Below is a glimpse into the recent life of our small parish in Fenton, MI.
Nativity of Christ 2018
Justin’s (Wes) Swearing Into Office
On Monday, December 17th, at the Livingston County Commissioner Board Chambers, Justin Nakagiri took the Oath of Office, after being elected as a Livingston County Commissioner. After the swearing in, Fr. Gabriel offered some prayers and blessings for the beginning of Justin’s tenure as a commissioner! After the service, all of the board members present were anointed with the Holy Oil which flows from the Weeping Icon.
“O Lord Jesus Christ our God, do Thou accept our fervent prayers, and bless the good intent and work of this Thy Servant Wes Justin, that he may begin favorable, and my complete his work for the county, unto Thy glory, and without any obstacle. Do Thou assist him and direct the work of his hands, and cause it to be brought speedily to completion by the power of Thy Most Holy Spirit. For Thine it is to show mercy and to save us, O Our God, and unto Thee do we sent up glory, together with Thy Father Who is without beginning, and Thy Most-Holy Good and Lifegiving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages!”
Baptism of Addie Elizabeth
On Sunday, December 9th, the parish family of St. Mary Magdalene welcomed the newly baptized warrior for Christ Addie Elizabeth to the Holy Orthodox Faith! She was blessed to have relics of her new patroness present to offer prayers for her before the throne of God!
During the homily for the day, Fr. Gabriel talked about the journey that the relics of St. Elizabeth took to get to St. Mary Magdalene in Fenton. Through that journey, we can learn a lot about the type of person Addie’s patroness was:
“This bone was there…when Elizabeth was born in the latter half of the 19thcentury. It no doubt spent time in a very luxurious crib, because she was a member of the Royal Household of Russia. As she grew older, Elizabeth was married and converted to Holy Orthodoxy. Despite her high position in society, she understood the importance that every human being had in the eyes of God…and spent a majority of her time organizing women’s groups to help the sick and needy in the streets of Moscow.
This bone was there…and it no doubt shook with indescribable sorrow, when on a cold February Day, Elizabeth watched as her husband was killed by an assassin’s bomb in the middle of the street.
And after a period of mourning over her lost spouse, Elizabeth did something that many of us could not imagine doing: She went and sought out her husband’s killer in prison, purchased a beautiful icon for him in his cell, and urged him to seek repentance for the evil that he had done in his life.
Elizabeth’s thoughts didn’t dwell on pity for herself…she didn’t seek revenge out of anger…she simply saw the soul of a lost human being, whom she knew that God loved…and cared for it with a Grace that goes beyond human logic.
This bone was there…when Elizabeth began to withdraw from her palace life, and entered into the Convent of St. Martha and Mary. She sold all of her nice clothes and jewels and distributed them to the poor. She moved out of her palace, and into a cell, and began to live her life as a nun. She continued to nurse the sick and the wounded…especially during the first World War, when she volunteered and hospitals on the battle front…seeing horrors that many of us could not imagine in our worst nightmares.
This bone was present…and was filled with deep sorrow when Elizabeth got the news that her brother in law, Tzar Nicholas II, was forced to abdicate the throne, and put under house arrest in Ekaterinburg by the Communists. She ignored the calls of her friends, warning her to abandon the convent and flee the country…putting her trust completely in God, and not worrying about the kingdoms of men. Then on Pascha in 1918, as she was shouting “Christ is Risen” with her sisters, Soviet soldiers stormed her convent, and ordered her to leave Moscow, in order to join the rest of the royal family in seclusion. So she left with one of her faithful sisters, Sister Barbara…and began her march towards the everlasting kingdom.
This bone was present…as soldiers took Elizabeth and Barbara to a place in the woods, and threw them both down a mine shaft along with other members of the Royal Family. As they landed on the hard ground, they knew that they would soon be in the embrace of the Heavenly Father, after they watched one of the soldiers throw a grenade into the entrance of the mine.
This bone was present…as villagers who heard the explosion rushed to the mineshaft, and heard the beautiful voices of Barbara and Elizabeth…who despite being fatally wounded and in tremendous amounts of pain, were spending their last waking moments singing hymns to the mother of God, and the Holy Trinity. Even in the face of death, with great pain and difficulty, did they offer praise to the God of Love, who was about to deliver them from torments.
This bone was present, when a few weeks later, the pro-tzarist armies came and took the holy relics of Elizabeth and Barbara out of the country…and buried them in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. Eventually the bodies were exhumed, they were glorified as Saints of the Church, and this bone made it’s way over seas, and eventually found its way here to our little church in the woods, with the blessing of one of our sister churches.
Opening of the Church School, 2018-2019
The faithful of St. Mary Magdalene opened up the 2018-2019 Church School Year by offering some prayers for all of the children of the parish, asking God to strengthen them, open their minds to the understanding of the Gospel, and to be a good example for the rest of the world.
