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Do not lament me, O Mother, seeing Me in the tomb,
the Son conceived in the womb without seed!
For I shall arise and be glorified with eternal glory as God.
I shall exalt all who magnify you in faith and love.
(Ninth Ode of the Holy Saturday Kanon)


To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the West

Dearly beloved:

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Imagine the Virgin Mary, witness to the crucifixion of her Son, His taking down from the cross and His burial in a new tomb. The grief must have been unimaginable. Each of us can feel the same grief, not only on that Blessed Sabbath with the solemn vision and veneration of His body on the winding sheet, but also when we look at the world in all of its convulsions.

But the “words” of Christ spoken to His mother in the beautiful Ninth Ode of the Holy Saturday Kanon quoted above shine with the promise of the Resurrection. Those words not only promise the reality of Resurrection, but also promise His glorification and the glorification of His believers. And that is what we celebrate on this most bright and festive Day of Days. The somber Lenten efforts have given way to a burst of new life, a resurrected life, where death no longer has dominion over His creatures — us! We have been given pardon if we but accept it. Creation has been renewed! Grief is no longer mingled with tears; it has all been wiped away by the Victory. May we all receive this most wonderful gift and take it to our hearts and our lives.

May the risen Son of God be ever present with each one of you, my beloved children of the West! May none of us lament for death has been vanquished! And I say to you all again:

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Yours in the risen Christ,

Archbishop of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West

Diocesan Priest Honored - 04/20/16

With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco, the V. Rev. Laurent Cleenewerck, rector of St Innocent Orthodox Church in Eureka, CA, travelled last week to Amman, Jordan, at the invitation of King Abdullah II to be recognized for his recent contribution to Christian-Muslim and interfaith dialogue.

Every year since 2009, with the support of formal United Nations resolution, a World Interfaith Harmony Week is organized every first week of February, under the patronage of the King of Jordan and with the personal participation of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem. The institution recognized for the first prize by the Jury this year was Euclid University, a distance learning institution for which Fr Cleenewerck teaches several courses, and for which he authored an academic paper dealing with the specificities of the Orthodox understanding of the Trinity as it relates to the shared belief in one God. He also presented a workshop jointly organized with the Religious Studies department of Humboldt State University. For this reason, Cleenewerck was invited to attend the award ceremony which took place at the Royal Palace on Sunday, April 17, to deliver a short speech to the distinguished audience. The event was widely featured in the Jordanian media.

For his part, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem noted the importance of interfaith harmony in the Middle East as well as the valuable support of the King of Jordan to his unique responsibility as custodian of the holy sites.
More information:

"Expanding the Kingdom" - Tempe, AZ - 04/11/16


“Please excuse our holy dust—we are Expanding the Kingdom” reads the sign posted at the entrance to Saint John the Evangelist Mission here—a sign that indicates the excitement that fills the air as the community is completing the long-awaited expansion of its facilities.

The community has “come a long way” in the three years since Priest Andre Paez and his family arrived in Tempe. In 2013 there were 16 tithing families; today there are 32 pledging families with a roster of over 100 members, 30 of whom are children.


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