Reflecting on my golden Anniversary to the priesthood, many thoughts come into my mind.  One that is most vivid is the image of an angel.  When driving, I listen, at times, to a station “On Broadway” on Satellite Radio.  This year, as I drove to the Shrine of the Archangel Michael in Tarpon Springs for the Great Vesper Service, I remember hearing a tune from one of my favorite musicals. “Mama Mia:   I believe in angels”.  When heard the song, I thought it was very timely since the Church is celebrating the Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangels.

The eve of the Feast Day, has, also, a great significance for me since on November 7, 1971, I was ordained a priest at my home parish of St. George when it was in Lincoln Park, MI, by Bishop Iakovos, later Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, of blessed memory.  Following the ordination and luncheon, that my parents hosted, Presvytera Vasiliki and I packed up the car and drove to Akron, Ohio, so I could celebrate my first Divine Liturgy as a priest with my godfather, Father George Bartz, of blessed memory.  What a blessing for both of us!  Being extremely nervous, it was reassuring when my godmother remarking that I did a great job as a new priest.  

Serving as a priest of the Holy Archdiocese of America, many doors of opportunity opened to travel to significate places that enhanced my ministry:  trips to Greece, the Holy Land, the Phanar, the Holy Mountain and in the US.   Throughout my ministry, Presvytera Vasiliki has been my great support and we have worked as a team, helping each other. She is wife, mother to our sons and grandmother to our grandchildren and cares for all of us.   My appreciation and love to her!   

Let me extend my gratitude to all those I have had a chance to encounter during my ministry in the various parishes I’ve served;  to those from whom I have learned and to those I have taught and touched.  Many thanks to the committee from Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene that have organized my Golden Anniversary commemoration, which is greatly appreciated and their love and consideration will never be forgotten. Thank you to all who have attended the commemoration and those who have offered their good wishes, who were unable to attend.

I don’t know where the years have gone as I celebrate my 50th anniversary of ordination, but my angel has been there with me. That same angel that whispered in my ear, on Holy Thursday evening in 1963, as a member of the male choir, chanting the “Simeron Kremate..” facing the Crucified Christ on the solea of Sts. Constantine and Helen in Detroit, MI. ‘you must be here all the time’, continued to guide me through good and not so good times. So, the song asks if I believe in angels… and I say, “I sure do!”  May I whisper in your ear to pray that your angel will continue “to protect you under the shelter of their wings.”

Fr. James

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