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Outreach Day 91

Monday March 13

Returned from being out of town last week and the weekend.
Today was a bona fide Admin day. Answering calls, (and writing) texts, and emails.
This, on top for recovery from being out of town. Thank God.

Outreach Day 86 thru Day 90

Wednesday March 8 through Sunday March 12

A necessary trip had me away from Mission work. But thank God, we ttravelled safely and returned home safely.

Mission Outreach Day 72-Day 85

Wednesday February 22 thru Tuesday March 7

The schedule is always full, thank God. Whether its answering emails, responfonig to texts, taking phone calls, or
traveling to the Missions to serve services. Additionally, the schedule remains full with all the blessings along with it,
visiting folks, house blessings, meeting with new inquirers, and preparing catechumens. These two weeks were full
of liturgical changes too, the usual ones that usher us into the Great Fast. I was blessed to serve in Clinton with Mitered
Archpriest Paul Yerger for Forgiveness Sunday. Clean week was a blessing of services; Great Compline and the Canon
as well as The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. The First Sunday of the Fast, I served in Columbus. We held a beautiful
procession afterwards around the Church with Holy Icons.

Mission Outreach Day 71

Tuesday February 21

A little more admin work today. Then I headed into Columbus to serve Vespers.

Mission Outreach Day 70

Monday February 20

The day was dedicated to Admin work and catching up. I was blessed to be
able to have an online discussion to offer spiritual support and guidance.

Mission Outreach Day 69

Sunday February 19

Today I served Liturgy in McComb. We had a new young couple visit, in addition to our
great usual crowd. It’s a great blessing to have the church filled with new folks. After Liturgy,
our fellowship was wonderful. I offered a catechumen class for our three catechumens. We
headed back home, a 3 hour drive. I made it just in time to begin our online book club. Our initial
meeting went well. We are reading through and discussing “The prayer of a broken heart: An
Orthodox Christian reflection on African American Spirituality” by Fr. Paul Abernathy. It’s my
prayer and intention that this discussion is the beginning of a larger outreach in our state.

Mission Outreach Day 68

Saturday February 18

Concluded my run for the week. After over a year of not quite running, I’ve pick it back
up, thank God. I completed 10 miles this week. Served Vespers in McComb. We are consistently
getting a few folks for Vespers, which is great considering they mostly drive from a good distance
and we have a dozen adults as regular parishioners.

Mission Outreach Day 67

Friday February 17

In the morning, I drove to Holy Cross to serve Hours and Typika. We had six folks attend.
It was a wonderful service. We had two folks who haven’t visited an Orthodox Church before.
Afterwards, we chatted together for quite a bit. I packed up and headed back up north. In the
evening, I served the Akathist at St. Catherine.

Mission Outreach Day 66

Thursday February 16

I was able to fit in a run today. This is helping get me back into the routine. This
exercise is a help for me to relieve stress and to (hopefully) help me get into better
shape. In the evening I served the Akathist. A great blessing!

Mission Outreach Day 65

Wednesday February 15

Admin work in the morning, then I drove into Hattiesburg. I was able to get some
outreach in around town, then I headed to Vespers. Afterwards, we had some fellowship
at dinner. We spoke with a young man about Orthodoxy and the Church.

Mission Outreach Day 64

Tuesday February 14

Vespers at St. Catherine today. A great blessing, thank God!

Mission Outreach Day 63

Monday February 13

Today I had lunch with one of the area folks. Someone from last week. We visited
a small diner in a town that’s a dot on the map. Again, I met several locals. It was a
great joy to be able to make these connections.

Mission Outreach Day 62

Sunday February 12
Divine Liturgy in Hattiesburg. Afterwards, we had our monthly meeting. It went well.
Folks are very excited about some upcoming projects. We are hopeful that we can finish
most of them before Pascha. After the meeting, I held our catechumen class. We are up
to 7 catechumens, thank God!

Mission Outreach Day 61 Saturday February 11

Saturday February 11

I served Vespers in Hattiesburg today.

Mission Outreach Day 60

Friday February 10

Spent the day reorganizing and regrouping to prepare for outreach. 

Mission Outreach Day 59

Thursday February 9

Last day of Conference, Hierarchical Liturgy, Brunch, meeting with Met. Tikhon,
Archbishop Alexander, and Bishop Gerasim. Plane left in the evening, then arrived
in Jackson late. Drove back home after that.

Mission Outreach Day 58

Wednesday February 8

A full day at the conference. A blessing to attend and to have this time in fellowship with the clergy.

Mission Outreach Day 57

Tuesday February 7

Travelled to Pastoral Conference in Lexington, KY. Hosted by St. Athanasius Orthodox
Church. Arrived in the early afternoon. I was on the same flight as His Beatitude Met. Tikhon,
our Primate. I was able to make my way down to baggage before him. Several folks we waiting
to greet the Met and to sing Eis Polla for him. I was able to join them, it was a great experience!

Mission Outreach Day 56

Sunday February 6

A great outreach day today. I met for lunch with someone who has long had ties to Orthodox in
Mississippi. I got a bit of history and he introduced me to several locals. This was a great opportunity
to make connections. Later in the day, I visited with some of the local Ukrainians in their home. It was
a great visit and another good opportunity to make a connection. Late in the evening, I headed to Jackson
to stay overnight. I have an early flight to catch tomorrow morning for the Pastoral conference being held
in Kentucky.


Mission Outreach Day 55

Sunday February 5

It was a blessing to have two visitors today at St. Catherine, along with some of our usual folks.

Mission Outreach Day 54

Saturday February 4

I served Vespers this evening at St. Catherine. We had a special visitor who is from around the area.
He’s long had ties to Orthodoxy in Mississippi and has a special connection with Holy Resurrection
in Clinton. He and his wife stayed after to introduce themselves and chat a bit. It was a blessing to have
this visit and interaction with them. He mentioned he’d be attending Liturgy tomorrow, which I certainly
look forward to.


