4 November 2016
Holy Angels Byzantine Catholic Church in San Diego hosted a visit from CNEWA last weekend.
(photo: Greg Kandra)
Having reached my six-month mark working at CNEWA, these past months have been a whirlwind of learning, emotions and blessings. As I delve deeper into CNEWA’s work across the globe, I am grateful for this God-given opportunity to, in some small way, help aid the poor and persecuted.
This past weekend culminated my six months of experiences beyond expectations. Deacon Greg Kandra and I were graciously invited and hosted by Father Brian Escobedo of Holy Angels Byzantine Catholic Church in San Diego to reach out to his parishioners. The kindness in Father Brian’s heart and soul is evident the first time you meet him. So it is no wonder he offered his Church to CNEWA after learning about our Parish Outreach program — a series of talks to raise awareness here in North America for our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Northeast Africa and India.
A large group gathered to hear our presentation in the parish social hall.
(photo: Debora Stonitsch)
Father Brian and his parish family, joined by Melkite Greek Catholic Father James Babcock and his parish community, made us feel at home as we shared stories of the challenges impacting the church and the selfless work of CNEWA’s partners, especially the sisters and priests who do so much to bring physical and spiritual healing to all who need them. The concern and engagement of those in attendance was evident from the onset.
The church’s interior is adorned by icons depicting scenes from scripture.
(photo: Greg Kandra)
My weekend was further enlightened by Father Brian’s celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. Having never before attended a Byzantine liturgy, I did not know what to expect. But parishioners were so welcoming, such as Michael, who provided me with a prayer book and helped guide me through the liturgy. I found myself immersed in friendship, beauty and deep-rooted tradition.
The icons on the walls and ceiling painstakingly created by Mila Mina, intricately and brilliantly told the stories of the Christian faith.
The cantor, Rebecca, chanted in acapella harmony that brought tears to my eyes and captivated the attention of the adorable young children in attendance — even though they were anxiously waiting to tell Father Brian which saints they were dressed as in celebration of All Saints Day.
Father Brian Escobedo greeted children from the parish dressed as saints. (photo: Greg Kandra)
The sounds, scents and sights together invoked feelings of gratitude and peace.
I am thankful to Father Brian, all his parishioners, especially Bob and Janet who so kindly helped with the preparations and weekend events. It was a collaborative and meaningful gathering of Byzantines, Melkites, Ukrainians and Latins, Catholics all, standing in solidarity for those so less fortunate. These experiences, along with our new friends, prove that when Christians are united, we are not just strong but in our unity, beautiful.
CNEWA’s multimedia editor, Deacon Greg Kandra, left, preached the homily at the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Father Brian. (photo: Debora Stonitsch)
If you’re interested in having CNEWA come to your parish, please contact me, Debora Stonitsch: email@example.com or contact our Development Director Norma Intriago: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to visit and together further our mission for Christian unity and peace.