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On Monday evening, April 7, the first patronal feast was celebrated at a new mission community in Parker, Colorado dedicated to St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America. Among the over 40 faithful in attendance were eight priests, six of whom concelebrated the Presanctified Liturgy.

Father Alexander Vallens, the Priest-in-Charge, edified those gathered by recounting the Saint’s many labors in North America, including his visits to Colorado, and emphasizing that St. Tikhon personally established three local parishes which continue today. Father Alexander also described several of the Saint’s terrible trials when he returned to Russia and was elected Patriarch of Moscow. Despite his strong connections to the area, this is the first parish dedicated to St. Tikhon in the Diocese of the West.

At the end of the service, the people venerated a unique icon of their patron, depicted in his green patriarchal mantia, with St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow to his right, and a landscape reminiscent of the American west to his left. In addition, the community is greatly blessed to have some threads from the Saint’s mantia which, as Father Alexander noted, is both a holy relic and a piece of history.Following the service all were treated to a festive fish potluck prepared by the parishioners, accompanied by wine and an ample array of sweets. It was after 10 PM before the gathering began to wind down, with more than one person observing that the occasion was so bright and joyful that it felt like a “little Pascha.” Although the weekly Sunday Divine Liturgy has been served for several months, this was the first weekday service to be celebrated at the Mission. Father Alexander thanked his brother priests for their support in helping make the Mission a reality.

The Mission began as an outreach effort of the Rocky Mountain Deanery in the fall of 2012. A number of Orthodox Christians from area parishes strategized to plant a mission in this growing suburb on the southeastern edge of the Denver metropolitan area. For now, the Mission is meeting in a neighborhood “clubhouse,” while it considers possibilities for a more permanent location. For more information, please go to the Mission’s web site, http://parkerorthodoxmission.org/, or visit its Facebook page.

Parker Celebration

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