Mission Outreach Day 53

Friday February 3

Today was spent as an admin day. After getting back from our trip to Arizona, we had a lot of catching
up to do. Thank God! I made a send and responded to emails and calls for lots of folks. I occasionally
get calls from folks in other states for help getting connected to the local Orthodox community. I was
blessed to talk with a gentleman today in this situation. I also was able to talk with a lady from the Ukrainian
community in the area. I am hoping I can continue to make connections.

Mission Outreach Day 52

Thursday February 2

After a refreshing rest, we got our breakfast and headed out. The temperature had risen
and the ice was receding. It was a little bit of an improvement, but not much. Unfortunately,
the Ice storm was pretty brutal. This was indicated by the half dozen 18 wheelers over turned
and left on the side of the road. We also so as many passenger vehicles in the same condition.
Though we had a long trip and we had to drive a bit slower, Thank God, we didn’t see any
more bad weather or traffics or wrecks. We arrived back at our home very late, near midnight.
Blessed Feast!

Mission Outreach Day 51

Wednesday February 1

We headed back home, starting our two day trek. The first stop was St. Paisius
monastery in Safford, AZ. We were blessed to be received for lunch. Afterwards,
we spent time walking the grounds and praying in the church. Though I have been
blessed to visit before, it’s always a great joy to come back again. We started back
on the road after a few hours. It was mostly good, though the last four hours were
a bit concerning. Again, we drove through an ice storm. Finally, after over 11 hours,
we arrived at our place for the night. There was Ice everywhere. Thankfully, the roads
and streets weren’t too bad, but there were indications it had been.

Mission Outreach Day 50

Tuesday January 31

Our Last day on our trip in AZ. We were blessed to spend time with family and friends.

Mission Outreach Day 49

Monday January 30

I woke up a little early today to get ready for Divine Liturgy. Fr. James was
offering the Liturgy for the feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs. Unfortunately,
I was a little late. I had a hard time fining my riassa and that set me back 20 mins.
Still, it was a tremendous blessing to attend the Liturgy this morning. I was able
to chat a little more with Fr. James after the Liturgy.

Mission Outreach Day 48

Sunday January 29
It always a great joy to visit St. John the Evangelist and to visit with and serve
with Fr. Andre. Matushka and I were received into the church here. It’s a little
like going home. Over the years, a lot of work has gone into the community
of St. John’s.

Mission Outreach Day 47

Saturday January 28

A great blessing to attend Great Vespers at St. Ignatius Church.
They are blessed with a beautiful property. May God expand their
continued efforts!

Mission Outreach Day 46

Friday January 27

Another day to visit with family and friends.

Mission Outreach Day 45

Thursday January 26

We spent today with family.

Mission Outreach Day 44

Wednesday January 25

Our first day, I was blessed to be able to visit St. Anthony’s monastery in Florence.
I prayed for everyone I could think and their intentions, as well as others who had
asked me to pray for them. We stayed for Vespers.

Mission Outreach Day 43

Tuesday January 24

Our second leg of the trip out to AZ today. Around noon, we ran into a snow storm…
in WEST TEXAS!!! It was a bit crazy, but thank God, it wasn’t too bad. We arrived to
our destination safely around 8pm.

Mission Outreach Day 42

Monday January 23 

This morning we left for our trip to Arizona. It takes at least two full days to drive.

Mission Outreach Day 41

Sunday January 22

We had a good crowd for Divine Liturgy this morning. We had a few Orthodox folks
from the surrounding area visit today. They usually attend Holy Resurrection in Clinton.
We have been blessed to have several newer parishioners join in the last six months. Coupled
with our three catechumens, today was a very lively bunch, thank God! The church had quite
a few kids today, probably more than it’s ever had all at once for Sunday Liturgy.

Mission Outreach Day 40

Saturday January 21

Today I was blessed to serve Vespers at the Mission in McComb.
It’s always a joy to serve this wonderful Community.

Mission Outreach Day 39

Friday January 20

Today was tied up with admin work and preparations for the weekend, including our coming
trip to Arizona. I am so grateful that I was able to drive into Columbus this evening to serve
Akathist. It’s always a joy to be able to pray the Akathist. Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

Mission Outreach Day 38

Thursday January 19/January 6

I drove into Hattiesburg to serve Festal Divine Liturgy for Holy Theophany. What an amazing
service. We had a good crowd for this joyous occasion. Afterwards, we had a brief fellowship
and then headed over to Lake Terrace Convention Center have the Blessing of the Water outdoors.
This is a very visible area and folks in traffic certainly saw us. The weather was gorgeous, like the
park that was the site of the blessing. We then headed back up north.

Mission Outreach Day 37

Wednesday January 18/Jan 5

Today I travelled down to Hattiesburg. I brought everything needed to prepare for Vespers for
our Julian calendar celebration of Theophany. It’s a great blessing to be able to offer this service
for Holy Cross in Hattiesburg. It provides them with a more robust liturgical life. I served Festal
Vespers and afterwards I served the blessing of the water (indoors).

Mission Outreach Day 36

Tuesday January 17/Jan 4

Today I received a call from a local woman. She is connected to the group of Ukrainian refuges in our area.
I am so thankful to have this new connection. It makes me very hopeful. The woman was very kind and was
inquiring about help for a Ukrainian lady to visit St. Catherine. We chatted a while and I assured her of our help.
God-Willing, we will be able to meet this lady and several other refugees. I asked he to let them know I am
happy to drive to meet them and to offer prayers for them in their homes. Later, I travelled into Columbus this
evening and served Vespers.

Mission Outreach Day 35

Monday January 16/Jan 3

More car maintenance today. This is a periodic part of mission work in the modern age.
"At this point, I put so many miles on the road. Thank God!

