Message from Fr Gary February - March 2018

Christ-Centered Parish, Fr. Gary’s Message


I learn a lot of interesting things at committee meetings. At one meeting, when discussing the newsletter of our parish, The Myrrh-Bearer, someone frankly said, “Nobody reads that.” That person is either right or wrong depending on how much further you go into this message. At our most recent Parish Council meeting, a parish council member, politely, combined the conversation about healthy church finances with the status of our relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t preaching, it was one of YOUR ELECTED OFFICERS, that was sharing this thought. I was mesmerized by his conviction; I looked around at the other members and they were too! The Holy Spirit was present. His inspiration moved us to take the conversation about Parish financial health to a new level.

“Every year we consider ways to raise money. What fundraisers can we hold? How will we meet our obligation to the Metropolis and Archdiocese? How can we motivate better giving? Instead,” he went on, “How can we serve Christ? How can we instill a deep love for Jesus, in every member, young and old, so that our Parish becomes financially healthy and shows greater concern for how Christ-Centered we are as a group?”

It was refreshing to hear a leader of our community express these thoughts. I have offered them in the past, but it is cliché for the priest to say it, because I’m supposed to. A group begins to reexamine the metric for success when a respected member of the Parish Council looks intently at his peers and says, “Are you concerned for your salvation?” If we look at our challenges through the lens of salvation, that is, how what we do will enhance our relationship with Christ, a new perspective is born.

Following this new measurement brings with it a greater purpose. Applying “concern for our salvation” on every ministry, program, event, and meeting at St. Demetrios declares us Christ-Centered people. The Sacraments of our Orthodox Faith: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, Holy Unction, Confession, Marriage and Ordination, lead us towards a strengthened connection with Christ. A Sacramental view of our Parish affairs, likewise will lead us towards a strengthened connection with Christ. Everything we do is to be considered sacramental.

Consider each component of our life in the Church. How can each aspect (ministry, event, meeting, or program) lead to a greater understanding of who Christ is in our lives? How can we make His love real in the lives of others that participate? Every gathering becomes sacramental! From Moms and Tots, to Orthodoxy on Tap, with our Acolytes and Budget Committee meetings, during our Festival weekends, Greek Dance practices, Sunday School lessons, and at every BBQ, we ask, “how is Christ magnified?”

During this coming year, we will have plenty of opportunities to GLORIFY CHRIST. Let us then GLORIFY Him through all that we do. Then, in the end, all that participate feel His presence and are motivated to carry that inspiration. Slowly we change our local perspective, eventually changing the world.

At the end of that meeting, a council member suggested we create a “Mission Statement” for our Parish. The inspired one, giggled and said, “It’s on the cover of every Sunday Bulletin:

Mission Statement of our St. Demetrios Parish

To proclaim the Gospel of Christ, teach and spread the Orthodox Christian Faith, energize, cultivate, and guide the life of the Church according to the Orthodox Christian Faith and Tradition

After all, I guess not everyone reads everything.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary December 2017

MAKE IT HAPPEN, Fr. Gary’s Message


In 2008 we were at Skyway Drive dreaming of a new building, today we are experiencing that dream come true. We have shared a lot of visions and goals in the last decade here at St. Demetrios. We sat in the valley of doubt and stared up at the mountain top of success often. Sitting there, some would whisper, “It’s not gonna happen.” We took on debt to purchase land then paid off that debt. We started fundraising campaigns, we asked for pledges and they came in. We all participated in giving towards the need of our collective DREAM and we did it! Success never happens if you sit in the valley merely hoping to be at the mountain top. Success only comes before work in the dictionary!

It’s time to get back to work. The configuration of our community looks much different than it did a decade ago. The pews on Sunday mornings are filled with many new faces. Some may not have had the opportunity to experience the pressures imposed by the undertaking of those dreamers. “Build it and they will come,” we recited meeting after meeting. Now here we are, together as one community, enjoying the benefits of a shared dream that started over 40 years ago. In the last several years we have made great progressions, but the need is the same now, as it was then, if not greater.

Today we sit in the valley of a $1.9 million loan. We have 8 years to eliminate that debt. A new Capital Campaign is beginning. 100% participation is needed from every family and parishioner at St. Demetrios. In the last 13 years the Golf Tournament has grown from a $3,000.00 annual event to an $82,000.00 annual event. The Golf Tournament has quietly grown into a year-round event in terms of planning, execution and most importantly sponsorship. Today the Capital Campaign and the Golf Tournament merge to encourage us to achieve the mountain top of success.