May God continue to bless and keep them for many more blessed years in His service!
Welcoming a New Warrior for Christ to the Ranks!
Ordination to the Diaconate
The Parish Family of St. Mary Magdalene wishes to send it's congratulations to the newly ordained servant of God Dcn. David Shephard! Axios! Axios! Axios!
2018 First Responders Blessing
Baptism of Luke Shephard
“Having preserved the gift of the Holy Spirit, and increased the measure of Grace committed unto them, grant that they may receive the praise of their high calling, and be numbered with the first born whose names are written in heaven."
On July 8th, the parish celebrated the Baptism of Luke Shephard, son of Subdeacon David and Sara, and grandson of Tina and Scott. Congratulations to the entire family, and to the God parents Reader Gregory and Tricia! May God grant you all many blessed years in His service!
Registration Opens for Vacation Church School!
We are excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2018 Pan Orthodox Vacation Church School! This year, the theme is "Noah's Ark". The program will run from August 6th to August 9th, from 6-8:30 PM. The cost is only $12 dollars per child, and is for children from Pre-School to Sixth Grade.
If you would like to register your children, or would like to volunteer to help out at this year's Vacation Church School, please click the following link:
Visitation of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God
A Once in a lifetime miracle
On June 29th and 30th, our parish family was blessed to welcome well over a thousand pilgrims to our little Church in the woods to witness a true miracle: An Icon of the Mother of God and her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, weeping in the middle of the Church.
The above video shows footage of the icon weeping over the head of our Archbishop Alexander, as well as remarks made by His Eminence after one of the Divine Services with the Icon.
Monastery Pilgrimage 2018
From March 12th-March 14th, several parishioners of St. Mary Magdalene set off on a journey to the oldest Orthodox Monastery in the country--St. Tikhon's in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Elwood City, PA
Along our journey, we were able to stop for a quick visit to Holy Transfiguration Monastery. We were able to celebrate Lenten Services with the nuns and were given a tour of the Monastery where we learned of it's history. The monastery was founded in 1967 by Mother Alexandra (the former Princess Ileana of Romania), whose dream it was to provide a place where American Orthodox women, from all ethnic backgrounds, to come live the monastic life and benefit from a liturgical cycle of the Church in English. This dream was eventually realized at Holy Transfiguration Monastery!
Before we departed, we were graciously given a delicious Lenten lunch prepared by the sisters.
St. Tikhon's Monastery, South Canaan, PA
After departing Elwood City, we took the long drive through Pennsylvania to our final destination: St. Tikhon's Monastery.
We arrived on a very snowy evening to the open arms of the monks and seminarians. While at the Monastery, our pilgrims were able to celebrate Lenten Hours, Matins and a Presanctified Liturgy with the brotherhood and students at the Monastery and Seminary.
Fr. Sergius, Abbot of the Monastery, was gracious enough to offer us a tour of the OCA Metropolitan Museum, where we were able to see some incredible history of the Orthodoxy Church.
After a day of walking around the beautiful monastery grounds, nestled on top of the Pocono Mountains, Fr. Herman of the monastery gave us a talk about the Myrrh Streaming Icon of St. Anna, which was held in the Monk's Private Quarters.
The group ended its trip with a visit and blessing from Archbishop Mark of Eastern Pennsylvania, as well as with His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman, who gifted the pilgrims with relics of St. Alexis Toth's tomb..
The Weeping Icon of the "Kardiotisa" (Tender Heart), Taylor, PA
As for one of the highlights of the trip, our Pilgrims were beyond blessed to have a nearly four hour visit with the miraculous myrrh streaming Icon of the Kardiotisa.
While we waited for the priest to come show us the Icon, we sang hymns with an Akathist to the Theotokos as the Mother of God literally wept tears onto the floor of the church. Our pilgrims witnessed a miracle of myrrh gushing forth from the Icon, at some points literally filling the hands of those present with the fragrant tears.
The First Week of Great Lent
"My Soul My Soul Arise! Why Are You Sleeping? Awake Then and Be Watchful, That Christ our God May Spare You, for He is Everywhere and Fills All Things!"
The Canon of St. Andrew
The first week of Great Lent began with The Canon of St. Andrew of Crete and the Evening Compline Service, which was done by candlelight. The imagery and power of this ancient service helps us get into a proper mindset as we enter into the season of repentance.
On the first Sunday of Great Lent, we were blessed with some sunshine. After Divine Liturgy, we processed outside with all of our icons to celebrate Orthodoxy Sunday, which commemorates the restoration of icons to Christianity in the 9th Century.
Orthodox Clean Week
With services every day of the first week of Lent, some traditions call this first week Clean Week. This prepares our souls and hearts for the journey that we will all make with Christ towards Golgotha and His Glorious Resurrection.