Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - September - October 2020

Give Them Something to Eat: Fr. Gary’s Message

The New Ecclesiastical year begins September 1. The story of Christ feeding the five thousand will serve as the theme for our Parish Leadership during this new year. With two small fish and five loaves Jesus was able to feed a multitude of followers. The Disciples’ care for the crowd and discipline they show to Christ is a standard for us to follow.

In all four Gospel accounts the Lord requests that the loaves and the fish be brought to Him. He then proceeds to “give thanks,” multiplies the food and everyone is satisfied. Our Parish ministries and Her leadership should emulate the standard set forth by the 12 Disciples.

As Ministry leaders we are all disciples of Christ. Parish Council members, Sunday School Teachers, Committee and Event Chairpersons, etc. are disciples of our Lord, His Church and Her ministry to our congregation. Just as the Disciples demonstrated concern for the crowds, our Parish Ministry Leaders should be prepared to show that same care to all in our community. Even though most are volunteers, all are considered and called to be disciples.

In the miracle the Disciples show care for the crowds but seek a quick solution to the problem and discount their ability to help. Knowing that they would not be able to feed the multitude, because they were isolated and had limited food, they simply asked Christ to “send them away.” Although it may not seem like it, this is an amazing display of compassion. The Disciples knew their limitations and explain to Christ, “Look, there are too many of them and we don’t have enough. Please tell them to go find sustenance. ”Surprisingly, Christ commands them, “You give them something to eat.”

Rather than complaining and explaining that there is not enough to share, the Disciples are obedient to the command of Jesus. They bring what they have and layit in front of our Lord. Christ takes the offering, blesses it, multiplies it, and returns the bounty for the Disciples to distribute. The multitude is satisfied by the work of the Disciples.

Our ministries at St. Demetrios will prosper when we follow the example shown to us by the Disciples in this miracle. Applying these lessons to our work will be pleasing and edifying. By emulating the actions of the Disciples, the parish becomes a place where all can come to be made whole.

First, we must be kind and show compassion for one another. The Disciples looked beyond their desires and showed concern for the well-being of the crowd and sought to fulfill their needs. Understanding that it was about to get cold and dark, the Disciples understood the impending needs of the people. They knew what was going on and realized the challenge before them. Because of their love for the people they knew what type of care they needed. They had love for one another.

Next, we must be obedient to Christ. We should understand that we serve Christ and that the multitude, the congregation, the Church, belong to Him and to Him alone! We are present to assist in the implementation of His will. Our service at Church and in the life of the parish is not to satisfy our own wants and desires, but to fulfill the will of our Lord. The Disciples did what Christ commanded. He told them to bring the fish and loaves to Him and they did. Obedience to Christ is the basis of our faith in Him. We must be faithful and know that our Lord will shepherd and protect us.

Third, we must understand that everything belongs to Christ. All we have is His, it came from Him and we are stewards of the gifts He has given us. We have no personal ownership of the ministries we serve. Imagine if the young lad that had the fish and loaves selfishly said, “No. This is my food!” More readily, and generously, and with the assistance of Andrew and Philip he offered his possessions to Christ and his gift was used to satisfy the entire group. We should be willing to share what we have so that the ministry of our parish is fulfilled. The fish and loaves can serve as reminders of the talent we offer, the treasure we give and the time we contribute. In giving and sharing we are returning to God what He has blessed us with, so that it can be multiplied and experienced by all.

Lastly, do the work! The command given by Christ is “You give them something to eat.” The Disciples feed the people with what Christ has blessed and multiplied. Our ministries are to fulfill the needs of the congregation. Our work should satisfy our parishioners. The function of all ministries at St. Demetrios is to provide respite and nourishment for the souls of everyone we encounter.

As we embark the New Ecclesiastical Year, while navigating the current conditions of the pandemic, let’s all do what we can to emulate the care and compassion the Disciples showed to the multitude on that day. Our Parish ministries serve our spiritual well-being and provide nourishment for the soul. As we plan each event, meeting, and activity, consideration to the Lord’s command will be the driving pulse. As parishioners and participants of the community we will encourage one another with love and commitment to Christ. As disciples of the ministries of our parish, we are commanded by our Lord to, “Give them something to eat.”

