Rector’s Informational Report 
Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral General Parish Meeting. 
Los Angeles, CA

2018

 

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

By God’s grace, it is again my honor to present you my annual report of activities, in reference to the flock under my pastoral care, as the Rector of Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA, for the year 2018.

2018 was my third full year as the Rector of our God-beloved Cathedral.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your prayers, assistance and support in my service. First of all, I’d like to thank our Parish Council and our Starosta/Warden Mrs. Alla Bobrov. These people are true servants of the Holy Church of our Lord, who tirelessly work for the glory and growth of our parish community, they are examples not only in leadership but foremost in personal sacrificial labor and love for our spiritual flock. Thank you for all you have done this past year, and I hope you will continue to assist me in your respective positions in coming year as well.

Led by our Starosta/Warden Mrs. Alla Bobrov, our Parish Council and also by its president Mrs. Irene Gregory, our parish Sisterhood provides me - and all of us - with much appreciated help, competent assistance, and firm support. I also hope to continue serving God through serving Holy Virgin Mary parish and you, my dear parishioners, for another year. This means TOGETHER all of us will be able to grow this community in faith, numbers, activities and the love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to continue sharing the Light of Christ’s Gospel to the people of El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula(The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciuncula River).

Having said that, I would like to present you a summary of my activities in the year 2018.  


Liturgical Celebrations, Pastoral Visits and Meetings: 

From 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018, I was blessed to celebrate the following Divine services: Approximately 122 Divine Liturgies, 65 Vigils, 11 Vespers, 12 Matins, 20 Baptisms, 2 Holy Matrimonies, 15 Funerals, 186 Panihidas, 41 Akathists, 45 Molebens, and many other services. At the same time, I visited and had meetings with our parishioners; about 353 pastoral, council committees, or parish-related meetings, marriage preparation and counseling meetings, and about 186 pastoral visits.

Our approximate average attendance at Sunday Divine Liturgy from January 2018 through December 2018 are the following: average 120 people per liturgy (with the least 61 and the most 295 people attending), on average 68 communicants (with the least 48 and the most 132 communicants per liturgy). Vigil participation averages about 30 people per vigil (with the lowest 14 and the highest 93 people). I want to call your attention to the Sunday Liturgies. I hope that these numbers will continue to grow in our parish.

This year we accepted several new members to our parish family and I would like to welcome all of you to our historic parish. We also lost several members: some relocated to different cities; some reposed in the Lord. Among the deceased I would especially like to mention our long-time member and parish prosphora baker Tamara Krupenkin. Tamara faithfully and lovingly served this parish for over 20 years; her presence is really missed by us all, but her memory will live on in our community forever. 

 

May their memory be eternal!

 

Office, Telephones, E-Mail and Technological Development:

 

All necessary information and forms for completing background checks for our teachers and volunteers were submitted and my annual compliance report to the Diocese of the West will be mailed in a timely manner soon after this meeting. 

A new bookkeeping system was purchased and integrated. This system gives us a better way to manage our funds and donor information. I thank Margaret Dascalu for her patient and long hours of work integrating this system into our treasury. 

The 2015 parish wish list was completed and more items arrived. 

This year we received 4 analogions and I expect to receive the rest of the furnishings very soon. Thank you very much for your generosity. Last year with generous anonymous donations we were able to refinish our temple's hardwood floor, and by the generosity of our parish Sisterhood to clean our Persian rugs. 

The ongoing project of beautification of our Cathedral is successful, and I hope we will continue to make our spiritual home even more beautiful and welcoming.

Several new icons were added to our temple, and in the near future we hope to replace several more icon prints with real hand-written icons. A list of these icons is available for you to consider for donation. 

Projects of this nature also help our parish in a different way: we learn how to work together and build a community by our labors and sacrificial contributions, and it saves a lot of cost in our budget as well, as none of these upgrades is funded by our annual budget. 
Until May I was spending a lot of my daily time in my office, as you can see from the reported numbers of my pastoral meetings. Personal meetings with parishioners are very important, as they offer an opportunity to cultivate family-like relationship in parish. In May 2018, as most of you know I developed some health issues that forced me to cut down a bit on my activities and to finally take some time off. After returning from my vacation in Ukraine with my parents, I developed a schedule which allows me to continue with the services, meetings and visits but in more structured way. It is available on our webpage and also posted on my office door for your consideration. I hope all of you will understand if I cannot offer you time immediately, but I will do everything in my power to assist you in most efficient way according to my pastoral schedule and provide you the time you need and deserve. 

