St Herman's Feast Day 2017 - 12/26/17
Many. many thanks to all who contributed to make our feast day a great success! The Vigil service was very beautiful and the Hierarchical Liturgy was truly magnificent. Several clergy came to show their support of St Herman's - we had six priests, five deacons, several subdeacons and many altar servers... though the altar became quite cozy at times with so many people, all went smoothly and a prayerful atmosphere was evident. The choir did an amazing job and all sounded splendid, properly dignified, and joyful! Congratulations to our Protodeacon George Balaban upon receiving the kamilavka for his years of service and to Deacon George Kalousek who received a gramata honoring his many years of service to our Holy Mother Church. A wonderful meal was prepared for visitors on Sunday evening and the main festal meal after the Liturgy on Monday was fantastic. All went smoothly and many hands made lighter work... thank you to all who participated in making this such a joyful and successful parish feast day! View the Photo Gallery here.
St Nicholas Day - 12/20/17
On Tuesday, December 6/19, St Herman's celebrated the feast day of our holy hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas of Myra in Lycia.
Before the Vigil service began, we held our annual 'tree lighting ceremony'... the choir sang a carol to St Nicholas while the tree in front of the church came alive with beautiful Christmas lights. The lights will stay on through the fast and Nativity season.
Following the festive tree lighting, we began the Vigil service for the saint. All attending were anointed with oil from the lampada burning above the relics of St Nicholas in Bari, Italy. We are also blessed to have a portion of the saint's relics in our icon. A piece of cotton soaked in myrrh from the myrhh-streaming icon of St Nicholas was also available for veneration.
Liturgy followed early on Wednesday morning...
Saint Nicholas is one of the most popular saints, beloved all over the world for his zeal and for his generosity of heart which cared for so many during his lifetime and continues to guide and guard all those who call out to him in faith.
Through the prayers of our holy father Nicholas, may Christ save us and have mercy on us!
Visit from Woodside Priory - 12/10/17
On Sunday, December 10th, St Herman's was visited by students from the Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley. Students from the Christian Scriptures class were on assignment to visit some local churches to experience their worship service and to ask questions of the priest.
Five wonderful students were in attendance and stayed after the Liturgy to ask follow-up questions about what they had witnessed in the Divine Liturgy, about the histiry and teachings of the Orthodox Church, about the Orthodox Church's stances on various contemporary social issues, etc. Fr Martin and Fr Deacon Andrew sat with the students to address their questions. The students seemed interested and engaged... it was a joy to have them with us.
We hope that they also enjoyed their visit to St Herman's and hope to see them again some time.
May God bless their studies and may the blessings and prayers of St Herman guide them in their lives.
Feast Day At Holy Virgin Cathedral - 11/21/17
On Monday, November 6th, the Holy Virgin Cathedral, 'Joy Of All Who Sorrow', celebrated its feast day.
Concurrently, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the 10th anniversary of the reunification of the Russian Church, and the 25th anniversary of the episcopacy of our Archbishop KYRILL.
Clergy and faithful from all over the Diocese convened to commemorate these events and to greet our Archpastor on this silver anniversary of his episcopate.
St John of Kronstadt Vespers and Children's Sermon - 11/01/17
On Tuesday evening, October 31st, we held a Vespers service in honor of St John of Kronstadt. Liturgy followed on Wednesday at 7am.
Each year, on this evening, we invite the children of the parish to come to church to celebrate this beloved saint and to provide an alternative to the Halloween activities which occur on this night.
Like most American holidays, the meaning of the day has been obscured by trivialization and mass-marketing. Just as the Nativity has been reduced to snowmen and reindeers and the great feast of Pascha has been reduced to easter bunnies and chocolate eggs, so too has the Anti-Christian origins of Halloween been reduced to costumes and trick-or-treats. Nevertheless, those dark origins and practices continue to this day and we avoid them.
Gratefully, we have a wonderful saint whose celebration outshines all darkness... St John of Kronstadt!
After serving the Vespers for St John, the children gathered at the bottom of the steps to hear a word of encouragement in their faith related to St John. Fr Martin told the story of a kingdom and a castle that was filled with great treasures. But thieves were able to break in and steal the treasures. The king called on his advisors to resolve this probem and they proposed building a mote all around the castle, building a drawbridge gate, and setting a guard at the gate. The guard would let down the gate for the friends of the king, but he would keep the gate closed if thieves and enemies of the king's treasure attempted to get in.
