April 20, 2016
"Urshlem" Diocesan Center- Beasley, Texas
Blessings to our Cor-Episcopoi, Priests, Deacons, Parish Managing Committee and all the faithful of our Diocese!
As we complete the 7th anniversary of the inception of our Diocese, it is important that we remind ourselves to look back and reflect upon our past. It is by understanding how we have grown over the last seven years that we can move forward and make improvements to better glorify God and serve the faithful. While the South-West American Diocese is young, we cannot forget the foundation laid by our elders, priests and bishops who immigrated to the US and Canada and established church communities. We are able to stand firm today because of their hard work and now, we are responsible to continue the mission of strengthening the faith passed unto us through the Malankara Orthodox Church amongst not only the faithful, but the world. We must work to spread the beauty of our rich church tradition to this land.
During this season of the Resurrection we must ask ourselves, “What can I do to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and build up His Church?” First and foremost, we need to listen to Him and heed His call. We must move the focus away from ourselves and remind ourselves to serve God and His will in our lives. When we look to the Scriptures, there are two great examples for us to use as reflection. In the Old Testament, we see Abraham being told by God to leave his father’s house to a land God would show him (Genesis 12). In faith, Abraham listened to God and acted accordingly. He left his home and selflessly followed, and he invested in God’s call, and he experienced God’s grace and blessing. Because of Abraham’s faithfulness, all generations after him were blessed by his willingness to listen and worked towards what God asked of him. The second example shifts our focus from serving God but serving others in His love. Not only must we listen for ourselves, but we have a responsibility to provide for each other. This is evident in Christ’s restoration of Peter’s apostolic ministry (St. John 21:15-19). As Jesus questions Peter’s love for Him, and exhorts him to feed His sheep, we see that Jesus is reminding Peter that the responsibility of apostleship, at its core, is to love Christ and to love his fellow brothers and sisters. We are given that same responsibility to provide with the same unconditional love expressed in the Gospel.
This year, we will be having our Seventh Annual Diocesan Assembly in Atlanta, GA and looking back, there are many areas of growth for us to be proud. Glory to God! The Diocese has taken the lead in implementing the Liturgical Resource Development and making English translations of the Sacraments and special feasts of the Church available for the faithful. In addition to catering to the needs of the growing generations raised here in North America, this effort is also a commitment to witness Christ in the communities we live. Our spiritual organizations have significantly increased in their ability to reach all of the parishes, areas and regions of North America. Strong units of MGOCSM, Martha Mariam Samajam, Prayer Fellowship, Divya Bodhanam, and Sunday School have helped many of our faithful grow in their faith and become active in the life of the Church through the many programs initiated by these spiritual organizations. These include programs such as online prayers, bible and faith studies through online and teleconference systems, resource development, and consistent family conferences at area, regional, and diocesan levels.
Furthermore, as a Diocese, we have started the initial investments to develop a Diocesan Center by purchasing a 100 acre property in Beasley, Texas. This will be an all-encompassing spiritual center for us to grow in Christ’s love and transmit that love to our fellow brethren. We will do this through the discipline of prayer, a commitment to serve, and providing a spiritual sanctuary to strengthen all who come and partake of the facilities available at the Diocesan Center. We ask everyone to support this effort with their prayers so that our Diocesan Center,“Urshlem”, which is named after the ‘city of peace’ and the place our Lord Resurrected and gave his peace, to become a place that spreads God’s peace to all corners of our Diocese.
At the same time, we must look past what we have done and how we can do more to improve these efforts. It Is our goal to increase our effectiveness in having an impact on and reaching more of the faithful. Though we have OCYM and FOCUS as spiritual organizations for our young adults and young families, we know there is more that we can do to provide resources and help to enable them to become more active. In addition to strengthening these two movements, we have wanted to provide a strong Department of Pastoral Care and Counseling. It has been an earnest wish since the inception of the Diocese and recently, it has taken new steps for the development of the department and its ministry to serve the faithful. That being said, we cannot do it alone. We need more of our priests, lay leaders and the faithful to respond to our request for feedback and step up to help make these organizations flourish. We, as a Diocese, can do more in serving those in need within the communities we live, which means we have to take up the challenge and tithe our time, talents and resources.
Your Shepherd in Christ,
Alexios Mar Eusebius