Before the Nativity holiday I was able to visit almost all of our shut-ins. I do regularly visit parishioners upon their request. Please do not hesitate to schedule a visit with me if you need or would like one.

Our web site www.hvmla.org is still under development. We are constantly uploading new information and developing new sections.

People do use my cell phone number and I get a lot done over the phone. Again, due to my health we stopped redirecting office calls to my personal number after office hours, however if it is an emergency or if there is a private issue that one would not consider to leave on the message machine, just as before, my cell phone and e-mail address are available to everyone. Please do not hesitate to call or share this information, but at the same time I ask everyone please try to remember and respect that Monday is my one and only day off, and if something is not of an urgent nature and can be discussed tomorrow, it is no need to call me after office hours. 

 

Our email addresses will be changed in new year due to security reasons and we will inform all of you of these changes as they will take place.

 

Media outreach:

 

Just as in the previous year, we advertise regularly in the local Russian language newspapers and occasionally in magazines. Relations with Kartina TV Company, who helps us with our special event advertising, is growing stronger and they do assist us with advertising on Russian TV channels as well. We also post on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council webpage and LA City Hall webpage for Hollywood events. More and more news is published and will be published on our web page in both languages and also on our parish Facebook page.

 

Special projects:

 

Just like last year, this year our parish was involved in several special projects, most of them under the care and supervision of our fundraising committee, some under the Sisterhood, some with the help of our SOS Fund. All these projects were a great success and I would like again thank you all for your work, help, and support as these projects make our community grow, they give us visibility, and most important bring more and more new people to our parish.

At this point I would like to acknowledge some of those projects, and again thank our Starosta /Warden Alla Bobrov, Liana Vertelkina, Irene Gregory and the ladies of the Sisterhood, Irina Usova with a team of teachers and parent volunteers, Katia Solovskaya, Masha Goncharova,  Serge Liberovsky, Zoe Turton, Ganna Semenova, Josephine Lazarides and her team of helpers, Margaret Dascalu and Marie McEntire with their team of flower ladies, Subdeacons Andrey Aristov and Peter Winsky, Cornel, Tudor and Cristian Dascalu and so many others. 

Everyone who assisted with concerts, the Slavic Festival, the koliada, the children's Vertep performance, the Yolka, the bake sale, church decorations, the kiosk relocation, preparing the temple  for floor renovations, and everything else we did this past year; I would like to thank everyone who by their effort made a difference not only in our parish community, but in our community at large. Please remember, the more of us who get involved, the greater the results will be, so please get involved, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) says the Lord in the Gospel, and where Lord is, great thing are possible!

 As I mentioned earlier, last year our Cathedral again became richer by several holy relics, icons and objects. An Icon of St. Matrona of Moscow with a particle of her incorrupt relics was donated to us by Ms. Natalia Gold.  An Icon of the Mother of God Softener of Evil Hearts was gifted to us by Mr. Eugine Soloninand Feodor Yakimoff.  An icon of St. Genevieve of Paris was donated by members of our sisterhood in honor of our parishioner Irene Rydelek. 

On that note, I would like to give special thanks to Mr. Frank Nemtsev, Ms. Zoe Turton, Mr. Eugine Soloninand and Mr. Yanis for their generous assistance.  With their help we were able to renovate our St. Herman’s Chapel and convert it into a fully functional chapel with a full sized baptismal font. Even though work on the chapel is still not finished, I hope it will be consecrated during the Archpastoral visit of His Eminence during our Parish Feast day in February.  

The quantity of spiritual wealth and artifacts we have been blessed with in our parish is hard to describe and to find in any other parish in North America. We, the parishioners of this holy church, are responsible for its well-being and upkeep. One more treasure of our parish, the antique icon of the "All Holy Theotokos of Kazan,” is to be restored by Marina Smetanina.  I hope we will be able to find financing for this much-needed project. 

I would like to thank our parish secretary Julia Keating for her work and assistance. As you have noticed, the format of our parish Bulletin changed. Last year we introduced a little more color into it, and this year we were able to transfer our bulletin into a fully digital format. It saves time and money preparing it for mailing, and mailing cost as well. Our Bulletin is timely and informative. 

 

Vestry/Sacristy, Sanctuary:

As I reported last year, our Cathedral is the oldest original Orthodox ecclesiastical building in LA.

Besides preparing a new wish list this year with an item that needs sponsorship, and things that will need to be repaired, this year we need to concentrate our fundraising efforts to begin repairs to our temple building. In the process of preparing of the building for the restoration of the hardwood floor, when we took our icons off the church walls, we discovered that the walls are in immediate need of repair in the older portion of the church building: major damage to the original walls was detected. We need to begin renovation of this as soon as possible, but due to the lack of funds we cannot begin the necessary work. On behalf of the Parish Council I appeal to your generosity. At the present time, we are in the process of collecting quotes, but even from preliminary first sight appraisal, this kind of project can cost up to $30,000. At this time - especially with beginning of our financial year - I’m asking you to consider and make generous donations toward this important cause. At this point we collected only a little over $8000.  More than $20,000 is still needed!

The Sisterhood donated a set of new purple clergy vestments and two Altar covers. This year we will need to upgrade the rest of the covers for the new Altar table, and maybe purchase some gold Altar servers' vestments. Thank you, Irene and ladies for your generosity!.

 

Choir:

 

I am really thankful to reader Serge Liberovsky for his hard work with our parish choir.

Thanks to Serge’s hard work, with the assistance of Zoe Turton and other choir members, this summer we were able to renovate and move the choir into a new room. Some new people have joined our choir, and hopefully more will continue to join.  Serge is continuing to do a great job! New repertoire is being prepared, and it sounds harmonious and more importantly, prayerful. Regular rehearsals are occurring. Under Serge’s leadership the choir participates in more than liturgical services in our cathedral, they sing at festivals, concerts and parish events. This fall they impressed everyone at the annual Orthodox Choir Festival at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Even more delightful was the participation at this Festival of our new children’s choir.

 

As you know, last year under the leadership of Zoe Turton and Ganna Semenova, we established children’s choir. This choir in only one year became a very much anticipated part of our Parish liturgical life. Please share information about our children's programs with everyone, as every child is welcome to become a part of them. Please, if your child is interested, talk to us, as we would like to have as many children involved in these projects as possible, and even though main rehearsals are conducted on Saturdays in the afternoon, children who cannot come on Saturday can be part of the choir as well, as rehearsals are held also on Sundays according to the schedule of youth activities, which is posted every month.

Thank you all!

 

Sunday School, Saturday Parish Russian School, Youth and Young adults programs:

 

Under the leadership of Ms. Zoe Turton and with dedicated assistance of some of our parents, our youth programs are growing. Mrs. Marie McEntire and Zoe work hard on development of our Sunday School. The school is modest in its size but it is a regular, popular and growing program. The old choir room was renovated during the summer and turned into a children's activity room. 

Several mothers took initiative and we formed the Little Sisterhood, taking as their patron the Great Martyr Barbara. I really thank Katia Solovskaya, Maria Goncharova and rest of the mothers who coordinate the Little Sisterhood, and most of all I thank all the girls who come and help during services and sisterhood activities. 

I wish for more recruitment to be done in the future for all of our youth activities, so more and more children will be involved in our parish life.

The Parish Saturday Russian School is a well-organized program. It is hard to find a more dedicated and hardworking administrator than Ms. Irina Usova. I would like to thank Irina and her team of volunteers and parents for their hard work. 

I regularly spend time with the parents and students, and I teach a class on the Law of God in this program.  Every Saturday begins with a Moleben followed by a 45-minute-long class for parents.  Together with Irina, we are continuously working on involving more and more children and parents in our Parish.

 

Every Tuesday we serve an Akathist to our Patronal Icon of “All Holy Theotokos Rescuer of the Perishing,” and usually after Akathist I meet with catechumens for an education meeting. In coming year, I would like to make these meetings more formal: be it a book club, lectures and presentations or something else. Please, if anyone is interested in assisting, talk to me.

 

Bookstore, Coffee shop:

 

For a long time, we were looking for a new location for the Parish Bookstore. Finally, last year, empty space under this hall was renovated with the financial support of our SOS fund, and we have relocated and organized our Bookstore in that space. It has plenty of room, it has handicapped accessible restrooms and will have a much greater assortment in stock. Archbishop Benjamin officially blessed the space and opened the Bookstore last Palm Sunday. As you will see in the Treasurer’s Financial Report last year, the bookstore for the first time in many years transferred to the parish $5000.00. Many thanks to Sister Elisabeth and Cornel Dascalu for their tireless work. 

Adjacent to the bookstore we also created a modest coffee/tea shop. Now after Divine Liturgy our parishioners can have delicious espresso, cappuccino or tea prepared by our own professional barista Cristian Dascalu. All proceeds go directly to the parish.    

