St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Weekly Newsletter for the week Friday, November 21, 2008 through Thursday, November 27, 2008



COFFEE HOUSE HELP NEEDED - The Fellowship of St. John the Divine needs help setting up tables and chairs for the Pan-Orthodox Coffee House (see below) on Saturday, November 22, starting at 2:00 pm. The Coffee House will feature a terrific lineup of performers, mostly from St. Marys, and will follow Vespers. Volunteers are also needed to help move the tables and chairs afterward, to make the Hall ready for Sunday's coffee hour. Please contact Tiffany Conroy at and let her know when you can help.

FAMILY VESPERS - Saturday, November 22, at 5:00 pm,  is the first Family Vespers for the Sunday School families.  Families are encouraged to bring their children to Vespers.

TEEN SOYO VESPERS & FIRESIDE CHAT - On Saturday, November 22, all St. Mary's teens ages 13-18 are invited to join us for Vespers, fellowship and fireside fun! Fr. Antony will lead a discussion on the topics that are important to you.  We'll provide the fireplace, dinner, hot chocolate and cider - teens, bring your questions!  The evening starts with a special Vespers at St. Marys at 5:00 pm.  Teens are encouraged to attend and participate in chanting, reading and/or singing along! We'll proceed to the Straghalis' house immediately following Vespers. If you need a ride, directions, or have questions, please call or write Liz: 617-974-5005 /  or Erick: 617-645-2116 / .  We also have a Facebook group for St. Mary's SOYO that will have updated information.

PAN-ORTHODOX COFFEE HOUSE - You are invited to a Holiday Fundraiser for St Paul 's Food Pantry and Holy Resurrection Open Doors, sponsored by the Fellowship of Saint John the Divine, on Saturday evening, November 22. Suggested Donation $10.

Vespers 5:00 - 6:00 pm, Dinner Hour Break 6:00 - 7:00 pm, Coffee House 7:00 - 11:00 pm

This will be an evening of fellowship and entertainment to raise money for individuals and families in need this Holiday season. There will be Nativity Fast-friendly foods, beverages and musical performances by the many talented parishioners of St Mary's. All are welcome; we would like to especially encourage post-college age adults from all Orthodox parishes in the Greater Boston area (and beyond) to come to this event and meet new people. Questions and RSVP (optional): Tiffany Conroy,


BAKE SALE - The Women's Club's annual Thanksgiving Charity Bake Sale will be held Sunday, November 23, 2008. Plan on purchasing all your holiday breads, pies, goodies, Syrian pastries and much more! All proceeds to benefit the Convent of Saidnaya, northwest of Damascus in Syria . Call Priscilla Goss at 1-781-762-1527, if you can help bake and/or donate.

BOOK DISCUSSION - You are invited to take part in a new book club sponsored by the FSJD.  The first book we'll read will be Mystic Street: Meditations on a Spiritual Path by Steve Georgiou, which is available from

" Mystic Street centers on the author's spiritual experiences while pursuing his graduate degrees in theology.  He demonstrates how lessons of the heart are not only learned inside the classroom, but especially outside.  In these uplifting vignettes, both the ordinary and the extraordinary, the visible and invisible intersect.  A fascinating book filled with hope, life, light, and a marvelous sense of serendipity."   See INSIGHT, below, for a few excerpts.

When:  Sunday, November 23

Where:  We'll meet up in the church hall after coffee hour and discuss

If you have any questions contact Larisa Patacchiola at or Brooke Wilcox at And please spread the word. All are welcome!

Note: We have just received word this week that Steve Georgiou, the author, will be joining us from San Francisco in May to be our speaker at the vonHolzhausen Lecture!


FR. ANTONY WILL BE AWAY - Fr. Antony and his family will be visiting relatives for the Thanksgiving Holiday from Monday, November 24 through Sunday, November 30, 2008. 

In cases of emergency, contact Fr. John Teebagy at St. John Church in Dedham at 781-326-3046. 