In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - December 2019 - January 2020

Touched by Christ: Fr. Gary’s Message

I experienced an amazing awakening during our pilgrimage. Several things touched my heart, and you know me, I will spill these details, little by little, within my Sunday Liturgy sermons. Standing on the grounds where Christ walked and being at the sites where our Savior performed His miracles was most profound.

We entered the city of Nain. Our tour guide, Fr. Leondios (an Archimandrite of Greek descent), stumped me when he asked, “Who knows what happened here in Nain?” because he pronounced it “Nah-een.” When I realized where we were, I was provoked by the notion that this was where Christ raised the son of the widow from the dead. As He led His crowd into the city, He encountered the funeral procession and said to the grieving widow, “Don’t cry.” Two large groups, with two very different functions, collide at the city gates.

There is a lot to learn as we look at this collision. The first is a procession of death. It is the funeral of a young man that is the only son of his widowed mother. The second is comprised of Chris’s disciples and followers. One a procession of life and the other a procession of death.

The procession of death is exasperated by the details added to the situation by the Gospel writer. St. Luke makes specific mention that the mother of the young man being carried in the funeral procession is a widow and the dead young man was her only son. This is a very important and often an overlooked detail. This widow now had no way to care for herself. Her husband, and, now her only son have died. The sociological implications of this meant that she was to spend the rest of her days in poverty and impoverishment. She was, not only mourning the loss of her son, but the way of life and luxuries familiar to her.

The procession led by Christ and His followers is one of life, excitement and great enthusiasm. This crowd has witnessed several miracles and have received many lessons. We visited these sites and prayed where this crowd watched a blind man regain vision and a leper restored to health. They discover the love of God through His son and have learned a new way of life through Christ. They are further amazed when they witness Christ’s interaction with the widowed mother.

Christ has compassion on the mother, reaches forward, touches the bier and tells the young man to rise and then returns him to his mother. When these two processions collide, when they intersect, the parade of life takes precedent and the joy of Christ prevails. We walked these streets as cars zoomed by and other tour groups jockeyed to park their buses. We stood where the interaction took place. We prayed as we pondered the emotions of the widow.

The mother in this passage has every reason to grieve. She is experiencing the loss of her child. When she meets Christ, her grief and sorrow are replaced with joy and hope. She was overtaken and consumed by the sting of death and was renewed in the joy of Christ.

Standing on that street I began to contemplate how often I make mountains out of mole hills and let the pressures of life to carry away my joy. I thought to myself, “Why do I gravitate towards the procession of death when I have been invited to walk with Christ?”

Often, we allow ourselves to enter the procession of gloom, acting as though life's challenges outweigh the Christ’s victories. Instead we should identify the moments in which we are walking in gloom and allow ourselves to be reminded of the resurrecting power of Christ. We should not be choked out by the cares and worries of this life when we have been invited to participate in the joy of Christ.

As committed members of the Orthodox Christian Church, we are members of the Body of Christ. As such, we need to be the examples of His joy, His love, and His grace. Our Christian life calls us to depart from gloom and enter joy. To leave the funeral procession and follow Christ. To leave behind our worries and be touched by Christ.

In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - October - November 2019

I’m Your Buckaroo, I Wanna Be Like You: Fr. Gary’s Message

Country singer Rodney Atkins has a song called, “Watching You.” He talks about going through the McDonald’s drive thru and riding around town with his four-year-old. He says he stops quickly to avoid a red light and as he screeched to a stop the little boy’s fries and drink go flying all over the car. The four-year-old yells a four-letter word. Atkins says, "Son, now where did you learn to talk like that?" The boy said, "I've been watching you, dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.”

I want to be like you. Flattering words, but some of our actions don’t need to be repeated. As parents we all have instances where our kids, when they are young, imitate our behavior. Whether it is trying to shave with soap bubbles, make cookies with play-doh, put on our shoes, or use a toy lawnmower as we push the real thing: they want to be like us. Our example is an important one. They learn so much from what we do, what we say, and how we behave. Are we giving them the best version of ourselves?

