Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 2 Corinthians 13:11-12

Beloved Faithful of St. Demetrios,

I write to you with the peace and love of Christ. When Presvytera Christie and I received the assignment to serve Camarillo in the summer of 2004, we rushed down from Oakland, looked for a house and put an offer on it immediately. We did not want His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory to change his mind. Serving you has brought me great joy. Your support, enthusiasm, confidence and trust helped us achieve goals many thought were unattainable.

My service as the Proistamenos (lead priest) of St. Demetrios is concluding. I have been asked to pick up a new mantle and serve the Metropolis of San Francisco as the Pastor of Youth and Young Adult Ministry beginning February 1, 2021. A new priest will succeed me as your pastor. I am saddened, yet excited to begin my new role and ministry.

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In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we read, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

We certainly had our fill of those activities throughout the many seasons’ past. The memories made in the last 16 and half years will warm my heart. In the first few weeks of my service here, I was introduced to the earnest pledge for the future. As we were about to realize the finality of our first loan from the bank to purchase the Woodcreek and Santa Rosa property, the bank requested an extra $60,000 to fully secure the loan. I will never forget the handful of faithful parishioners who took out their checkbooks on the spot, and covered that fee. I knew our dream would become a reality. Your dedication and commitment to advance Orthodox Christianity in Ventura County will serve as a legacy.

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Enthusiastically expressed in Ecclesiastes, “We laughed and danced!” Boy did we dance! I will forever cherish the Greek Festivals and the hard work exerted by all. I smile when I recall the tired faces that still rushed the dance floor, with amazing enthusiasm, at the end of Sunday evening, when the band played the last song. Everyone found a burst of energy to celebrate our weekend (but really, several-months-long) accomplishment on the dance floor.

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Just as Solomon explained, “We built and cried.” I do not ever expect to feel that same emotion that filled my bones the afternoon when we opened the doors of the Agape Building for the first service. During the vespers I took the censor to bless the people and the building by lifting the fragrant incense. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realized the overflowing attendance. What was once a dream and vision became our reality. There we were, in the building we designed, glorifying God, just as we set out to do. I will never forget how I tried not to break down and cry as the tears streamed down my face.

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From a barber shop to St. Paul’s in Ventura, an amazing group of faithful established St. Demetrios. Founded on love and steady growth at Skyway, we set our sights on Woodcreek and Santa Rosa. The Agape building has become one of the most extraordinary structures in Ventura County, and not merely because of the plaster, brick, and design. It is because of you, the people who congregate to pray and grow in your devotion to Christ that set this community and establishment apart.

In Proverbs 27:17 we realize, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Sunday services, baptisms, weddings, births, and deaths are not the only things that mark the life of a priest. Every person carves out and sharpens their own spot in the pastor’s heart. Thank you for celebrating my strengths, while patiently enduring my faults. I tried my best to live up to the standard Christ commanded St. Peter when our Lord said, “Feed my sheep.” Thank you for letting me serve you. I am grateful that you invited me to pray with you and that you entrusted me with your most intimate life moments.

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Welcome, support and love Fr. Constantine Trumpower and his beautiful wife Adrienne and three boys as they enthusiastically lead the next chapter in the awesome history of St. Demetrios. Fr. Constantine is an amazing, faithful, and energetic priest. He is wise beyond his years and has a wealth of talent to help you on your journey towards an abundant life in Christ. Over the last few years, and especially these last few weeks, we have developed a deep connection and friendship. He will be a Dodger fan in no-time!

Our youth are faced with a variety of challenges and daily struggles. They are consumed by social media and a society plagues them with overwhelming anxiety and depression. I am not the solution to this crisis, but I am called to assist in introducing Christ and a greater understanding of His truth to this generation. I ask for your prayers as I embark on this new assignment. Please offer supplications to the Theotokos, the Mother of God, and to our patron Saint, St. Demetrios, to intercede for this work I have been called and assigned.

