PASTORAL MESSAGE


September 9th, 2020

The beginning of the ecclesiastical year began on September 1st. For most of us, that is a time when we are getting back into our routines by settling in from vacation, preparing for school and getting back to ‘normal’. This year has been very different due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are heading into a period of uncertainty, where the ‘normal’ part of our lives no longer applies. Many people have lost their jobs, salaries have been reduced, businesses have closed, people close to us have tested positive for Covid-19 and recovered and others have not.

As Orthodox Christians, we have never known what the future holds as every day truly is gift from God and that is true now more than ever as we continue into unchartered territory. We do not know if our children will remain in school, if we will remain healthy or if our jobs are safe.

All we can do is pray, now more than ever for God to guide us and deliver us from this pandemic that has affected and continues to affect each and every one of us.

The church has had to adapt during this difficult time. This includes closing the doors as we did and then reopening at a limited capacity. Holy Communion is being administered in a different way and we will need to continue to adapt as we navigate into the future.

Our church programs and activities going forward will be online and when it is safe to meet together, we will certainly do so and I pray that time comes soon. Bible study topics and dates will be on our website shortly and a link will be sent out for those who wish to join.

Sunday school will also be online and a separate email with dates will be sent out. My favorite part about Sunday school is getting a chance to speak with the Sunday school students. It brings me so much joy seeing them, laughing with them, hearing their amazing questions and listening to their answers when I ask questions. For that reason, I will also schedule time online to have a little chat with them. I hope that by doing this online we can have even more amazing children be part of this program that brings so many of us joy. If you haven’t been able to bring your children to our programming, maybe an online format can help.

Our Met Youth events will also be online and again, a separate email will be sent out with events and dates. I continue to be so grateful to the youth of our community who continue to be creative to find ways to keep our program going and for the immense support these young people provide. We have incredible youth in our church and for that I am so very grateful.

As you have seen, there are no young altar servers in the church and that will continue for the time being as altar servers cannot properly socially distance in the Holy Altar. I miss my friends in the altar helping every Sunday but at this point we cannot accommodate this in a safe manner.

As you know, I have always been available for appointments at any time as many of you have had appointments with me weeknights, evenings and during the day. These meetings have been in my office or outside of the church and I will continue to make myself available when it is convenient for you and where is convenient for you which means I am not always in the office as a Priests ministry takes him many places outside of an office. I am currently in the office Tuesday-Thursday however it is by appointment only. The reason for this is I am on call 24/7 for emergencies, I have weekday services and seeing the parish priest is always confidential. I will also never tell someone I can’t meet them at the cemeteries and often this falls during the day. If you need to see me, please reach out to me for an appointment because I cannot guarantee that if you come during office hours, I will be able to see you.

That said I have never made myself available to people when it works for me, it is always what works for our parishioners and that will never change. The doors to the church may be locked even if I am there because someone is in my office or I am hearing someone’s confession. The church is a place many seek to come and I love visitors. That said, they should be scheduled visits to respect others that may be seeking the church for confidential reasons.

Regarding Holy Confession, those who confess to me know that I have always been available. I do not have set confession hours and a confession sign up schedule because of confidentiality and that would eliminate the confidentiality. In addition, confession for many is not something that is scheduled, it is something they need when they need it and it is my job to accommodate that. A schedule for confession weekly isn’t feasible as it eliminates the confidentiality of Holy Confession and we all know that just doesn’t work. If you are interested in Holy Confession, you can reach out to me and we will set a time and date that works for you. As I have said in the past to those who are not comfortable confessing to me, I can give you the name and number of another Orthodox Priest who can hear your confession. I have done that in the past and my brother Priests also do the same.

If you are interested in learning Byzantine Chanting, please contact me. If there is enough interest to learn this beautiful yet very time-consuming art, we will do it in a group session as I have attempted to do numerous times over the years. If not, as I have in the past, I will give one on one lessons. While chanting and choir is something many people speak about having, no one shows real interest and that is perfectly acceptable as we have been blessed with wonderful chanters that serve our church with their whole hearts. That said if you would like to learn, as always no one will ever be turned away.

While the church is in great need financially at this time, I understand many of you are like me and have been impacted greatly financially during this time. That said there are other offerings like oil and wine that our church can always use. In addition, we need prosforo and if you are interested in making a prosforo (offering) bread we use at every Divine Liturgy for Holy Communion, I found a great link (click here) and encourage you to make one and bring it to the church as an offering. 

In addition, there are many videos online that can be found to make the offering of koliva for the soul of a loved one that has departed. I encourage you to research this and reach out if you need some help seeking this information.

We have all adapted during this pandemic, including the Church and will most probably need to keep adapting until Covid-19 has passed. One thing that always remains the same is that Christ is our Saviour and we keep our faith in Him to guide us in everything.

