently at his peers and says, “Are you concerned for your salvation?” If we look at our challenges through the lens of salvation, that is, how what we do will enhance our relationship with Christ, a new perspective is born.

Following this new measurement brings with it a greater purpose. Applying “concern for our salvation” on every ministry, program, event, and meeting at St. Demetrios declares us Christ-Centered people. The Sacraments of our Orthodox Faith: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, Holy Unction, Confession, Marriage and Ordination, lead us towards a strengthened connection with Christ. A Sacramental view of our Parish affairs, likewise will lead us towards a strengthened connection with Christ. Everything we do is to be considered sacramental.

Consider each component of our life in the Church. How can each aspect (ministry, event, meeting, or program) lead to a greater understanding of who Christ is in our lives? How can we make His love real in the lives of others that participate? Every gathering becomes sacramental! From Moms and Tots, to Orthodoxy on Tap, with our Acolytes and Budget Committee meetings, during our Festival weekends, Greek Dance practices, Sunday School lessons, and at every BBQ, we ask, “how is Christ magnified?”

During this coming year, we will have plenty of opportunities to GLORIFY CHRIST. Let us then GLORIFY Him through all that we do. Then, in the end, all that participate feel His presence and are motivated to carry that inspiration. Slowly we change our local perspective, eventually changing the world.

At the end of that meeting, a council member suggested we create a “Mission Statement” for our Parish. The inspired one, giggled and said, “It’s on the cover of every Sunday Bulletin:

Mission Statement of our St. Demetrios Parish

To proclaim the Gospel of Christ, teach and spread the Orthodox Christian Faith, energize, cultivate, and guide the life of the Church according to the Orthodox Christian Faith and Tradition

After all, I guess not everyone reads everything.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary December 2017

MAKE IT HAPPEN, Fr. Gary’s Message


In 2008 we were at Skyway Drive dreaming of a new building, today we are experiencing that dream come true. We have shared a lot of visions and goals in the last decade here at St. Demetrios. We sat in the valley of doubt and stared up at the mountain top of success often. Sitting there, some would whisper, “It’s not gonna happen.” We took on debt to purchase land then paid off that debt. We started fundraising campaigns, we asked for pledges and they came in. We all participated in giving towards the need of our collective DREAM and we did it! Success never happens if you sit in the valley merely hoping to be at the mountain top. Success only comes before work in the dictionary!

It’s time to get back to work. The configuration of our community looks much different than it did a decade ago. The pews on Sunday mornings are filled with many new faces. Some may not have had the opportunity to experience the pressures imposed by the undertaking of those dreamers. “Build it and they will come,” we recited meeting after meeting. Now here we are, together as one community, enjoying the benefits of a shared dream that started over 40 years ago. In the last several years we have made great progressions, but the need is the same now, as it was then, if not greater.

Today we sit in the valley of a $1.9 million loan. We have 8 years to eliminate that debt. A new Capital Campaign is beginning. 100% participation is needed from every family and parishioner at St. Demetrios. In the last 13 years the Golf Tournament has grown from a $3,000.00 annual event to an $82,000.00 annual event. The Golf Tournament has quietly grown into a year-round event in terms of planning, execution and most importantly sponsorship. Today the Capital Campaign and the Golf Tournament merge to encourage us to achieve the mountain top of success.

The Capital Campaign is driven by the concept of generous Gift Givers. These can come in all sizes and many forms, from $1000 to $1 million/per year. We have 8 years to retire $1.9 million, so it is time to get creative as we look to our Stewards and others in the surrounding community to support such a large need.

Although it sounds crazy what we need is an ARMY OF FINANCIAL ANGELS! These ANGELS can provide Gifts in many forms:

1. Annual Gifts
2. Capital Campaign Pledge Cards (starting in 2018 to be fulfilled by 2022)
3. Endowment and Tax Planning
4. Estate Planning and Family Trusts
5. After Life Gifts

Many of these charitable ideas can be favorable from not only a tax standpoint, but from a Spiritual standpoint to fulfill the vision of St. Demetrios in Ventura County. St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The Golf Tournament and the Capital Campaign is CoChaired by Joe and Mary Freeth, George Joannou and Fr. Gary Kyriacou. If you would like to assume the role of a FINANCIAL ANGEL and be a “cheerful giver,” please contact Fr. Gary at 805 443-3376, Mary Freeth at 805-390-9551, Joe Freeth at 805-390-9553 or George Joannou at 805-231-8696 Together, each committing to give what we can, we can eliminate the loan and continue to enjoy the rich blessings our Lord has bestowed upon us. Please take some time and prayerfully consider your contribution today.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary October-November 2017

Hurricane Harvey


With all the tragic events happening in our world today: hurricanes earthquakes and shootings, it is comforting to know that our Orthodox Christian Church plays an active role in the recovery efforts. As a frontliner for the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) I can be deployed for any number of catastrophes to offer emotional and spiritual care (ESC). Following our deployment we are to submit a report to identify some of the work we encountered. The following is part of my incident report. The names have been changed to protect identities.