St John of Kronstadt spoke about the human heart in just this way... our heart is the place of great treasures (love, joy, peace, etc.), but we must set a guard to stand watch in order to not let thieves come in and steal away this good treasure. Those thieves are anger, jealousy, selfishness, etc. It is important for us to establish this gate and guard about our heart to test whether something is good or bad. We invite the good and we reject the bad.
Following the little sermon, all stood to sing the magnification to St John and then, after the children venerated his icon, they were presented with a small treasure of 'goodies' in a bag.
May God bless our young people and keep the treasure of their hearts safe!
Visit to St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington DC - 10/16/17
During Fr Martin and Matushka Sarah's travels to Canada and the East Coast, they had the blessing of visiting the Cathedral of St John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church in Washington DC. This is a beautiful church which was founded by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco during his visits to the nation's capitol to advocate on behalf of his flock in the Phillipines to be allowed entry into the United States.
Fr Martin and Sarah were received with great warmth and love by the clergy and parishioners of St John's. While serving the Divine Liturgy, Fr Martin was honored to give the homily on the Sunday Gospel. That homily may be viewed here.
Should any of us have the opportunity to visit Washington DC... please make the effort to go to the Cathedral of St John the Baptist... you will be richly blessed indeed!
Teen Talk & Golfing - 09/25/17
On Sunday evening, September 24th, St Herman's held its most recent 'Teen Talk'.
Teens gathered in the church hall first for some pizza and then 'warmed up' a bit with some mind-expanding riddles. This group was not easy to stump with perplexing riddles... they got most of them pretty quickly!
After we had our pizza, Fr Martin gave a presentation on the topic of Kindness and Compassion. Three short films were shown to help illustrate the impact of kindness and compassion upon one another... an act of kindness, given in the spirit of love, has ripple effects.
Following the presentation, everyone traveled to Golf Land where we had a wonderful time playing Pee Wee Golf!
Photos of the event can be seen here.
Labor Day BBQ & Swim Party - 09/11/17
On Sunday, September 3rd, many members of the parish gathered at the Bradley's home for an afternoon of fun.
The barbeque was grilling, the drinks were chilling, and the kids were thrilling to all the fun and festivities on the hot, late summer afternoon.
It is always such a joy to spend time with the parish family to catch up with each other, have some good food, and enjoy each other's company.
Many thanks to the Bradley's for hosting the event, congratulations to Alex and Diego on their birthdays, and may God grant that we find many more occasions to gather together in friendship and fellowship.
The Transfiguration and Blessing of Fruits - 08/20/17
On Saturday, August 19th, we celebrated the bright feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord.
Following the Liturgy, first fruits were blessed with holy water - calling to mind and soul the wonder of the life brought forth from the light and warmth of the sun which brings forth abundant fruit from the earth. Just as these fruits mature and ripen under the influence and blessing of the light of the sun, so too do we spiritually mature and 'ripen' under the influence and blessing of the Light of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
May that Light of Christ shine brightly in all of our lives!
Clergy Awards - 07/10/17
On July 1st, at the celebration of our father among the saints, Holy Hierarch and Wonderworker John of Shanghai and San Francisco, two of our clergymen received awards from our Archbishop KYRILL.
Father Deacon Andrew Gliga was awarded the right to wear the double orarion in recognition for his years of dedicated service to the Church.
Father Martin Person was appointed Dean of the San Francisco Deanery and was awarded the gold cross and palitsa - being elevated to Archpriest.
Congratulations to Fr Andrew and to Fr Martin... may God grant many more years of service to His Holy Church!
Youth Work Days At St Silouan's Monastery - 07/10/17
The week of July 3rd through 8th saw great progress in continued construction projects and beautification at the St Silouan Monastery in Sonora, CA.
Youth from around the Diocese gathered to work and pray at the monastery. Many projects were accomplished including the building of an additional monastic cell, building raised beds for the garden, creating a firepit with surrounding benches, painting the fences, and much more.
Despite the heatwave, everyone gave it there all... and by the end of the day on Thursday all intended improvements were done. As a reward, the group drove to Yosemite National Park where we hiked and enjoyed the beauty (and cooling mist!) of the abundant waterfalls.
It was a wonderful week... each day included the cycle of services for morning and evening and Divine Liturgy was served each morning. Our days ended gathered around the campfire where one of the priests would lead a spiritual discussion. On Wednesday evening we were blessed to have his Grace Bishop Irenei lead the talk.
