Archbishop Daniel arrived in Las Cruces, NM on May 5thand met with Very Rev. Fr. Gabriel Rochelle and Pani Susan Steinhaus to review the upcoming weekend. Accompanying Vladyka was seminarian Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak.
On Saturday morning May 6th, Vladyka Daniel met informally with ten parishioners at a coffee and cake breakfast at the home of Elizabeth Davies, Mission Council member. The two-hour free-flowing conversation covered topics as diverse as the difficulties of mission in the Southwest to issues concerning science and religion.
On Saturday afternoon, His Eminence met with members of the parish newly illuminated since his last visit – four children and two adults. His Eminence also met with individual members of the parish on concerns they wished to share with him.
Fr. Gabriel served Vespers at 5:00 PM, following which His Eminence spoke to those gathered on the courage required for us to be Christian in an age where witness to the Gospel is so desperately needed, and often impeded, in our culture. Following Vespers, the thirty people present shared a festive Mexican meal provided by a local restaurant. Several members of the general community joined us for this occasion.
On Sunday morning May 7th, Vladyka Daniel was greeted at the parish by Fr. Gabriel, bearing the cross and water for aspersion; and by Blake Davenport, chairman of the parish council, who presented his Eminence with the traditional bread and salt.
Before the liturgy, Blake Groege Davenport was tonsured Reader for the parish. Vladyka Daniel shared with Reader Blake George thoughts on the ministry of the reader and charged him to study the Scriptures and the prayers of the church in continual preparation as a reader.
St. Anthony has been blessed with two subdeacons, two previous readers, and one deacon of blessed memory, Deacon David Mascarenas. One previous subdeacon is now Fr. Theophan Mackey of St. Job of Pochaiv parish in Los Alamos NM. Subdeacon Vladimir Michael Laven continues to serve the parish, and Deacon Ted Brinegar now serves as Deacon in OCA.
In his sermon Vladyka Daniel stressed the nature of the church as healing source. All of us need spiritual healing, but in accord with the Paralytic of the Gospel for the day, Vladyka stressed that we must pay attention to that need. Cleansed by our baptism, we are free to seek out the healing that we are promised. This freedom enables us to live in community, entering into the suffering of others to aid in their healing, because we are saved not as individuals, but together in the community of Christ.
Following the Divine Liturgy, a festive potluck offered the forty people who gathered all manner of different foods to savor.
In the afternoon, Fr Gabriel and Pani Susan treated His Eminence and seminarian Mykola to the final concert of the season by the Las Cruces Symphony. Several other members of the Mission attended the concert, which featured the masterful violinist Ryu Gotu playing Paganini’s 1st Concerto, and the symphony orchestra gave a spectacular rendition of Mahler’s First Symphony.
In the evening, the Davenport family hosted a casual outdoor barbecue dinner with additional dishes brought by others, and an informal council meeting took place at which issues of ministry and service in the community were discussed.
Saint Anthony of the Desert Mission has been in existence ten years; over the course of those years we have seen mostly converts enter the parish, from its beginnings with four people. There have been many adult Chrismations and adult and child baptisms over these years, and despite the loss of some sixteen members to retirement and moves in 2015, the membership has built up again and now stands at thirty-six adults and seventeen children.
Archbishop Daniel Visits St Anthony of the Desert Mission – 05/08/17
Text by Fr. Gabriel Rochelle – Photos by Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak