Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support in my service. First of all I would like to thank Mrs. Alla Bobrov, for filling the large shoes of the starosta of this Cathedral, unexpectedly left by Leo. With Alla’s much appreciated help, competent assistance, and firm support, I am hoping to continue serving God through serving you, His people. 

From 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017, I was blessed to celebrate the following services: approximately 132 Divine Liturgies, 73 Vigils, 16 Vespers, 12 Matins, 30 Baptisms, 5 Holy Matrimonies, 166 Panihidas, 54 Akathists, 42 Molebens, 17 Funerals and many other services. At the same time I visited and had meetings with our parishioners; about 373 pastoral, council committees, or parish-related meetings, marriage preparation and counseling meetings, and about 232 pastoral visits.

Our average numbers at Sunday Divine Liturgy from January 2017 till December 2017 are the following: average about 120 people per service (lowest 63 and highest 215 people), with 67 communicants (lowest 29 and highest 126 communicants). Vigil participation: average about 30 people per service (lowest 11 and highest 73 people). This I would like to emphasize refers to Sunday Liturgies. I again hope that these numbers will grow and eventually reflect the spiritual and financial situation of our parish.

The 2015 parish wish list was completed and more items have arrived.  This year we finally received all the festal icons from the list, the lampadas, and the Altar Table. 

Thank you very much for your generosity. As you can see the project of beatification of our Cathedral is a success and I hope we will continue to make our spiritual home even more beautiful and welcoming.

Meeting with people and catching up with administrative work, which is growing, is a very important part of rectorship, as it is offering us an opportunity to learn more about each other and build a more family-like relationship. Before the Nativity holiday I was able to visit all of our shut-ins. I do regularly visit parishioners upon their request, which helps me get to know people, their spiritual and other needs, and ways to address them.

Glory to God, people do use my cell phone number and I get a lot done over the phone. As before, my cell phone and e-mail address are available to everyone. Please do not hesitate to call or share this information, but please try to remember and respect that Monday is my one and only day off. 

In fact, I would like to ask you to address issues of more serious nature via telephone or in person. Email or text messages are impersonal and a very utilitarian way of communicating. It is very convenient, but (in my humble opinion) not to be used for spiritual or pastoral issues. The aspect of confidentiality is also very important and for the most part absent from electronic communication, making it inappropriate for our purpose.

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 great successes and I would like to thank you all for your work, help, and support as these projects make our church grow, they give us visibility, and they bring people to our parish, some of whom may choose to stay as our regular parishioners.

Our Cathedral became richer by several holy relics, icons and objects. A sterling silver finger-shaped reliquary for the relic of St. Theophan the Recluse, and a holy relic of the Great Martyr Barbara with a beautiful sterling silver reliquary were given to us by anonymous donors.  An antique icon of St. Nicholas with a particle of his holy relics was presented by Mr. Eugine Solonin, and a particle of the veil of Theotokos was purchased by Mr. Michael Plautin and Mr. Frank Nemceff for our Cathedral at the Antique Auction in Europe. I would again like to thank all the people who contributed to the Parish Wish List, and those of you who are still patiently waiting to see delivery of the items for which you contributed. On that note I would like to give special thanks to Mr. Frank Nemceff; the new Altar Table was delivered and installed, and Frank made this project possible.

I am really thankful to reader Serge Liberovsky for his work with choir. New people have joined our choir and hopefully still more will. The choir is doing really well with a definite tendency towards improvement. Thank you all.

This year we finally were able to realize my long awaited dream, under the leadership of Zoe Turton and Ganna Semenova, of a new children’s choir.  Just to make sure everyone understands, this is a Parish choir and every child is welcome. Please, if your child is interested, talk to us as we would like to have as many children involved in this project as possible.

The Sunday School has a modest group of dedicated teachers under the leadership of Marie McEntire. More recruitment needs to be done in the future, and I hope this program will grow.

The Saturday Parish Russian School is a well-organized parish program. Every Saturday begins with a Moleben followed by a 45 minute long class for parents. 

This year I baptized 8 of our school children and another 3 are being prepared for baptism in the near future.

For a long time we were looking for a solution to make our kiosk more visible, as it once used to be.  Leo Gregory (of blessed memory), Cornell Dascalu and I looked at different options. Different ideas floated; to build a kiosk in the front yard, to renovate the church offices and the parish hall and take some space here and there. Finally a solution was found. The empty space under the hall was renovated with the financial support of our SOS fund and we have relocated our Kiosk to the lower part of our Parish Hall.

We hope with God’s help to complete relocation and setting up of the Kiosk before our Parish Feast Day, so Archbishop Benjamin can officially bless the space and open the Kiosk.

I am also involved in other things in the life of our parish or its parishioners: Several catechumens were prepared and baptized or received into Orthodoxy this year. Meetings with couples who are preparing to get married or need some pastoral advice in their marriage are held per request. 

Just like last year, I wish and hope 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 have a cup of tea and to get to know you better so I can serve this community more effectively.  Or come and visit me for the cup of tea or coffee in my office. There we can have a conversation, address issues you have in mind, talk about ideas of further development of our existing projects, or perhaps you have new ideas that you are willing to share and 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.

I consider this year to be a successful year and again I would like to thank everybody who sacrificially helped.

From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank all members of the Parish Council who have taken and are taking time from their personal lives to do this work for the growth and development of our Parish.

See you on February 4th at Parish meeting.

Archpriest Nazari Polataiko