Featured Parish: Church of the Virgin Mary + Alsip, IL
In the summer of 2003, due to the large number of faithful living in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, Metropolitan PHILIP blessed the faithful in this area to move forward and establish the mission of the Church of the Virgin Mary. In December 2004, we purchased the property where we currently worship, in Alsip, Ilinois. In the spring of 2007, His Grace Bishop MARK assigned Fr. Mousa Haddad as the first full-time pastor of the Church of the Virgin Mary in May.
At the Church of the Virgin Mary, our mission is to serve God in all that we do, and to make Jesus Christ a real presence in the hearts of the faithful in Chicago’s Southwest Suburbs. The Virgin Mary is our protector, and she intercedes on our behalf to her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She stands as our example of faith and commitment to serve the Lord. As she received the calling of the angel Gabriel to bear the Son of God, and to commit her life to the Lord, so we too must receive the word of God, accept His Will, and serve Him to the best of our ability. As we pray in the Divine Liturgy, “Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, Savior, save us!”
The Church of the Virgin Mary has many programs and activities to nourish the faithful. Our Liturgical services include Daily Matins every Wednesday, Great Vespers Saturday evenings and Sunday Orthros and Divine Liturgy, as well as numerous feast day liturgies. Our Sunday School program has over 100 registrants; and the Arabic School is so full we are limiting registration due to space issues. We hold weekly ladies Bible studies, monthly Teen Soyo Bible Studies, and monthly Fellowship Bible Studies. Also, coming soon, we will have weekly Friday family nights at the Church of the Virgin Mary, to include family oriented Bible studies and activities.
Our church hosts annual retreats for our teens and young adults. Our 4-day Teen Christmas Retreat is in its 4th year and has been a major success, with about 50 total participants every year. The retreat is held every year at retreat centers located 2-3 hours away from Chicago, and has had Dr. Al Rossi and Fr. Harry Pappas (both from St. Vladimir’s Seminary) as keynote speakers in 2007 and 2008 respectively. In addition, our church does an annual retreat for the Fellowship. Our teens and young adults also participate in St. Mary’s Dabkeh Troupe, which performs at universities and international festivals in the Chicagoland area, being witnesses not only to our ethnic heritage, but to our Orthodox faith as well.
“Liturgy after the Liturgy” is a program in which we give back to the community through monthly volunteering and philanthropy events; previous events include blood drives, senior home visits, donating and cooking food for homeless shelters, and packing food for malnourished children around the world.
Our church has seen tremendous progress in the past two years: an increase in attendance and membership; a fuller cycle of liturgical services; a Christ centered ministry; an increase in spiritual activities; an increase in philanthropy and service to the community; an emphasis on full-time youth ministry; renovation of the church and fellowship hall, including renovating the altar.
Within such a short period of time the Church of the Virgin Mary has grown from a concept to becoming the reality of a mid-size parish. By the grace of God, the church is filled beyond capacity every Sunday. We are grateful to our God for all of His blessings. While there is still much work to be done, we’ve learned that when work together in humility and love, and most importantly, if we keep Christ at the center of our ministry, God will bless us and help us accomplish what may seem impossible. For with God, all things are possible!
Thank you for this virtual visit. We welcome you to join us in worship and fellowship whenever you are in the Chicagoland area.
You can learn more about the Church of the Virgin Mary by visiting our website at www.virginmaryoc.org.
May God bless you and your loved ones!