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Presvytera Christie, Harrison, Jacob, Elena, and I will continue to call Ventura County home. Although I will not lead the parish, my family and I will continue to live in Camarillo. This new ministry will require travel throughout our Metropolis, but I hope we can still see each other from time to time.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

With great joy, abundant love, and immense gratitude, I remain, respectfully,

Yours in the Service of Christ,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - January - February 2021

Happy New Year: Fr. Gary’s Message

The holiday season is a time of new beginnings. Each Advent we prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Christ Child and joyfully celebrate his birth at the Feast of the Nativity. Like the angels and the wise men we recognize the symbolic light of a new star appearing in our universe and shining on in our hearts. As Christians, we hope the glow of that new light illuminates the entire New Year, brining the peace of God into our lives.

As 2021 dawns and we take stock of the mess that has passed us by, that is 2020, it is customary to set goals for ourselves. Maybe this will be the year we lose weight, become more punctual, read more (scripture), or watch less television. Some of our goals are small and practical; while others seek to redefine who we are and the way we lives our lives. And all the while we greet and depart each other with the traditional, “Happy New Year!”

“Happy New Year” may be enough to cover one night of celebration as the calendar changes from 2020 to 2021, but what happens when we weigh the idea of happiness against the entire coming year? It is unrealistic to believe that an entire year is going to be happy for even the luckiest person. The phrase, “Happy New Year” reminds me of another thing we frequently say to each other; “Have a nice day!” “Happy” and “nice” are all well and good, but how deep is their meaning in our lives? I would refer to myself as being happy when I am dancing. Dancing brings me happiness. I would describe the joy I feel from celebrating liturgy or holding my children with other words. When I see a kind act, such as a car stopping to let a group of children cross a busy street, I think of that as being nice.

So while I wish you all a happy New Year and as many nice days as possible, there is something deeper I’m trying to get to, something more like the salutation Saint Paul uses in his epistles; “The peace of God be with you.” How much greater than nice and happy is it to have the Peace of God wished upon us?

It is the peace of God that we should desire for each other. Having this peace allows us the strength to face days that aren’t nice and times of the year that won’t necessarily be happy. The Peace of God endures, even when happy and nice just fade away. The Peace of God gives us strength for the journey, for the whole year, no matter where our challenges take us.

This year is set to be great and memorable. This New Year offers all of us a chance to renew our commitment to Christ as Orthodox Christians and grow in our faith. Let us commit, or should I say, resolve (that way it is a resolution) to strive for the peace of God for ourselves and to help each other obtain it as well. In order to live within the peace of God we must allow our Faith to be a priority and not a once a week task or obligation.

There are five distinct ways to help us become a community more focused on Christ. This list will also help us find the peace of God. In 2021, let’s reset our focus and begin with the following:

  1. 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.
  2. Daily Prayers. In order 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 at 7PM on Wednesday evenings and read the Bible daily. The ZOOM link is shared weekly.
  5. 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.

May this be a year of spiritual strength and growth, may we all have a Happy New Year, and may the peace of God be with us all!


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - November - December 2020

Gratitude and Encouragement: Fr. Gary’s Message

Struggles cause us to look at things from a different point of view. These circumstances either allow us to grow in profound ways or they impede us, and we stagnate. 2020 gave us two, solid, normal months before throwing us on a trajectory that none of us had ever experienced. We got to enjoy January and February 2020 as if it were any other year before Covid-19 made its debut in early March. Since then fear and anxiety surrounding the unknowns of this pandemic have plagued us as much as the virus itself.

Here at St. Demetrios we have been doing everything we can to support each other and find ways to cope with this newfound stress. Parishioners of all ages, kids to adults, have participated and contributed in many ways by making the Church a concentrated reality in our lives. Online services, studies in faith, extra services, uplifting lawn signs, and even a shopping ministry for aid those at risk.

Today I am asking that you take a moment and to help start a silent and, what I hope to be an extremely, beneficial ministry. A ministry that everyone can participate in to make a huge difference in the lives of each parishioner. Take a few minutes to spread gratitude and encouragement. Your brief time and effort to acknowledge the work you have witnessed exerted by fellow parishioners will establish a great spirit of appreciation.

The First Letter to the Thessalonians chapter 5 is amazing and very inspirational, but two extremely specific verses serve us well as we contribute to this silent project. St. Paul writes, “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He continues in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." The groundwork for this silent ministry is founded in scripture, it is nothing new. Let us set it in motion.