Mission Outreach Day 34

Sunday January 15/Jan 2

This morning I served Divne Liturgy at St. Catherine. It was a great joy to have Deacon Rupert (from Alabama)
and his family join us. What a blessing to be able to serve with a deacon. It’s a special spiritual delight for a priest.
We need more deacons in the church, not doubt about it. There are many things during the Liturgy the deacon properly
does, but when not present, the priest does. Somehow the Liturgy feels more complete (though it never lacks anything)
when a deacon serves with the priest. We also had a special visitor who shared an amazing story. One of his family members
grew up just around the corner from St. Catherine. This is why our little missions are so important, especially in smaller
towns. There are so many folks from Mississippi that have converted to Orthodoxy, but don’t live here anymore. And there
are so many more folks in Mississippi that don’t even know what Orthodoxy is. If our little missions don’t spread all over, our
voice won’t be heard. But if we really buckle down and put in the work, I think we will find so many people who’ve been waiting
their whole lives (and even generations) to encounter the true Faith and Church.

Mission Outreach Day 33

Saturday January 14/Jan 1

Today I served Great Vespers in Columbus at St. Catherine.

Mission Outreach Day 32

Friday January 13 (Dec 31)

I headed to Holy Cross this morning to pray the Hours. (I made certain I had my keys, lol)
The hours are usually relegated to just before Sunday Liturgy in Missions. That’s because
Matins is not often served in smaller communities. Both of these instances are unfortunate.
Matins is such a beautiful, theologically filled service. It does require much more familiarity
and choir practice to serve. It’s totally worth it though. The hours, as well, are beautiful. By
serving them on Friday mornings, they get a little more visibility. What a joy! After the hours
I headed back to North Mississippi home to regroup. Then in the evening I drove into Columbus
to serve the Akathist. What an edifying prayer!


Mission Outreach Day 31

Thursday January 12 (Dec 30)

I spent a substantial amount of time doing outreach today in Hattiesburg. I travelled
to the Mall and a couple of other spots around town. Part of outreach is to cast a wide
net. Hattiesburg claims to have 50,000 folks, but in reality the metropolitan area is
more like 130,000+. I ended the day at the Church with the intention of serving an
Akathist. Unfortunately, upon arriving, I realized I didn’t have my keys. A few folks
and I were hoping another member with keys would show for service, but we were out
of luck. We hung around for 25 minutes and had a little mini-fellowship instead. It’s
not a substitute for Akathist, but even a little bit of fellowship like this is definitely a blessing!

Mission Outreach Day 30

Wednesday January 11 (Dec 29)

After getting a few things ready in the morning, I got ready and headed to Hattiesburg.
I was able to get in some time for outreach at the local café. Then I headed to Vespers
at Holy Cross. We are getting more and more folks attending the Wednesday Vespers.
Thank God! This provides a great foundation for our future mission work in Hattiesburg.

Mission Outreach Day 29

Tuesday January 10 (Dec 28)

Today I worked on catching up with some administrative things during the morning.
Emails, calls, etc. Then I headed into Columbus for mission outreach. I focused my
time in one spot. I contact USM and made a few calls to connect with them, hoping to
organize an event or speaking opportunity. I was directed to the department head of the
Humanities. I sent her a kind of long email about a few ideas I have. Hopefully, something
will come of it. I also spoke with a few folks in Columbus. Then I headed to Church to
serve Vespers.

Mission Outreach Day 28

Monday January 9 (Dec 27)

This morning I travelled back to our home in North Mississippi to prepare for the week of outreach.
The past week left me worn out. It was in some ways like a mini-holy week. At the same time, it was
filled with Grace and Joy. What an abundance of blessings! I had intended to do some outreach in
Columbus today. Unfortunately, I came home to a burst water pipe in the yard. Apparently, it had burst
sometime over the weekend while we were away. The yard was flooded. I spent the rest of the day
digging up the pipe, diagnosing the actual break, and repairing it pipe. Thank God it wasn’t an expensive
fix at all. But, it did take most of the day and some of the evening to complete.

Mission Outreach Day 27

Sunday January 8 (Dec 26)

Today we headed into Clinton for baptisms and Divine Liturgy. Three children (including our) were baptized.
What a blessing, what a blessing! After Divine Liturgy was a wonderful fellowship in the hall. Then, we were
invited over to a parishioner’s house for coffee. After a few hours of hospitality, we headed to the reservoir. A
Pan-Orthodox blessing of the water is done here every year. I was blessed to be able to attend this year. Priests
and faithful from the area OCA, Greek, and Antiochian churches attended. How wonderful it is when brothers
dwell in unity!  We decided to stay the night at the family property down this way instead of heading back up to
Starkville. We wanted to be present for our family member who is still recovering from their accident. Thank
God, they are recovering well. We will head home tomorrow.

Mission Outreach Day 26

Saturday January 7 (Dec 25)

Another glorious day this morning. We make six folks catechumens. This bring our total to seven in Hattiesburg.
What a joy to see all our Missions growing. I served the Divine Liturgy for Holy Nativity (old calendar). I am
grateful to my Hierarch for his blessing to offer the services on the old calendar for Hattiesburg. Several folks here
either grew up or were long attending churches on the Julian calendar. While there isn’t any kind of judgement with
these folks, Vladyka’s blessing to serve these folks allows them to at least have Nativity and Theophany services
with a priest. And it keeps the Missions from missing out. One of our folks wrote an article for the papers in the area,
but unfortunately no one published it. Regardless, we had 30 folks at Liturgy this morning. Such a blessing and a beautiful
service. We had a new visitor as well. After Liturgy we had a wonderful fellowship; the festal joy was palatable. We left,
utterly exhausted! However, a few hours later I was on the road again. I headed up to Clinton for Vespers. On my way, I
stopped and visited a parishioner. I prayed the 8th day prayers for her and their newest little one. About 7 families either
have had a child recently or are expecting (we’re one of those families). What a joy! Tomorrow, a few will be baptized
(including our newest).

