Post image for First Visit of His Grace, Bishop Michael

First Visit of His Grace, Bishop Michael

April 8, 2011

On Wednesday, April 6, 2011, our parish was blessed to celebrate the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts with our diocesan hierarch, His Grace Bishop Michael, on the occasion of his first visit to our parish. The liturgical celebration was solemn and beautiful, and the warmth and love exchanged between His Grace and the parishioners was uplifting. The temple was full, and many stayed late into the evening to share a meal and meet with His Grace. The community at St. Andrew’s is so glad to have had this chance to meet our archpastor, and we eagerly await the chance to be with him again, when he will celebrate with our parish in July. Photos of the visit may be viewed here.

Fr. John shared the following correspondence with His Grace, expressing his gratefulness and joy:

Dear Bishop Michael,

Master bless!

Yesterday was a wonderful event in the life of our Parish. By your visit, you ministered to us as the liturgical celebrant that a bishop is called to be. Celebrating the Presanctified Liturgy with us this evening, we heard the familiar words but with a new voice, one that is soft, patient and humble. This is the voice of a father, a pastor, someone who comes not as a judge but as a healer. We received the Gifts of Immortality at your hands, and from your hands we accepted the blessings that you bestowed upon us many times.

Your piety and prayerfulness spoke to us. Your brotherly love for all of us, gathered as we were around the Holy Altar, to share this evening worship. We felt joy in your presence.

You were also very concerned to learn of our customs, our styles of celebration, to affirm us in the way that we have come together to pray. By doing so, you showed how much you value our life together and the unique charism of the Holy Spirit that is manifest in this place.

Your words were also instructive to us. You asked us to recognize in Our Lord’s sacrificial death a way to enter into life itself. You spoke about the need to ask for forgiveness, about Peter’s denial and the need to choose better than Adam, starting over in our spiritual lives.

We shared a meal with you for the first time knowing that we were embarking on new territory, a new relationship that will carry us further and challenge us to grow in the Spirit. You also took the time to meet us, to mingle with us and to get to know us. You went table by table, stopping to speak with each, revealing the value, the miracle of each person, each part of this Body.

Finally, as many departed for the night, you stayed late and gave generously of your time, to speak with us about the health of our Church and the concerns that we face at the present. Over and over, you emphasized to us the importance of truth, of bearing a truthful witness to our Resurrected Lord. You spoke eloquently about your commitment to evangelization and the growth of Orthodoxy in America.

When you left, after 11pm as it was, we were tired but we were also spiritually refreshed. We felt the confidence that comes from knowing someone who knows himself. Someone who has struggled with personal loss, with hardship and also someone who is committed to the hard work of being a steward of God’s Heavenly Kingdom.

For all of this, we thank you and we look forward with great eagerness to seeing you again later this year, on July 31.

In Christ Our True God,
Fr. John and the Parishioners of St. Andrew’s Church, Dix Hills, NY

Dear Fr. John:

Thank you so much for your kind e-mail. I am thankful to GOD that the visit went well for you, your family and your parishioners. I enjoyed it immensely.

St. Andrew’s is truly a wonderful community, and that is no doubt due to its loving father.

I look forward to coming for a weekend in July, when I can spend more time with you and your family … and with the parish … and we can do the justice due your priestly service to the Lord.

May God grant you and your family and all the parish family of St. Andrew a blessed remainder of Lent and a joyous Pascha!

Please pray for me and the Synod… that the Truth shall make us free.

With love,
Vladyka Michael

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