of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Banquet in celebration of
One hundred years of the Community
Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church
September 28, 2019
Honorable Senator, Mr. Richard Blumenthal,
Honorable Representative, Ms. Themis Klarides,
Beloved Proistamenos, Father Peter Orfanakos, ,
Esteemed Executive Director of Leadership 100, Ms. Paulette Poulos,
Esteemed Parish Council President, Ms. Val Lott,
Philoptochos President, Ms. Anne Faracles,
Distinguished guests and community leaders,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all:
What a joy it is to join you this evening for the Centennial Celebration of your parish!
It is fitting and right on such an occasion, to pause and reflect, to remember and consider, all that has happened over one hundred years and more. We give thanks, first of all, to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for His mercies upon this community and this city. You have seen the hand of the Lord at work on your behalf, in ways beyond number.
We begin every Divine Liturgy with a prayer for peace—the peace from above. The Lord has heard and granted this prayer among you, and He given you many other rich blessings besides. This is truly a cause for thanksgiving and joy.
We give thanks as well for the lives and labors of the blessed and ever-memorable founders of your holy church. They came to America seeking a better life. They built new homes and new businesses; but they never forgot the need to also build a spiritual home, a house for the worship of God. These founders lived through many hardships and heartbreaks, through times of war and economic turmoil. Yet they stayed strong in faith, and they made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of the Church. We are here today, celebrating, because that generation was truly great in their love for the Lord. May their memory be eternal!
The story of the Saint Barbara parish cannot be told without speaking of the kindness of your neighbors. In the early years, there were many times when the community did not have its own place of worship. Other churches and organizations graciously opened their doors for your use. This was an important blessing that must never be forgotten. Our guests here tonight from the wider civic community represent those good neighbors of the past and present, and we ask you to accept our gratitude.
Today, this parish continues to build on the spiritual foundation that was laid by previous generations of priests and laity. You carry forward their legacy of love and labor. You follow in their manner of life and their spirit of stewardship, as you give generously of your time, talents, and treasures. The list of the ministries and activities here at Saint Barbara is truly impressive! You have an active Philoptochos Society. You have vibrant youth groups and educational programs. Your community also offers ministries of nursing, scouting, summer camp, and a campus fellowship for our college students, to name but a few. And you have built and maintained a beautiful sanctuary and altar, as well as an impressive community center. On this landmark anniversary, it is fitting also to give thanks for the blessing of your fellow parishioners, your lay leaders, and especially your dedicated priests of the past and present.
Your parish bears the name of one of the most beloved saints of the Church, Agia Varvara, Saint Barbara. She gave her life for her faith in Christ after suffering many torments. Her father tried to keep her away from the teachings of the Christians. But the Word of the Lord cannot be bound (2 Timothy 2:9). Young Barbara came to know and embrace the ways of God. She showed her love for the Holy Trinity by having a window added to a family bathhouse. It was a third window, to honor the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one Godhead and one Power.
My beloved brothers and sisters,
You are that third window today. Your parish shines with the light of God in this city and region. As you offer the Holy Eucharist week by week, you become living icons of the Holy Trinity, one in faith and in love. This is a great blessing, and a great responsibility. The Lord has granted you one century and more peaceful service to Himself. May He give you many, many more years of fruitful ministry.
And may the God of Saint Barbara be your light and your salvation, today and forevermore. God bless you all!