HIS GRACE BISHOP IRINEU VISITED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, during the month of March His Grace Bishop Irineu visited the Parishes and Missions of the West Coast Deanery, whose Dean is Fr. Constantin Alecse
On Sunday, March 23rd, His Grace, together with several priests and deacons served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the St. Mary Church in Anaheim, CA, Pastor Fr. Cornel Avramescu.
The Hierarch was welcomed by a large number of the faithful (more than 250) who participated in the Divine Liturgy and filled their hearts with the warm spiritual words of the Hierarch.
The Sermon focused on showing the love for our neighbor and for our communities in everything we do. In order to have a truly spiritual life, we need to:
- begin and end every day of our life praying to God and glorifying Him.
- participate in the divine Liturgy.
- seek daily the word of God.
- cleanse or sins through prayer, fasting, Confession and Holy Communion.
The Hierarch also emphasized the need to teach our young ones the love of God, and of His Holy Church, who now is grafted on the American soil. They are the generation of tomorrow, and it is their duty to transmit the Faith, and the Word of God to their children.
Since the Virgin Mary is the protectress of the church in Anaheim, the Hierarch also spoke a few words about she through whom Christ descended on Earth, to save us and give us life everlasting. Heaven and Earth sing together in harmony, glorifying the one who was chosen to be the Mother of Christ our God, Who at the fullness of time cam to save mankind from the slavery of sin and death.
A large number of the faithful, of which many were children, received Holy Communion. As a sign of gratitude for the work done, and as an exhortation to continue and excel in the pastoral work, the Bishop handed out diplomas (gramata) of appreciation to Fr. Cornel Avramescu, to the Choir (through Preoteasa Eugenia Avramescu), to the Ladies (through Ms. Ioana McKey), and to the Parish Council (through Mr. Serban Calciu).
At the end of the service Fr. Avramescu welcomed again the Hierarch, and commended the faithful, who through great labor were able to build the beautiful new church, and who come every Sunday to receive the Word of God.
During the meal that followed, Vladika Irineu was able to meet the faithful face to face, to discuss with them, and further strengthen them in their faith. Since March is the month of Fr. Cornel and Preoteasa Eugenia's wedding anniversary, the Bishop congratulated them and wished them a fruitful ministry in the Vineyard of the Lord.
SUNLAND - THE FUTURE LOCATION OF THE HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
On Monday, the 23'rd of March, H.G. Irineu visited the future site of the Holy Trinity Church, together with Fr. Constantin Alecse and the two deacons who accompanied the Hierarch.
"I feel here like I feel at home, in Fagaras" said Vladika. He insisted to walk through the waist-high vegetation, to reach the Holy Cross planted almost 14 years ago by Archbishop Nathaniel, at the blessing of the construction site. At this cross, the Bishop prayed to God to bless the Holy Trinity Church in the effort to build the new Church, and to fill all her faithful with spiritual blessings.
After the visit, the host, Fr. Constantin, took the Bishop and the accompanying deacons to a walk in the neighborhood of the property. After that, they visited the "Crucifixion and Resurrection" historic site in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, and a few other neighboring attractions.
On Monday evening, Bishop Irineu, Fr. Constantin, and Deacons Vasile Simonca, Sebastian Dumitrascu, and Iustin Stoian visited the St. Anne Parish in Pomona.
After vesting, the Bishop entered the chapel, and was welcomed by Ms. Victoria Ursea (in behalf of the Parish Council) and by the parish Priest Fr. Prof. Catalin Mitescu.
Besides Fr. Constantin, Fr. Catalin and the deacons, the clergy present also included Archmandrite
Peter (Pantheleimon) Costarakis, the pastor of the "St. Elijah" Greek Orthodox Church in San Bernardino, Fr. Andrew Lesko (the associate priest), and Mr. Narcis Stoica, who was to be tonsured Subdeacon.
The entire Vespers was served in English. After Vespers, Vladika Irineu blessed the newly built iconostas, and tonsured Mr. Narcis Stoica as a Subdeacon.
During the short sermon that followed, his Grace encouraged the faithful in their spiritual and numerical growth, and thanked the serving clergy, especially Fr. Peter Costarakis from the St. Elijah Greek Orthodox Church. The Bishop praised the warm relation between the Romanian and the Greek Orthodox Church, and also mentioned that he was tonsured Archmandrite by the Ecumenical Patriarch during his visit to Romania.
Before the Lenten dinner offered by the parish, His Grace thanked the parishioners for the warm reception, offered them a beautiful icon, and presented to Fr. Catalin a diploma (gramata) of appreciation, as well as the Cross of Bishop Irineu.
On Tuesday March 25'th , on the Feast of the Annunciation, H.G. Bishop Irineu visited the Holy Trinity Church in Verdugo, Parish Priest Fr. Constantin Alecse.
