Source: Orthodox Church in America
Carlsbad, CA, February 27, 2016
As Saint Katherine Mission grows under the leadership of Priest Andrew Cuneo, the community continues to actively reach out to the greater San Diego community with the help of its second-year OCA Planting Grant.
“January is such a rich month for the Orthodox,” notes Reader Peter Carmichael, “and we in San Diego can bless the ocean waters in very pleasant conditions.”
To that end, the mission faithful joined with the local San Diego Orthodox communities for a public Blessing of the Waters at the popular La Jolla Cove. There were 13 Orthodox priests and many, many faithful.
“By ‘planting ourselves’ in the middle of a busy tourist spot, the Orthodox make a wonderful sight – even Great Vespers was served outdoors where passersby could hear the peaceful chanting alongside the waves of the Pacific,” Peter noted.
Yet the Blessing of the Waters at the Pacific Ocean was the second event of an Orthodox ‘biathalon.’ The first event was the mission’s participation at the growing San Diego Walk for Life. “Last year there were about 2,000 walkers,” observed Father Andrew, “and this year 1,000 more. It is so important for us Orthodox to be present.”
Remarkably, Archpriest Jerome Cwiklinski, who is attached to Saint Katherine’s, was invited to give the opening prayer to the Walk—and it was an Orthodox prayer heard by thousands. Father Andrew appreciated how local parishioners were involved in both these events. Greek parishioners set up a booth and banners, Serbian parishioners organized the picnic, and Russian parishioners “fed the lot of us with excellent catering!”
Such singular events can also propel parishioner activity into more consistent pro-life activity. Mission families are involved with the “40 Days for Life” effort where they pray quietly near an active abortion clinic during the Lenten season.
“Last year, the abortion clinic where we prayed actually closed!” Matushka Elizabeth Cuneo recalls. “It’s very special to pray the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children, and to bring our own children to involve them as well. We can pray by name for our parish children, our godchildren, all children threatened by abortion, their mothers and fathers, and for the doctors themselves. All of us teach our children to read, but what is the point of learning to read? It is to pray.”
Even one special parishioner who has Down Syndrome prays outside the clinic, a pointed example when 90% of children diagnosed with such a condition are aborted.
“We know this saves lives,” added Matushka Elizabeth, “and it’s a beautiful witness to what the weakest of us can do.”
Father Andrew and the faithful of Saint Katherine’s continue to reach out in other directions as well. In late February, the mission rented out an entire movie theatre for a public showing of the excellent Russian film “Ostrov”—“The Island.” To advertise, it sent out hundreds of e-mails and flyers to just about every church in the north San Diego county region.
“This movie in particular can give a taste of the Orthodox spirit of repentance with real cinematic skill,” Father Andrew adds. “It’s like the new book Laurus which makes repentance a light to which we are naturally attracted. Surely we need that heading into Lent.”