St. Mark Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Rochester Hills, Michigan
                                                  ST. MARK ORTHODOX CHURCH PARISH BULLETIN
                                                          NOVEMBER  29, 2009 – JANUARY 9, 2010

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! The St. Mark Bulletin is in the process of going as electronic as possible. We will be distributing this issue as both paper hard copy and e-mail. The next edition in January will no longer be mailed to all households. Copies of the bulletin will still be available in the Church vestibule for those who do not have computer access. Otherwise, it will be sent to all of those on our e-mail list and posted on our parish website at (you can check there now under the Parish Bulletin Board sidebar). If you have not yet submitted your e-mail address to John Vetalice, please do so. You may also send it in to John or Fr. Andrew from the “Contact us” section on the website. We expect to save hundreds of dollars in postage and copy charges with this change. We trust you will all find it worthwhile

Prayer List Update: Newly departed: 
       Patriarch PAVLE of Serbia; Stephen Beskid – former St. Vladimir Seminary Librarian; Madeline –                                Joann Maxim’s aunt;  Mary – Robert Saieg’s aunt; Walter – Nora Creek’s grandfather; Olga Korby –               Fr. Andrew served the funeral for Ss. Peter and Paul; Kenneth Biedron – one of our recent visitors      from St. George;  Ellen Koprivica – Fr. Dusan Koprivica’s mother

Other Prayers:     
        Daniel Sak – heart problems; Julia Herman – whooping cough; Mildred Laham – recovering from cancer surgery; Gabrielle Hamay – recovering from broken foot; Michael – Bokas grandson, mononucleosis;Michael – Kathy Bilowus’ cousin, recovering from heart surgery; Alexandra Sedor –(Joe’s wife) neurological troubles; Scott  Wassell – recovering from knee surgery; Tracy – Scott Wassell’s co-worker’s daughter, uncontrolled fever; Estelle – Steven Creek’s grandmother, breast cancer; Sandra – Saieg friend, eye surgery; Nicklas Creek – questionable MRI, wait and see two monthe; Krystal – Bokas neighbor’s grand niece, serious auto accident; Elizabeth – Yavornitzky friend’s mother, seriously ill; Judy – Nancy Sack’s sister, heart problems; Resa – choir director at our Minneapolis Cathedral, hospitalized, H1N1 complications; John Dankovich – neural/neck problems; William – Ruth Yavornitzky’s godson, recovering from surgery; Melissa – recent visitor Pamela Todoroff’s daughter, teaching at an American school in Iraq; Robert – Ann Prochko’s grandson, newly transplanted heart

As is his custom, Niculai will apparently surprise us when he returns.

Now that the furniture is in place we will need to purchase or make new altar cloths for all of it. At this time there is no earmarked money for this purpose. If you are interested in donating and/or sewing, please see Fr. Andrew. We are looking for at least six sets in six liturgical colors.

On a related note, our altar servers’ fund raising dinner on November 8 netted enough profit to purchase the new servers’ robes. Thank you to all supports and all who helped to put on the dinner.            

- November 15 through the Nativity Divine Liturgy on Christmas day is a fasting season of preparation for the Feast of Our Lord’s Birth. Please struggle to keep it a Holy season. It is VERY difficult in our society.
- Special additional opportunities for confessions will be available on Friday, December 11 and Friday, December 18 during the work times at the parish. It is best to contact Fr. Andrew before hand to be sure of times.
- Please be sure to return your pledge card by Sunday, December 13th.
- Christmas Caroling at the nursing Home has been a parish tradition since we were founded at the nursing home chapel in 1980. We spend about 40 minutes singing and delivering gifts following the Nativity Divine Liturgy. Please join in. It is precious to the residents and to us.
- Home blessings in celebration of the Feast of our Lord’s Theophany will begin following the Theophany Divine Liturgy on Wednesday, January 6. A sign-up sheet for those who wish to have their homes blessed will be on the vestibule table December.
-Our annual parish meeting will take place on Sunday, January 17th following the Divine Liturgy.

For the second time in three years our parish has received the CROP Walk’s prestigious, yet grossly hideous, “Golden Shoe Award” for having the highest per walker total contribution. You will notice it hanging above the coffee window in the hall.

“For our thirtieth anniversary and consecration we will look ahead. Where we’ve been has already been documented. Where we are going is yet to be discovered. The commemorative book next July is going to be a testimony to our vision(s). Each of us, whether we have been here from the beginning or whether we have recently arrived, comprise the fabric of St. Mark Orthodox Church in Rochester Hills, Michigan. We all have intentions and reasons for our presence. We all have purpose and hope and expectations from being here. We will document them.”
What is it that you want to experience at St. Mark? What will the parish “look” like in five years? In ten years or more? How can you describe your “best case scenario” for our parish. What kinds of activities, attitudes, accomplishments and aspirations make up that vision? We want to share those ideas so that we may, in due time, work to make (at least some of) them the reality of St. Mark Orthodox church in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Our thirtieth anniversary celebration and the consecration of our temple is a major landmark in our life as a parish. This milestone is another step forward as we strive for growth in faith and life and spiritual understanding in our small corner of God’s good creation. Like all steps in a journey it is followed by another step and yet another again. Next year we will be “stepping out” with our new (or perhaps, refined or re-tuned) vision and reason d’etre. It will be an exciting time for us and for our children and for all those who will follow these footsteps in the future. We must prayerfully discern and share our parish life with them for salvation of us all and the Glory of God. Stay tuned. You will be asked for your   vision in the near future.

