Christ is risen! The Mission is on the move…

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen! 

We were abundantly blessed with a beautiful Holy Week and glorious Pascha – our first as a Mission Station here in Chilliwack, B.C. We are so grateful to our Risen Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ, and for all of our people who took part in our services, from the Bridegroom Matins, to the Services of Holy Thursday, and then to the Cross, the Tomb, and the Resurrection on the Third Day.

Rockery Flower Cross outside of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, new location for the Holy Apostles Mission Station, Chilliwack, BC.

Rockery Flower Cross outside of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, new location for the Holy Apostles Mission Station, Chilliwack, BC.

After beginning our life together as a Mission Station in the rustic majesty of the Camp Charis Tabernacle – located 10 minutes east of the city – we are now moving to the heart of Chilliwack. Our new location, just in time for Thomas Sunday, will be in the South Building at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – 8871 School Street, in Chilliwack.

We are grateful to Pastor Wayne Lunderby and the congregation of St. Paul’s Church, for welcoming us to rent this new location, which we will pray will provide a very good environment for the services of the Orthodox Church, and our life as an Orthodox Mission in the Chilliwack community.

It should perhaps not surprise us that our new place of worship is actually a Church dedicated to the Holy Apostle Paul. Since our Mission Station is dedicated to the Holy Apostles, both the Twelve and the Seventy, St. Paul has been already interceding to the Lord on our behalf. And now, through the welcome of this local congregation, we have a place to continue our Mission of bearing witness to the Gospel and living out the Orthodox way, here in Chilliwack.

All are welcome to join us for services! This Sunday, on which the Orthodox Church commemorates the Holy Apostles Thomas, we will offer the Divine Liturgy in our new location, at 9:30am. We will not be serving Sunday Matins, as we usually do, this Sunday, but will read Third and Sixth Hours, beginning at 9:00am.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church, South Building, Chilliwack, BC

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, South Building, Chilliwack, BC, the new location for the Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission Station. 

May the Lord bless you in this holy Paschal season.

Let us raise high the apostolic proclamation, both in word and deed: Christ is Risen! 

Mission Station Lenten Services

This Sunday evening we will enter into the season of Great Lent with Forgiveness Vespers.

During Vespers, after the Great Prokeimenon, the hymnody of the Church moves into the Lenten melodies and the vestments are changed from light to dark. At the conclusion of Vespers, we ask and receive forgiveness from each other. As we do, the hymns of the Paschal Canon are traditionally sung, offering us a glimpse of the joy that only enters the world through the Resurrection of Christ.
Lenten Service Schedule
The character of Lent is often described as “joyful sorrow” or “bright sadness,” for we as Christians have become people of hope who are enabled to have faith in God’s victory over sin and death, through “the Cross, the tomb, the Resurrection on the third day”. We may not use the Paschal greeting “Christ is Risen” all year – but these words are always carried – enthroned – in the heart of the Christian. These hymns sung remind us that repentance is the first and ongoing step we take – on Forgiveness Sunday and every day – to enter into the joy of life in Jesus Christ.
I hope you will be able to participate in Forgiveness Sunday this weekend, and receive the compassionate and mercy that comes from God.
As you have time, take a moment this week to read this Reflection on Forgiveness Sunday by Father Alexander Schmemann. 
May the Lord bless you!
-Fr. Matthew

This Sunday – Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy

This Sunday, February 15th, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates the holy Apostles Onesimus of the Seventy, one of the patron saints of our Holy Apostles Mission Station. As a community sent out to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in deed and word, we look to the Holy Apostles – both the Twelve and the Seventy – as witnesses to the truth and love of God.

Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy

Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy

Saint Onesimus, Apostle of the Seventy in his youth was a servant of Philemon, a Christian of distinguished lineage, living in the city of Colossae, Phrygia. Guilty of an offense against his master and fearing punishment, St Onesimus fled to Rome, but as a runaway slave he wound up in prison. In prison he encountered the Apostle Paul, was enlightened by him, and was baptized.