If you are still reading this, and wish to participate, this is what I would like you to do. Identify five members of St. Demetrios and send each a personalized, handwritten card. In this note thank and encourage them for something wonderful you witnessed. Lift them up with gracious praise and inspire them with generous acknowledgement. Simply offer gratitude and encouragement to someone you see at services or church events.

If you don’t have their mailing address, simply write the cards, place your name and return address on it, with a stamp, and the recipient’s name and get them to me. I will address and mail the envelopes. In the card, include this line: “You are receiving this as part of the Silent Gratitude and Encouragement Ministry of the parish that was mentioned in Fr. Gary’s message in the Myrrh-Bearer.” Ask them to widen the range of reception and in return for the note they received from you that they write one to another parishioner. Let us see how long and deep we can take this exercise.

It is feasible that you will receive a note (or two). When you do, please continue to send new notes out to new people. Be creative as you recollect acts of kindness you witnessed. If you do not know someone’s name; call, email, or text me, and I will help you. If we all take a few minutes each day and participate several things will happen.

First, we will bring great joy into the lives of our fellow St. Demetrios parishioners. We all need a pick me up and just imagine how awesome you will make someone feel when you share with them how a simple and easy action moved you and how you appreciated it. Think about how motivated that person will be to hear that the effort they pour into the Church affects you. Second, you will find great satisfaction from this simple task. Our mood is positively affected when we express gratitude. Verbalizing gratitude is great, but writing out our sentiments creates greater retention. It is scientifically proven that writing a thank you note releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters that make us feel good. You are going to feel better by participating.

Your observations and insights will elevate the spirit of optimism within our parish. This is a great opportunity for us to spread the love of God in a specific and unique way. This is the time of year when we lose daylight and moods are automatically adversely affected, participating in this silent and special ministry will bring you great joy as you uplift your fellow Christian.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - September - October 2020

Give Them Something to Eat: Fr. Gary’s Message

The New Ecclesiastical year begins September 1. The story of Christ feeding the five thousand will serve as the theme for our Parish Leadership during this new year. With two small fish and five loaves Jesus was able to feed a multitude of followers. The Disciples’ care for the crowd and discipline they show to Christ is a standard for us to follow.

In all four Gospel accounts the Lord requests that the loaves and the fish be brought to Him. He then proceeds to “give thanks,” multiplies the food and everyone is satisfied. Our Parish ministries and Her leadership should emulate the standard set forth by the 12 Disciples.

As Ministry leaders we are all disciples of Christ. Parish Council members, Sunday School Teachers, Committee and Event Chairpersons, etc. are disciples of our Lord, His Church and Her ministry to our congregation. Just as the Disciples demonstrated concern for the crowds, our Parish Ministry Leaders should be prepared to show that same care to all in our community. Even though most are volunteers, all are considered and called to be disciples.

In the miracle the Disciples show care for the crowds but seek a quick solution to the problem and discount their ability to help. Knowing that they would not be able to feed the multitude, because they were isolated and had limited food, they simply asked Christ to “send them away.” Although it may not seem like it, this is an amazing display of compassion. The Disciples knew their limitations and explain to Christ, “Look, there are too many of them and we don’t have enough. Please tell them to go find sustenance. ”Surprisingly, Christ commands them, “You give them something to eat.”

Rather than complaining and explaining that there is not enough to share, the Disciples are obedient to the command of Jesus. They bring what they have and layit in front of our Lord. Christ takes the offering, blesses it, multiplies it, and returns the bounty for the Disciples to distribute. The multitude is satisfied by the work of the Disciples.

Our ministries at St. Demetrios will prosper when we follow the example shown to us by the Disciples in this miracle. Applying these lessons to our work will be pleasing and edifying. By emulating the actions of the Disciples, the parish becomes a place where all can come to be made whole.

First, we must be kind and show compassion for one another. The Disciples looked beyond their desires and showed concern for the well-being of the crowd and sought to fulfill their needs. Understanding that it was about to get cold and dark, the Disciples understood the impending needs of the people. They knew what was going on and realized the challenge before them. Because of their love for the people they knew what type of care they needed. They had love for one another.

Next, we must be obedient to Christ. We should understand that we serve Christ and that the multitude, the congregation, the Church, belong to Him and to Him alone! We are present to assist in the implementation of His will. Our service at Church and in the life of the parish is not to satisfy our own wants and desires, but to fulfill the will of our Lord. The Disciples did what Christ commanded. He told them to bring the fish and loaves to Him and they did. Obedience to Christ is the basis of our faith in Him. We must be faithful and know that our Lord will shepherd and protect us.

