Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

We just finished our Thanksgiving Day Divine Liturgy a little while ago and as always, it was wonderful. Not many in church today because of the absence of heat in the building but it was beautiful nonetheless. Divine Liturgy is always a beautiful way to start off Thanksgiving as it really puts the entire day in the proper light. 
I want to wish you all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. May your time spent with family and friends today be filled with laughter and smiles and the blessings of Almighty God. As you gather round your table for a hearty Thanksgiving meal and give thanks for all the blessings and gifts God has so abundantly showered upon you, please take time to remember those of our brothers and sisters who are homeless and have nothing to eat. Being alone is often good for the soul, for our spiritual growth and maturity, but loneliness is something totally different. So, remember those who are going without today.
Yesterday was the last day we handed out Thanksgiving baskets for the poor at the Cathedral. We spent Monday and Tuesday giving them out as well. Over the course of the three days, we distributed over 80 boxes to families in need. Each box was filled with a turkey; a box of instant mashed potatoes; cans of cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots and green beans; gravy; stuffing, a loaf of bread, and a pie. We could have distributed more if we had more because there were people that just came in off the street asking if we could help them out. Clearly, the need was greater this year than last. I really hate turning people away. I will be thinking of them today.
Think about starting a new Thanksgiving tradition this year by making Thanksgiving Day a day for doing for others and put Black Friday traditions at the bottom of the list. If you have any food left over, pack it up, seek out someone living on the street and give it to them while you are on your way out to start your annual "Black Friday" shopping rituals. Go out of your way to make today a good day for someone less fortunate. In doing so, you will make today a good memory that will warm your heart for years to come.
God bless you and yours!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our Lady of Grace Hoboken Assistance

The Cathedral parish (Theotokos of Great Grace) heard back from Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Hoboken today. The parish's Director of Outreach Ministry sent us a list of items they believe would be most beneficial at this point in time.
We were advised that electricity and phone service were back on and that many businesses have reopened. So, they are basically out of "emergency" mode and are now in the "rebuilding" mode.
The items they are looking for are things like dishes, glasses, tools (hammers, nails, screwdrivers), tarps, silverware, garbage cans and bags, bed sheets, pillows and pillow cases, etc. The list was pretty varied but they are all items which will help in the process of re-establishing households and homes, etc. From what we have been told, many people, including parishioners of Our Lady of Grace, lost everything they owned in the flood.
We are happy that we can help our "sister" parish in Hoboken. Our hope is that we can also make contact with our "sister" parish of Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, Queens and help them out too.
The Cathedral parish is coordinating with the City of Utica and a press conference is being scheduled to announce the drive, which will run from Saturday, November 24th through Sunday, December 2nd. Drop-off locations will be Utica City Hall, the Italian Cultural and Community Center and the Cathedral church. We have also reached out to several Catholic parsihes in the Greater Utica area inviting them to particpate in the project.
Partnering with the Cathedral parish are the City of Utica, the Italian Heritage Club of the Mohawk Valley and the New York State Police. if you would like to contribute to the drive, please call the Cathedral Office at 315-368-8753.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sunday's Homily Posted

I have just posted my homily for tomorrow. You can read it by clicking the link "Homiles/Sermons".

Help for the People of Hoboken, NJ

Just shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City and New Jersey, members of the parish family of the Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace in Utica discussed what they could do to help. There was no question in anybody's mind that efforts to provide assistance to the thousands impacted by the storm would be legion. But we also wanted to do something. We had heard about how hard Hoboken, NJ, Queens and Staten Island, NY were hit. Somwhere during the process of brainstorming ideas as to how we would go about helping, someone decided to Google "Our Lady of Grace" church in Queens, and Hoboken. Well, we were pleased to find that both communities had churches with that name. From then on, we knew what we wanted to do...make contact with both our "sister" churches in these communities to plan, coordinate and provide assistance to people in need through them. 
We attempted to contact both parishes but it was not easy. We have not been able to make contact at all so far with Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach. And it took over a week to make contact with Our Lady of Grace in Hoboken. But we finally did. 
Yesterday, I heard from Father Alex Santora, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken, NJ, who responded by email acknowledging my email to him. He told me that his parish complex of six buildings had been impacted by flooding and that their phone service was still out. He gratefully acknowledged our proposal and directed me to their Director of Outreach Ministry, who contacted me today saying that she was grateful for the offer of assistance by our parish and wholeheartedly accepted it, saying that there is still and great need in Hoboken.  So, now, we will be moving on to the logistical aspects of the project. We will be working with the City of Utica and hopefully other parishes in our city to conduct a city-wide collection effort. I am waiting for OLOG in Hoboken to send us their needs list. As soon as we receive it, I will let you know what their needs are and how you can help.

We will also continue to try to make contact with Our Lady of Grace Church in Howard Beach, NY so that we can determine what can be done to help them and the residents of Howard Beach. Will update you on this as we get more information. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Welcome to the Archbishop's Study! 
With most bishops you have to make an appointment to see them. With the launch of this blog, we get to interact with each other on a more frequent basis. No appointment necessary!

Though this blog is not intended to replace personal face-to-face communication, it gives all of you who may not have an opportunity to come and meet with me personally, the ability to communicate with me on a regular basis. Conversely, this blog provides me the opportunity to stay in touch with as many members of our Church as possible and to be available to those outside the Church who may want to know more about us.
I hope that through this blog we will be able to get to know each other better and establish a firm foundation upon which an enduring friendship can be built.
I have created this blog primarily so that you can get to know me better and that I may personally answer any questions you may have regarding the Italo-Greek Orthodox Church, who we are, what we do and what we believe. It is also a venue by which I can share my thoughts, opinions and views with you on a wide variety of topics, especially the ones that affect our relationships with God and with each other. I will also be periodically randomly posting the homilies/sermons I give on Sundays and for major feasts and holy days throughout the year. 
This is my personal blog, so please be assured that if you ask a question the response you receive will be from me personally and not a staff member.
I hope to hear from you soon. In the meantime, may God bless you and keep you in His love and under His mercy.
Yours in Christ,
+Archbishop Stephen