The Capital Campaign is driven by the concept of generous Gift Givers. These can come in all sizes and many forms, from $1000 to $1 million/per year. We have 8 years to retire $1.9 million, so it is time to get creative as we look to our Stewards and others in the surrounding community to support such a large need.

Although it sounds crazy what we need is an ARMY OF FINANCIAL ANGELS! These ANGELS can provide Gifts in many forms:

1. Annual Gifts
2. Capital Campaign Pledge Cards (starting in 2018 to be fulfilled by 2022)
3. Endowment and Tax Planning
4. Estate Planning and Family Trusts
5. After Life Gifts

Many of these charitable ideas can be favorable from not only a tax standpoint, but from a Spiritual standpoint to fulfill the vision of St. Demetrios in Ventura County. St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The Golf Tournament and the Capital Campaign is CoChaired by Joe and Mary Freeth, George Joannou and Fr. Gary Kyriacou. If you would like to assume the role of a FINANCIAL ANGEL and be a “cheerful giver,” please contact Fr. Gary at 805 443-3376, Mary Freeth at 805-390-9551, Joe Freeth at 805-390-9553 or George Joannou at 805-231-8696 Together, each committing to give what we can, we can eliminate the loan and continue to enjoy the rich blessings our Lord has bestowed upon us. Please take some time and prayerfully consider your contribution today.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary October-November 2017

Hurricane Harvey


With all the tragic events happening in our world today: hurricanes earthquakes and shootings, it is comforting to know that our Orthodox Christian Church plays an active role in the recovery efforts. As a frontliner for the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) I can be deployed for any number of catastrophes to offer emotional and spiritual care (ESC). Following our deployment we are to submit a report to identify some of the work we encountered. The following is part of my incident report. The names have been changed to protect identities.

Some of the most touching visits I had with those that had lost everything were:
● Wheelchair bound woman, approximately 55 years old. Lives in 9 story building across the street. As soon as she realized that the Brown Convention Center was opened to those displaced she came over to lend a hand. Working off very little sleep. Was very emotional and shared many, many stories and encounters. The most telling was:

She took guardianship of a (total) stranger’s children (3 kids ages 7 and younger), while this stranger went into labor to deliver her fourth child.

● Sheriff Deputies were really shaken at the loss of one their officers, Steve Perez. Officer Perez was a longtime veteran of the HPD. On Sunday, the day of the storm it was his day off, but against the wishes of his wife, he went to offer assistance. His vehicle hit a floodedroad and was washed away and drowned. “That’s the kind of guy he was,” cried Fitzgerald.

● As Fr. Jordon and I were vesting, Fr. Luke sent the Acolyte staff and Sexton to introduce themselves. As Fr. Jordon asked the Sexton, “How are you and your home?” Joe, the sexton, said, “I am blessed, no damage. My sister and my brother in law were rescued from their home and are staying with me. My brother in law is recovering from cancer treatments.” This caught my ear and I asked, “What is your brother in law’s name?” He said, “Saad.” “Saad is my father in law’s cousin.” Emotional embrace! “6 million people in Houston,” cried Joe, “and this is how we meet.” I received the blessing from Fr. Luke to visit my relatives. Their home was flooded and as Saad was to weak from his battle with cancer, had difficulty evacuating. A group of volunteers pulled near their home on a boat and rescued them from the flood waters. The water reached the second level of their home.

I was honored to spend my time in Houston helping those that were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

IOCC MAKE A
DIFFERENCE DAY

IOCC is celebrating 25 years this year and we have been asked that our youth make posters. On Sunday October 29th, we would like to have the youth of your parishes make posters (use your creativity) saying THANK YOU to IOCC, with the children writing something and signing their names.

Perhaps even have an offering tray or host the coffee hour that Sunday to raise funds for IOCC, and maybe even have a young person say something about the work IOCC does. These posters and any other efforts made will be presented at the Anniversary Gala, which will be held Sat. Nov. 11th at St. Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Alhambra. We will even come and pick up the posters and any funds raised ourselves to make this even easier for you.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary September 2017

God’s Holy Word


A great benefit of spending time at summer camp is the opportunity to disconnect from technology. Not having a phone or internet connection gets you excited to receive mail. A great joy is receiving a (good old fashioned) letter from home. The delight in holding an envelope with the familiar handwriting of a loved one is a highlight for all the staff, counselors and campers. Everyone gets electrified when they get mail (real, handwritten, stamped envelope mail).