Third, we must understand that everything belongs to Christ. All we have is His, it came from Him and we are stewards of the gifts He has given us. We have no personal ownership of the ministries we serve. Imagine if the young lad that had the fish and loaves selfishly said, “No. This is my food!” More readily, and generously, and with the assistance of Andrew and Philip he offered his possessions to Christ and his gift was used to satisfy the entire group. We should be willing to share what we have so that the ministry of our parish is fulfilled. The fish and loaves can serve as reminders of the talent we offer, the treasure we give and the time we contribute. In giving and sharing we are returning to God what He has blessed us with, so that it can be multiplied and experienced by all.

Lastly, do the work! The command given by Christ is “You give them something to eat.” The Disciples feed the people with what Christ has blessed and multiplied. Our ministries are to fulfill the needs of the congregation. Our work should satisfy our parishioners. The function of all ministries at St. Demetrios is to provide respite and nourishment for the souls of everyone we encounter.

As we embark the New Ecclesiastical Year, while navigating the current conditions of the pandemic, let’s all do what we can to emulate the care and compassion the Disciples showed to the multitude on that day. Our Parish ministries serve our spiritual well-being and provide nourishment for the soul. As we plan each event, meeting, and activity, consideration to the Lord’s command will be the driving pulse. As parishioners and participants of the community we will encourage one another with love and commitment to Christ. As disciples of the ministries of our parish, we are commanded by our Lord to, “Give them something to eat.”


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - December 2019 - January 2020

Touched by Christ: Fr. Gary’s Message

I experienced an amazing awakening during our pilgrimage. Several things touched my heart, and you know me, I will spill these details, little by little, within my Sunday Liturgy sermons. Standing on the grounds where Christ walked and being at the sites where our Savior performed His miracles was most profound.

We entered the city of Nain. Our tour guide, Fr. Leondios (an Archimandrite of Greek descent), stumped me when he asked, “Who knows what happened here in Nain?” because he pronounced it “Nah-een.” When I realized where we were, I was provoked by the notion that this was where Christ raised the son of the widow from the dead. As He led His crowd into the city, He encountered the funeral procession and said to the grieving widow, “Don’t cry.” Two large groups, with two very different functions, collide at the city gates.

There is a lot to learn as we look at this collision. The first is a procession of death. It is the funeral of a young man that is the only son of his widowed mother. The second is comprised of Chris’s disciples and followers. One a procession of life and the other a procession of death.

The procession of death is exasperated by the details added to the situation by the Gospel writer. St. Luke makes specific mention that the mother of the young man being carried in the funeral procession is a widow and the dead young man was her only son. This is a very important and often an overlooked detail. This widow now had no way to care for herself. Her husband, and, now her only son have died. The sociological implications of this meant that she was to spend the rest of her days in poverty and impoverishment. She was, not only mourning the loss of her son, but the way of life and luxuries familiar to her.

The procession led by Christ and His followers is one of life, excitement and great enthusiasm. This crowd has witnessed several miracles and have received many lessons. We visited these sites and prayed where this crowd watched a blind man regain vision and a leper restored to health. They discover the love of God through His son and have learned a new way of life through Christ. They are further amazed when they witness Christ’s interaction with the widowed mother.

Christ has compassion on the mother, reaches forward, touches the bier and tells the young man to rise and then returns him to his mother. When these two processions collide, when they intersect, the parade of life takes precedent and the joy of Christ prevails. We walked these streets as cars zoomed by and other tour groups jockeyed to park their buses. We stood where the interaction took place. We prayed as we pondered the emotions of the widow.

The mother in this passage has every reason to grieve. She is experiencing the loss of her child. When she meets Christ, her grief and sorrow are replaced with joy and hope. She was overtaken and consumed by the sting of death and was renewed in the joy of Christ.

Standing on that street I began to contemplate how often I make mountains out of mole hills and let the pressures of life to carry away my joy. I thought to myself, “Why do I gravitate towards the procession of death when I have been invited to walk with Christ?”

