Reflecting back on our first full year as resident Cranbrookian’s, we are thankful to God for bringing us to serve here with all of you very warm and open hearted St. Aidan parishioners! It has been a rather full year for us having purchased a rather large renovation project at the end of January and moving in to the rubble in March. Needless to say, this tuned into a pretty big project which took much of our focus until August or so. Preparing for the “Healing Earth” conference in October then took on a life of its own, not just for us but for many of you faithful St. Aidanites, as we hosted a successful and blessed event, bringing in 3 excellent speakers and having many people from outside of our parish come out. Thankfully we broke even financially, and more importantly, generated much good will for our little parish and had a blessed time of fellowship with the speakers and visitors. Other outreach activities also included hosting the film “Hellbound” to many non-St. Aidan people and finishing off our Thursday evening study “The Way.” The Thursday evening studies were a great blessing and one of my great disappointments this year was not being able to have the time to continue them. This is very high up on my 2017 list to re-start.
Immediately after the Healing Earth conference Matushka Sonia and I received word that our daughter in law Katherine had a very aggressive breast cancer and immediately had surgery and started strong Chemo treatments. She is presently about ½ way through her course of treatment and we remain optimistic, but covet your prayers for Katherine, Michael, John and Eliza. My Mother Dorothy at 89 was separated from her 93-year-old husband Art in November so we have been very occupied travelling and spending time in Calgary, helping her move into a senior’s facility and get her house ready for sale etc. Thank you for your prayers and patience with us as we have not been as available as we would like for the last few months.
Bringing Jason Gauthier into the Church through Charismation, baptizing little Elenora Pasivirta and having Jesse Weibe and Carole, Katrina, and Alec Damnjanovic join Donald Kirk and Cameron Pukas as catechumens has been a great blessing this last year. We are looking forward to having our dear Vladyks Irénée join us this coming year on bright Wednesday or Thursday (April 19, 20) to become little Ronan’s godfather when he is baptized. Little Ronan stole Archbishop Irénée’s heart when they met in Calgary for Deacon Paul’s ordination. Mark your calendars! Another personal highlight for me was being able to travel with my dear friend Dn. Kevin to re-establish my relationship with Fr. Gregory Papazian, Fr. Samuel and Brother Moses, and help them put a steel roof on their new hermitage. This year I am planning on spending some regular time taking 3-day retreats during the week at the hermitage.
A very big and blessed highlight for this year is the starting up of our St. Aidan’s bookstore by Sophia and Jessie! They are getting excellent prices on books, icon’s, cards, and Orthodox gift items and passing along these savings to us. The Orthodox culture is very much supported through Orthodox parish bookstores and a good barometer of any Orthodox parish is the health of its bookstore. You can’t find Orthodox books and gift items at any typical “Christian” store, and so you need to do on-line ordering – which many people just aren’t in the habit of, and which is much more expensive than the prices you get from our local St. Aidan bookstore. Sophia and Jessie have ordered some excellent books which will help you grow in your faith, and can order anything you would like including icons for your prayer corner or for gifts (or to donate to St. Aidan’s so your favorite saint is represented here with us when we worship)! You will get a better price than you ever could on-line with shipping factored in, and you will be helping support your church as well. A section of our website will eventually feature the bookstore, so you will be able to see what’s immediately available and shoot the Bookstore a request if you have a particular book, icon or other item you would like priced out and/or ordered. Thank you so much ladies! After several attempts to improve our web-site, all of them petering out mostly due to my lack of talent, time and ability, even when working with quite gifted IT types, we now have a decent start and I’m hoping that 2017 will be the year where we develop a first-rate web site for St. Aidan. Thanks to Peter Mielke from St. Peter’s and of course Andrew Feltham for getting us this far. Check it out and please send me your suggestions and help. www.saintaidan.ca
We have made good progress in getting our business affairs organized this year as well. Much thanks to Matushka Sonia and St. Peter’s treasurer Azmira who spent many days and hours getting our books set up on QuickBooks as well as our Treasurer Ellen. Thanks also to our newly charismated accountant Jason Gauthier, who Audited our books and help set up some of the trickier categories in QuickBooks as well. In preparation to purchase our church building from our landlord’s, Bishop Ken and the Ukrainian Catholics, we were also able to complete becoming incorporated this year, one of the first provincial incorporations under the new non-profit incorporation act which came into law in December 2016. Of course the big news of the year is the decision to proceed with the purchase of our building for $250,000 under the very favorable terms offered to us by Bishop Ken. They had a rough year in terms of paying for unexpected repairs such as the new underground water-line, the badly needed electrical service upgrade into the house and the new eavestroughs on the church. We are purchasing the building aware that we too will need to spend a fair bit of repair and maintenance money fixing it up. Next year we will have to do some upgrading to the roof structure and put a new roof on the church, replace the furnace and the galvanized plumbing lines in the house, and consider what else will need work in a priority sequence. It will be a joy however to know we are beautifying and upgrading our own building! We have been doing this all along of course. This year we built the children’s outside play center, added the beautiful icons of Archangel Michael and Gabriel, done by Priestmonk Vladiymir Lysak, to our deacon doors, added new icons to our Holy Doors and around the church, replaced the Altar and other covers, added a Holy Door curtain, etc. Thanks to all the volunteers for these projects.
One of the highlights of the year was of course the ordination of our dear Subdeacon Paul Bartlett to the Diaconate. We had more than 20 parishioners come to Calgary to add their “AXIOS” to the celebration. Deacon Paul and “Matka” Anastasia have been very faithful members of St. Aidan’s since the beginning. We have been double blessed to also welcome Deacon Kurt Jordan and Matushka Victoria into our parish family this year as well. This will be quite a wonderful liturgical change, going from one lonely priest to having two Deacon’s as well at many Liturgies! We will be working out some serving details over the next couple months, and I am greatly looking forward to being blessed to serve with two wonderful deacons. Kind of makes you wonder what God has in mind for St. Aidan’s. Great thanks is also due to Matushka Sonia and Leesha as they faithfully lay out the rubrics for every service. And to our music leaders Jessie and David Pasivirta and their unofficial fill-in who also leads many of the services by default, Matushka Sonia!
On the charity side of parish life, Denys and Sharon Scully headed up our efforts to help a little with the Syrian Refugee’s and we were able to throw in some support to the First Baptist group who sponsored a family. Locally we once again supported the Salvation Army in their homeless drive through helping with kettles and with a small donation as well as supporting the local food bank. We were able to really get a bang for our dollar by helping support Fr. Jonah in Kenya with his school children support program, as a dollar there does as much as a $20 over here. We also supported the 3 main OCA drives for Missions, Seminarians, and Charities; and have been faithful in our 10% tithe requirement to the Archdiocese.
As we start into 2017, please be sure to arrange for me to come and bless your house. From Theophany until the start of the Lenten Triodian (Feb. 5 this year) is the traditional house blessing time, although it can be done at other times of the year. There is a sign-up sheet at the back of the church or just give me a call or an e-mail request. This is one of the strongest traditions in the Orthodox Church and lets me (and Matushka Sonia if you wish) come and spend some one on one time with you and your family. I would like to do this at least once a year and preferably much more than this. It is good to give your home a spiritual cleansing and have a bunch of questions answered as well. Please have a list of your family members both living and reposed for us to pray for.
I’m always available for coffee to meet with you or your friends and family.
Much love in Christ…………fr. andrew 250-420-1582