One afternoon at St. Sophia Camp, the Director handed me a small envelope sent to me from Christie. I took it, looked at it and put it in my pocket. “You gonna read it?” He asked. I nodded, smiled and walked to the chapel to prepare for evening vespers. I placed it on the altar and put my vestments on for the service.

Vespers ended and the kids were excited to go up the hill to mail call, anticipating their own letters and packages. Prior to their leaving the chapel I shared with them the unopened envelope from my wife. I asked, “What if I just set this letter from my wife on my night stand and never opened or read it?” The responses were touching and hilarious.

One little guy said, “I think you should read it, it will make you happy!” Another jokingly said, “You might end up sleeping on the couch if you don’t.” An older teen girl said, “That’s just coldhearted, what if she wants you to do something, if you don’t read it you’ll never know.” Great answers. The entire camp agreed that I should open and read the letter.

I lifted a Bible.

“This is a letter,” I said. “A letter from God.” They understood the message; however, I went on to explain.

We let our Bibles sit on our night stands or our bookshelves, scarcely to be opened. If we treat messages from our Earthly loved ones with such care and excitement, we should treat the message from our Heavenly Father with the same enthusiasm. It will “make us happy,” contains instructions, and is “coldhearted” if we ignore it.

I once received an email that illustrated the differences in which we treat our cell phone versus our Bible (see page 4). Let’s readjust our priorities. Let’s make reading and studying Holy Scripture a significant part of our day. We should take a few moments, at least once a day, to receive inspiration from the Word of God.

St. John Chrysostom urges us to use Scripture as we would any other chest of medicines. The Bible is a treasury with remedies for every ailment. “Take from there comfort for your trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather do not merely dive into them but take them wholly to yourself, keeping them in your mind." (Hom. IX On Colossians) Further, he reminds us that knowledge of Scripture protects us, and ignorance of it results in a multitude of evils. "This is the cause of all evils,” he says, “the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, how are we to come off safe?" (Hom. IX On Colossians)

There are several ways to navigate a daily habit of reading the Bible. First you can visit our Church website (www.saintdem.org) and signup to receive an email each morning that contains the daily readings prescribed by the Church. Another way is to open to the back of your Orthodox Study Bible and follow the plan provided, and then the easiest way is to start at the beginning of a specific book and just, simply, read a little bit at a time. For those who say they have read the Bible from end to end and have no need to participate, St. John Chrysostom says, "It is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom." (Hom. XIX On Acts)

Let’s dive into the well! Let’s make the institution of God’s Holy Word an important part of our daily routine. Don’t let that loving letter just sit on your nightstand, open it, read it and be inspired by the wonderful message contained within it.

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to friends as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being

disconnected, because Jesus already paid the bill. Makes you stop and think, “Where are my priorities?”.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary Summer 2017

Encounter Christ


Many Evangelical Christians can name the date in which they were “Born Again.” The day in which they made Christ a priority in their life. Many of us, as Orthodox Christians, make that commitment on the day of our Baptism and Christmation, as infants. Are we transformed by the love of Christ? Do we allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ? There is a common theme in the Sunday Gospel readings following Pascha (Easter). Each of these five Sunday Gospels after Pascha distinguish a person (or persons) transformed by Christ.

The Sunday following Pascha we hear of “Doubting” Thomas. Thomas is skeptical about the encounter his brother disciples have with the risen Lord and make a bold proclamation, “Unless I see and touch!” The Lord reveals himself to Thomas and Thomas is immediately transformed. Without having to touch, he exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas encounter’s Christ and his faith is renewed.

The second Sunday after Pascha, we learn of the Myrrh-Bearing Women. These brave women approach the tomb of Christ and find it empty. Having encountered Christ, they return and share the good news with the disciples. Then on the third Sunday after our Lord’s Resurrection the Church shares the story of the paralytic. Although this happens before the Lord’s crucifixion, it holds fast to the theme of “Encountering Christ.” The man has suffered with an infirmity for 38 years- a full generation! When he meets Christ, our Lord transforms him and makes him complete. No longer does the bed confine him, but with Christ’s help, he can lift the bed and glorify Christ!

