Although His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph was unable to join us because of an unavoidable conflict in his schedule, we were pleased and grateful to receive His Grace, Bishop John, who is the Vicar Bishop for all the Western Rite parishes.
Bishop John presided over Saturday Vespers, Sunday Lauds and Sunday Mass. Near the conclusion of Vespers, His Grace tonsured Lazaro Mancilla as a Reader. Between Lauds and Mass, His Grace blessed the new installed icons of Twelve holy Fathers, and St Michael the Archangel, the parish patron.
Following the Mass, His Grace was fêted at a banquet sponsored by the Antiochian Women of St Michael’s. During the banquet, Ralph Jenney, Parish Council President, acknowledged other guests: Fr Stephen Herney, previous Pastor of the parish and initiator of the icon project; and Dom Theodore, Prior of Our Lady and St Laurence Western Rite Monastery in Canon City, CO.
Fr John expressed gratitude to Deacon Stephen Holley and his wife, Mary Patty, whose initial gift helped seed the Nave Icon project. He also thanked the Kiralla family and others who donated to the Eddie Kiralla Beautification Memorial Fund. These funds provided for custom made clergy sedilia and kneelers.
Brother Lazarus, the Iconographer and a monk at the Canon City monastery, explained in moving detail that, from floor to clerestory, the Nave Icons tell the story of our salvation: from creation, to pilgrimage, to offering the world to God, to the draining Passion of Our Lord, to His connection as human and divine, culminating in our heavenward goal of standing with the saints who point us to the Eucharistic banquet in the kingdom that has no end.
Fr John then proceeded to lay out the vision for the Sanctuary Icon Project (Phase II). As the center piece, this project hopes to depict, around the altar, Our Lord’s crucifixion surrounded by the female and male saints. The transepts hope to depict the Annunciation and the Ascension, with emphasis on the angelic roles. The project will also include medallions of Twelve significant holy Mothers on the balcony wall, together with the Last Judgment scene.
Introduced by “Many Years Master” (St Michael’s choir) and “O Thou Priest and Bishop” (St Michael’s chanters), Bishop John conveyed the love and care of Metropolitan Joseph. Then His Grace described the meaning of icons, and their importance in our Christian life. He also reminded us, earlier, that the addition of icons indicates a parish that is growing both numerically and spiritually.