A “feast of firsts” during Bishop Paul’s visit to Annunciation Mission, St. James, MO
SAINT JAMES, MO [MW Diocese Communications] — For the first time since Annunciation Mission here was planted five years ago, its patronal feast day — the Annunciation — fell on a Sunday this year.
The community is receiving a Church Planting Grant from the Orthodox Church in America for its second year in 2018.
“This, coupled with the fact that we are the only community in the Diocese of the Midwest named after this feast, turned out to be a wonderful occasion to host His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest for an archpastoral visit,” said Annunciation’s Priest Joel Wilson. “Another ‘first’ for our community was this year’s series of Friday evening lenten lectures, following the celebration of the Akathistos Hymn to the Mother of God.”
On the Friday before the feast of the Annunciation, Bishop Paul offered a talk titled “Are We A Church, Or The Church?”, Father Joel added. “This wonderful talk was a timely response to several questions as the religious landscape in America becomes increasingly diverse. His Grace’s talk and responses to questions helped frame a loving perspective and provided a good foundation on being the Church.”
The following day, Bishop Paul was hosted at a nearby lake for a lunch and a lively question-and-answer session, at which “some of our inquirers and catechumens were able to meet His Grace for their first time,” Father Joel explained. “The services for the feast of Annunciation began on Saturday evening with Great Vespers, at which His Grace served the Litya. Father George Oanca, a chaplain priest stationed nearby at Ft. Leonard Wood, and his family joined us for the feast on Saturday and Sunday. Before the Sunday Liturgy, we welcomed a new catechumen, Dawn, who has since been chrismated.”
Father Joel adds that Bishop Paul’s visit provided an occasion for everyone to work together in planning the memorable weekend.
“Some persons helped clean and prepare the temple beforehand, while some of our newer altar servers had a chance to serve with a bishop for the first time and two of our newest (and youngest) members welcomed His Grace with flowers,” Father Joel explained. “Others read and chanted, joining Matushka Tessi in the choir. Many of the children helped to capture the event in their drawings. And after the Liturgy on Sunday, we enjoyed a delicious luncheon at Alex’s Pizza in Rolla.
“Finally, after having it confirmed again by His Grace during that we need to find a larger space with proper facilities and social space, we are now for the first time launching a building campaign, and — God willing — the next time we celebrate our patronal feast on a Sunday, we will do so in a new and more permanent space!” Father Joel added.