In prison St Onesimus served the Apostle Paul like a son. St Paul was personally acquainted with Philemon, and wrote him a letter filled with love, asking him to forgive the runaway slave and to accept him like a brother. He sent St Onesimus with this letter to his master, depriving himself of help, of which he was very much in need.

After he received the letter, St Philemon not only forgave Onesimus, but also sent him back to Rome to the apostle. St Philemon was afterwards consecrated bishop of the city of Gaza (January 4, February 19, and November 22).

After the death of the Apostle Paul, St Onesimus served the apostles until their end, and he was made a bishop. After the death of the holy apostles he preached the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossae, Patras. In his old age, St Onesimus occupied the bishop’s throne at Ephesus, after the Apostle Timothy. When they took St Ignatius the God-Bearer (December 20) to Rome for execution, Bishop Onesimus came to meet with him with other Christians, as St Ignatius mentions in his Epistle to the Ephesians.

During the reign of the emperor Trajan (89-117), St Onesimus was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch Tertillus. He held the saint in prison for eighteen days, and then sent him to prison in the city of Puteoli. After a certain while, the eparch sent for the prisoner and, convincing himself that St Onesimus maintained his faith in Christ, had him stoned, after which they beheaded the saint with a sword. A certain illustrious woman took the body of the martyr and placed it in a silver coffin. This took place in the year 109.

Troparion — Tone 3

Holy Apostle Onesimus, / entreat the merciful God, / to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion — Tone 4

Like a beam of light you shone on the world, / illumined by Paul, the all-radiant sun, whose rays enlighten the world. / Therefore we honor you, glorious Onesimus.

First Services @ Holy Apostles Mission Station – Feb. 7 & 8, 2015

February 7 & 8th marked the first liturgical services of the Holy Apostles Mission Station in Chilliwack, British Columbia. It was the culmination of a season of prayerful planning, but also the beginning of something new that the Lord has established and blessed.

Church Sign

Established by His Grace, The Right Reverend Irénée, Bishop of Ottawa and the Archdiocese of Canada, the Mission Station was blessed in November 2014. Fr. Matthew Francis and his family arrived in Chilliwack in late January, and took up his assignment as Priest in Charge. Last Sunday, he received the blessing of the Dean of BC, Archpriest Michael Fourik, and this week the Holy Apostles Mission Station witnessed its first services.

The Francis Family with Archpriest Michael & Matushka Elena Fourik at Holy Resurrection Sobor in Vancouver. (Left to Right: Matushka Krista Francis, Father Matthew Francis, Basil Francis, Archpriest Father Michael Fourik (Dean of BC and the Yukon), Matushka Elena Fourik, at Holy Resurrection Sobor, Vancouver, BC.)

The Francis Family with Archpriest Michael & Matushka Elena Fourik at Holy Resurrection Sobor in Vancouver. (Left to Right: Matushka Krista Francis, Father Matthew Francis, Basil Francis, Archpriest Father Michael Fourik (Dean of BC and the Yukon), Matushka Elena Fourik, at Holy Resurrection Sobor, Vancouver, BC.)

Some of the gathered faithful after the Divine Liturgy.

Some of the gathered faithful after the Divine Liturgy.

The services of Great Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son were held in the historic Tabernacle building on the grounds of Charis Camp and Conference Centre, about 10 minutes east of downtown Chilliwack. The seasonal Fraser Valley rains did not deter the faithful who gathered for Great Vespers on Saturday evening. And, come Sunday, the sun broke through the clouds to accompany the offering of the Divine Liturgy. Father Matthew was blessed to serve together with local BC Deanery clergy Father Richard Rene (Chilliwack, BC) and Deacon Peter Choi (Vancouver, BC) for the Divine Liturgy. Subdeacon Barnabas Neufeld also provided valuable liturgical assistance.