Fr Ignaty and Br Andrew were gracious and welcoming hosts.
We left with a sense of joy and accomplishment, fatigue and gratitude, and a desire to return again as soon as possible.
Russian River Camping Trip - 06/19/17
The weekend of June 9, 10, and 11, many members of the St Herman of Alaska parish made pilgrimage to the Kazan Church on the Russian River, near Guerneville, CA. Our Archbishop KYRILL graciously opened the doors to this wonderful setting, amid redwoods and upon the shores of the river, for our parish camping trip.
Fr Martin and Matushka Sarah arrived a day early on Thursday to make preparations for everyone’s arrival. To our concern, the day was rainy and wet… the grounds intended for camping were full of puddles and an ‘advisory’ was sent to forewarn campers of the conditions. Thanks to the prayers of the Mother of God and St Herman, late Thursday turned sunny and windy… these conditions continued all day Friday so that, by the time people were arriving, the sun and wind had dried everything nicely and the remainder of the weekend was just beautiful!
Campers arrived throughout Friday… pitching their tents and settling in. In the evening we had Evening Prayers, dinner, and an outdoor movie presentation. Campers bundled up under blankets and enjoyed a showing of ‘The Princess Bride’ – an amusing fairy tale which all ages seemed to appreciate.
Saturday morning began with Morning Prayers and then a breakfast. After breakfast, we carpooled to the nearby Armstrong Redwoods Park where a choice could be made between a flat one mile hike around the forest floor, or a more rigorous four mile hike up to the ridges and back. The park was absolutely beautiful and both teams of hikers had a great time.
After lunch, that afternoon was designated as ‘free time’… most of the families took advantage of the direct path on the property down to the river and enjoyed swimming and splashing in the water. Others relaxed around camp, and others explored other local activities.
In the evening we reassembled for the Saturday evening Vigil service. It was a great pleasure to serve and pray in the Kazan Church amid the beautiful icons and under the shade of the towering trees.
Following Vigil we had another fantastic dinner and then all gathered around the campfire for some songs, games, and conversation.
Sunday morning we had Divine Liturgy in the Church… celebrating All Saints under the omophorion of the Mother of God in her Kazan Icon. It was a great privilege and great blessing to be there together!
Following Liturgy a brunch was served and then all began reluctantly taking down their tents and packing for the ride home.
I think I speak for all in saying that the weekend was a great success. Being able to spend time together like this was both a great pleasure and I believe all felt a renewed and strengthened sense of community and a ‘parish family spirit’.
We will be gathering feedback to keep improving on these experiences, which, with God’s blessing, we intend to make more frequent parts of our parish life.
You can view the Photo Gallery by clicking HERE.
Birthday Celebration for Fr John - 05/22/17
On Sunday, May 21st, everyone was invited to the home of Fr John Ocana to celebrate his 75th birthday. Fr John is the founding priest of St Herman's parish and many were on hand to express their congratulations and best wishes to him.
Fr Martin demonstrated his BBQ grilling skills - flipping burgers and hot dogs for the hungry crowd.
Matushka Sarah led a number of fun games for the children and young at heart including a water balloon toss, a treasure hunt for hidden toys, and singing American folk songs.
Many thanks to all those who helped make this party a great success... those who helped with hosting, those who helped with the setup and takedown of chairs and tables, those who brought so many wonderful dishes to share, and all who expressed their love for Fr John!
See the photo gallery here.
'Twas A Dark & Stormy Night - 02/18/17
On Thursday night/Friday morning, February 16/17, Sunnyvale experienced a very strong storm with heavy rains and winds. The strong gusts knocked over the fence on the west side of the church and toppled a large tree - sending it down upon our neighbor's shed, smashing the fence, and blocking Beemer St.
The intrepid crew of our friend and neighbor Randy Ahlkvist, parishioner Paul Raymond, and Fr Martin were on the scene to survey the damage. Wasting no time, they got to work... chainsaws were buzzing, brooms and shovels were scooping, and the debris was cleaned from the street and sidewalk in very short order.
In the days to come we will have a tree company out to haul away the mess and we'll need to address the repair of fences and other items.
Many, many thanks to Randy and to Paul for their great efforts in getting this mess cleaned up so quickly. We were soaked to the bone as we worked in the still heavy rain and winds, but there was a great spirit of teamwork as the threesome got the job done!
Check out the Image Gallery for more photos...