Making the lives of our children easier is a goal of every parent. We do what we can to help them advance in life, teaching them lessons along the way. These lessons can be well structured and thought out, or the child can learn, like in the song mentioned, just by watching. What is it we display?

Think about the most recent interactions you have had with your child (or any child). How do we make them feel? Do we listen as they try to engage us, or are we more interested in our cell phone? When they witness our response as we get angry or frustrated what is the message we are giving them? When we talk to a family member with less patience than we just showed the drive-thru attendant- what does that communicate? The messages and lessons we teach our children can be deliberately taught or communicated by our behavior.

Often, parents will call and ask, “Lil Johnny just asked me a question about dinosaurs and the story of creation. I can’t answer it. Can you talk to him?” Absolutely! I would love to foster the interest a child has about faith and help a parent teach a Church interpretation. If a child asks about Christ, His disciples, His parables or the miracles He performs, I ‘m sure we all have the capability to find the right words to provide the correct response. One that leaves the child edified in our faith. What happens when our actions prove differently? Remember the kid in the song? He said, “I’m your Buckaroo, I wanna be like you. I’ve been watching you.”

Think about the lessons they learn about our faith and Church as they watch us. When we skip liturgy to watch a ballgame- what does that say about the importance of Sunday morning worship? How are we instilling a reverence for the leadership of the church if they hear us speak poorly of a priest or bishop? How about when they witness us easily spend $5-$6 dollars on a cup of coffee, but then make sure that we have enough $1 bills for the tray at Church? Our actions speak loudly.

Christ tells us, simply, in John 13:15

"For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”.

John 13:15

Our Lord lived a life of service. He showed compassion for the less fortunate and served whenever He had the opportunity. He sacrificed for us, and how we would do the same for our own children! St. Paul in several letters mentions imitation. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he writes,

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ,”

St. Paul - 1 Corinthians 11:1


“be imitators of God”

St. Paul - Ephesians 5:1

Imitation is a wonderful educator. Our kids are watching us. They want to be like us. Let’s display habits that will help them grow in faith. Demonstrate the importance of faith in Christ and commitment to the Church. Let them see you reading the Bible. Let them hear you sing hymns. Let them see you put on an apron and help at the Rescue Mission. Give them the opportunity to witness the dedication you have for a Church organization like Philoptochos. We can teach (everlasting) life lessons as we achieve a life dedicated to Christ and His Church.

That country song ends on a better note. At the end, the singer goes to check on his boy later in the evening. As dad opens the bedroom door, the lyrics say, “He folded his little hands and spoke to God like he was talking to a friend. I said, ‘Son, now where'd you learn to pray like that?’ He said, ‘I've been watching you, dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.’” Let them see you pray.

In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - September 2019

Extreme Gratitude! Fr. Gary’s Message

September 1st marks the beginning of the Ecclesiastical calendar. As we enter this new Church year it is easy to look ahead at the exciting ministries that are to come. However, at this moment, I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to the faithful Stewards of our Church . . . YOU!! Thank you!

St. Demetrios is a welcoming community. We have proven time and time again that we know how to make others feel at home and graft the newcomer into the parish family. I was pleased when a stranger stopped me in a local grocery store and asked me if I was the Priest at the “Greek” Church. She proceeded to explain how helpful and welcoming our Festival Workers were. “They said, ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ It really made me feel like I was visiting someone’s home.” She continued, “When I didn’t understand what a certain dish was, a wonderful woman explained it to me. It was so pleasant!”

Proudly I said, “YES! They are full of love! I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. Thank you for coming!” I went on to continue my shopping.

“Wait,” she said and then asked, “Who trained them?”

“What do you mean train?”

She continued, “Well, how did you get a staff of employees to work like that?”

“They’re not ‘employees,’ they are parishioners. They’re members of our Church, volunteers.” I explained.