Following the Divine Liturgy, members of the interim Mission Council, a dedicated group of parishioners that have been working with Father Matthew to organize and establish the community, were blessed. In addition, the Mission Station is blessed with experienced directors of Church music, who also received a blessing to fulfill this vital Church ministry.

We would like express thanks for the prayers and encouragement of our Bishop, His Grace Irénée, and of so many others across the Archdiocese of Canada and beyond. Our hope is that we may faithfully bear witness to the love of Jesus Christ, raising high His Holy Cross over the eastern Fraser Valley. Please continue to pray that the Lord will establish this vine of His own planting in the beautiful Chilliwack area!

First Mission Station Services Announced!

The first services of the Holy Apostles Mission Station, which was recently established by His Grace, Bishop Irénée, will take place February 7 & 8th, 2015. The services will take place at the historic Tabernacle at Camp Charis (click for map), located at 41935 Hack Brown Road, in Chilliwack. Camp Charis is south of the Trans-Canada Highway, and west of Bridal Falls.

Tabernacle - Exterior, amidst the trees.

Tabernacle – Exterior, amidst the trees.

Saturday Feb. 7th – 6:00pm – Great Vespers
Sunday Feb. 8th – 8:30am – Matins (come when you are able as a prayerful preparation for the Liturgy), followed by Divine Liturgy at approximately 9:30am

All are warmly welcome!

This scenic location, nestled amidst the soaring trees, will provide a fitting place for the Orthodox worship of Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Tabernacle, Camp Charis

The historic Tabernacle Camp Charis will be the venue for the first services of the Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission Station.

We are blessed that we will be able to meet in this location for regular liturgical services through Great Lent and Holy Pascha (April 12th). It will be a very good place to begin our life together in prayer. We would like to thank the great people at Camp Charis, for their warm Christian hospitality, and ask God’s blessing upon them.

If you have any questions about the upcoming services, feel free to contact Father Matthew at orthodoxchilliwack@gmail.com

Mission Station established by His Grace Bishop Irénée

The Holy Apostles Mission Station was formally established by His Grace, the Right Reverend Irénée, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada, in late November 2015. This Mission Station is the first established by His Grace since his elevation to the See of Ottawa as Ruling Bishop of the Archdiocese of Canada.

His Grace, Bishop Irenee, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada

His Grace, Bishop Irenee, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada

We are grateful for His Grace’s archpastoral blessing and prayers, and look forward to greeting him in his new Mission outpost in Chilliwack, when the Lord blesses.

Eis polla eti Despota!

Holy Apostles Mission Station - Establishment and Assignment Letter

Synaxis of the Seventy – The Mission’s First “Patronal Feast Day”

With the Feast! 

The Holy Apostles of the Seventy, being blessed for their mission by our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Apostles of the Seventy, being blessed for their mission by our Lord Jesus Christ.

In between the glorious Great Feasts of Nativity and Theophany, on January 4th, the Orthodox Church commemorates the Seventy Holy Apostles sent out by our Lord Jesus Christ to proclaim the Kingdom of God (Luke 10.1). This day is known as the “Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles,” is one of the two main patronal Feast Days of our Holy Apostles Mission Station in Chilliwack, the other being the Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles, which the Church celebrates on June 30th. It is truly an honour to know that these faithful witnesses to the Good News are praying to the Lord for each of us. May we follow their examples as we serve the Lord together in the Fraser Valley – bearing God’s love and mercy to all we encounter.

In the ninth century St Joseph the Hymnographer composed the Canon for the Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles of Christ. These are the two main hymns for this holy day:

Troparion (Tone 3)
Holy apostles of the Seventy,
entreat the merciful God
to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion (Tone 2)
O faithful, let us praise with hymns
the choir of the seventy disciples of Christ.
They have taught us all to worship the undivided Trinity,
for they are divine lamps of the Faith.

In future years, we will look forward to sharing this day as a community, in prayer and celebration.