Often, we allow ourselves to enter the procession of gloom, acting as though life's challenges outweigh the Christ’s victories. Instead we should identify the moments in which we are walking in gloom and allow ourselves to be reminded of the resurrecting power of Christ. We should not be choked out by the cares and worries of this life when we have been invited to participate in the joy of Christ.

As committed members of the Orthodox Christian Church, we are members of the Body of Christ. As such, we need to be the examples of His joy, His love, and His grace. Our Christian life calls us to depart from gloom and enter joy. To leave the funeral procession and follow Christ. To leave behind our worries and be touched by Christ.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - October - November 2019

I’m Your Buckaroo, I Wanna Be Like You: Fr. Gary’s Message

Country singer Rodney Atkins has a song called, “Watching You.” He talks about going through the McDonald’s drive thru and riding around town with his four-year-old. He says he stops quickly to avoid a red light and as he screeched to a stop the little boy’s fries and drink go flying all over the car. The four-year-old yells a four-letter word. Atkins says, "Son, now where did you learn to talk like that?" The boy said, "I've been watching you, dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.”

I want to be like you. Flattering words, but some of our actions don’t need to be repeated. As parents we all have instances where our kids, when they are young, imitate our behavior. Whether it is trying to shave with soap bubbles, make cookies with play-doh, put on our shoes, or use a toy lawnmower as we push the real thing: they want to be like us. Our example is an important one. They learn so much from what we do, what we say, and how we behave. Are we giving them the best version of ourselves?

Making the lives of our children easier is a goal of every parent. We do what we can to help them advance in life, teaching them lessons along the way. These lessons can be well structured and thought out, or the child can learn, like in the song mentioned, just by watching. What is it we display?

Think about the most recent interactions you have had with your child (or any child). How do we make them feel? Do we listen as they try to engage us, or are we more interested in our cell phone? When they witness our response as we get angry or frustrated what is the message we are giving them? When we talk to a family member with less patience than we just showed the drive-thru attendant- what does that communicate? The messages and lessons we teach our children can be deliberately taught or communicated by our behavior.

Often, parents will call and ask, “Lil Johnny just asked me a question about dinosaurs and the story of creation. I can’t answer it. Can you talk to him?” Absolutely! I would love to foster the interest a child has about faith and help a parent teach a Church interpretation. If a child asks about Christ, His disciples, His parables or the miracles He performs, I ‘m sure we all have the capability to find the right words to provide the correct response. One that leaves the child edified in our faith. What happens when our actions prove differently? Remember the kid in the song? He said, “I’m your Buckaroo, I wanna be like you. I’ve been watching you.”

Think about the lessons they learn about our faith and Church as they watch us. When we skip liturgy to watch a ballgame- what does that say about the importance of Sunday morning worship? How are we instilling a reverence for the leadership of the church if they hear us speak poorly of a priest or bishop? How about when they witness us easily spend $5-$6 dollars on a cup of coffee, but then make sure that we have enough $1 bills for the tray at Church? Our actions speak loudly.

Christ tells us, simply, in John 13:15

"For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”.

John 13:15

Our Lord lived a life of service. He showed compassion for the less fortunate and served whenever He had the opportunity. He sacrificed for us, and how we would do the same for our own children! St. Paul in several letters mentions imitation. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he writes,

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ,”

St. Paul - 1 Corinthians 11:1

and

“be imitators of God”

St. Paul - Ephesians 5:1

Imitation is a wonderful educator. Our kids are watching us. They want to be like us. Let’s display habits that will help them grow in faith. Demonstrate the importance of faith in Christ and commitment to the Church. Let them see you reading the Bible. Let them hear you sing hymns. Let them see you put on an apron and help at the Rescue Mission. Give them the opportunity to witness the dedication you have for a Church organization like Philoptochos. We can teach (everlasting) life lessons as we achieve a life dedicated to Christ and His Church.

That country song ends on a better note. At the end, the singer goes to check on his boy later in the evening. As dad opens the bedroom door, the lyrics say, “He folded his little hands and spoke to God like he was talking to a friend. I said, ‘Son, now where'd you learn to pray like that?’ He said, ‘I've been watching you, dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.’” Let them see you pray.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - September 2019

Extreme Gratitude! Fr. Gary’s Message

September 1st marks the beginning of the Ecclesiastical calendar. As we enter this new Church year it is easy to look ahead at the exciting ministries that are to come. However, at this moment, I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to the faithful Stewards of our Church . . . YOU!! Thank you!