Some of the most touching visits I had with those that had lost everything were:
● Wheelchair bound woman, approximately 55 years old. Lives in 9 story building across the street. As soon as she realized that the Brown Convention Center was opened to those displaced she came over to lend a hand. Working off very little sleep. Was very emotional and shared many, many stories and encounters. The most telling was:

She took guardianship of a (total) stranger’s children (3 kids ages 7 and younger), while this stranger went into labor to deliver her fourth child.

● Sheriff Deputies were really shaken at the loss of one their officers, Steve Perez. Officer Perez was a longtime veteran of the HPD. On Sunday, the day of the storm it was his day off, but against the wishes of his wife, he went to offer assistance. His vehicle hit a floodedroad and was washed away and drowned. “That’s the kind of guy he was,” cried Fitzgerald.

● As Fr. Jordon and I were vesting, Fr. Luke sent the Acolyte staff and Sexton to introduce themselves. As Fr. Jordon asked the Sexton, “How are you and your home?” Joe, the sexton, said, “I am blessed, no damage. My sister and my brother in law were rescued from their home and are staying with me. My brother in law is recovering from cancer treatments.” This caught my ear and I asked, “What is your brother in law’s name?” He said, “Saad.” “Saad is my father in law’s cousin.” Emotional embrace! “6 million people in Houston,” cried Joe, “and this is how we meet.” I received the blessing from Fr. Luke to visit my relatives. Their home was flooded and as Saad was to weak from his battle with cancer, had difficulty evacuating. A group of volunteers pulled near their home on a boat and rescued them from the flood waters. The water reached the second level of their home.

I was honored to spend my time in Houston helping those that were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

IOCC MAKE A
DIFFERENCE DAY

IOCC is celebrating 25 years this year and we have been asked that our youth make posters. On Sunday October 29th, we would like to have the youth of your parishes make posters (use your creativity) saying THANK YOU to IOCC, with the children writing something and signing their names.

Perhaps even have an offering tray or host the coffee hour that Sunday to raise funds for IOCC, and maybe even have a young person say something about the work IOCC does. These posters and any other efforts made will be presented at the Anniversary Gala, which will be held Sat. Nov. 11th at St. Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Alhambra. We will even come and pick up the posters and any funds raised ourselves to make this even easier for you.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary September 2017

God’s Holy Word


A great benefit of spending time at summer camp is the opportunity to disconnect from technology. Not having a phone or internet connection gets you excited to receive mail. A great joy is receiving a (good old fashioned) letter from home. The delight in holding an envelope with the familiar handwriting of a loved one is a highlight for all the staff, counselors and campers. Everyone gets electrified when they get mail (real, handwritten, stamped envelope mail).

One afternoon at St. Sophia Camp, the Director handed me a small envelope sent to me from Christie. I took it, looked at it and put it in my pocket. “You gonna read it?” He asked. I nodded, smiled and walked to the chapel to prepare for evening vespers. I placed it on the altar and put my vestments on for the service.

Vespers ended and the kids were excited to go up the hill to mail call, anticipating their own letters and packages. Prior to their leaving the chapel I shared with them the unopened envelope from my wife. I asked, “What if I just set this letter from my wife on my night stand and never opened or read it?” The responses were touching and hilarious.

One little guy said, “I think you should read it, it will make you happy!” Another jokingly said, “You might end up sleeping on the couch if you don’t.” An older teen girl said, “That’s just coldhearted, what if she wants you to do something, if you don’t read it you’ll never know.” Great answers. The entire camp agreed that I should open and read the letter.

I lifted a Bible.

“This is a letter,” I said. “A letter from God.” They understood the message; however, I went on to explain.

We let our Bibles sit on our night stands or our bookshelves, scarcely to be opened. If we treat messages from our Earthly loved ones with such care and excitement, we should treat the message from our Heavenly Father with the same enthusiasm. It will “make us happy,” contains instructions, and is “coldhearted” if we ignore it.

I once received an email that illustrated the differences in which we treat our cell phone versus our Bible (see page 4). Let’s readjust our priorities. Let’s make reading and studying Holy Scripture a significant part of our day. We should take a few moments, at least once a day, to receive inspiration from the Word of God.