“Really??!!” she said surprised.

“Yup,” I said proudly.

Such a wonderful compliment! That is exactly the sentiment we should always strive to accomplish. This is a compliment I hear, not only at the Festival, but also from Sunday visitors. This Philoxenia (a compound word literally translated “philo”- friend “xenia”- strangers, means hospitality, but more so, the welcoming of strangers) is an attribute not only of our Greek heritage, but a doctrine of our Faith. It is the Gospel truth. To be complimented with such praise is noteworthy. Usually people go out of their way to complain, and receiving such commendation is almost against the norm. I am proud to serve a community full of such loving people.

When Fr. Seraphim, from St. Nicholas Church in Tacoma, WA, visited us this summer he mentioned our hospitable characteristics. He was boarding the plane in Seattle for LAX. AS he took his seat a passenger asked, “Are you an Orthodox Priest?”

Father said, “Yes, I am.”

The gentleman asked, “From here (Seattle) or there (Los Angeles)?”

Father responded, “Here. I am travelling to LA to visit my family.”

“Great,” said the stranger, “Where will you be on Sunday for services?”

Fr. Seraphim said, “I’ll be at a parish in Camarillo.” “With Fr. Gary!” exclaimed the passenger.

“Yes,” Father responded, then asked surprised, “you know Fr. Gary?”

“Yes. My name is Ken and I am good friends with the Vegos family. We go to the church for a variety of events and the people there are so loving and kind. You are really going to enjoy it! Say hi to Fr. Gary for me.” Father sat in his seat and shook his head, thinking, “What a small world.”

The impact our hospitality, PHILOXENIA, has on visitors is tremendous and unforgettable. You offer the love of God, in the simplest way, when you look someone in the eye and offer a sweet exchange. Such an easy way to practice the Living Gospel.

I am also grateful that the Church has been full the last several weeks. Everyone has been participating and offering great glory to God through the Divine Liturgy. There are many things to appreciate and be thankful for here at St. Demetrios! Not only are we full of warmth and welcoming love, we are a group of hardworking and dedicated individuals.

The Festival Steering Committee issued a challenge at the beginning of the summer asking that we meet the greatest of expectations at this year’s festival. Not only did we meet the goal but exceeded it by $5,000.00.

I am consistently amazed at the outpouring of love you display. When asked for an extra collection to raise funds for a missionary’s trip you all gave generously. When called on to support the Rescue Mission you all come through. A shortage of prosfora (the bread used as the host for Divine Liturgy) is met with an abundance of love! This is especially encouraging!

I am on cloud nine because I serve a great parish. A community that serves Christ and loves His Church. I pray that I can show you the love and enthusiasm that you have displayed during these last several weeks! I am overrun by emotion when the people around me exhibit Christ’s love and likeness!


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - Summer 2019

Sanctify Sundays, Fr. Gary’s Message

We need to sanctify Sunday mornings. We have allowed other entities to sneak in and snatch the sacredness of Sunday mornings from us. When Divine Liturgy is not the priority on Sunday morning, and we allow sporting events, science projects, and undone chores from earlier in the week keep us from worshipping, we are sending the wrong message to our youth.

The Church community and the weekly practice of liturgy is to strengthen and encourage us to face the challenges that lay ahead. It would be great if no one endured pain or suffering in life. If only we could wrap ourselves in bubble wrap to never scrap a knee, twist an ankle, or suffer other tragedies. Truth be told, none of us sit and wait for the storm to hit, it just comes. How prepared will we be?

People assume as clergy we have arrived at a level of faith that is “sufficient” and that our hearts are immune to doubt. This is certainly not the case. To make a long story short, last August and September my faith was tested. My brother developed an illness called Guillen-Barre Syndrome, and it left him paralyzed. I prayed for a miracle, waiting for God’s might to lift him and return him to his home, loving wife and beautiful children. The doctors explained to us that this condition may not ever be reversable and that it would take months for Peter to heal or adapt to his body’s impediment. In midst of his ailment he noticed me praying by his bedside and asked, “Bro, what you prayin’ for?” I said, “For you to get out of that bed, walk into your home and pick up your kids.” He responded quickly and swiftly, “Nah. That’s not the prayer we need. Pray that God gives me courage and patience to deal with whatever is to come.” He laughed and jokingly added, “You’re the priest, you should know that.” His response blew my mind!

