Friday, November 18, 2011

Church Hall Blessing

Presbyter Srdjan Veselinovic elevated to the rank of Protopresbyter

By Sandi Radoja
Srbobran Editor

Galveston, TX - On September 13, 2008, the eye of Hurricane Ike, a monstrous storm with winds of at least 110 mph, bullied its way into Galveston, Texas. Waves crashed over the 17-foot-high sea wall destroying buildings and tossing boats around like chopsticks. It was the second costliest storm to make landfall in the United States.

Sts. Constantine and Helen Serbian Orthodox Church survived the wreckage, but the parish lost its hall. It was nearly an immediate decision to rebuild.

On Sunday, October 30, 2011 the new hall was consecrated in the presence of His Grace Rt. Rev. Bishop Longin and over 200 parishioners and guests.

The festivities began with Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the historic church, founded in 1895. It is the second oldest Serbian Orthodox Church in North America. Serving with His Grace Longin were Rev. Ljubinko Savic of Holy Three Hierarchs Serbian Orthodox parish in Dallas-Fort Worth, Protodeacon Doctor Damian Bozic of Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Chicago, Deacon Nikolaj Kostur of Grayslake, Illinois, and parish priest Father Srdjan Veselinovic.

During the Liturgy, Father Srdjan was elevated to the rank of Protopresbyter. His Grace said it was “for his many years of service to the Holy Church on this continent.” The elevation was made on a day reflecting some of the results of Proto Srdjan’s commitment to his flock as the newly constructed hall was consecrated.

Following Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, there was a memorial service in honor of all the founders and former priests who served the community. “We especially remembered Rev. Theoclitos Triantafilides Archimandrites, the first priest of this church.” Born in Greece in 1833, he died October 22, 1916. His remains are entombed in the church.

Parishioners and guests filled the hall for the Rite of Consecration led by His Grace Longin. A festive banquet completed the celebration during which speakers praised the hard work of the parishioners and their newly elevated Proto Srdjan.

His Grace Longin offered congratulations on the completion of the new Serbian hall. His Grace had been in Galveston for the Blessing of the Ground ceremony that kicked off the construction just 18 months earlier. “I am very pleased to see how nicely everything was done in a relatively short period of time. May God bless you and reward you for that,” he said.

The Bishop also spoke about Proto Srdjan’s hard work. “He is still a young and energetic pastor who serves with love for God and respect for his flock. I wish every success to your parish, and I ask all of you to work and help this lovely Christian community to continue to be self-sustained and to grow, fulfilling its mission to the Orthodox in Galveston.”

His Grace asked Proto Srdjan to make a presentation of Gramatas to some of the distinguished members of Sts. Constantine and Helen, among whom were parish President Peter Kovacevic and Master of Ceremonies Mimo Milosevich.

Mitchell Chuoke and Gospava Popovic served as Kum and Kuma for the Blessing of the Hall. Each of them was presented with the Order of St. Sava for their many years of dedication and generosity in Galveston. The Order of St. Sava is the highest recognition given by the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Also serving as Kum was Dr. Zoran Cupic who was very emotional when he spoke of the volunteerism that made the hall possible. “With the help of God, we made it,” he said as he also thanked workers and donors including Steve Stajic and his son Shane.

Master of Ceremonies Mimo Milosevich spoke of the love that emanates in this small parish. “We are bigger than we seem. Each and every one of us in this room has done something to help us get to where we are today. I don’t want to leave anyone out. We did this together.” The building project became a community project as parishioners and friends stepped up to lend a hand, donate windows, do electrical and plumbing work. The result is the beautiful hall that was blessed on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

Proto Srdjan received a lengthy standing ovation when he rose to speak. It is clear he is well loved in his community, not only by the faithful but also throughout the City of Galveston. “He is extremely popular,” said Mimo Milosevich later. “Over 75% of the people here today were not members or even stewards of our church just ten years ago.” Proto Srdjan has served the Galveston community for 16 years. His hard work is coming to fruition.

In the new hall, people who witnessed firsthand the devastation of Hurricane Ike were amazed at the transformation. The hall stands as a reminder that you can do anything with the faith, the help of God and a firm commitment to the future. Joining that thinking, the Mayor of the City of Galveston Joe Jaworski said to the parishioners, “You have just made Galveston better. Your spirit and determination are reflections of our future.”