Mission Outreach Day 25

Friday January 6 (Dec 24)

Today I headed into Columbus to serve the morning Liturgy for Holy Theophany. What a beautiful service.
Matushka ended her forty days and we did the prayers for our newest child. We all chatted a bit afterwards
and got a little coffee and sustenance before we headed out to friendship cemetery. We held the Blessing of
the water there at the lake. A gorgeous service. My family and I headed home to pack up, then we travelled
to Madison, MS for confession. It’s vital for priests and his family to confess, just like anyone else. We are
so thankful for our brother priests for their support and prayers. From there, we headed to the family property
near Hattiesburg to stay the night. Tomorrow, I serve Liturgy in Hattiesburg.

Mission Outreach Day 24

Thursday January 5 (Dec 23)

I was able to do a bit of outreach today in Columbus, then I headed over to the Church. Some
local Orthodox who just discovered our Mission had had a family member die recently. They
called me last week to arrange a Panikhida. Tonight, before Vespers, we served this memorial.
Some of the family were only in town for a short period of time, so this was a solace for them.
Afterwards, I served Great Vespers for Holy Theophany and a blessing of the waters.

Mission Outreach Day 23

Wednesday January 4 (Dec 22)

Today I headed into Hattiesburg. Stopped by the coffeehouse/café for some outreach. Then
I headed over to the Church to serve Vespers. The I headed back up to home in the Starkville
area. I’ve been in touch with a few folks at the Mission who are inquirers. God-Willing, we
will be making them catechumens on Saturday morning.

Mission Outreach Day 22

Tuesday January 3 (Dec 21)

This morning we saw some storms that had moved in overnight, this prevented me from traveling to a funeral
I had planned on attending. The morning storms brought tornadic conditions. Unfortunately the storm covered
and hovered over the area I had to drive through. Around noon, the conditions cleared up. I headed to town to
get several things fixed with our vehicles. Some of it was routine maintenance, some was it emergency fixes. Since
I travel so much to do mission work and outreach, having a vehicle in shape is a necessary component. Thank God,
after the day was taken up by storms and vehicles, I was able to drive into Columbus to serve evening Vespers.

Mission Outreach Day 21

Monday January 2 (Dec 20)

Today, the day was taken up with helping out our family member who is recovering.

Mission Outreach Day 19/20

Saturday December 31/December 18 and Sunday January 1, 2023 (Dec 19)

The morning on Saturday was taken up with check ups and the process of dsicharge for our family member
from the hospital. Thank God, all went well through the night. But, we both had quite a bit of sleeplessness.
By 11:30am, we were back on the road, headed home. Our family memeber doesn't live in our town, but quite
a bit aways from us. While the surgery and recovery is doing great, they will be staying with us for another 
week or so. Then, we will drive them back to thier house. Thankfully, we have some other extended family that
can stay and help them wirth thier extened recovery. After getting them settled into our house with my wife and
family, I packed up for this weekend. I headed down to hattiesburg to serve Vespers. We have three new memebers
that are attending tonight. A couple who recently moved to Mississippi and another man from the Hattiesburg area
who is now an inquirer. Vespers was a great blessing to serve, exhausted as I was. Thank God!

Sunday, I served Divine Liturgy, again in Hattiesburg. Our little mission is really doing well, thank God! We had a
couple from Alabama who was visting family in our area, attend this morning. This was great crowd today. After Liturgy
I spoke with our visitors. Then, I spoke with a family and the man who is an inquirer about all of them being made 
catechumens. We are planning on doing this on Saturday for Nativity (Old Style). This will add three new adult catechumens
and three child catechumens for our Mission. We currently have one lady as a catechumen. Thank God! I spent about
an hour and a half with the catechumen folks in a catechumen class today. Many many blessings!
Afterwards, I headed back up to our home (3 hours north).

Mission Day Outreach 17/18

Thursday December 29/December 16 and Friday December 30/17, 2022

Both days were spent getting our family memeber to doctors visits and related events. for thier recovery. Friday, 
all day was spent driving to Oxford, where the surgery was. Then the afternoon getting admitted, Then the surgery.
After recovery, our family member was admitted for an overnight stay. I stayed with them in the hosptial to help keep
a watch. Also, for us it is a 2 hour drvie one way. By the time of recovery, it was already 6:30pm. Staying in the hospital
made the most sense.
The funeral for the local Orthodox man's wife was held up anmd he called to let me know it would possibly be sometime 
next week for the date to be set. I will continue working with him to get things scheduled when possible.

Mission Day Outreach Day 14/15/16

Monday December 26/December 13 thru Wednesday December 28/15, 2022

Late Sunday night, an extended family member staying with us fell and broke thier shoudler very badly, unfortunately.
We were at the ER very late/early in the morning. Thank God, the docs and nurses were able to get them stablized and 
taken care of. We were able to bring them home for recovery. With this being a major hiliday weekend and us living in 
the country, there wasn't much open. We were planning on a trip out of town for a visit to St. Tikhon's this week. A 
former parishnoer of mine is being ordained to the Holy priesthood. Our trip is cancelled as our family member needs
our help during this time. We spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday making sure they were comfortable and getting 
them to thier appointments, as well as getting thier prescriptions filled. Though a broken shoulder is very painful and an
all around rough situation for them, we are very grateful there was not any secondary issues. 
On Wednesday night, I was very blessed to be able to serve Vespers at St. Catherine. Just before the start of the service,
I was contacted by a man whose wife had recently reposed. They are Orthodox, but didn't know of the mission in Columbus.
They've asked that I serve the funeral for the reposed wife. Unfortunately, it is fairly common that folks are not aware of 
thier nearby Orthodox community. They have oftern lived in the area for awhile and our communities are newer. In getting
articles in the paper, doing street ministry, and increasing our presence in public, I'm hoping to become a lot more visible 
to folks. This is especially an aid in connecting with Orthodox that we don't even know are nearby.

