Rectors Annual Report January 2016
By Father Andrew Harrison
Orthodox Christian Clergy Association - Vice President
This report that follows is the report I submitted to the Diocese for 2015. Rather than repeating the information, I will just update it below.
Highlights of Top Three Activities
1. Celebrated 30th anniversary with Bishop Irénée of Canada and Bishop elect Paul.
2. Provide Food & Shelter for the Homeless (PADS) Total 480 Women and Children housed and fed during season once a week from October to May. PADS food teams from 3 Orthodox churches and 2 from other Christian Churches.
2 Missions Teams of 3 and 9 to Hogar Raphael Orphanage Guatemala, Drug and alcohol counselling for the orphans and mission activities with a group of 5 parishes seeking Orthodoxy in Amatitlan Guatemala. Mission team of 9 to the Navajo Reservation, YOCAMA sponsored
Outreach and Charitable Activities
Donations given to the following: Flight 93 Memorial Fund, OCMC - Guatemala mission, Brekic triplets, Orthodox Christian Fellowship, St. Luke Mission fund, OCMC, Clergy family in need, IOCC, Mission Priest in Kenya, Ancient Faith Radio, Seminarian at St. Tikhon’s, Local Abortion prevention organization, Will begin “expanding the mission” by reaching out in the south suburban area by holding services and fellowship and inviting seekers using social media and advertising
Major Challenges Faced
Correct building exit codes and expand the present church building. Projected cost $375,000 The Issues with the Forest Preserve Land have been resolved. The building committee has submitted the plans to the Cook county building dept. for approval Fr Andrew will retire on December 1st. The new priest has not been named at this time.
Upcoming Special Events/Anniversaries - October 2013 to September 2014
Annual St. Luke Feast day celebration Fr. Andrew’s retirement event to be held on January 24, 2016
In September I reported to the Diocese a membership of 126. Of these, 4 are seniors under nursing care and 7 college students whom we cover for the diocesan assessment. This is the highest membership of the parish so far. Total Sunday attendance has shown a decline again to 97 for the second year. The reason for this decline should be studied as to the cause. Weekday Liturgies and Saturday Vespers are about the same as last year. We have 6 chanters (we added one more) who chant the Sunday morning Matins. The Tuesday and Thursday morning prayer group remained the same. Seniors are encouraged to attend to pray for the sick and suffering of our parish, community and the world and also learn about the Bible. The sacraments are the same as the report above but we had an additional funeral.
For the second year I had the privilege of being spiritual leader of a mission trip to Hogar Raphael Orphanage in Guatemala. The program was organized by Michaelyn Sloan. We had 10 from St. Luke which included a day spent with a Protestant congregation (picture above) seeking to be united with the Orthodox faith. The day included the demonstration of a Typica service, crafts for the children and a prosphora baking class. Lee had a Bible study class and I gave instructions to a group of leaders on the Iconography of the Orthodox Church. St. Luke also sponsored a mission trip of 9 to the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. The activities included Head Start screening; distributing food to the poor, visiting tribal elders in Hogans giving donations of food and firewood, construction of a new roof for the St. Bonaventure Indian School and the building of a new Hogan. See the mission report for more information.
In September I proposed an outreach with a small committee to the south I- 80 corridor to see if new families could be attracted. Bishop Paul said “see if you can find any people”. Liturgy began in December in an old Church in New Lenox. So far we have had one non-Orthodox family show interest. With social media, websites, advertising it is hoped it will be more successful in the future. Doing missionary work takes patience and tenacity. St. Paul only had one convert after he preached in Athens.
Jill Olson continues as PADS site manager and I continue laundry pickup and delivery. Jill has been doing a wonderful job scheduling volunteers but it is still a daunting job finding enough volunteers. Jill needs someone to help find and schedule volunteers. Our local Orthodox churches should be able to send shift volunteers. Sending someone to actually visit Orthodox Churches and explain the program would be helpful. I commend Jill and all who set aside time and talent so this valuable Christian ministry continues. This year we have had a significant increase in homeless women and children. We have reached our maximum limit of 35 several times this year. Additional bathroom facilities are a must.
It was hoped that congregational singing would eventually take over the singing of the liturgy with the choir as a backup and guide. This has not occurred. The majority are singing using the Orthodox hymnals but it is apparent that a choir director is essential. Paulette is to be commended for staying on as director, after resigning, until someone can be found.
George Poulos and Nick Lisowski have continued to hang new printed murals. The left side Old Testament subjects were completed as planned. Several have not been donated as yet. We also received a new Icon of St. Nectarous for the Narthex donated by Fr. Danial and Nadia Doss painted by Cheryl Pituch. The sanctuary certainly is beautiful with the additions. There still is room for more.
The Parish Council under the leadership of Steve Hansen has continued to follow your Annual meeting vote to expand the church facility. The project is on hold because the Forest Preserve is requiring a large sum of money from us to rent their part of the parking lot. The Cook County Building Department will not grant building permits until the issues are resolved with the Forest Preserve. The Cook County Building Department is also requiring significant changes to our existing facilities to meet new fire codes.ie sprinkler system and new exits. The Annual meeting will have to decide on which direction the parish should go in the future. The strategic planning committee sent out an e-mail questionnaire. Prayers to the Holy Spirit for guidance and the results of the questionnaire will help the Council carry out your suggestions for the future.
In November we had the first official visit of His Grace Paul our new bishop. Because of his schedule he was not able to attend my retirement dinner so he made a special effort to be present before my retirement. I sent my official letter last January stating I would retire on December.1. The Parish Council has worked diligently with Fr. Tom Mueller, our dean, to make the transfer of our new priest as smooth as possible. Fr. Paul Jannakos took over the leadership of the Parish on December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas. He will still have to be officially installed in the near future. Through the prayers of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, may our Lord bless the ministry of Fr. Paul and his Presbytera Michelle.
Please read the reports for more details. I pray for and commend Rdr Stephen Hansen, Council Lay Chairman; the Parish Council members, and all of you. May our Lord grant you Many Years.