Very Rev Thomas Hopko

People of whatever convictions -- theistic or atheistic, Christian or non-Christian -- who behave in an orderly and respectful manner may attend liturgical services in an Orthodox church, and participate, as possible, in the prayers and rituals (such as singing psalms and hymns, and venerating icons and relics). But only members of the Orthodox Church who practice a specific spiritual discipline may participate in the Church's sacraments and receive Holy Communion at the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. The essential elements of Eucharistic discipline in the Orthodox Church may be simply stated in five points.

    * Participation in Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church requires first of all that a person be a Baptized, Chrismated member of the Orthodox Church who fully accepts the conditions and demands of his or her Baptism and Chrismation. Eucharistic discipline in the Orthodox Church demands that communicants in the eucharistic sacrifice understand themselves at all times and in all circumstances as having died and risen with Christ, as sealed by the Holy Spirit, and as belonging to God as His bonded-servants and free-born sons in Jesus.

  * Baptism and Chrismation, and so, participation in Holy Communion, require a person to believe in the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, and the Christian Faith summarized in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed, as these are proclaimed and interpreted in the Orthodox Church. Members of the Orthodox Church who question biblical or churchly doctrines may participate in Holy Communion if they are praying and working to come to an enlightened understanding of the Faith under the guidance of their pastors and teachers. But those who have been Baptized and Chrismated in the Orthodox Church who publicly express doubt and disbelief about the faith as confessed and lived in the Orthodox Church, or secretly harbor such doubt and disbelief, may not partake of Holy Communion at an Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

  * Confessing the Christian faith as understood and practiced in the Orthodox Church is to identify fully with Orthodox Church history and tradition, and to take full responsibility for it. It is to accept and defend the dogmas and canons of the councils accepted by the Orthodox Churches, to worship according to Orthodox liturgical rites, to venerate those who are glorified as Orthodox saints, and to struggle to practice the ethical and moral teachings of Christ and his apostles as recorded in the holy scriptures and elaborated in Orthodox Church tradition. Because participation in the Holy Eucharist is not only a sacred communion with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit, but also a Holy Communion with Orthodox believers of all times and places, responsibility for the whole of Orthodox Church history and tradition is an absolute condition for partaking in the Holy Communion of Christ's body and blood at the Church's Divine Liturgy.
  * Identifying fully with Orthodox Christian teaching and practice requires a communicant in the Orthodox Church to strive to put the Church's biblical, evangelical and apostolic teachings into practice in their everyday lives. No one can believe and do everything perfectly. Eucharistic discipline, however, demands that a communicant struggles to do so, admitting when he or she fails, and repenting without self-justification over one's failures and sins. This means, concretely, that eucharistic discipline requires a communicant to study God's Word in scripture, to pray and fast and give alms as one can, to attend church services as regularly as possible, and to live according to God's commandments in all aspects of one's life and work, regularly giving an account of one's behavior to one's pastor and spiritual guide, repenting of one's sins, and struggling by God's grace to change and improve. Persons rejecting such a disciplined life may not partake of Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church.

    * Eucharistic discipline in the Orthodox Church finally requires that a communicant be in constant repentance, realizing that he or she is never worthy of receiving Holy Communion, and knowing that the heartfelt confession of one's unworthiness is an absolute condition for partaking in a worthy manner. The essential expression of one's unworthiness to receive Christ's body and blood in Holy Communion, with the admission of one's sins, is the forgiveness of others. Eucharistic discipline demands that communicants of Christ's body and blood be at peace with everyone as far as they can be, even when others are unwilling to forgive and be reconciled. At least within themselves, partakers of Holy Communion at an Orthodox Divine Liturgy must be in a union of love with all people, including their worst enemies.

Acceptance of one's Baptism and Chrismation in the Church, responsibility for the Church's faith and life, the struggle to put the faith fully into practice, accountability for one's personal belief and behavior, constant and continual repentance, and peace with all people in the union of love commanded and given by God in Christ and the Holy Spirit -- these are the requirements for participation in Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. They are, ultimately and essentially, what Holy Communion itself is all about.

This article appeared in the St. Vladimir Seminary Orthodox Education Day book in October 2001.


It is the faith of Christians that since the Son of God has taken human flesh (Annunciation/Christmas) and has appeared in the world, immersed in the streams of the Jordan River (Epiphany/Baptism of Christ), all flesh and all matter is sanctified and made holy in Him. It is purged from its death-dealing qualities inherited from the devil and the evil wickedness of men.

In the Lord’s epiphany to the world, all creation becomes good again, indeed “very good” the way God called it and created it to be in the beginning of time. (Genesis 1:31) For in the beginning the Voice of the Lord spoke, as at the time of Jesus’ baptism, and “the Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) At this time as well the “Breath of Life” was breathing in man and in everything that was made to be alive by God for a life of living communion with Him. (Genesis 1:30; 2:7)

The world and everything in it is indeed “very good.” And when it becomes polluted and corrupted and dead, filled with evil and not with God, then God Himself does everything to save it and glorify it once more. This is what Epiphany and the Great Blessing of Water specifically tells us: that God has saved  and glorified by Christ and the Spirit the “very good” creation that He made through the same Christ and the same Spirit in the beginning of the world.