Mission Outreach Day 13

Sunday December 25/December 12, 2022


Early this morning, I drove into Columbus to celebrate the feast of Holy Nativity.
A beauitful service, with the choir lifting up their joyful voices in praise of Christ.
Though a few folks were our of town travelling to spend time with family, we still
had most of our mission folks in attendance. Celebrating the Liturgy of the feast was
a great Joy! Afterwards, I headed home to spend the rest of the day with my family.
The article about St. Catherine Mission in Columbus and the traditions of celebrating
Christmas for Orthodox Chirstians was printed in the local Sunday news paper this morning.
A wonderful Christmas blessing and gift!

Here is the link:

Homemade Vareniki
Homemade Vareniki
Homemade Vareniki
Our table laden for Holy Night Supper
Our table laden for Holy Night Supper
Our table laden for Holy Night Supper
Our son reading the Holy Scripture
Our son reading the Holy Scripture
Our son reading the Holy Scripture
Mission Outreach Day 12

Saturday December 24/December 11, 2022

The Blessed Eve of Holy Nativity! Since our feast falls on a Sunday this year
it means that the liturgucal calendar has a variation in arrangemenrt for the 
Divine services. It's a great joy to be able to serve more services, to worship
togerther with folks in the missions a lot more during the week. It is a very much
needed grace for a priest! The prayers of the Chruch and the Divine services
sustain the ministry of the priesthood.  Today, I had the blessing to serve the Divine
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Usually, for Holy Nativity, the Eve of Nativity 
calls for a Vespers with Divine Liturgy arrangement. This is a unique service only
done a few times a year. In addition, this Liturgy is usually a Liturgy of St. Basil the
Great and St. John is served the next day. This is the case for Holy Theophany and
Holy Pascha. However, since the feast of Nativity falls on Sunday, the Liturgy of St.
Basil is served on the day and St. John served on the Eve. To add to that, the Vespers
is served separate from the Liturgy of St. John today. While it was cold outside, the joy
of the Nativity is already warming our hearts. 
Later after Liturgy, my family and I made our preparations for Holy Night Supper. This 
festive meal tradition was imparted to us by my ukrainain stepmother. I've celebrated it
with my family on Chirstmas Eve for nearly 20 years. We also look forward to it. We
prepare at least 7 dishes (12 is traditional). During my pastorate in South Carolina, we 
established the tradition of celebraring Holy Night supper at the church parish Hall. A
few Carpatho-Rusyn practices got melded into it, with the beloved hand of Betty Novak.
All the dishes are fasting style. No fish, but the usual shrimp/crab exception is allowed.
Also, wine is typically served. We gather pine straw and place it on the table. It reminds
us of the straw of the manger. We also place our three branch candle on the table. A candle
is lit for the Star, an angel that guided the wise men. Holy Scripture is read, prayers are 
prayed and the food is blessed. Garlic dipped in honey is eaten first. A reminder of the 
bitterness of sin and the sweetness of Christ's saving work for us. The meal, though a 
fasting style, is a festive one, in anticipation of the great coming Feast of Holy Nativity.

Mission Outreach Day 11

Friday December 23/December 10, 2022

I started my otureach this morning visiting the Coffeeshop in downtown
Columbus. From there I headed to Church. Last night we had some frigid
weather (and even snow). I wasn't sure if the roads would be too icy, but
they turned out to be ok, thank God. At Church I served the Royal hours.
What a great joy and blessing to be able to serve and pray! The rest of the
day I dedicated to various preparations for the weekend services for Holy
Nativity. I also took numerous phone calls and answered emails from Mission
parishoners. This is definately a busy time of year!

Mission Outreach Day 11

Thursday December 22/December 9, 2022

No services today. I travelled back to home from Hattiesburg.
I had received an email from one of the reporters from a newpaper
in Columbus. He called me today and I had an over the phone
interview with him. I am very thankful for this connection and this
opporunitiny. He said he would write an artilce about St. Catherine
in Columbus and tradtions of Orthodox Christians for Christmas.
I am hoping it will be in the Sunday newspaper. I'll be looking for the 
article. Even it's digital only, its definately a blessing!

Mission Outreach Day 10

Wednesday December 21/December 8, 2022

Today I headed down to Hattiesburg. I arrived in the
afternoon and went to a local coffeeshop. Again, I set up
to be visible and do some outreach. I was able to spend
several hours there, thank God. Afterwards, I went to Holy
Cross and served Vespers. We had a great group, about four
folks. I encouraged them in their prayers and dedication. A 
lot of Mission work involves consistency and just showing 
up. Its sometimes hard to understand how a 45 minute Vespers
on a Wednesday can help grow a Mission. But God works in
so many ways we can't see. Those blessed prayers we offer, even 
on a Wednesday with a small group are graces. Its such a joy
as a priest to be able to offer more services and to pray them. 
There is an unmatched sweetness of Grace and Joy that is only
found in being at the Church, praying those prayers. People often
have ideas about "how to spread Orthodoxy" and " how to grow
Missions". I don't want to say anything to discourage those efforts.
How blessed it is to have people thinking about these things and 
putting in the work. Thank God!!! What I know is that prayer,
especially in the beautiful liturgucal services of the Church, that
accomplishes so much. That definitely forms and grows Missions.
Fr. Atty said, when you walk into a Church, it should smell like a
Church. He meant, it should smell like incense. That means that the
prayers of the Church are prayed there. How sweet the scent is indeed!