NEW PARISHES - The Diocese of Worcester & New England welcomes two new parishes: Emmanuel Church in Warren and Saint Stephen Church in West Brookfield (both will be Western Rite.) The congregations and clergy come to our Archdiocese from the Charismatic Episcopal Church. The faithful have been catechized and chrismated and their leaders have been prepared for ordination this weekend, November 21-23, by Bishop ANTOUN with Liturgies on Friday and Sunday at St George Cathedral, Worcester and Vespers in West Brookfield on Saturday. Their websites are:  and

CARE PACKAGE HELP - Thanks to all who have donated things for Scott in Iraq , the Fellowship has been able to send three boxes to him so far.  However, the donations box is empty now. We still have some more books to send (our thanks to the very generous donor of all those paperbacks!), but that's about all.  Please give more, so we can continue to send packages to him and his fellow Marines.  He has especially asked for dark blue gatorade powder, protein bars, tuna, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, sour skittles, junk food, and non-perishable food, and long white socks.  A box has been set up in the entry to the Church Offices for your donations.  Thank you!


CHRISTMAS PAGEANT - If you are interested in helping with the Christmas Pageant, please e-mail Charlie Marge at .

ORDER OF ST. IGNATIUS CHRISTMAS PARTY - The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch , Diocese of Worcester and New England will hold its Annual Christmas Party on Sunday, December 7, 2008 2-5 pm at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton , Mass. Donation is $50 and includes luncheon, museum admission, and optional transportation from St. John of Damascus Church. Deadline for reservations is November 29, 2008. All are welcome. For further information, please contact Christine Bezreh at 781-449-1230 or

WOMEN'S CLUB - Our Christmas "Evening Out" is scheduled for Monday, December 8, at 7:00 p.m. at Joe's American Bar & Grill in Dedham , MA   Everyone is welcomed to join us-just bring a $10 Grab, Christmas wrapped with no name on it, please!  Anyone who plans to attend must call Selma Winstanley by November 30 at 781-646-9405. 

PARISH COUNCIL -  Anyone interested in serving on Parish Council, please  advise Fr. Antony or Ray Sayeg by Monday, December 1, 2008, so that your name will appear on the up-coming ballot with an asterisk (*).  Ballots will be sent out to eligible parish members (those in good standing for two years) in early December, and must be returned by December 15, 2008.

ST. MARY CHRISTMAS CARD - Save yourself time, let us do the work and have all proceeds  benefit Antiochian Women  NEW Project 2008/2009:  Children with Special Needs.   Let the Women's Club send a lovely Christmas Card on your behalf to our parishioners.  You will receive this card with the names of parishioners, like yourself, who are wishing  a Blessed Nativity and a Merry Christmas to all.  Use the order form in the Sunday Bulletin.  Deadline is Sunday, December 7, 2008.

COME SEE THE MESSIAH - Join friends from St. Mary's for the Handel and Haydn Society's  annual performance of Handel's Messiah, on Sunday afternoon, December 7, at 3:00 p.m.  Second balcony tickets are just $25. We will carpool to Symphony Hall after Liturgy and have lunch together before the concert.  Those who have done this before have thoroughly enjoyed it - not only do we hear a world-class orchestra and chorus with famous soloists singing glorious words (taken directly from the Bible), but we also have an opportunity to spend time getting to know some fellow parishioners we normally may not encounter.  Good seats go fast - you can order yours online at  Please let Melissa Nassiff know if you're coming, so we can reserve a big enough table for lunch - or 508-877-7483.

LESSONS AND CAROLS - The Fellowship of St. John the Divine cordially invites you to  a service of Western Rite Evensong with Lessons and Carols, Saturday, December 13, at 5:00 p.m.  This service of prayers, scriptures, and Christmas carols will be followed by a festive pot luck supper.  People whose last names begin with A-P are requested to bring a main dish or salad; Q-Z bring dessert. Drinks will be provided.  For more information contact Tiffany Conroy (chairman of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine) at

NATIVITY FAST - The Nativity Fast, also known as the season of Advent, began Saturday, November 15. This is the forty days of fasting and prayer in preparation for the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ on December 25. 

80TH ANNIVERSARY VIDEO - The video about St. Mary's that was shown during coffee hour on our anniversary weekend can now be seen on the St. Mary website:

NEW CHANDELIERS  - The new chandeliers are up! The cost for the electrical work and installation of the new lighting is $48,000 - this price includes removal of the existing chandeliers, updating the electrical wiring to current code, new electric winches, new dimming panels, installation of the new chandeliers, and the electrical work for the new sconce lighting in the rear of the church under the balcony.  It's not too late to donate to this most worthy project.  We have started receiving donations on the wiring and installation phase; however we need the support of the entire parish.  We welcome any additional donations and once again, are thankful for your continued support and generosity.   Please see Mary Winstanley O'Connor  or  Ray Sayeg. 