The building of the new hall represents faith, recovery and a contribution to the future of Serbian Orthodox religion, language and culture. It also stands as a beacon of hope in an area that was destroyed just three short years earlier. As Galveston heals, Sts. Constantine and Helen Serbian Orthodox Church continues to grow, just as Bishop Longin suggests. “I ask all of you to work and help this lovely Christian community to continue to be self-sustained and to grow fulfilling its mission to the Orthodox of Galveston.”

During his visit to Texas, His Grace, along with Protodeacon Doctor Damian Bozic and Deacon Nikolaj Kostur, visited the Greek Orthodox Church in Galveston where Proto Srdjan serves on Saturdays.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Invitation to New Church-Hall Blessing


27th September, 2011
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!

On behalf of Holy & Equal to the Apostles, Saints Constantine and Helen Serbian Orthodox Church, I have the honor to inform you that we have, by the Grace of God and through the good efforts of its parishioners have completed the new church-hall.

On this joyous and historic occasion for our church community, I have the privilege to invite you to increase our joy by joining us for the Divine Liturgy and Church-Hall Blessing Service which will be held on Sunday, October 30th, 2011, beginning at 10:00am and followed by a festive banquet at which, we hope you will be our honored guest.

In prayerful anticipation that you will deem it worthy to join us, the entire Church-School Congregation of Holy and Equal to the Apostles Saints Constantine and Helen for this occasion in which we inaugurate the new church hall. We will be forever reminded of our sacred obligation and duty to continue to spread the good news of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to feed, clothe and give drink to the least of his brethren, our neighbors.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Serge Veselinovich

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Website for the Church

Brothers and Sisters,

Here it is in all it's glory, the new webpage of the church. We have added many new features as the previous blogspot was only meant to serve temporarily until an official one was put up. Please pass it on to everyone. Click on the above title to lead you there!

Texas State Resolution for Ecumenical Patriarchate

Dear Parishioners,

Shortly after Pentecost, the Apostle Andrew established the Christian Church in Byzantium. The Fifth Ecumenical Council established that the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Byzantium (later, Constantinople) would assume an equal role of primacy as the Church in Rome. That role has remained uninterrupted for over 1,700 years and today includes 300 million Christians around the world.

Following the Apostle Andrew, there have been 269 successor Ecumenical Patriarchs who serve as the spiritual head of the world-wide Greek Orthodox Church. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, our Church has been subject to constant persecution. But, some of the worst political persecution has occurred over the last 100 years. For example, at the turn of the last century, our Church held over 8,000 properties in Constantinople, had a flourishing theological school, and served the religious needs of over 250,000 Orthodox faithful within Turkey (in addition to the hundreds of millions around the world). Today, the government has misappropriated nearly all of those properties (the Church currently has less than 400 properties), shut down our theological school in the early 70’s and arbitrarily enacted laws which require that the selection of the Ecumenical Patriarch be submit to approval by the Turkish state. The policies of Turkey have resulted in only 3,000 Greek Orthodox faithful living in Constantinople today. In addition, the Ecumenical Patriarch is in constant jeopardy for his life. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has been bombed repeatedly, effigies have been burned of His All Holiness, and there have been repeated assassination attempts and plots on His life. Despite this, our Church perseveres.

The current spiritual head of our Church is Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. Two years ago, Time magazine identified Him as one of the ten most influential people in the world. Because of the enormous respect He has a world-religious leader (and his constant efforts for environmentalism and interface peace), He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States House of Representatives. In fact, he received more votes for that honor than anyone in history (including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Theresa). He was recently featured in an extraordinary piece on 60 Minutes on the current state of our Church in Turkey.

Many faithful in the United States have endeavored to put pressure on the government of Turkey to give our Church what we take for granted here in our Country: religious freedom. This includes the United States Senate and the House Foreign Relations Committee which passed strongly worded resolutions in favor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by calling for religious freedom in Turkey. In addition, a national effort is underway to obtain resolutions from each of the 50 states. To date, 39 such resolutions have been adopted by 34 states. Every large state in the country has passed such a resolution (New Jersey, California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois, among others). Most recently, last week the North Dakota House of Representatives passed such a resolution. We are now attempting to pass a resolution in Texas, but have run into ferocious resistance by the Turks.