Mission Outreach Day 9

Tuesday December 20/December 7, 2022

Today I started the day with morning prayres online. I hold online
prayers every monday through Friday each week (with a few 
exceptions). I stared this practice during late 2020 and have kept
it up since then. I read the daily Scriptures according to the liturgical
calendar and offer a five to 8 minute homilette on the Gospel. We have
4 to 9 people who form the group that attends. Its been such a joy to
be able to do this. A spent the moring with Admin things and emails.
After the noon hour, I attended an online meeting. It was the OCA 
clergy synaxis offered by the office of pastoral life. I have been looking
forward to this event. Fr. Marcus Burch was the presenter. Unfortinately,
I didn't hear the talk, but joined late and was able to spend 45 minutes with
some other clergy in a small group room. We had a great discussion about
parish adminstration and the priesthood. The meeting concluded with some
closing remarks by Fr. Marcus and Bishop Gerasim. I have attend several of
these online clergy meeting and I am so very gratfeul they are offered. I look 
forward to ones in the future. After the meeting I headed into Columbus. I 
stopped by the downtown coffeshop for a few hours of visibility and outreach.
From there I headed to St. Catherine to serve Vespers, which was a blessed 
way to finish the evening off.

Mission Outreach Day 8

Monday December 19/December 6, 2022

We had a mini-snow storm this morning. Of course, it wasn't much of a
storm, but for Mississippi, any snow is a wonderous event. It also tends
to shut things down. The snow only lasted for an hour or so. Then, it
disappeared without a trace. I headed into Columbus. My first stop was
the downtown coffeeshop. I had a great conversation with the young 
ukranian lady there and some of the other baristas. I am hoping that my
continued outreach efforts might help make some connections to the many
ukrainian refugees in Mississippi. After my fist stop, I headed down to the
riverwalk for a nice, but very chilly stroll along the river. Not surpisingly, the
cold kept any folks from visiting this park today (at least while I was there).
my final stop of the day was a visit to another coffee shop in another part of 
town. All day I had been wearing my new pin (homemade) which read "Ask 
me about Orthodoxy". Again today, no takers, but I only have one one week 
into this new outreach. Things will definately take some time. I reached out
again by phone, to another lady in the area that has a connection to a few
Ukrainian families in Starkville. Thankfully, she responded to and I got some
contact info for one family selling ukrainian food to help generate income for
themselves. I'll certainly be contacting this family to make a connection. Plus,
ukranian food is very tatsy and I hope I can at least help them in a small way 
by ordering some food from them.

Mission Outreach Day 6 and 7

Saturday December 17/December 4, 2022

I travelled down to McComb to serve Great Vespers. We have a newer, but dedicated
group of 4-5 folks who consistently attend. Its a real joy! We started a slightly newer
time, 5:30pm instead of 6:00pm. I discussed making catechumens some new folks, a
father and daughter. I decided we'd do this tomorrow morning before Liturgy.

Sunday December 18/December 5, 2022

Christ the Saviour in McComb is definately getting some new life. This morning before
Liturgy I made the father and daughter Catechumens. This means there are 3 catechumens
for this Mission. It's been many years since they've had any catechumens, what a Blessing!

Mission Outreach Day 5

Friday December 16/December 3, 2022

I drove into Hattiesburg this morning to pray the hours at Church.
Its such a great blessing as a priest to serve these additional services
at church. These thing might not seem like much, but what a great 
Grace. Its the kind of Grace that produces fruit we can't even see yet.
Afterwards I headed back to homebase up in North Central MS. Its about
a 3 hours drive. I got a little family time in. As evening was coming,
I headed out to St. Catherine in Columbus to serve the Advent Paraklesis.
On my way into church, a young man who occasionally hangs around the
church was walking down the street. We had a good (but brief) chat. He went
on his way to work, but like many times before, i know we'll seee him again
soon. After I pray the Paraklesis, I was struck with the peace and joy of an
amazin first week of outreach. Glory to God!

Mission Outreach Day 4

Thursday December 15/December 2, 2022

Today I started my outreach at a local coffeeshop near the Mission.
A lot of local fequent this spot, as well as college students (its near
USM, the university). An impoirtant part of my out reach is visibility.
This spot is a favortie of mine, so the baristas mostly are used to seeing
me (though its been a whole since my last visit). But for most folks, I
definately stick out, i'm noticable (a good thing). From there I went to 
the long leaf trace, a biking/hiking trail (44 miles long). It starts in downtown
H'burg. It runs along USM, so locals and students often visit this trail. Its
another great chance for visibility. After that I gead to the local Mall (yes,
they're still a thing in the South). In fact, it stays quite busy (especially the
food court, people still buy the $$$$ food to eat). I set up my "free advice" sign
for an opportinoity to chat. No takers. I think I'll make a larger button to pin 
on my vest: "ASK ME ABOUT ORTHODOXY". I'll be back to the soon to 
give folks some more opportunies to chat. After that I headed to the Mission.
I served the Advent Paraklesis. Beautiful service in preparation for Holy Nativity.
Its amazing that its almost time again to celebrate the Feast!


Mission Outreach Day 3

Wednesday December 14/December 1, 2022

Today we experienced an outbreak of rain thunderstorms, and tornadic conditions. A few tornadoes touched down
across the South, including in Mississippi. Unfortuantely, the weather condiditons lasting from morning to evening
kept me from travelling to Hattiesburg for outreach efforts. Our scheduled outreach day and evening Vespers had to
be cancelled. I spent the day shoring up contacts i've already through email and phone. I also took the opportunity 
to email several papers in Columbus, MS and submit aritcles and pictures about the celebration of Naitivity in 
Orthodox Churches. I included the Nativity schedule of services for St. Catherine this year. God-Willing, the articles
will be published and some folks will "come and see".