St. John Chrysostom urges us to use Scripture as we would any other chest of medicines. The Bible is a treasury with remedies for every ailment. “Take from there comfort for your trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather do not merely dive into them but take them wholly to yourself, keeping them in your mind." (Hom. IX On Colossians) Further, he reminds us that knowledge of Scripture protects us, and ignorance of it results in a multitude of evils. "This is the cause of all evils,” he says, “the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, how are we to come off safe?" (Hom. IX On Colossians)

There are several ways to navigate a daily habit of reading the Bible. First you can visit our Church website (www.saintdem.org) and signup to receive an email each morning that contains the daily readings prescribed by the Church. Another way is to open to the back of your Orthodox Study Bible and follow the plan provided, and then the easiest way is to start at the beginning of a specific book and just, simply, read a little bit at a time. For those who say they have read the Bible from end to end and have no need to participate, St. John Chrysostom says, "It is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom." (Hom. XIX On Acts)

Let’s dive into the well! Let’s make the institution of God’s Holy Word an important part of our daily routine. Don’t let that loving letter just sit on your nightstand, open it, read it and be inspired by the wonderful message contained within it.

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to friends as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being

disconnected, because Jesus already paid the bill. Makes you stop and think, “Where are my priorities?”.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary Summer 2017

Encounter Christ


Many Evangelical Christians can name the date in which they were “Born Again.” The day in which they made Christ a priority in their life. Many of us, as Orthodox Christians, make that commitment on the day of our Baptism and Christmation, as infants. Are we transformed by the love of Christ? Do we allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ? There is a common theme in the Sunday Gospel readings following Pascha (Easter). Each of these five Sunday Gospels after Pascha distinguish a person (or persons) transformed by Christ.

The Sunday following Pascha we hear of “Doubting” Thomas. Thomas is skeptical about the encounter his brother disciples have with the risen Lord and make a bold proclamation, “Unless I see and touch!” The Lord reveals himself to Thomas and Thomas is immediately transformed. Without having to touch, he exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas encounter’s Christ and his faith is renewed.

The second Sunday after Pascha, we learn of the Myrrh-Bearing Women. These brave women approach the tomb of Christ and find it empty. Having encountered Christ, they return and share the good news with the disciples. Then on the third Sunday after our Lord’s Resurrection the Church shares the story of the paralytic. Although this happens before the Lord’s crucifixion, it holds fast to the theme of “Encountering Christ.” The man has suffered with an infirmity for 38 years- a full generation! When he meets Christ, our Lord transforms him and makes him complete. No longer does the bed confine him, but with Christ’s help, he can lift the bed and glorify Christ!

The Samaritan woman finds the Lord on the fourth Sunday after Pascha. Having to go to the well at the hottest time of the day, because she is embarrassed of her lifestyle, she meets Christ. Relieving her soul of her past transgressions she finds acceptance and love from Christ. She hurries to the city and shares the GOOD NEWS of Christ and “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony. ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So, when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days." (John 5:39-40)

On the fifth Sunday, the Blind man receives his sight. After explaining to His disciples that sin does not lead to physical ailment and that God does not seek justice through punishment, Christ restores the sight of the man born blind. Our Lord explains that challenges in our lives are opportunities for Christ to be glorified through that struggle. The man receives his sight, and in exchange declares, “Lord I believe!” (John 9:38)

Subsequently, these encounters lead to the reception of the Holy Spirit, the Sunday of Pentecost. The gift of the Holy Spirit descends on the Disciples as fiery flames. The Disciples are transformed, the fisherman become Fishers of men! All that meet Christ leave differently than they approached. Thomas, the Myrrh-Bearers, the Paralytic, the Samaritan Woman, the Blind man, all lead changed lives after encountering Christ.

Have we encountered Christ? How can we prepare ourselves for this encounter? How are we transformed by this encounter? We must trans-form ourselves by the love of Christ! To encounter Christ we live by His commandments to, “Love God with all our mind, soul and heart, and love our neighbors as we ourselves.”

To encounter Christ we must worship regularly, privately in our daily lives and corporately at Church. In each of the Sunday liturgies following Pascha we sing, “In our Churches we Glorify Christ!” To encounter Christ we must find him in our service to those less fortunate than ourselves, in our giving and aid. To encounter Christ we must offer forgiveness, and have a change of heart. To encounter Christ, we must imitate Him! Yes, we Orthodox Christians are “Born Again,” EVERYDAY! Our lives are to be filled with encounters with Christ. By allowing Him into our lives again, into our hearts, our lives will never be the same.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary March 2017

Four in Three


Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. We find classic lines like, “To everything there is a season,” or “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” Taken as a whole, the Book of Ecclesiastes is full of wonderful wisdom. During my time at the seminary, a beloved priest professor would encourage us to read the entire book from beginning to end whenever we felt overwhelmed with the pressures of life. This tool served me well as a student, and has become a valuable tool in my ministry to Christ’s Church. A Priest witnesses all the emotions of life. You rejoice at the birth of a child and you mourn with the passing of a loved one. Ecclesiastes verbalizes this sentiment well.