Attached (at the bottom of this document) is a copy of the proposed resolution for Texas. Please take a moment to review it. The facts stated in that resolution are undeniable. Despite this, the Turkish Lobby in Austin has engaged in a massive counter attack so that this resolution will not pass (including offering paid trips to Turkey to our legislators). We now are launching a grass-roots effort to tell our State Representatives that we want this resolution to pass.

Attached (at the bottom of this document) to this email are (1) the proposed resolution, (2) a one-page list of the issues affecting the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and (3) a form letter which you should sign and mail to your State Representative if you do not have the time to prepare your own letter. If nothing else, please print this letter today, address it to your state legislator and mail it as soon as possible. For those of you that do not know who your current State Representative is, you can easily obtain that information by going to the following link and simply typing in your address:

Please do not delete this email and treat it as spam. The state representatives who currently are willing to assist us in passing this resolution made it clear that these letters are essential to overcome the well funded resistance orchestrated by the Turkish government. Every single letter that arrives in Austin will serve as a powerful message that Texas supports the basic concept of religious freedom and that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a historical right to exist.

Because the current legislative session ends within the next month, we ask that you please send this letter today. If you want additional information regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate, you can go to

Because this issue has encountered such tremendous resistance from the Turkish government throughout the state of Texas, please forward this to any and all friends, family members and supporters of religious freedom throughout the state of Texas, including other Metropolitan areas such as Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, and elsewhere. When you do forward this email, please ask them to forward it on to people they know as well. Our goal is for the House of Representatives to receive well over 1,000 letters from families across the state of Texas. Finally, it would be great if we can encourage non-Orthodox Texans to send a letter as well because, after all, this is an issue of religious freedom for all faiths in Turkey (as evidenced by the recent beheading of a Catholic priest and the murder of 3 Protestant missionaries) and not just the Orthodox faith.

Have a blessed Lenten season,

Fr. Michael J. Lambakis, Dean

John Zavitsanos, Parish Council President

Copyright 2011. Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
3511 Yoakum Boulevard, Houston, Tx 77006 | Phone: (713) 526-5377 Fax: (713) 526-1048

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Schedule of Services for Great Lent & Pascha 2011










APRIL 17 PALM SUNDAY Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. with blessing of Palms




APRIL 20 GREAT & HOLY WEDNESDAY Holy Unction Service at 7:00 p.m.

holy and Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.
The reading of the twelve Passion Gospels at 7:00 p.m.

Royal Hours at 10:00 a.m.
Vespers at 3:30 p.m. ( Taking Down from the Cross)
Matins ( Lamentations of the shroud and the procession) at 4:30 p.m.

Procession around the church & Matins of Christ's Resurrection at 11:45 p.m.



JUNE 2 ASCENSION OF OUR LORD Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.


