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OCA parishes weather hurricanes, earthquake

While communications have been difficult as a result of the recent hurricanes affecting the South and the major earthquake that hit Mexico, it appears that OCA parishes and communities in the affected areas have largely “weathered the storms.”

In Texas, Father Dimitri Cozby, Priest-in-Charge of Victoria’s All Saints Mission, reports that while his church was undamaged except for several downed trees, recovery efforts were being offered locally from other parts of Texas, from neighboring states, and from countless volunteers.  “A couple of carloads of 20-somethings from Saint Anthony Parish in San Antonio came down and cleaned up our property and the properties of some in our neighbors, thereby enabling me to help a wheel-chair bound parishioner to get his downed trees cleared,” Father Dimitri says.  “We also helped a volunteer worker from central Texas get his equipment fixed after he and the equipment got caught in the flooding.  A member of the Antiochian parish in Waco sent us $1000.00, which we are distributing especially to our Eritrean members—we are still trying to locate some of them who evacuated and find out their needs.”

Closer to Houston, Father Benedict Crawford, Priest-in-Charge of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem Mission, The Woodlands, TX, reports that “our area thankfully was not hit nearly as hard as Father Dimitri’s, and the flood waters quickly receded.”  He adds that a number of parishioners had experienced various degrees of flooding and damage to their homes, but that cleanup efforts had already been concluded or were ongoing.

Meanwhile in Jacksonville, FL—especially hard hit by flooding—Father Ted Pisarchuk reports that Saint Justin Martyr Church experienced no damage, other than a downed tree blocking the church entrance.  As of Wednesday, September 13, he knew of no major damage to any parishes in his deanery.

Miami’s Christ the Savior Cathedral also suffered downed trees, but there was no damage to the church or hall.  Father Patrick Smith, Rector of Saint Andrew Church, New Port Richey, FL, reports “minimal damage,” while Father Joseph Ciarciaglino, Priest-in-Charge of Tampa’s Saint Philip Mission, is thankful that “all are accounted for and there was no damage at anyone’s house, or at the church.”

“Thanks to God, there seems to be no injury to any faithful and no major loss of property due to Hurricane Irma,” says Father Barcus Burch, Chancellor of the Diocese of the South.  “The one exception is that a 100 year oak tree fell on Father Theophan Buck’s house in Macon, GA, destroying a third of it.  Fortunately he and his wife and daughter were in another part of the house at the time, and sustained no injury.”

Elsewhere across Florida, Father Gleb McFatter, Priest-in-Charge of Saint Demetrius Mission, Naples, FL, reports that while damage in the area was widespread, the church “has been spared any major—or really even minor—damage.”  Father Leonid Palceski, Rector of Holy Cross Church, Fort Myers, FL, reports that while his church was spared from flooding, damage to the cross on the cupola over the altar caused water damage.  Meanwhile, Father Stephen Lourie, Priest-in-Charge of Holy Spirit Church, Venice, FL, reports only minor damage, adding that no parishioners had been seriously affected.  Father John Chudik, Rector of Bradenton’s Saint Mark Church, reports that “all is well” in his parish.

Meanwhile, His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo of Mexico City says that no damage was reported by any of the churches or missions in his diocese during the magnitude 8.1 earthquake—the strongest to hit Mexico in a century—late Thursday night, September 7.

Those who know of any major damage to parishes or the homes of faithful across the Diocese of the South and/or the Diocese of Mexico are kindly asked to send information to the Orthodox Church in America at for inclusion in an upcoming article.

9/11 victims remembered at OCA’s St. Catherine Representation Church, Moscow

Memorial service
Fr. Christopher Hill presides at 9/11 Memorial in Moscow.

Every year since September 11, 2001, the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America’s Representation Church of the Great Martyr Catherine in Moscow have commemorated the terrorist attacks on the US and offered prayers for their victims.  This year’s commemoration—which coincided with the celebration of the Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist on the Julian Calendar—was attended by Minister Counselor for Political Affairs of the US Embassy in Moscow, Christopher T. Robinson, and Secretary for Political Affairs of the Embassy of Canada in Moscow, Nina Kondraty.  At the conclusion of the service, the commemorative bell was rung 16 times in honor of those who lost their lives on that day.

Prior to the service, Archpriest Christopher Hill read the message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon to the clergy and faithful of the parish.

“As the Representation Church of the Orthodox Church in America, it is worthy and right that you commemorate the tragic violence of September 11, 2001, by praying for all those who died on that Day of Terror,” Metropolitan Tikhon wrote.  “The Orthodox Faith respects and honors every human being as a being created in the image and likeness of God.  Acts of terror are violent assaults on men, women and children who are precious in the sight of God.

“Our prayer today for the thousands who died in the towers of the World Trade Center, in Washington, and in the downing of Flight 93, is our prayerful witness for loving memory, our prayerful witness against acts of terror, our prayerful witness for true humanity, for human dignity, for a world of peace and mutual respect,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued.  “Russians and Americans hold in common experiences and memories of terrorism.  These experiences and memories hold our peoples and nations together as witnesses to suffering, and also as witnesses to the power and grace of compassion.  Let us together create a better and humane world, a world open to the presence of God.  May the blessing of the Lord be upon you, through His grace and love for mankind, always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.”

Archbishop Michael to deliver keynote at Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black annual conference October 6–8

The Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black will hold its 24th annual conference at the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow Church, Princeton, NJ October 6–8, 2017.

The conference theme—“Closer to Christ, Closer to Each Other”—will be introduced in the keynote address by His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey.  Other presenters will include Archpriest Moses Berry, Priest Jerome Sanderson, Hieromonk Alexii [Altschul], Al Raboteau and Mother Katherine.

Advanced registration may be made on-line or by contacting Carla Thomas, PO Box 1887, Anniston, AL 36202-1887; 1-256-239-7353;  The conference fee is $100.00.  Limited scholarships are available upon on request.  Discounted lodging—$119.00 per night—is available from the Holiday Inn Princeton, 100 Independence Way, Princeton, NJ.  Reservations also may be made by calling 1-855-914-1890.