In the past three weeks, I have participated in four funerals. Four beloved individuals left this world in the hope of the resurrection. Two funerals were for 30 something year old’s and two funerals were for 80 something year old’s, yet their loved ones shed the equal number of tears at each of the funerals. All four individuals left behind the same thing, a lasting memory of the relationships developed. Their grieving loved ones mourn their physical losses.

In late February, we lost Kevin, a 33 year old loving husband, father of two, son and good friend. Kevin battled stage 4 oral cancer for 16 months before leaving this life. During his last days, as he prepared to die, he taught those around him how to live! His love for baseball inspired a road trip, with his father, to San Francisco to see his beloved Giants play, and the holidays gave him the opportunity to express his love for his family and friends as they showered him with their loving sentiments. I stood, in rapt amazement, watching his beautiful young wife, with her their two year old child in her arms, sharing cherished memories. She made us laugh and she made us cry, but she reminded us that our hope as Christians is in our Lord’s Resurrection.

In early March, an alarming phone call described Patti’s condition. An otherwise healthy 36 year old had an aneurism and was on life support. Her loving family and friends at her bedside, praying for what looked like a sleeping angel to wake and sit up in her bed. Two days later, after her parish priest, family and friends recited the Lord’s prayer over her Patti’s spirit left her body to enter the next life. A sudden passing. Much more abrupt than Kevin’s departure, yet just as tragic. Her mother and father, brother and soon to be sister-in-law expressed confidence in their understanding of God’s hope. Their courage stems from a lifetime of faith and participation in the Church, which leads them to assurance of the resurrection.

In that same week, we lost Christo Pulos. A blessed man that leaves behind a legacy that will persistently rival imitation. He loved his family, his church, his friends with deep devotion and care. Each of his tasks were completed with meaningful detail. His presence at St. Demetrios will always be marked by his imprints on our hearts. He passed this life two days after his 85th birthday, and yet the mourning reigned; sadness as we endure another loss. Nick Varnava gave a loving testimony to Chris’ service to our Church and the Air Force provided an eloquent expression of his service to our country.

A few days later another World War Two veteran passed. Tom was a decorated member of the Air Force, an American with great pride of his Spartan roots. His loving life memorialized by his grandson, the he raised as his own son, his son, wife, step children and grandchildren. All lamented the loss of another member of the “Greatest Generation.”

Four funeral in three weeks left me craving an opportunity to dive into Ecclesiastes. Before Tom’s graveside service I walked the grounds of the cemetery taking in the names marked on the headstones. I thought about Kevin, Patti, Christo and Tom. I thought about the loved ones I watched cry as they grieved their loss. I thought about the words that were spoken, separately, about each one of them. The theme of Christ’s resurrection echoed through my mind. Other portions of Ecclesiastes resonated. “A good name is better than good olive oil, and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth.” (Ecc. 7:1) A name on a marker is what we leave behind if we live foolishly, but to those that believe in Christ and have the hope of His resurrection, that marker becomes a stepping stone to eternal joy.

This is the time of year we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. Sometimes we take for granted the Paschal responses. Lethargically saying, “Christ is Risen,” to which we receive a tired, “Truly He is risen.” Considering the events of the last three weeks, it is imperative to express our conviction in His Resurrection! Those closest to Kevin, Patti, Christo and Tom, expressed their desire to be reunited in the next life. Belief and hope come from our faith in Christ. Holy Week shows us the love God has for us. He, willingly, climbed up on to the cross, died a violent death, to reassure us that He wants us to be with Him in the next life. All the sorrow in the world has no power over that expression of love. Death no longer restricts us from God’s heavenly embrace. As we fervently chant, “CHRIST IS RISEN,” we lovingly testify and memorialize the legacy of those that have passed before us. “Truly, He is risen” for this is the reason we celebrate!


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary

Fr Gary

The Cure for Disappointment


We have all experienced disappointment in life. Disappointment is bred from a variety of matters, from the most trivial to the most crucial. We have been disappointed by a friend or family member. The outcome of our favorite sports team in the World Series can add disappointment to our lives. We may disappoint ourselves by not properly preparing for a test at school or a project at work. We encounter disappointment, for the most part, because things just don’t go the way we want or expect them to. There is a cure for disappointment.


There are three important realizations to make about disappointments and understanding their influence in our lives. First, disappointment is inevitable. Everything and everyone, in every situation, at some point or another, will eventually provide us with a good dose of disappointment. A close friend, a loving family member, and even your parish priest will disappoint you some way, somehow sometimes. When our expectations are not met we feel disappointment. Second, realizing...


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