St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Update for the week Thursday, March 7 – Wednesday, March 13, 2019


SUNDAY 3/10 – Cheesefare Sunday, Forgiveness Sunday
   + Orthros 8:45am, Divine Liturgy 10:00am, Church School following Liturgy
   + Women’s Month homily by Christina Palis on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
   + Deadline for ordering from the Women’s Club Lenten Food Sale is this Sunday. Please use the order form in the Sunday bulletin.
   + The last thing we do before beginning the Lenten fast is forgive each other, and ask everyone to forgive us.  Join us Sunday evening at 6:00 pm for the very moving service of Forgiveness Vespers

MONDAY 3/11 – Great Lent begins
TUESDAY 3/12Little Compline with Canon of St. Andrew 6:30pm (also on Thursday 3/14)
Pre-Sanctified Liturgy 6:30, followed by Pot Luck Supper


FRIDAY-SUNDAY, 3/8-10 - Join teens and college students from the Diocese this weekend for Yes Providence, an opportunity to serve the people of Providence RI.  Contact Trip Leader Michelle Hourani:

SATURDAY, 3/9 – On Saturday, March 9 at 8:00pm, the Back Bay Chorale will present a concert of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers at St. Paul Church, Harvard Square. A masterwork of the rich choral tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church, Rachmaninoff’s a capella All-Night Vigil is a soul-stirring portrayal of intense devotion. Our own Christopher Addis will be performing.

MONDAY 3/11 - Diocesan Compline services will be offered at 7:00pm every Monday evening in Lent in a different church of the Diocese.  The schedule is: 3/11- Norwood, 3/18- Dedham, 3/25-Pawtucket, 4/1-West Roxbury, 4/8-Cotuit and 4/15- Worcester.


GUEST VOLUNTEERS INVITED – The St. Mary Prison Ministry would like to extend this Lenten opportunity for honorary guest volunteers to visit prisoners at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Concord, MA, every Monday at the Catholic chapel 6-8:30 PM. One of our permanent volunteers is on paternity leave, so we are actively looking for assistance. There is no prior experience or commitment needed as a guest, but please let Fr Antony know in advance for security reasons on the day you wish to visit.  The inmates appreciate volunteers who take time out of their busy day to spend the evening with them.
   For those interested in volunteering on a frequent basis, certification as a permanent volunteer is required. Please talk with Fr. Antony if interested in this ministry. For information about the Prison Ministry at St. Mary’s you can subscribe to our mailing list at 

FOOD FOR HUNGRY PEOPLE – The Food for Hungry People 2019 program will begin with the start of Great Lent and continue until Palm Sunday, April 21. Collection boxes are available at the Bengarri.

ENLIGHTENER OF IRELAND – Join us during coffee hour on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17, for a slide show journey to the summit of Croagh Patrick where the Bishop of Armagh and Enlightener of Ireland fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights.

PYSANKY WORKSHOP - The Hospitality Group is offering an adult session to learn the beautiful art of Ukranian egg coloring (Pysanki) on Sunday, April 7, from 1-6pm. If you are interested in attending, please respond ASAP to Diana Yousef ( with the following information: (1) Will you need a kit with the materials? (2) Will you need childcare? Please respond as soon as possible so we can make arrangements!

SERVICE BOOK FOR HOLY WEEK AND PASCHA – If you would like to purchase the book, “Services of Holy Week and Pascha,” as used in the Antiochian Archdiocese, you can order it from the Ancient Faith Store, $35.00. The book has a hard cover with gilded pages and double ribbon markers.

PARISH COUNCIL – The next meeting of the Parish Council is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22.

WOMEN’S MONTH – March is Antiochian Women’s Month. Each Sunday our women will be reading the Epistle, taking the Collection, taking part in the Procession, assisting during Communion, and giving the homily.  The homilies will be on the theme, “Faith in Action,” focusing on the parables of the Sundays of Lent from the old Jerusalem lectionary (the earliest set of readings known to us). Upcoming homilists will be:
   3/17 – Natasha Smith on the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14)
   3/24 – Teva Regule on the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
   3/31 – Ioana Popa on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

LENTEN FOOD SALE – The St. Mary Women’s Club is once again having a Lenten Food Sale, featuring Spinach Triangles, Hoomos, and Mjadara. Please use the order form in the Sunday bulletin.
   + Order deadline is this Sunday, March 10
   + Baking of spinach triangles will be Saturday, March 16.  Please come and help, starting at 9:30 am. Lunch will be provided.
   + Pickup will be Sunday, March 17.