There are a number of ways you can help the Church, your fellow worshippers and those in need.  Consider serving in one of these ways:


Liturgical Service - Each Sunday, members of the congregation are needed to read the Epistle and assist during Communion by holding the Communion Cloths and Holy Bread Baskets.  All Orthodox Christians in the Parish are welcome and encouraged to participate. We usually need one Epistle reader and six people to hold cloths and baskets.  If you would like to read the Epistle or assist during the Communion, please contact Jeff Wasilko, 781-820-0882,

Coffee Hour - People are needed every week to provide coffee, juice and cookies, or more if desired, and set it up Sunday morning. To sign up for an available Sunday, please put your name on the signup sheet on the bulletin board outside the Hall or call Marilyn Robbat in the Parish Office and she will write your name in. If you need any help with figuring out what to bring or do, check the list below the signup sheet (also printed in the Bulletin), or ask Marilyn at or 617-547-1234.


Holy Resurrection Open Doors - The Holy Resurrection Open Door Meal Ministry in Allston needs volunteers every Monday evening (there is a special need in the summer).  The official hours of the project are 4:30 pm-7:30 pm, but it is fine to come anytime and leave any time.  Best times would be 5:30-5:45 to 7:15-7:30 pm.  You can serve meals, coffee and tea to the people who arrive for dinner (6-7 pm) or just stay behind the scenes doing set-up and clean-up.  It is a very rewarding, hands-on, face-to-face way to serve the community with (mostly) other Orthodox Christians-we even chant the Our Father together before the meal begins. Church info can be found at .  Questions? Please contact Liz  Straghalis at  phone 617-974-5005,  or Tiffany Conroy at, 617-990-7162.

St Paul's Food Pantry - Two to four volunteers help each week in the food pantry at St Paul 's Roman Catholic Church in Harvard Square , Saturday mornings from 9:30-11:45.  If you are interested in helping, please contact Christian Alcala at, or (617) 876-5684.


Food and Clothing - Holy Resurrection in Allston takes donations of non-perishable food items and clothing to distribute at the Open Door Ministry on Monday evenings.  You can bring your donations by on Monday nights between 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm or contact Tiffany Conroy,, 617-990-7162, for more information.

- St. Paul 's Food Pantry in Harvard Square , where volunteers from St. Mary help every Saturday,  depends upon regular donations of canned and packaged foods.  To help, contact Christian Alcala at, or (617) 876-5684.

- Food For Hungry People Canned Food Drive - During October through December, 2008,  please bring  in your canned goods to the Church and place them in the large, blue plastic container outside the Church Office.  Our Teens will then weigh them and distribute them to local food pantries in our area.  Remember.....42 pounds of food will feed a family of four for three days!

Care Packages for a Marine in Iraq - Fr. Antony's "spiritual son" Scott is in the Marines and has been sent to Iraq , and the Fellowship is helping collect items for care packages for him. Scott will share what he receives with his fellow Marines, and has sent a list of things he would especially like to receive. The Fellowship has purchased some of those items, but would be happy to receive contributions of the following: 

Tuna, Beef jerky, Sunflower seeds, Sour skittles, Non perishable junk food, Paperback books (legal thrillers or murder mysteries),  Long white socks, and also, of course, prayers.

A box has been set up in the entry to the Church Offices for your donations. 

Monetary Contributions - The FSJD would also welcome monetary contributions to help with postage, shopping, etc. for the care packages (see above). Make checks payable to Fellowship of St. John the Divine or to St. Mary Church (earmarked FSJD), and give them to any member of the FSJD Steering Committee (Tiffany Conroy, Mike Decerbo, Melissa or Peter Nassiff, Socrates Deligeorges or Steve Walker), or mail them to the Church. Thank you for your caring concern and prayers for Scott and his fellow Marines!

- The Agape Canister Program is an Orthodox non-profit development program of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center .  It is dedicated to meeting the needs of children, families, and communities throughout the world, regardless of race, color, or creed. All funds collected by the Agape Canister Program are earmarked for medical care and clinics, water wells, agricultural development, food and clothing, support personnel (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers), the construction of schools, and the education of indigenous people in their own communities.  Please contribute each Sunday - A clear plastic box  is on the Bengarri.