St. Demetrios is a welcoming community. We have proven time and time again that we know how to make others feel at home and graft the newcomer into the parish family. I was pleased when a stranger stopped me in a local grocery store and asked me if I was the Priest at the “Greek” Church. She proceeded to explain how helpful and welcoming our Festival Workers were. “They said, ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ It really made me feel like I was visiting someone’s home.” She continued, “When I didn’t understand what a certain dish was, a wonderful woman explained it to me. It was so pleasant!”

Proudly I said, “YES! They are full of love! I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. Thank you for coming!” I went on to continue my shopping.

“Wait,” she said and then asked, “Who trained them?”

“What do you mean train?”

She continued, “Well, how did you get a staff of employees to work like that?”

“They’re not ‘employees,’ they are parishioners. They’re members of our Church, volunteers.” I explained.

“Really??!!” she said surprised.

“Yup,” I said proudly.

Such a wonderful compliment! That is exactly the sentiment we should always strive to accomplish. This is a compliment I hear, not only at the Festival, but also from Sunday visitors. This Philoxenia (a compound word literally translated “philo”- friend “xenia”- strangers, means hospitality, but more so, the welcoming of strangers) is an attribute not only of our Greek heritage, but a doctrine of our Faith. It is the Gospel truth. To be complimented with such praise is noteworthy. Usually people go out of their way to complain, and receiving such commendation is almost against the norm. I am proud to serve a community full of such loving people.

When Fr. Seraphim, from St. Nicholas Church in Tacoma, WA, visited us this summer he mentioned our hospitable characteristics. He was boarding the plane in Seattle for LAX. AS he took his seat a passenger asked, “Are you an Orthodox Priest?”

Father said, “Yes, I am.”

The gentleman asked, “From here (Seattle) or there (Los Angeles)?”

Father responded, “Here. I am travelling to LA to visit my family.”

“Great,” said the stranger, “Where will you be on Sunday for services?”

Fr. Seraphim said, “I’ll be at a parish in Camarillo.” “With Fr. Gary!” exclaimed the passenger.

“Yes,” Father responded, then asked surprised, “you know Fr. Gary?”

“Yes. My name is Ken and I am good friends with the Vegos family. We go to the church for a variety of events and the people there are so loving and kind. You are really going to enjoy it! Say hi to Fr. Gary for me.” Father sat in his seat and shook his head, thinking, “What a small world.”

The impact our hospitality, PHILOXENIA, has on visitors is tremendous and unforgettable. You offer the love of God, in the simplest way, when you look someone in the eye and offer a sweet exchange. Such an easy way to practice the Living Gospel.

I am also grateful that the Church has been full the last several weeks. Everyone has been participating and offering great glory to God through the Divine Liturgy. There are many things to appreciate and be thankful for here at St. Demetrios! Not only are we full of warmth and welcoming love, we are a group of hardworking and dedicated individuals.

The Festival Steering Committee issued a challenge at the beginning of the summer asking that we meet the greatest of expectations at this year’s festival. Not only did we meet the goal but exceeded it by $5,000.00.

I am consistently amazed at the outpouring of love you display. When asked for an extra collection to raise funds for a missionary’s trip you all gave generously. When called on to support the Rescue Mission you all come through. A shortage of prosfora (the bread used as the host for Divine Liturgy) is met with an abundance of love! This is especially encouraging!

I am on cloud nine because I serve a great parish. A community that serves Christ and loves His Church. I pray that I can show you the love and enthusiasm that you have displayed during these last several weeks! I am overrun by emotion when the people around me exhibit Christ’s love and likeness!

GOD BLESS YOU ALL!


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary - Summer 2019

Sanctify Sundays, Fr. Gary’s Message

We need to sanctify Sunday mornings. We have allowed other entities to sneak in and snatch the sacredness of Sunday mornings from us. When Divine Liturgy is not the priority on Sunday morning, and we allow sporting events, science projects, and undone chores from earlier in the week keep us from worshipping, we are sending the wrong message to our youth.