 

Parish Museum:

 

Largest part of this space is where our Parish Museum will be located. With an assistance from Mr. Ivan Podvalov we used available archival information to prepare permanent displays and informational stands. Some of our historical artifacts, photographs and documents will be there on permanent display. This space is also available for temporary exhibits, presentations and lectures.

This year we were blessed to host two special exhibits: 1) An Exhibit and Presentation on the Gallitzin Family; 2) An Exhibit on the History of Russian Immigration in Los Angeles (with a Pannihida for the veterans of World War I).  

 

Other:

As it is known I am also participating in other aspects of the life of our parish and our parishioners: Several catechumens were prepared and baptized into the Orthodox Faith last year. Meetings with couples who are preparing to get married or need some pastoral advice in their marriage are held per request.  There are many other events, visits, meetings, and services which I perform as rector of Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral that I did not include in this report. These duties occupy a fair amount of my working time as well.

 

I hope I can report that to the best of my abilities I try faithfully to fulfill the obedience of the rector of this Cathedral. If anyone is interested in knowing more details about my day-to-day work, please ask questions or just come for a cup of tea or coffee to my office some time and we can talk.

I hope this coming year to visit more of you at your homes, not only to bless your home with Holy Water or when someone is in need, but just to talk how we can serve this community more effectively.  Or come and visit me in my office. There we can talk about ideas of further development of our existing projects, or perhaps you have new ideas that you are willing to share and - more important - to get involved with in order to help with our outreach and ministry. I pray that our parish will continue growing and developing in its spiritual maturity.

 

2018 was a successful year and again I would like to thank everybody for your help and prayers.

 

At this point I like to address you entrusted to my pastoral care spiritual flock, the newly elected Parish Council or simply put our spiritual family with some words about our future. 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I think in last three years we learned how to live, work and even deal with difficult and unpleasant issues like loss of our close ones, how to address our differences but the most important aspect of this God-given, successful year should be mentioned: our effort to pray together and our desire to commune of the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior from the same Cup and at the same Divine Liturgy, our liturgical and spiritual unity. We as family started and completed many different projects. On his own none of us would even be able to do smallest part of it. “God is with us” He is with us as we attempt to do something not for our own sake or glory but for the glorification of His Divine Name, for spreading the light of His Holy Gospel to our community.  He planted us for bringing love, beauty, compassion, and mercy - our most noble qualities - into this world that is so much in need of it. 

Looking back at past three years: Having 100 or more people at Divine Liturgy and 60 or so communicants has become for us a new norm. Our programs are growing. Children’s Choir and the Little Sisterhood of St. Barbara is our new reality.  We dare to begin larger projects and see their successful completion. We dare to talk about and to attempt to have additional clergy at our Cathedral. And all of this not because of one person, after all “one is not a warrior in the field.”  The key words are WE, US, TOGETHER.

 

Upon my arrival to Los Angeles in 2015, our dear parishioner Mrs. Maria Cox said to me that it will take me about three years to adjust to LA after 26 years in Canada. Indeed this is the first year after my relocation, and I actually started to feel at home, I started to relate to society and its issues and the rich and wonderful history around me, as is so important for every pastor. This is my first parish as rector, and one thing that I realized is that even though each one of us individually is very important for the cause, the community that we create TOGETHER is so much more powerful and effective; all of US collectively become builders of a rich history here on Earth, and builders of Kingdom of Heaven for each other. 

Again, I would like to emphasize: “The biggest success of past years is the fact that we are becoming ONE COMMUNITY“One flock” under one pastor, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. WE strive to be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us…” [John 17:21]

 

One of the great leaders of this country Theodore Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Again, and again I would like to ask all of you: if more of us will get involved and apply our talents, it will transfigure not only our little parish into the greatest place to be at, but if TOGETHER WE “Acquire the Spirit of Peace a thousand souls around US will be saved.” ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )

 

We are slowly addressing all of our issues: major property repairs.  Our proposed budget still has a modest deficit but I would like to stress word modest, and all together we will get it fixed.   

Protopresbyter Alexander Shmemman, of blessed memory, during an All-American Council in the early 70s said: “That poor financial state of the church is a reflection of our spiritual state.” I hope we can improve our spiritual state by actually fulfilling our obligation before God, and finally making our parish family financially stable this coming year. 