JUNE 12 PENTECOST Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

Liturgical Explanation for the Days of Holy Week-Great and Holy Saturday

The “Great and Holy Sabbath” is the day which connects Great Friday, the commemoration of the Cross with the day of His Resurrection. To many the real nature and the meaning of this “connection,” the very necessity of this “middle day” remains obscure. For a good majority of Church goers, the “important” days of Holy Week are Friday and Sunday, the Cross and the Resurrection. The Church proclaims that Christ has “trampled death by death.” It means even before the Resurrection , an event takes place, in which the sorrow is not simply replaced by joy, but is itself transformed into joy. Great Saturday is precisely this day of transformation, the day when victory grows from inside defeat, when before the Resurrection; we are given to contemplate the death of death itself.
The death of Christ is the ultimate proof of His love for the will of God, of His obedience to His Father. It is an act of pure obedience, of full trust in the Father’s will; and for the Church it is precisely this obedience to the end, this perfect humility of the Son that constitutes the foundation, the beginning of His victory. The Father desires the this death, the Son accepts it, revealing an unconditional faith in the perfection of the Father’s will.
But why does the Father desire this death? Why is it necessary? He desires the salvation of man, i.e. that the destruction of death shall not be an act of His power, (“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently “give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:53), not a violence, be it even a saving one, but an act of that love, freedom and free dedication to God, for which He created man. For any other salvation would have been in opposition to the nature of man, and therefore not a real salvation. It was essential that death were not only destroyed by God, but overcome and trampled down in human nature itself, by man and through man. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” (I Corinthians 15:21).
For death is, above all, a lack of life, a destruction of life that has cut itself from its only source. And because Christ’s death is a movement of love towards God, an act of obedience and trust, of faith and perfection— it is an act of life (Father! Into Thy hands I commend my spirit” LUKE 23:46) which destroys death itself.
Such is the meaning of Christ’s descent into Hades of His death becoming His victory. And the light of this victory now illumines our vigil before the Grave.
“O Life, how liest Thou dead? How dwellest Thou in a tomb. Albeit Thou didst unbind the power of death and raised the dead from Hades, O Christ the Life, Thou hast been placed in a Tomb. By Thy death Thou hast abolished death, bringing forth life to the world. O what joy! O what abounding delight, wherewith Thou didst fill those who are in Hades, when Thou didst rise as a light in its dark abyss...”
Life enters the Kingdom of death. The Divine Light shines in its terrible darkness. It shines to all who are there, because Christ is the life of all, the only source of life. Therefore He also dies for all, for whatever happens to His life— happens in Life itself. This descent into Hades is the encounter of the Life of all with the death of all:
“Thou hast come down to earth to save Adam, and having not found him on earth, Thou hast descended, searching him, even into Hades...”
Sorrow and joy are fighting each other and now joy is about to win. The duel between Life and Death comes to its end. And, for the first time, the song of victory and triumph resounds:
“The company of the Angels was amazed, when they beheld thee numbered among the dead, yet, Thyself, O Savior, destroying the power of death, and with Thee raising up Adam and releasing all men from hell...” “Wherefore, O Woman disciples, do ye mingle sweet-smelling spices with your tears of pity? The radiant Angel within the sepulcher cried unto the Myrrh-bearing women: Behold the grave, and understand; for the Savior is from the tomb...”
Sabbath, the seventh day, achieves and completes the history of salvation, its last act being the over-coming of death. But after the Sabbath comes the first day of a new creation, of a new life born from the grave.
At the very end of Matins, the ultimate meaning of the “middle day” is made manifest. Christ arose again from the dead, His resurrection we will celebrate. However, this celebration commemorates a unique event of the past, and anticipates a mystery of the future. It is already His Resurrection, but not yet ours. We will have to die, to accept the dying, the separation, the destruction. Our reality is in this world, in this “age,” is the reality of Great and Holy Saturday; this day is the real image of our human condition.
But this life between the Resurrection of Christ and the day of the common resurrection, is not precisely the life in the Great Saturday? Is not expectation the basic and essential category of Christian experience? We wait in love, hope and faith. And this waiting for “the resurrection and the life of the world to come,” this life which is “hidden with Christ in God” (COLOSSIANS 3:3-4), this growth of expectation in love, in certitude; all this is our own “Great Saturday.” Little by little everything in this world becomes transparent to the light that comes from there, the “image of this world” passeth by and this indestructible life with Christ becomes our supreme and ultimate value.
Every year, on Great and Holy Saturday, after this morning service, we wait for the fullness of Paschal joy. We know that they are approaching— and yet, how slow is this approach, how long is this day! But is not the wonderful quiet of Great Saturday the symbol of our very life in this world? Are we not always in this “middle day,” waiting for the Pascha of Christ, preparing ourselves for the day without evening of His Kingdom?

