St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

September 2003

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Fr. Antony PortraitChrist is in our midst! I am so grateful to all of you for the work you are doing in our beloved parish.

A few months ago two small groups were formed to encourage spiritual growth and help in the further development of the parish as a primary community. Some of the impetus for this came from Dr. Raboteau's lecture this past spring (the first annual Fr. John VonHoltzhausen Lecture sponsored by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine). The groups focus around prayer, both silent and vocal, on the study of spiritual material and on fellowship. I am happy to report that the groups have thus far proven to be very worthwhile and successful. Thanks to Kari Keiser and Sherry San Chirico for spear-heading this project.

The Fr. John Lecture itself was the dream child of members of the Fellowship. Not only will there be a second Lecture next spring, but with the help of God we hope that in time it will become a major event in the life of the entire religious community of Boston for years to come. Thanks to Andrew Estocin and all the members of the Fellowship!

A movement emphasizing community social action has also formed. The first event (August 11, 2003) centered around the soup kitchen at Holy Resurrection Bulgarian Church in Allston. Happily, there were too many volunteers so the group had to divide in two with one putting off it's service for a week! This is wonderful news! We are hoping to move our social work to the Cambridge area soon after we have learned from the experience of our brothers and Sisters in Allston. The group leaders are exploring connections with social action organizations around and near St. Mary's so that we can begin to help meeting the needs of the people who live and work around us. The steering committee includes Kerry San Chirico, Anastasia Estocin and Joseph Kouyoumjian Thanks for a job well done!

The plans for renovating the church kitchen under the guidance of the Women's Club are proceeding apace. Hopefully construction will begin in the not too distant future providing us with a beautiful and more efficient kitchen for the growing needs of our beloved community. The Parish Council has reviewed the plans and budget and has given its approval. Soon St. Mary's will have a new kitchen. Thank you Renay DiFiore and ail the members of the Women's Club for this and for all you do! Thanks also to Bahig Kaldas who guided the women in the development of the plans.

At the time of this writing the parish-wide barbecue at Joseph and Lucine Kouyoumjian's home has not yet taken place, but I am sure it will prove to be a great event for all of us. This is but one example of the inspired efforts of our parishioners to provide still another wonderful opportunity for the expression of the love we have for one another, for our parish and for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Thanks Joseph and Lucine!

The Boston Byzantine Choir offered to give a substantial gift to the parish to purchase a much needed, state-of-the-art sound system. Thanks to the exploratory work of Subdeacon Luke and the overwhelming approval of the Parish Council the parish will soon have a sound system that will make a huge contribution to the solemnity and beauty of the liturgical services that are undoubtedly at the heart of all we do at St. Mary's. Our gratitude is certainly due to the BBC and its director Charlie Marge for this and also for making so many people world-wide aware of the marvelous musical traditions we enjoy here in Cambridge.

Each of these are the result of ideas offered by parishioners who were willing to put prayer and effort into seeing them come to fruition. As our Metropolitan always reminds us, the Church is not Bishops and priests only, but laypeople using their talents for the building up of the kingdom in a concerted effort to fulfill the will of God in the world. Keep it up everyone! As your priest, I could not be more proud of you nor more grateful.

As we gear up for the beginning of the new liturgical year, the start of Church School and the return of our parishioners from the long, hot summer, let us all give praise to the Holy Trinity and rededicate ourselves to a life of faithful service to Him and one another.

May God continue to bless, inspire and create in us a parish community worthy of the name Orthodox Christian.

Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Antony Hughes