 

In only a few years we will celebrate our 100th Anniversary as parish community. All of us know that these few years will pass very rapidly. Therefore, we should start preparation for this historical event. I believe that this Anniversary will be so much more joyous if our attendance at Divine Services will force us to go back to celebrate more than one Liturgy per Sunday, our Sunday school will be filled with children, our children's choir will not fit at the northern cliros and Little Sisterhood, Saturday school and all youth will be involved in socially oriented projects of a larger LA community representing HVM Russian Orthodox Cathedral, our budget for a change will show a surplus so we can help people in need, and we will be able not only repair existing structural problems, but perhaps make such improvements that will leave our next generations not a building with cracked walls but a beautiful Cathedral filled with spirit of love, unity and spiritual life.   

This was the vision of the pioneers of this church; it is the heritage they left for us.  It should become our vision, our reality, and by God’s grace, something that we will leave to our children.

God grant you all many blessed years in service to His Holy Orthodox Church!

 

FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE

   In 2018 Fundraising Committee organized the following events: among Micheltorena concert series with auctions: Rachmaninoff concert“Music of the Russian Empire”on January 28thby internationally renowned Vyacheslav Gryaznov, pianist-composer and George Borisov and a concert “The Greatest Romantic Masterpieces” which took place on May 6th2018.

   Also during the year the Fundrasing Committee organized the following events: First International youth piano competition, dedicated to S. Rachmaninoff; annual Slavic Festival; fundraising dinner followed by raffle of Dodger tickets; Christmas bake sale and “Camerata Rus” concert.

   We would like to thank all donors and everyone for participating in these events, for giving your talents and time, for the benefit of our beloved parish.

 

HOLY VIRGIN MARY RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL 

SISTERHOOD ANNUAL REPORT

JANUARY 27, 2019

   The year 2018 was an extremely busy one for the Sisterhood.  Welcoming three new members  increased our numbers,  but we still lack more who are able to give their time and talents in our obligation to the Church.  All the ladies have worked very hard.  The flower committee never failed to adorn the Cathedral with beautiful floral arrangements on all major feasts. Lunches were prepared and served on Sundays by a faithful few to our parishioners.  The vestments were cleaned as needed and we purchased burgundy and red priest vestments this year along with a red altar table cover. 

   Our activities included covering half of the expenses of the catered banquet for our Feast Day.  The Church was cleaned for Christmas and Easter by ladies and gentlemen who did a great job.  We also had all the oriental rugs professionally cleaned in the Church which was quite an undertaking.  The Blini lunch was successful and we made and sold 175 verba bouquets.  We made Pascha for the Easter breakfast and purchased and sold 35 kulich. We celebrated our patronal Feast Day with a Molieben and a nice dinner in the Parish Hall.   We provided piroshki for the Food Festival and the Bake Sale and Bazaar. 

   We continue our monetary support to the three seminaries and the John Krondsstast home for the elderly in Los Angeles.  We also donated to the Diocese Stewardship program. A contribution to the Summer Camp was also given.  

    Our monthly contribution to the Cathedral was increased to $1,000.00.  This helps pay the partial custodian salary and gardening expenses.  We provide all the janitorial supplies and paper goods used in the Parish Hall.  We had many unexpected expenses.  It was necessary to purchase a new stove for the clergy apartment and also repair their dishwasher, as well as repair and install a new pump and chemical dispenser for the parish hall dishwasher. Surprisingly, our stove needed new thermostats for both the ovens and we purchased another large warming tray to be used for lunches. The Church asked us to pay for a new water heater in the Parish Hall. We also contributed for the new St Genevieve icon.

   In June we lost Tamara Krupenkin, a long-time energetic member who worked tirelessly for our organization.  She will be greatly missed and may her memory be eternal.  

   Once more we welcome and invite the ladies of our parish to become members and help us work for the benefit of our Cathedral.  Our yearly dues are $25.00.  Let me express.my gratitude to all our friends who came out to help us with all our endeavours. MayGodblessyou.

IreneGregory

 

STAROSTA ANNUAL REPORT 2018

   Parish annual meeting on January 27this an important day for the members of our cathedral.

   At this meeting we will be discussing various important issues: financial situation, maintenance project, plans for the Centennial and electing new Parish Council.

   Our new custodian Anjelika Aydirkhanova is doing very satisfactory work in our cathedral and around our property and gardens. I also want to mention and to thank Mrs Valentina Shmonina who cleans our church candle stands on a weekly basis.

   We are awaiting for the arrival of deacon Kirill Dotsenko who will take over a position of a pastoral assistant.

   Parish Feast day is scheduled for February 17th. Archbishop Benjamin will be serving the Liturgy. A banquet will follow. Please plan to attend this beautiful celebration.