Be safe,

FP

August 4th, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The Dormition of the Theotokos, which is celebrated on August 15th, is a very important time for us Orthodox Christians (click here for more information). The 2 week fasting period, beginning on August 1stprepares us to receive Holy Communion and everyone should prepare themselves to receive the Holy Gifts. We know how important this day is and many people prepare themselves to come to church that day. Unfortunately, we are limited to 75 people and once we have 75 people in the church we will be at capacity. For those of you who aren't able to fit in the church you will still be able to light your candle and Parish council members will escort you into the hall, socially distanced and the Divine Liturgy will be streamed on the projector. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, once the church has been vacated, council members will guide those in the hall to communion as they wish. I will remain in the church and will be administering Holy Communion to those who wish to partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord. 

The schedule of services for August has been posted on our website (click here) and all of our services are now open to the public. We will be serving the small Paraklesis to the Theotokos weeknights at 7pm unless there is a vespers service. Clichere to follow along with the readings of the Paraklesis. Of course many of you are not comfortable coming to church during Covid-19 which is understandable so you will be able to follow along on our Youtube channel St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church Calgary.

A friendly reminder that masks are mandatory in the church and hall. You may only remove your mask when you are about to receive Holy Communion and immediately afterwards you must put it on again. Also, you will be asked for your name and contact information upon entering the church. This is for your safety in case of an outbreak and we need to notify you.

God bless you, be safe and have a Blessed Dormition of the Theotokos!

FP


June 2nd, 2020

Our Church will be reopening on June 7th for Sunday services. Our members have been emailed the guidelines and regulations for the reopening of our church as well as providing an opportunity for those who wish to attend to come in an organized manner due to the limited capacity we have. If anyone would like to RSVP, please contact Penelope at admin@calgaryhellen.com or (403) 246-4553 ext 3. 

The provincial government has imposed regulations for worship and we will be following those regulations. The faithful are not allowed to kiss the icons, gospel or the hand of the priests. Processions will not be held around the church to ensure social distancing and the most important is that Holy Communion will NOT be offered to the faithful as per the governments regulations of no shared items, such as chalices, spoons, etc. That being said, the Body and Blood of Christ cannot and will never transmit sickness or disease but we must follow the rules that have been placed upon us. As of now, our Archdiocese has not permitted any alternative methods in the distribution of the Holy Gifts. That being said, the provincial regulations as well as any directives from the Archdiocese may change and at that point, announcements will be made as needed.

I know many people are excited that the church is reopening but many people also want to stay safe and stay away from places where people gather which I respect and understand. For that reason, services will continue to be streamed so you can follow along from home.   

For those who would like to receive Holy Communion, please reach out to me and I can come to your home so you can partake of the Holy Gifts. 

Be safe! 
FP


February 2019

Hello everyone,

With the beginning of the New Year, many of us set goals and resolutions to become a better version of ourselves. Most goals revolve around getting healthier, stopping a bad habit, losing weight and becoming more active.

These goals are very important and we should strive for these things but they shouldn’t be our only goals. Why not set some goals for ourselves to become better Christians?

Being a Christian encompasses many things. We should all try to make an effort to explore the many important parts of our faith. These include fasting in a way that works for you, praying often and making an effort to partake in the Holy Sacraments of our Church.

A very important part of being Christian came from Christ himself which is found in Matthew 25:31 (The Final Judgement).

The Lord said, "When the Son of man comes in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

What does the Lord tell us in this passage? This is not a parable or something that can be interpreted in different ways. He is telling us that if we do not truly love our neighbor as ourselves, there is no salvation. Feeding the hungry, clothing those who cannot on their own and the like are direct results of our faith. If we have true faith and love for Christ, everything found in this passage should be instilled in each and every one of us and especially in our homes.

Let’s all try and make an effort to better ourselves this year and through Holy Lent which is approaching. Every time we turn on the news, we see evil and darkness. Christ calls us to be beacons of light to others. How can we do this? Easy! Follow the perfect example of Christ and the saints. When you are walking downtown and see a needy person, go and buy them something to eat. When you check your mail and see envelopes from World Vision, War-Amps, Children’s Hospital, etc. do not just throw them away, open them up and in turn your wallet. Support charities and support your Church. People need help and it is our duty, not just as Christians but as human beings to help. We cannot be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on clothes, shoes, purses, gadgets, fancy dinners, cars, etc. and not giving anything to the needy, charities and our church. No one is saying we can’t have nice things, or spoil ourselves but its all about balance. If you are buying presents for your entire family and friends and not making a donation to toy mountain there is a problem. If you go out for lunch and on your way back someone is begging for food and you walk by them as if they don’t exist, there is a problem.

Helping others not only makes us better Christians but by doing so we set examples for our colleagues and friends.  Imagine if you are walking somewhere with friends or coworkers and they see you stop and make a difference in someone’s life? They will notice and challenge them do the same for the next person they see! This is just one example of how we can become beacons of light.

Let’s all set this as a goal and become beacons of light!

God Bless you all.

Rev. Fr. Peter Rougas

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1 Tamarac Crescent SW, Calgary, AB T3C 3B7

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