Bishop THOMAS visits Holy Ascension Antiochian Mission of the Great Valley in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
From our first public meeting and prayer service with approximately 12 people in a Church Farm school in 1997, Holy Ascension Antiochian Mission of the Great Valley in Pennsylvania has grown to more then 33 pledging families and an average of 75 attendees at Holy Liturgy. Over the years, we have met in various churches, hotels, and even a Boy Scout building. Through the dedication of its parishioners and by the grace of God, our mission has supported a full time priest for the last 2 years and celebrated a full Liturgical cycle of services.
As Great Lent progressed this year, we grew eager for Bishop THOMAS’ visit to help us usher in Holy Week. Memories of his past visit had a lasting affect on us and this visit promised the same. We welcomed His Grace for the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday during which he engaged us with a lesson about Lazarus and this year’s Paschal calendar. He encouraged each of us to invite a guest to Palm Sunday Divine Liturgy to share this time with us as we enter into Holy week. We also had the opportunity to spend some time with Sayidna during a potluck luncheon following Liturgy.
Our humble Boy Scouts building was transformed on Palm Sunday by Bishop THOMAS’ presence. Even though we were in a basement with Boy Scout posters on adjacent walls, we could feel his voice singing the holy hymns. Sayidna urged us to focus on faith and adjust the priorities in our lives to the Cross. After a meal sponsored by the Sisterhood of St. Thekla, Bishop THOMAS visited with the Sunday school children, young adults and teachers. The children were able to ask him questions about his ministry, likes and even about his age. “Jesus did not fight the bad guys, He wants to turn the bad guys into good guys.”, Bishop THOMAS said in response to a question. Sayidna also read his favorite hymn from Holy Saturday morning.
During Bishop THOMAS’ time with us, we showed His Grace the 10-acre property which we have been in negotiation for the past four months.
On Holy Monday, the day after being refreshed and encouraged by Bishop THOMAS’ visit, we received news that the sales agreement for our long awaited property had been signed. Our mission is continually blessed by Sayidna’s visit.