The Samaritan woman finds the Lord on the fourth Sunday after Pascha. Having to go to the well at the hottest time of the day, because she is embarrassed of her lifestyle, she meets Christ. Relieving her soul of her past transgressions she finds acceptance and love from Christ. She hurries to the city and shares the GOOD NEWS of Christ and “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony. ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So, when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days." (John 5:39-40)

On the fifth Sunday, the Blind man receives his sight. After explaining to His disciples that sin does not lead to physical ailment and that God does not seek justice through punishment, Christ restores the sight of the man born blind. Our Lord explains that challenges in our lives are opportunities for Christ to be glorified through that struggle. The man receives his sight, and in exchange declares, “Lord I believe!” (John 9:38)

Subsequently, these encounters lead to the reception of the Holy Spirit, the Sunday of Pentecost. The gift of the Holy Spirit descends on the Disciples as fiery flames. The Disciples are transformed, the fisherman become Fishers of men! All that meet Christ leave differently than they approached. Thomas, the Myrrh-Bearers, the Paralytic, the Samaritan Woman, the Blind man, all lead changed lives after encountering Christ.

Have we encountered Christ? How can we prepare ourselves for this encounter? How are we transformed by this encounter? We must trans-form ourselves by the love of Christ! To encounter Christ we live by His commandments to, “Love God with all our mind, soul and heart, and love our neighbors as we ourselves.”

To encounter Christ we must worship regularly, privately in our daily lives and corporately at Church. In each of the Sunday liturgies following Pascha we sing, “In our Churches we Glorify Christ!” To encounter Christ we must find him in our service to those less fortunate than ourselves, in our giving and aid. To encounter Christ we must offer forgiveness, and have a change of heart. To encounter Christ, we must imitate Him! Yes, we Orthodox Christians are “Born Again,” EVERYDAY! Our lives are to be filled with encounters with Christ. By allowing Him into our lives again, into our hearts, our lives will never be the same.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary March 2017

Four in Three


Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. We find classic lines like, “To everything there is a season,” or “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” Taken as a whole, the Book of Ecclesiastes is full of wonderful wisdom. During my time at the seminary, a beloved priest professor would encourage us to read the entire book from beginning to end whenever we felt overwhelmed with the pressures of life. This tool served me well as a student, and has become a valuable tool in my ministry to Christ’s Church. A Priest witnesses all the emotions of life. You rejoice at the birth of a child and you mourn with the passing of a loved one. Ecclesiastes verbalizes this sentiment well.

In the past three weeks, I have participated in four funerals. Four beloved individuals left this world in the hope of the resurrection. Two funerals were for 30 something year old’s and two funerals were for 80 something year old’s, yet their loved ones shed the equal number of tears at each of the funerals. All four individuals left behind the same thing, a lasting memory of the relationships developed. Their grieving loved ones mourn their physical losses.

In late February, we lost Kevin, a 33 year old loving husband, father of two, son and good friend. Kevin battled stage 4 oral cancer for 16 months before leaving this life. During his last days, as he prepared to die, he taught those around him how to live! His love for baseball inspired a road trip, with his father, to San Francisco to see his beloved Giants play, and the holidays gave him the opportunity to express his love for his family and friends as they showered him with their loving sentiments. I stood, in rapt amazement, watching his beautiful young wife, with her their two year old child in her arms, sharing cherished memories. She made us laugh and she made us cry, but she reminded us that our hope as Christians is in our Lord’s Resurrection.

In early March, an alarming phone call described Patti’s condition. An otherwise healthy 36 year old had an aneurism and was on life support. Her loving family and friends at her bedside, praying for what looked like a sleeping angel to wake and sit up in her bed. Two days later, after her parish priest, family and friends recited the Lord’s prayer over her Patti’s spirit left her body to enter the next life. A sudden passing. Much more abrupt than Kevin’s departure, yet just as tragic. Her mother and father, brother and soon to be sister-in-law expressed confidence in their understanding of God’s hope. Their courage stems from a lifetime of faith and participation in the Church, which leads them to assurance of the resurrection.

In that same week, we lost Christo Pulos. A blessed man that leaves behind a legacy that will persistently rival imitation. He loved his family, his church, his friends with deep devotion and care. Each of his tasks were completed with meaningful detail. His presence at St. Demetrios will always be marked by his imprints on our hearts. He passed this life two days after his 85th birthday, and yet the mourning reigned; sadness as we endure another loss. Nick Varnava gave a loving testimony to Chris’ service to our Church and the Air Force provided an eloquent expression of his service to our country.

A few days later another World War Two veteran passed. Tom was a decorated member of the Air Force, an American with great pride of his Spartan roots. His loving life memorialized by his grandson, the he raised as his own son, his son, wife, step children and grandchildren. All lamented the loss of another member of the “Greatest Generation.”