Mission Outreach Day 2

Tuesday December 13/November 30, 2022

I started my outreach today at a coffee shop in downtown Columbus. I made a few new connections and discussed
Orthodoxy and the local church with folks. After that, I headed to a local cafe around the corner. Here I met the 
owner and spoke with him about the church. One effective aspect of outreach is just visibility, being out where 
folks can see you. The next stop was the local park by the river that locals love to frequent. It was getting close to
Vespers time and I headed to church. At 6:00pm I served a daily vespers and spent some time afterwards visiting 
and discussing some additional outreach opportunities. Yesterday I had picked up some tickets to a performace of
Handel's Messiah which would be tonight at 8:00pm. This was another great opportunity to be seen by folks and 
maybe make more connections. The event was well attended and I am glad I went. 

Mission Outreach expanded Day 1

Monday December 12/November 29, 2022


By the Grace of God, by your prayers, and through your support and contributions, we've met (and surpassed) our fundraising on both GiveSendGo and GoFundMe.
We are very grateful to all who contributed and for those who continue to pray for us. Last week, Matushka and I welcomed our 7th child. I spent my extra time planning for the next three months. After consulting with the missions in Columbus and Hattiesburg, i've added several services to the schedule at each mission. I'll serve these each week. This adds a lot travel to my ministry, but it is well worth the travel. Additionally, I have added an entire day to spend in both Columbus and Hattiesburg as an outreach day. The outreach day is a day in which I walk around town, meet new folks, hand out invitations to church, invite folks to asj abotu Orthodoxy, and create connnections. 

Today was the first day of the 3 month outreach. I travelled into Columbus. I started at a local coffee shop I am familiar with. I was immediately introduced to an employee there who is from Ukraine. They we surprised to see an Orthodox priest and to discover that there is an Orthodox Church in town (literally blocks away from the coffee shop). They are a refugee from Ukraine. They explained to me that there are nearly 100 ukrainians in Mississippi who are refugees. I was informed of a group of Ukrainians in two nearby towns. I contacted two other people today who know the folks in those communities. God-Willing, I am able to make a connection. Many Orthodox who come to the US from abroad and move to small towns in rural areas find it difficult to believe there is an Orthodox priest near them, let alone an Orthodox Church. There can also be an ethnic dimension to this discernment. Some would not attend a "Greek" or "Romanian" or "Georgian" or "Serbian" Church, since this is a different cultural experience. It takes a bit of time for them to settle in and more fully comprehend the dynamics of the US in terms of Orthodoxy. By the Grace of God, I have travelled to Ukraine several times and have Ukrainian family. In fact, in my own household, we keep many important Ukrainian customs. This make me the closest thing to a Ukrainian priest other than being an actual Ukrainian priest. I pray that connections can be made with this local community. Who knows what kind of fruit will blossom forth?

I was able to visit another local shop and chat with several folks there as well. I visited the local park by the River for a longer walk. I chatted with a few foks there as well. My plan is to visit these shops once or twice each week and a few others as well. Tomorrow, after visiting a few places in Columbus, I'll serve Vespers. I hope to attend local event there which could also bring an opprotunity for further connections.


MMW: Feast of All Saints of North America

[A homily delivered by Fr. Alexis on the 2021 feast of All Saints of North America]

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints of North America. The first Sunday after Pentecost is always dedicated to All Saints of the Church everywhere. This Second Sunday is dedicated to the Saints that have be glorified in our specific lands or country. You might notice All Saints of Russia are also commemorated this day on the calendar. As our Church has Russian roots, it was our practice to celebrate all Russian Saints, but since have been blessed to have many Saints of America glorified, we celebrate both, with the feast of Saints of North America now taking prominence.

            This Feast as near and dear to me for several reasons. I am an Orthodox Christian born in America. I am so grateful we can honor and venerate those holy ones who have gone before us “never failing to worship God in Spirit and Truth”, faithfully living and preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ in our own lands. Among them are several missionaries who worked tirelessly to establish communities and build up already existing parishes in Alaska and even in various places in the lower 48 states. One such Missionary was the inexhaustible St. Jacob Netsvetov, Enlightener of the Native peoples of Alaska. Because of the remoteness of the Alaskan villages and due to the lack of available priests, St. Jacob was given the assignment of serving the Atka parish---which covered an area of 2000 miles. He built churches, schools, and established new Missions. From May of 1828 til his death in July of 1864, a mere 36 years, St. Jacob, this amazing mission priest, himself had baptized thousands of people, Chrismated over 400, and married and burial hundreds.
            My recent trip to Dallas to attend the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Gerasim reminded me in a few ways of why the today’s feast is especially dear to me. Many faithful, priests, and hierarchs gathered for the Divine Liturgy. It was definitely implausible to have every priest present concelebrate, so many priests, myself included, did not vest. When it came time for all the clergy to receive Holy Communion, those of us not serving, partially vested with stole and cuffs; a common practice for non-concelebrating clergy who are receiving Communion at the Altar. After concelebrating clergy received, us non concelebrating clergy filed up through the deacon door to the altar to receive Communion from the hand of Metropolitan Tikhon, who was presiding at the Liturgy that day.

The other hierarchs were seated around the back of the altar area. I had a moment, after receiving Holy Communion, to ask a blessing from our Diocesan Hierarch, Archbishop Alexander. As I walked away from His Eminence, I overheard him say to another Hierarch “that’s Fr. Alexis, my Mission priest for Mississippi”. Now, this isn’t formal title for me per se, but it really is quite literally what I do. Its why Matushka and I moved back down to Mississippi, where I’m from---for me to be the Mission priest who travels around the State to serve our Missions in Mississippi. This feast is dear to me because I work as a Mission priest, just like St. Jacob and the other American Missionary saints did.

