THE 65TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE "HOLY TRINITY"
ROMANIAN Orthodox CHURCH
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
On 6 and 7 November 2004, the Romanian community in Los Angeles had a great holiday to celebrate. The first reason was the anniversary of 65 years since the setting up of the parish of the "Holy Trinity", founded on 25 June 1939 by a group of 25 persons coming from Romania.
A few months later, on 11 November, the parish
joined the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America (ROEA). During its 65 years
of activity the parish had Reverends Martin Ionescu (1939 – 1947), Grigore
Coste (1948 – 1957), Victor Barbulescu (1957 – 1969), Anchidim Useriu
(temporary 1969/1970), and Richard Grabowski (1970 – 1982) as parish priests.
Rev. Constantin Alecse has been parish priest since 1982. The second reason for celebration was the anniversary of 24 years of hierarchic service of His Eminence Nathaniel Popp, the Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America at Vatra Româneasca seat.
The festivities were marked by two important
events. So, on 6 November, after the Vesper service, the leaders of
the community gave a reception in the honour of His Eminence Nathaniel Popp, on
which occasion the Archbishop could have an informal meeting, at Rusty
Pelican restaurant in Glendale, with most of the members of the council, of the ladies' committee, of the construction council as well as with the supporters of the "Holy Trinity" parish, 40 persons in all, who declared they were determined to keep on supporting the building of the new church in Sunland, California, estimated to a few million dollars.
Before beginning the dinner the parish priest made an individual presentation of each family, and of the single persons involved in the parochial life, in general, as well as of the project of construction of the new church, in particular.
* * *
Next day, Sunday 7 November, was marked by the solemn celebration of the Divine Liturgy officiated by the Primate of the ROEA, assisted by a group of priests: Rev. Constantin Alecse, the local parish priest, Rev. Dr. Catalin Mitescu, parish priest of the church of St. Anne in Pomona Valley, CA, Rev. Josiah Trenham, parish priest of the Antiochian Orthodox church of "St. Andrew's" in Riverside CA, Rev. William John (Bill) Clark, assistant priest and chaplain of the church of the "Holy Trinity", Rev. Virgil Suciu, assistant priest at the church of "St. John the Evangelist" in Phoenix, AZ, Rev. Virgil Anton, temporary manager of the church of the "Holy Cross" in San Diego, California, as well as sub- deacons: Gabriel Vamvulescu, official singer of the "Holy Trinity" parish, Irinel Dumitrascu, occasional visitor to this church – singers, and at the Holy Altar: engineer Liviu George Constantinescu and his son Victor Constantinescu, from the church of the "Holy Trinity", student attending the "St. Stephan" courses of theology in the USA, engineer Narcis Stoica, president of the parochial council of the church of "St. Anne" from Pomona Valley, California and student attending the same "St. Stephan" courses of theology.
During the same Divine Liturgy, sub-deacon Dr. Razvan Iosif Bena was ordained deacon in the presence of more than 250 faithful and of a part of the monks from the Orthodox Monastery of "Santa Barbara", in Santa Barbara, California.
At the end of the Hierarchical Liturgy, the parish priest delivered a sermon in the Romanian language, with theme "The Church and the church hierarchy".
The climax of the Divine Liturgy was His Eminence Nathanael's sermon delivered both in English and in Romanian, with the theme "Christian Life. Death and Resurrection" occasioned by the Sunday of "the Resurrection of Iair's daughter".
Before inviting the faithful to the final blessing, His Eminence Nathaniel introduced officially the new ordained deacon, Rev. Iosif Razvan Bena and advised the faithful to obey and help him in the mission entrusted so that they could lead the faithful to salvation together with the parish priest.
There followed a short photographic session of
some the VIP-s present with His Eminence Nathaniel inside the chapel (the nuns
Barbara" Monastery), Santa Barbara, CA.
Then a picture with Rev. Bill Clark and two of the people recently converted to Orthodoxy as well as the serving priests of the church, with Pastor Dr. Howard Green as guest of honor from Florida.
* * *
The plans of the new church and of the Romanian cultural seat to be built in the South of California starting from the spring of 2005 were submitted on 17 August 2004 to the City Hall of Los Angeles for final approval.
In the speech delivered at the anniversary party, Mr. John Simoni, the general constructor of the project thanked first of all His Eminence Nathaniel for his participation and the blessings given and then launched "a warm appeal – a call to sacrifice – to all the Romanian-American community in the South of California" – to join the parish of the Holy Trinity and to do "material sacrifices so that a new place of worship, a Romanian Orthodox church, in genuine Byzantine style, with modern features to last throughout the centuries, should be built in the South of California, for the glory of God and the legitimate pride of the Romanian-American community."
In 1987, the parish bought a property of about 8 acres of land, in Sunland, in San Fernando Valley. During the next two years, after passing through a difficult legal process – five public interviews, great sacrifices, perseverance and disinterested dedication of the project authors, the parish was conditionally" allowed to implement the project in the new property in Sunland.
More than a decade passed since the purchase and then since the consecration of the plot of land in 1989, until favorable conditions appeared for starting the project. Early in 2003, an exclusive project of about 60 houses (1 million dollars each) developed in the neighborhood of the plot the parish bought, so that at present this one disposes of all the facilities needed (sewerage system, electricity, gas, telephone).
In 2002, the building committee of the church decided to employ a team of architects to draft the plans and submit them to the City Hall, so that the construction works should begin at the beginning of the next year.
One year and a half the specialized firms employed worked fast and harmoniously, so that on the date established (17 August 2004) all the construction plans, studies and technical reports needed were submitted to the City Hall of Los Angeles to be approved.
The celebration of the Vesper service in the new property in Sunland, part of the festivities of the 65th anniversary of the Holy Trinity church, was planned long before by the parochial council and the building committee. Mr. John Simoni covered the price for cleaning and preparing the land to place a "portable church" and a parking place, as well as for leveling the ground to allow the access of the participants' cars, while Mr. Martin Sârbu hired the necessary furniture (tent, chairs, tables etc) for the new property and covered the entire price requested.
Saturday morning, 6 November, Messes Ion Anton and Tolea Rasmeritza transported a portable Holy Altar to the new property and equipped it with icons and some other religious objects.
At 2.30 p.m., clergy and lay came to the new property to meet Archbishop Nathaniel before starting the Vesper service. At 4.00 p.m. the high hierarch, helped by a group of priests, entrusted the concelebrant priests with the divine invocation in order to begin the Great Vesper (celebrated on Saturday evening), followed by special prayers, and blessed the faithful gathered at the service to begin the construction works of the new church and of the annex buildings.
The Romanian general consul in Los Angeles, Claudiu Lucaci, was also present at this service.
The building committee organized on Sunday, 7 November 2004, at the end of the Divine Liturgy, a festive banquet at Hilton Hotel in Glendale, based on invitations, as a crowning of the festivities related to the 65th anniversary of the church of the Holy Trinity.
His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, who celebrated with us also His 24th Anniversary fronm the Consecration to the Hierarchy, was the main speaker at the Anniversary banquet.
Almost 250 persons participated (the maxim number of people allowed in the reception room of the hotel). The event was also designed to gather funds for implementing the construction of the new place of worship. To end with, His Eminence Nathaniel captivated the audience with the eloquence characterizing him and made them sensible to generosity, so that almost 15,000 USD was gathered on the spot, in the dining hall, rising the construction fund to more than 20,000 USD.
Marian Serban, President of the Parish Council.
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