Four funeral in three weeks left me craving an opportunity to dive into Ecclesiastes. Before Tom’s graveside service I walked the grounds of the cemetery taking in the names marked on the headstones. I thought about Kevin, Patti, Christo and Tom. I thought about the loved ones I watched cry as they grieved their loss. I thought about the words that were spoken, separately, about each one of them. The theme of Christ’s resurrection echoed through my mind. Other portions of Ecclesiastes resonated. “A good name is better than good olive oil, and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth.” (Ecc. 7:1) A name on a marker is what we leave behind if we live foolishly, but to those that believe in Christ and have the hope of His resurrection, that marker becomes a stepping stone to eternal joy.

This is the time of year we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. Sometimes we take for granted the Paschal responses. Lethargically saying, “Christ is Risen,” to which we receive a tired, “Truly He is risen.” Considering the events of the last three weeks, it is imperative to express our conviction in His Resurrection! Those closest to Kevin, Patti, Christo and Tom, expressed their desire to be reunited in the next life. Belief and hope come from our faith in Christ. Holy Week shows us the love God has for us. He, willingly, climbed up on to the cross, died a violent death, to reassure us that He wants us to be with Him in the next life. All the sorrow in the world has no power over that expression of love. Death no longer restricts us from God’s heavenly embrace. As we fervently chant, “CHRIST IS RISEN,” we lovingly testify and memorialize the legacy of those that have passed before us. “Truly, He is risen” for this is the reason we celebrate!


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary March 2017

Focus On Christ This Lent


In an article entitled, The Abomination of our Fathers, Rev. Stephanou writes, “The church appears to be very busy, but in things that are secular and that engage her time in activities of this world." Rev. Stephanou then cites the words spoken by Christ to Martha, “You care and are troubled by many things, but there is need only for one thing. (Luke 10:41)” The one thing is Christ!

As Great Lent 2017 dawns, it is important that we take an inventory of our Spiritual investment. How focused on Christ are we as a Community? It seems that we can focus on budgets, financial statements, festivals, and dinner dances, but how do we fare when it comes to worshiping, glorifying and praising our God? Do we strive to fully please God in our actions? Are we focused?

Recently, during a Sunday Morning Liturgy, the Church was full and I mentioned to the Acolytes, prior to an entrance, how pleased I was to see the Church full in the middle of the winter and, also, admitted that I didn’t recognize one third of those attending. It was a joyful moment! The Liturgy continued and we glorified God in prayer and song.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew (Matt. 14:22-34), Peter asks Christ to allow him to join our Lord on the turbulent sea and walk on the water towards Him. Christ commands Peter to, “Come!” As Peter walks on the water, he loses focus and begins to sink. As Peter kept his eyes on Christ he was able to accomplish an amazing feat, a miracle! But when Peter lost his focus this physical world began to swallow him up. His focus was blurred by the stress and cares of the physical world and he began to sink! Christ, too, tells Martha, “there is need only for one thing.”

One thing . . . . CHRIST! Serving Him! Glorifying Him! Committing ourselves to Him! How well do we do these things? This community is blessed with so many brilliant professionals that share their talents with the Church Administration to help run a terrifically organized operation. It is apparent by the level of this professionalism how our Church excels. Oh, but how I wish on the last day we were judged by the quality of our Festivals, the dignity of our financial statements and the detailed precision of our budgets! Do not misunderstand me, these things are important, they keep the lights on and keep us afloat. It is imperative, though, that we evaluate our priorities in Christ! Why do we have a festival? Why do we have financial concerns? What is our budget for? To glorify Christ! To serve Christ! To show our commitment to Christ!

Starting with me, your Priest, let’s reset our focus this GREAT LENT! Let us reset our direction and let’s start to look deep within ourselves for spiritual growth and wellness. Here are some suggestions for our “Community-wide” LENTEN focus on Christ:

Regular and prompt attendance at Sunday Divine Liturgy. Regular indicates consisted attendance and prompt means being on time. We are on time for our soccer games, for work and school, and never pay $10 to walk into a movie 20 minutes late. It is time for us to reset Sunday as a “Day of Worship,” literally, “The Lord’s Day.” Services begin at 9:00 AM with Orthros. Orthros is a wonderful service, you should attend, but if you cannot, please arrive at 9:45 to prepare for Divine Liturgy.