The Church community and the weekly practice of liturgy is to strengthen and encourage us to face the challenges that lay ahead. It would be great if no one endured pain or suffering in life. If only we could wrap ourselves in bubble wrap to never scrap a knee, twist an ankle, or suffer other tragedies. Truth be told, none of us sit and wait for the storm to hit, it just comes. How prepared will we be?

People assume as clergy we have arrived at a level of faith that is “sufficient” and that our hearts are immune to doubt. This is certainly not the case. To make a long story short, last August and September my faith was tested. My brother developed an illness called Guillen-Barre Syndrome, and it left him paralyzed. I prayed for a miracle, waiting for God’s might to lift him and return him to his home, loving wife and beautiful children. The doctors explained to us that this condition may not ever be reversable and that it would take months for Peter to heal or adapt to his body’s impediment. In midst of his ailment he noticed me praying by his bedside and asked, “Bro, what you prayin’ for?” I said, “For you to get out of that bed, walk into your home and pick up your kids.” He responded quickly and swiftly, “Nah. That’s not the prayer we need. Pray that God gives me courage and patience to deal with whatever is to come.” He laughed and jokingly added, “You’re the priest, you should know that.” His response blew my mind!

The miracle we prayed for occurred just a few weeks later. On a Sunday afternoon I received a text from my dad. It was a video of my brother walking (YES!! WALKING) up the aisle at St. Demetrios in Seattle to receive Holy Communion. Through the prayers of many loved ones and the intercessions of several saints, Peter made a miraculous recovery. Immediately, from coffee hour at St. Demetrios in Camarillo, I called him. He was leaving St. Demetrios in Seattle. Overjoyed I asked, “Pete, they sent you home?” “Yep,” He said. Then quizzically I said, “And you decided to go to church this morning?” Again, his words astonished me! He said, “Bro, that’s what we do on Sundays. Plus, in the prayer that Fr. Photios read over me he said something about ‘may I gain strength so that I can return to the Lord’s house and give Him His due glory.’ I needed to get to church as soon as possible.”

The investment our parents made in Sunday mornings shaped our faith. We were raised by devout parents that utilized the resources of our local parish. Mom and Dad made it clear that Sunday mornings were a time in which we all went to Church. Going to church doesn’t make life painless, but it does provide ministries and programs that assist us to endure life’s challenges. The bonds and friendships that were established through participation in the life of the Church aided Peter during his suffering.

All the weeks, days and hours spent at Summer Camp, GOYA basketball, Greek Dance practice, winter retreats, dances, and an event that was called, “A Day of Champions” instilled within us the blessedness of our rich faith. Even though we faked every illness imaginable to get out of Greek School, we still look back and smile at those memories. We were at Church on Sundays for services (some Sundays we travelled for Youth Basketball games). Mondays we returned for Youth Night meetings, Wednesdays for Greek Dance practice, Thursdays for basketball practice, Fridays for Greek School and on Saturdays we called our Church friends to hang out. We wanted to be together.

Despite being at the Church multiple times a week we all finished our homework, studied for exams, prepared for tests, played high school sports, participated in school activities, even applied for and got into good schools and universities. Missing Sunday services was never an option. We went to Church, we served as Altar Boys and went to Sunday school, because we were expected to. If we had homework or projects to do, they were to be done outside of Church hours, that is, because, Church hours were for Church. Our parents laid a solid foundation of faith for us.

Today, the diversions that keep us from an abundant Church life will not bring us comfort in our times of distress. In times of confusion or despondency where will we turn? Are we giving our kids the tools they need to endure the challenges that will come their way? Are we allowing our kids to learn about our faith and have the same experiences we did when we were their age? Its sad that soccer tournaments, homework and other excuses keep us from an intimate relationship with Christ.

I never expected to see my brother endure ugliness like he did. Thank God he is better and getting better every day. As I explain Peter’s progress many take it upon themselves to point to their hearts indicating Peter’s strength, but if you ask Peter, he points to Christ, the Church and his faith. Peter has taught me a lot during this trial. Most importantly, we both have realized that his strength comes from the foundation of faith set by our parents.

Participate in the life of the Church. Carve out time, in the hecticness of life, to create bonds that will bring light in periods of darkness. Sanctify Sunday mornings and commit to a greater life of faith and communion with Christ and His Church. Invest in the ministries of the local parish and make Sundays special again.


In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary Kyriacou