LENTEN SERVICES – On Tuesday and Thursday in the first week of Lent, March 12 and 14, we have Little Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew at 6:30 pm. 
   + We will celebrate Pre-Sanctified Liturgy at 6:30 pm every Wednesday of Lent through Wednesday, April 17, followed by a Potluck Supper.
   + On the first five Fridays of Lent, March 15, 22, 29 and April 5 and 12, there will be an Akathist (Madayeh) Service at 7:00 pm.

PRE-SANCTIFIED POTLUCK SUPPERS – Every Wednesday during Lent (March 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10, 17), we need a leader to coordinate a potluck supper after pre-Sanctified Liturgy. Being the leader means a) providing a main dish, b) coordinating what others bring if asked, and c) coordinating setup and cleanup. Contact Tiffany Conroy ( for the potluck leader instruction sheet, or to sign up as a potluck leader. 

BIBLE BOWL - All Teens (13-19) and Pre-Teens (ages 10-12) interested in competing in this year's Bible Bowl, please contact Violet Robbat at 781-862-4388 or by e-mail at for further instruction.  This year we will be studying St. Paul's Letters to the Ephesians, Philippians and Collosians as found in the New Testament of the Orthodox Study Bible.  The Orthodox Study Bible is available from Ancient Faith Bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Holy Cross Bookstore and Amazon if you do not have one.  Our first meeting/practice will begin on Sunday, March 17 immediately after Church School, and every Sunday thereafter.  We will meet in the small area right outside Barbara's office.  Be sure to bring a chair in with you.  We look forward to having two great teams again this year!   

THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS PROGRAM: SPIRITUAL PILGRIMAGE will hold its final retreat at St. Mary's on the topic of "Christian Hospitality - True Self and the Inner Kingdom" on Saturday, March 23from 9:00am-3:30pm. The retreat is an opportunity to reflect on your personal journey with God, expand your inner awareness, and deepen your faith and your contemplative and/or prayer practices. 
   The retreat will use small presentations, personal reflections, and small and large group discussions. Attendance at the previous retreats is not required. Although a donation of $35 per retreat is suggested (or any other amount), the donation is not a requirement for participation. Coffee, tea and a light breakfast will be provided (lunch is not provided). To register or ask questions, please email or call 617-274-8336.

DIOCESAN LENTEN RETREAT – You are invited to a Lenten retreat at St. George West Roxbury on Saturday, March 30.  We welcome back His Grace Bishop ANTHONY.  This event will begin with Divine Liturgy at 9:00am and conclude with Great Vespers at 3:00pm.  Lunch is included. Registration $20, teens (12-18) and children (3-11) free.

SCHOLARSHIPS - Students graduating in 2019 from high school who are children of membersof St. Mary’s may apply for the Diocese of Worcester and New England Scholarship.  Deadline is March 31, 2019. Contact Mary Winstanley O’Connor at 617-523-1010 or email at for more information, including what it means to be a member.
   + Scholarships ($1,000) are available from the Syrian-Lebanese Women’s club of Greater Boston to young women of Syrian and Lebanese origin, residing in Massachusetts within 50-mile radius of Boston, who plan to pursue a four-year college education.  Scholarships are based on outstanding academic achievement, extra-curricular activities, charitable and civic involvement and good character; and applicants must be in good academic standing in her school and possess those personal attributes, which best serve the community.  Applications are available through the Church Office and must be postmarked by March 31, 2019.  If you have any questions, contact Mary Winstanley O’Connor at 617-523-1010 or email at .
   + The Archdiocese will be awarding several Francis Maria Scholarships of $2500 each to students attending an accredited 4 year college. This scholarship is available on the Archdiocese Scholarship page, Applications must be postmarked by May 15.
   + Antiochian Women’s Scholarships are available to females 26 years of age and older in good standing of the Antiochian Archdiocese, actively involved in their parish and who demonstrate need.  The application deadline is June 1, 2019.  Applications are available at the Bengarri and in the Church Office.  E-mail with any questions.

HIERARCHICAL VISIT - His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH will be at St. Mary’s Friday-Sunday, May 3-5 for a Hierarchical visit to celebrate Divine Liturgy and our 90th year anniversary. On May 18, 2019 we will celebrate our 90th Anniversary at the Crowne Plaza in Woburn. 