The miracle we prayed for occurred just a few weeks later. On a Sunday afternoon I received a text from my dad. It was a video of my brother walking (YES!! WALKING) up the aisle at St. Demetrios in Seattle to receive Holy Communion. Through the prayers of many loved ones and the intercessions of several saints, Peter made a miraculous recovery. Immediately, from coffee hour at St. Demetrios in Camarillo, I called him. He was leaving St. Demetrios in Seattle. Overjoyed I asked, “Pete, they sent you home?” “Yep,” He said. Then quizzically I said, “And you decided to go to church this morning?” Again, his words astonished me! He said, “Bro, that’s what we do on Sundays. Plus, in the prayer that Fr. Photios read over me he said something about ‘may I gain strength so that I can return to the Lord’s house and give Him His due glory.’ I needed to get to church as soon as possible.”

The investment our parents made in Sunday mornings shaped our faith. We were raised by devout parents that utilized the resources of our local parish. Mom and Dad made it clear that Sunday mornings were a time in which we all went to Church. Going to church doesn’t make life painless, but it does provide ministries and programs that assist us to endure life’s challenges. The bonds and friendships that were established through participation in the life of the Church aided Peter during his suffering.

All the weeks, days and hours spent at Summer Camp, GOYA basketball, Greek Dance practice, winter retreats, dances, and an event that was called, “A Day of Champions” instilled within us the blessedness of our rich faith. Even though we faked every illness imaginable to get out of Greek School, we still look back and smile at those memories. We were at Church on Sundays for services (some Sundays we travelled for Youth Basketball games). Mondays we returned for Youth Night meetings, Wednesdays for Greek Dance practice, Thursdays for basketball practice, Fridays for Greek School and on Saturdays we called our Church friends to hang out. We wanted to be together.

Despite being at the Church multiple times a week we all finished our homework, studied for exams, prepared for tests, played high school sports, participated in school activities, even applied for and got into good schools and universities. Missing Sunday services was never an option. We went to Church, we served as Altar Boys and went to Sunday school, because we were expected to. If we had homework or projects to do, they were to be done outside of Church hours, that is, because, Church hours were for Church. Our parents laid a solid foundation of faith for us.

Today, the diversions that keep us from an abundant Church life will not bring us comfort in our times of distress. In times of confusion or despondency where will we turn? Are we giving our kids the tools they need to endure the challenges that will come their way? Are we allowing our kids to learn about our faith and have the same experiences we did when we were their age? Its sad that soccer tournaments, homework and other excuses keep us from an intimate relationship with Christ.

I never expected to see my brother endure ugliness like he did. Thank God he is better and getting better every day. As I explain Peter’s progress many take it upon themselves to point to their hearts indicating Peter’s strength, but if you ask Peter, he points to Christ, the Church and his faith. Peter has taught me a lot during this trial. Most importantly, we both have realized that his strength comes from the foundation of faith set by our parents.

Participate in the life of the Church. Carve out time, in the hecticness of life, to create bonds that will bring light in periods of darkness. Sanctify Sunday mornings and commit to a greater life of faith and communion with Christ and His Church. Invest in the ministries of the local parish and make Sundays special again.

In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

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:
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

Message from Fr Gary

Fr Gary

Give Them Something to Eat

The New Ecclesiastical year begins September 1. The story of Christ feeding the five thousand will serve as the theme for our Parish Leadership during this new year. With two small fish and five loaves Jesus was able to feed a multitude of followers. The Disciples’ care for the crowd and discipline they show to Christ is a standard for us to follow.

In all four Gospel accounts the Lord requests that the loaves and the fish be brought to Him. He then proceeds to “give thanks,” multiplies the food and everyone is satisfied. Our Parish ministries and Her leadership should...

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