Saturday, November 2, 2019

Second Pascha of the St. Hilarion Parish - Our Third Pascha!

Our St. Vladimir parish is not the first that has existed in Ann Arbor. There was a Russian Orthodox parish in Ann Arbor in the 1950s named after the Venerable Hilarion the Great, (commemorated on October 21/November 3). This is why we have the icon of St. Hilarion on the far left of our iconostasis - so that there would be a sort of continuity between the first community and our community, which was started in 1981. The St. Hilarion parish closed when no priest could be found to replace Fr. Peter DeMett after his repose. Fr. Peter and his wife Riasa are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in the Russian Orthodox section, as are many of the parishioners from that first parish. We visit them every year on Radonitsa, but this should not be the extent of our communion with them. We are working not just to bring new people to the faith, to strengthen ourselves in the faith, and to train our children to be saints. We are also working for them - continuing the good work that they begin with their nascent efforts here.

We have lots of plans to do lots of things in our community: to build a school, to build a new church, and to fill that church to capacity. Not for our glory, or even for the glory of those who came before us, but for the glory of God. We should keep in mind that we need to work if we hope to succeed. We need to provide clergy for the Church so that when our priests die there will be new priests to serve us. We need to bring new people to the Church so that the Lord will see our zeal to share His love with others. We need to sanctify ourselves, so that St. Mardarije will not be the only saint who died in Ann Arbor. We have lots to do, and sometimes that can be tough. We feel sometimes like our parish, as big or as little as we think it is, is swimming up stream. We feel like we are climbing a mountain. And we sometimes feel like we are doing that alone. First: we are swimming upstream. That is the life of a Christian: labor until death. We rest in the next life. Here we work. Second: we are NEVER alone. The Lord, the angels, and the saints are always with us, even if we are the only one pulling weeds, shoveling snow, scraping wax, cleaning the bathroom, or doing any number of things that need to be done in our parish for God’s glory. Let us never forget that! Most parishes only have one patron saint. We can rightly say we have two: St. Vladimir AND St. Hilarion!

Let us fervently entreat the prayers of the favorite of God, St. Hilarion the Great, that the work begun by those first Russian Orthodox Christians in Ann Arbor will be continued worthily by us sinners, the parish family of St. Vladimir Church! And that what they were unable fully to complete, through no fault of their own, we will do in their memory! May the Lord grant us the strength, the wisdom, and the zeal to do it! Happy third Pascha to our entire parish family!

Fr. Gregory

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