ST. MARY’S ANNIVERSARY – Save the date: On Saturday, May 18 we will celebrate our 90thAnniversary at the Crown Plaza in Woburn.  Plan to join us for dinner, dancing and other festivities.  More details to follow.
   + WE WANT YOUR PHOTOS! - The Young Adult Ministry is collecting photos of St. Mary's from past and present for the 90th Anniversary Celebration in May. If you have photos of family, relatives and friends from events at St. Mary's, please email to stmarys90thphotos@gmail.comor share them through GoogleDrive. Suggestions are photos of Holy Days, sacraments or other milestones; however all photos are welcome!

FAMILY CAMP - Register now for Family camp at Antiochian Village, Friday-Monday, May 24-27.  The theme is “Fostering a Healthy Family” with Speaker Fr. Nicholas Louh.  Visit for more information.

CROSSROAD SUMMER INSTITUTE - CrossRoad Summer Institute, a 10-day academic summer institute for Orthodox high school juniors and seniors to help them grow closer to Christ, will be held June 15-25 and July 2-12 at Hellenic College Holy Cross.  Apply today at  

ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CONVENTION – This year’s Convention will be in Grand Rapids, MI, July 21-28, 2019. Hundreds of Antiochian Orthodox have already registered and purchased tickets. 60% of hotel rooms are already booked. See 

HOSPITALITY GROUP – The Donald DiFiore Memorial Hospitality Group needs more volunteers to help it work to build community among the larger St. Mary’s Congregation, so that we can come together in service, celebration and fellowship outside of liturgy and coffee hour.  We need members to join us, and help with planning fellowship events such as Lenten Potluck Suppers, the Dormition Feast, our annual Picnic, etc. Even if you could commit to just one event per year, this would help strengthen the sense of community and family in our parish. We also welcome new ideas for fellowship gatherings. If interested, please email Tiffany Conroy at
JOIN US ONLINE - St. Mary’s Church services are broadcast live each week through an internet video stream. If you can't attend a service in person, or want to share this ministry with a friend or loved one, the live stream can be viewed at during regularly scheduled service times (see the schedule of services or online). If you have questions or comments about this ministry please contact us at


Finally comes the last day [before Lent], usually called "Forgiveness Sunday," but whose other liturgical name must also be remembered: the "Expulsion of Adam from the Paradise of Bliss." This name summarizes indeed the entire preparation for Lent. By now we know that man was created for paradise, for knowledge of God and communion with Him.  Man's sin has deprived him of that blessed life and his existence on earth is exile. Christ, the Savior of the world, opens the door of paradise to everyone who follows Him, and the Church, by revealing to us the beauty of the Kingdom, makes our life a pilgrimage toward our heavenly fatherland. …
Lent is the liberation of our enslavement to sin, from the prison of "this world." And the Gospel lesson of this last Sunday (Matt. 6:14-21) sets the conditions for that liberation. The first one is fasting – the refusal to accept the desires and urges of our fallen nature as normal, the effort to free ourselves from the dictatorship of flesh and matter over spirit. … The second condition is forgiveness – "If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you."  The triumph of sin, the main sign of its rule over the world, is division, opposition, separation, hatred. Therefore, the first break through this fortress of sin is forgiveness: the return to unity, solidarity, love.
Lent actually begins at Vespers of that Sunday. … Nothing reveals better the "tonality" of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church; nowhere is better manifested its profound appeal to man [than Forgiveness Vespers]. … The hymns (stichera) which follow the psalm "Lord I have cried…" announce the coming of Lent and, beyond Lent, the approach of Pascha! … All preparation has now come to an end. I stand before God, before the glory and the beauty His Kingdom. I realize that I belong to it, that I have no other home , no other joy, no other goal; I also realize that I am exiled from it into the darkness and sadness of sin, "for I am afflicted." And finally, I realize that only God can help that affliction, that only He can "attend to my soul." Repentance is, above everything else, a desperate call for that divine help.
   - Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent
Let us begin the time of fasting in light, preparing ourselves for the spiritual efforts. Let us purify our soul; let us purify our body.  As from food, let us abstain from all passion and enjoy the virtues of the spirit, so that perfected in time by love we may all be made worthy to see the Passion of Christ and the Holy Pascha in spiritual joy!
   - Stichira for Forgiveness Vespers