A Liturgical Explanation for the Days of Holy Week-Great and Holy Friday

From the light of Holy Thursday we enter into the darkness of Friday, the day of Christ’s Passion, Death and Burial. It is the day of Sin, the day of Evil, the day on which the Church invites us to realize their awful reality and power in “this world.” For Sin and Evil have not disappeared, but, on the contrary, still constitute the basic law of the world and of our life. On what side, with whom would we have been, had we lived in Jerusalem under Pilate? This is the question addressed to us in every word of Holy Friday Services. It is, indeed, the day of this world, its real and not symbolic condemnation and the real and not the ritual, judgment on our life... It is the revelation of the true nature of the world, which preferred then and still prefers, darkness to light, evil to good, death to life. Having condemned Christ to death, “this world” has condemned itself to death and inasmuch as we accept its spirit, its sin, its betrayal of God— we are also condemned... Such is the first and dreadfully realistic meaning of Great Friday; a condemnation to death.
But this day of Evil, of its ultimate manifestation and triumph, is also the day of Redemption. The death of Christ is revealed to us as the saving death for us and for our salvation.
It is a saving Death because it is the full, perfect and supreme Sacrifice. Christ gives His Death to His Father and He gives His Death to us. To His Father because, as we shall see, there is no other way to destroy death, to save men from it and it is the will of the Father that men be saved from death. To us because in very truth Christ died instead of us. Death is the natural fruit of sin, an immanent punishment. Man chose to be alienated from God, but having no life in himself, he dies. Yet there is no sin and, therefore, no death in Christ. He accepts to die only by love for us. He wants to assume and to share our human condition to the end. He accepts the punishment of our nature, as He assumed the whole burden of human predicament. He dies because He has truly identified Himself with us, has indeed taken upon Himself the tragedy of man’s life. And because His dying is love, compassion and co-suffering, in His death the very nature of death is changed. From punishment it becomes the radiant act of love and forgiveness, the end of alienation and solitude. Condemnation is transformed into forgiveness.
And finally, His death is a saving death because it destroys the very source of death: evil. By accepting it in love, by giving Himself to His murderers and permitting their apparent victory, Christ reveals that, in reality, this victory is the total and decisive defeat of Evil. To be victorious Evil must annihilate the Good, must prove itself to be the ultimate truth about life, discredit the Good and, in one word, show its own superiority. But throughout the whole Passion it is Christ and He alone who triumphs. The Evil can do nothing against Him, for it cannot make Christ accept Evil as truth. Hypocrisy is revealed as Hypocrisy, Murder as Murder, Fear as Fear, and as Christ slowly moves towards the Cross and the End, as the human tragedy reaches its climax, His triumph, His victory over the Evil, His glorification become more and more obvious. And at each step this victory is acknowledged, confessed, proclaimed— by the wife of Pilate, by Joseph, by the crucified thief, by the centurion. And He dies on the Cross having accepted the ultimate horror of death: absolute solitude ( My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me!?), nothing remains but to confess that “truly This was the Son of God!...” And, thus, it is this Death, this Love, this obedience, this fullness of Life that destroy what made the universal destiny. “And the graves were opened...” (Matthew 27:52). Already the rays of resurrection appear.
Such is the double mystery of Holy Friday and its services reveal it and make us participate in it. On the one hand there is the constant emphasis on the Passion of Christ as the sin of all sins, the crime of all crimes. Throughout Matins during which the twelve Passion readings make us follow step by step the sufferings of Christ, at the Hours (which replace the Divine Liturgy: for the interdiction to celebrate the Eucharist on this day means the sacrament of Christ’s presence does not belong to “this world” of sin and darkness, but it is the sacrament of the “world to come”) and finally at Vespers, the services of Christ’s burial, the hymns and readings are full of solemn accusations of those who willingly and freely decided to kill Christ, justifying their practical considerations and their professional obedience.
But, on the other hand, the sacrifice of love which prepares the final victory is also present from the very beginning. From the first Gospel reading (John 13: 31) which begins with the solemn announcement of Christ: “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God has glorified Himself in Him.”
“When Thou, the Redeemer of all, Hast been laid for all in the new tomb. Hades, the respecter of none, saw Thee and crouched in fear. The bars broke, the gates were shattered, the graves were opened, the dead arose. Then Adam, thankfully rejoicing, cries out to Thee Glory to Thy Humiliation, O Merciful Master.”
And when, at the end of Vespers, we place in the center of the Church the image of Christ in the tomb, when this long day comes to its end, we know that we are at the end of the long history of salvation and redemption. The Seventh Day, the day of rest, the blessed Sabbath, comes with it— the revelation of the Life-giving Tomb.