At the Hierarchical liturgy participated an impressive number of clergy, including:
Fr. Danut Palanceanu (Las Vegas, NV), Fr. Bill Clark (Los Angeles, CA, "Holy Trinity" chapel, tonsured confessor in the same day), Archpriest Constantin Alecse (Los Angeles, parish priest), Fr. Catalin Mitescu (Pomona), Fr. Silviu Vasilie (Palm Springs), Fr. Virgil Anton (San Diego), Deacon Iustin (companion of His Grace), Deacon Sebastian (companion of His Grace), Deacon Vasile Simonca (Los Angeles), Subdeacon dr. Iosif Razvan Bena (tonsured during the service), Subdeacon Narcis Stoica (Pomona), Subdeacon Liviu Constantinescu (Los Angeles), Readers Gabriel Vamvulescu and Irinel Dumitrascu (Los Angeles). At the end of the divine Liturgy, Fr. Cornel Avramescu (Anaheim, CA) arrived as well, after having served the Divine Liturgy in Anaheim. Even if the service was on a weekday, the church was full.
His Grace was welcomed by Ms. Emilia Tatu and by Mr. Constantin Jercan in behalf of the parish council, and by Ms. Getta Jercan, Preoteasa Elena Alecse and Preoteasa Luminita Palanceanu in behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary.
After vesting, Bishop Irineu tonsured Reader Razvan Bena as a Subdeacon. The liturgical answers during the Divine Liturgy were given by Readers Gabriel Vamvulescu and Irinel Dumitrascu, as well as by Subdeacon Razvan Bena.
The Bishop conveyed the blessings of His eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, and promised to inform him of the liturgical and communitary life of the Deanery.
The Sermon focused on the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel of the Incarnation of Christ from the Virgin Mary. At the voice of the Archangel: "Rejoice you who are full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women," the Virgin Mary, overwhelmed by emotion, said "Let it be unto me according to your word."
In such a blessed day it is meeting for us to become like the Archangel, heralds of the Son of God, and of the peace and salvation that through His Incarnation entered the world.
His Grace also encouraged the faithful to run well the course of the fast. The Great Lent is a special time that our Mother, the Church, gives to us for conquering our passions, increasing the love towards our neighbor, forgiving, confessing our sins, and receiving the risen Christ Who grants us life everlasting.
Before the end of the service, His Grace tonsured Fr. John William Clark as a spiritual father, and handed out diplomas of appreciation to some of the host clergy.
After the Liturgy His Grace celebrated the memorial service (Parastas) in the memory of the heroes who gave their life for the union of Basarabia with Romania (celebrated this day by the Holy Trinity Parish), and in the memory of the departed members of Ion Anton's and Fr. Virgil Anton's families.
During the delicious fish meal which followed, Mr. Nicolae Rusu reminded those present of a few of the historical events associated with the union of Basarabia with Romania, as well as of the present situation in this Romanian province.
Mr. Anatol Razmeritza, an exceptional artist from Bassarabia concluded the presentation with several songs celebrating the aspirations of the Romanians from that part of the world to be again one body and one soul with their motherland - Romania.
After the meal, the Bishop, the two accompanying deacons, Fr. Silviu Vasilie (the pastor of the Holy Archangels Church in Palm Springs) and Mr. Ioan Sighiartau drove to Palm Springs.
Bishop Irineu had been in Palms Springs about 10 years ago, when he was still the Abbot of the Sambata Monastery. The visitors were hosted by Fr. Silviu's family.
On Wednesday evening, after visiting the Big Bear Lakes, Bishop Irineu was received by the faithful of the Holy Archangels Church. He was offered the traditional bread and salt by Pompiliu Ivan in behalf of the Parish Council, and received flowers from Andrei Vasilie, in behalf of the parish youth.
About 50 people were present at Vespers, had the chance to listen to the words of the Hierarch, and brought praise to the Mother of God for the Annunciation. After the Vespers a tasty meal was offered by the Parish Council and the Ladies' auxiliary.
On Thursday His Grace also visited Mr. Aurel Vlaicu, one of the founders of the Palms Springs parish, who is immobilized at home, as well as the "House for Elderly and Disabled", run by Ioan and Cornelia Sighiartau.
On Saturday the 29'th of March, Bishop Irineu visited the newly founded "Elevation of the Holy Cross" mission in San Diego.
The small group of believers who are trying to form the core of a Romanian Orthodox community in San Diego came to lovingly meet the Hierarch. He was offered the traditional bread and salt by Ms. Maria Pascanu (in behalf of the Ladies), and received flowers from Mr. Joseph Buibas, in behalf of the Parish Council.
The small choir of the mission, lead by Joseph Buibas, greeted the Hierarch with "Many Years to You Master" (Pre Stapanul si Arhiereul nostru), and gave the answers in the Divine Liturgy which followed.
After the uplifting service, the Bishop gave a diploma (gramata) to Fr. Virgil Anton, both as a sign of gratitude, and as an encouragement to strengthen the Mission he leads. At the meal which followed the faithful had again the occasion to hear spiritual teachings from the Hierarch.
On Saturday afternoon, Bishop Irineu, and Deacons Sebastian and Iustin left Southern California at the John Wayne airport, heading towards the Bay Area.