The other way I was reminded of why todays’ feast is special to me was Fr. Paul being awarded the miter at this Divine Liturgy. I have a policy as a priest “I defer to Fr. Paul. When I don’t defer Fr. Paul, I defer to Fr. Paul.” I very much admire him and look up to him as a mentor and a model for the priesthood. What a great joy to see his tireless work recognized by our Diocese and our Holy Synod---the entire Orthodox Church in America! Metropolitan Tikhon mentioned Fr. Paul missionary efforts in Mississippi. With over 40 years of priestly service, he has guided and faithfully served so many people. As a Mission priest, I look to his work.
            St. Jacob, Fr. Paul, myself, all being considered missionary priests, all laboring in the vineyard; but in many ways, our ministry is very different. So what exactly is a Mission priest? Is he different than other priests? Is it a title? A location? A situation? Is it a personality, an attitude? My spiritual father, the Archpriest Alexander Atty, of blessed memory once said “All priests are mission priests.” Whether you’re a priest in an enormous Cathedral or parish, or in a tiny Mission, or yes, even a remote village Chapel in Alaska, you are a Mission priest. All priests are called to be Missionaries.
            But Why am I bringing this to your attention? The feast of All Saints remind me of the important work that we are doing here together---and the important work that lies ahead. Mississippi needs more Orthodox Churches. A lot more. Plain and simple. At current, we have Three Antiochian parishes, two Greek parishes, One OCA parish, three OCA Missions, and a ROCOR Mission. The list of places where a church is big and is growing: Meridian, Natchez, Oxford to name a few, but at least a half dozen also come to mind. Even with the amazing and heroic work that has been done by you all and so many others, there are still many Orthodox Christians who drive over an hour or more to attend Divine Liturgy each Sunday. But only in our communities that are able to have Divine Liturgy every Sunday—nearly half of them do not.

The Feast of All Saints of America reminds of the importance of Mission work. We form communities and bonds. Like the hymn of the feast says:

“With faith, hope, and patience as their armor, they courageously fought the good fight. Comforted by the beauty of the Orthodox Faith, they labored in mines and mills, they tilled the land, they braved the challenges of the great cities, enduring many hardships and sufferings. Never failing to worship God in spirit and truth and unyielding in devotion to His most pure Mother, they erected many temples to His glory.”

This brothers and Sisters is us, this is our work too. I heard a priest once say to his congregation “someone built this Church for you and now, it’s your turn to build this Church for someone else”. This means our work is never done in terms of living and spread the Faith. It is the responsibility of each generation in every Church community, no matter how big or small.
            We here have a particular work that rises to the very top for us. While remaining faithful to Christ and preaching the Good news as the Saints of our Lands did, we in Mississippi, given the time and place in which we live, must set our sights on completing a task that involves firmly establishing our communities and helping to seed the others that need to exist. This task lies at the core of Mission work in Mississippi. It really is the single most important factor in our future endeavors.

What is this task? Back in October 2020, Fr. John Parker, Dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, released a document which was published in the OCA website entitled “Vocation as a Church wide endeavor”. This 2020 document provided an analysis of priests currently serving the 640 parishes of the OCA. In essence, 30% of all priests currently serving are post-retirement age. Fr. John notes that even if current seminary enrollment figures remain steady over the next ten years AND all eligible men are ordained that enroll (which in itself is not a guarantee), still, we will be facing the reality that at least “another 40+ parishes across the Orthodox Church in America will not have a full-time parish priest.” And “additionally, the Church will lack priests that can be sent out to the many areas…where there is presently no Orthodox presence.”

This task for us brothers and sisters is to work to provide the situation for a fully compensated, full time priest. But not just here---in all the current Missions we have AND even in the places in Mississippi that do not yet exist. Just this year, as I concelebrated Holy Week services with Fr. Paul Yerger, he exclaimed to me that “we need more priests here in Mississippi!” St. Ignatios of Antioch long ago pointed to the connection between the priesthood and mission work. He wrote “Where the Bishop is, there is the Eucharist, there is the Church.” In the Early Church, the community was served by the bishop. As the communities grew it quickly became impossible for the bishop to serve in in place every Sunday, so priests were ordained to serve in the place of the Bishop. The priest has been, from the very beginning, the only one in the parish, who represents the Bishop. Why? Because he alone can serve the Eucharist when a Bishop is not present. It is the Eucharist which lies at the core of each parish. Without the Eucharist, a community cannot be a parish---meaning no priest, no Church.

Before I arrived in January of 2020, I worked with Fr. Jason, Fr. Paul, and Our Archbishop to create my current situation which allows me to travel around our state and serve as a Mission priest. My idea has been from the beginning to help build up the mission communities into parishes. I created the Orthodox Mississippi website for this reason. My vision is to work to help establish many more such communities across our State. In this way, though our task is similar to the work of great Missionaries like St. Jacob and the North American Saints, our efforts are to build further on the work already laid out by our own great missionaries, like the Mitered Archpriest Paul Yerger.

During this luminous time after Pentecost and with this great Feast of the Saints of America fresh on our minds, let us enter in faithfully, diligently into the work that lies ahead of us. Let us create in our community, a paradise of worship and fellowship, one dedicated to serving one another in the love of Christ. Let us work to raise our voices in hymns and worship, glorifying our Lord. Let us live blessed lives, inspired by the beatitudes, in today’s Gospel. Let us work to become firmly established, so that many Divine services and Feasts might be offered and that our clergy too might be fishers of men. Let us look to the great Saints and Missionaries, both further off and those close by, and let us build up the work they’ve done. Let us build this Church for someone else.

O Holy Saints of North America, pray unto God for us!

Making Mission Work

Tuesday June 22nd, 2021   3rd Day of the Holy Trinity

Welcome to the Official beginning of the Blog for Orthodox Mississippi. A short first entry will suffice. Check back here frequently to read about our expereince in Mission work across Mississippi. We'll point out some of the exciting things that are happening. We'll also share some insights from life.