- The International Orthodox Christian Charities has issued an emergency appeal for its continuing response to the two tropical storms and two hurricanes which made landfall in the U.S. in just four weeks.  Cash funds will go towards immediate clean-up and recovery efforts.  Donations can be made by calling IOCC's donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622; by making a gift on-line at ; or by mailing a check or money order payable to "IOCC" and writing "US Emergency Response" in the memo line to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225 , Baltimore , Md. 21263-0225 .

"As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me," says our Lord.



November 22:  Sandra Kondratiuk


November 23:    Epistle: Bob Kowalik;  Left Cloth: Trish and Elias Orlovsky;  Right Cloth: Lara Kish and Amelia Perkins;  Left Bread: David Vermette;  Right Bread:  Marc Patacchiola


November 23:   Women's Club Thanksgiving Charity Bake Sale


Friday, November 21,  Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple :  Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus 7:00 pm

Saturday, November 22:   Family Vespers 5:00 pm, followed by Teen Soyo Fireside Chat and FSJD Pan-Orthodox Coffee House

Sunday, November 23:  Orthros  8:45 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am;

      Sunday School lesson 9 and Pageant Rehearsal

SCRIPTURE READINGS for November 23: 

Epistle:  St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 2:4-10   Brethren, God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Luke 12:16-21   The Lord said this parable: "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself... 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you...


Wednesday, November 26: No Paraclesis service at St. Mary

Thursday, November 27:  Thanksgiving Day (no services)

Saturday, November 29:  No Vespers at St. Marys

Sunday, November 30:  Orthros  8:45 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am;

      No Church School

Wednesday, December 3:  Paraclesis 6:30 p.m.

Friday, December 5:  Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus 7 p.m.

Saturday, December 13:  Lessons and Carols


The following excerpts are from Mystic Street, by S.T. Georgiou. This is the book we'll be talking about in the Book Discussion this Sunday (see This Weekend, above).      

        From the Great Mystery of God we came, in the Presence of that Great Mystery we are, and into the Great Mystery we are returning. We are co-participants, fellow mystics in the divine life, and in grace. ... a simple, everyday act takes on a higher meaning. "Opening a door" becomes a metaphysical experience.

        With this kind of awareness, we live knowing that there is something more to life than meets the eye, and so are awake to both the outer nature of things and the inner vision...

   - From the Prologue

        While the subway train idled in MacArthur Station, the last stop before Berkeley , I watched the sunbeams effortlessly pass through the window of my car. The rays outside had spread within, lighting up the coach. In a similar way, divine Energy gently enters (and dwells inside) everything, perpetually infusing the cosmos. God's glory is instantaneously everywhere; otherwise, nothing could exist.

        Then I remembered that the Light of the world, after his resurrection, quietly passed through closed doors and appeared to his disciples at will, almost in the same manner that the Holy Spirit was able to enter the womb of Mary. The metaphysics herein indicates that God imperceptibly transcends his world and is not limited by matter. God can do anything and be anywhere because his infinite Essence precedes and sustains physical life.

   - From the chapter entitled Walking Through Walls

        I was heading into the subway to catch the Berkeley car when a train roared past. A dust cloud rose from the tracks, its swirling particles illuminated by a bright shaft of sunlight passing through the open canopy above. Had the rays not streamed in at that particular angle, I would not have seen the dust shimmering in the air; it was the degree of light that made all the difference.

        The same is true in our regard for the life around us. We note the presence of things not so much because they are there, but because of the degree of illumination accentuating whatever we may encounter. ...

        Likewise, angels are right beside us, but we cannot see or feel them because illuminating grace has not revealed their presence. They are here, perpetually helping creation to sustain itself, yet for the most part we dwell with them unaware of their glory. But if God were to highlight their incorporeal forms, we would be amazed. Even divine light must shine in a certain way for us to behold what is near, yet invisible.

   - From the chapter entitled Degrees of Light

        Strolling up through the winding lane, it came to me that nearly everything we make contact with has, in some way, passed through the hands of others. Our homes, cars, and computers have, at varying times, been handled. Hands have made our clothes, cooked our food, made up our hotel rooms. We, too, have been created through open hands held and intertwined in love. And all of life is surely the handiwork of God.

        In the silent, heartfelt spaces of the day, it is good to feel the many hands that, in love, have held us, and still hold us. We are never really out of touch.

   - From the chapter entitled Work of Hidden Hands