Daily Prayers. For our community to be focused on Christ, each of us, individually, needs to be set on Christ. Each day should begin with an intimate and personal conversation with Christ, TRUE PRAYER! Ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the evening. Prayer should also be offered before meals. As you pray over your food, 2 things should be included: 1.) Offering thanks to God for the blessings in your life, and 2.) A remembrance of the less fortunate.

Volunteer! Join, sign-up, or assist with a ministry of the Church. Consider joining our Choir, Philoptochos, teach Sunday School, or offer your time to help plan and organize one of our many fundraisers.

Educate yourself in the Word of God. Reading the Gospels and meditating on God’s Word is essential to Christian growth. Come to our Orthodox Study Classes after Pre-Sanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evenings and read the Bible daily.

Forgiveness. Mend relationships that for one reason or another have deteriorated. Ask for and seek to offer forgiveness. Do not wait for the other person, you be the mature one and offer reconciliation.

It is easy for us to make ourselves feel busy and active in a Church with so many things and events happening, but the purpose of these “things” and “events” are to help us grow in Christ. Mother Teresa once walked out of a Christian conference on Mission and Evangelism in utter disgust. When asked why she left in the middle of the presentation, the saintly woman kindly responded, “Enough talk, let’s get to work.” Enough talk.

5 things to do this Lent:
1. Attend services, and be on time.
2. Daily Prayer
3. Volunteer
4. Read the Bible
5. Offer forgiveness


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary February 2017

Becoming


As Christians, we are always in the process of “becoming.” The person I am today is not the same person I was 10 years ago, nor am I, who I believe I will be 10 years from now.

One of the most significant spiritual events in my life was the birth of my firstborn son, Harrison. My wife, Christie, was induced, so his birth was planned and not a fire drill. As this new life came into the world I burst into tears as they put him in his mother’s arms. Here was new life, life that didn’t exist moments earlier, a miracle. However, it was not the miracle of birth that was the significant spiritual event, it was the thought that immediately followed: “God’s love for us is truly immense!” This little being that, having never spoken or acted in any way towards me, had just inherited my love. Having done nothing for me, I was prepared to die for him! I was in love! I understood, on a microlevel, what God’s love for us is.

The understanding of this type of love has shaped my experiences. It has transformed my worldview and calling to the Priest-hood. Love, without sounding cliché, is truly the purpose of life. Christ simplified the Law for us, by providing a new standard. In Luke 10: 27, he says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The new standard given to us by Christ is the source of measurement I attempt to implement in my life. What is man’s greatest need? Love. Based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, after food, shelter, and security, love is what man craves most. Ministry should fulfill the need of love. The programs at the St. Demetrios are founded on Christ’s love for us and our love for our neighbor. Bible study groups, Youth Ministry meetings, service at the local Rescue Mission, and Parish Council, etc. are all founded on the principle of love. As I serve the faithful, I am reminded of God’s love for me through the relation-ships built with the flock. Our Lord has entrusted me to serve you with love.

Although I continually find myself in error and mistake, I always endeavor to imitate God’s love. It was that simple, yet profound moment, when my firstborn child came into the world that best illustrates this lesson. It was an experience unlike any other that changed my perspective on many matters in my life and ministry.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary

Fr Gary

Christ-Centered Parish


I learn a lot of interesting things at committee meetings. At one meeting, when discussing the newsletter of our parish, The Myrrh-Bearer, someone frankly said, “Nobody reads that.” That person is either right or wrong depending on how much further you go into this message. At our most recent Parish Council meeting, a parish council member, politely, combined the conversation about healthy church finances with the status of our relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t preaching, it was one of YOUR ELECTED OFFICERS, that was sharing this thought. I was mesmerized by his conviction; I looked around at the other members and they were too! The Holy Spirit was present. His inspiration moved us to take the conversation about Parish financial health to a new level.

“Every year we consider ways to raise money. What fundraisers can we hold? How will we meet our obligation to the Metropolis and Archdiocese? How can we motivate better giving? Instead,” he went on, “How can we serve Christ? How can we instill a deep love for Jesus, in every member, young and old, so that our Parish becomes financially healthy and shows greater concern for how Christ-Centered we are as a group?”

It was refreshing to hear a leader of our community express these thoughts. I have offered them in the past, but it is cliché for the priest to say it, because I’m supposed to. A group begins to reexamine the metric for success when a respected member of the Parish Council looks intently at his peers and says, “Are you concerned for your salvation?” If we look at our challenges through the lens of salvation, that is, how what we do will enhance our relationship with Christ, a new perspective is born.

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