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A Reflection on the 2013 Pastoral Visit of Mar Sarhad

On Saturday, May 4th, 2013, His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo began his pastoral visit to our Parish with the Consecration of the grotto of our Lady of Grace ceremony. Our Marian devotion in honoring our Blessed Mother of God will surely be remembered as a day of new beginning for our Parish. Offering the flowers the kids brought to our Holy Mother was a sentiment that only a father could see its authenticity. Mar Sarhad, our beloved spiritual father and Bishop did indeed see, for the fruit of his labor could never have manifested more explicitly than seeing the sheer joy in each child that came to him so to receive a blessing.

Following the ceremony, to the attendees during dinner H.E. Mar Sarhad spoke about the Parable of the Talents, emphasizing on the necessity of both self-giving and self-assessing every shepherd must demand of himself, and so must we. For the end we have claimed to reach, is of purity and great value. But neither purity nor value can ever be obtained from any ware but the Altar, and be permeated with sacrifices and humility. H.E. continued saying, even in his sermon the next day, “together we have passed the test”, emphasizing on the fact that this was a mission he, himself, claimed and reaffirmed not only to continue, but to be the forefront in facing the challenges ahead. “I have come to harvest today.” asking each and every one of us to reflect on our own faithfulness in preserving our unity in Christ, for it is indeed from the Altar we receive that which is pure and of great value- to be one in Christ.

During his sermon, a little girl came to me with deep concern-look and asked me why I was crying, I replied, he is so passionate. She asked me what does passionate mean. He loves Jesus so much, I replied. She looked up, with a beautiful smile and said; I do too!

Indeed, our Bishop’s heartfelt love for Jesus is Grace given virtue, and so has been his love for us, evident in his words and deeds through the years and touched us all, young and old. As our spiritual father, he continued calling us to adhere to our unity in Christ, as a father calling his children to be one, even more so, to desire it, for The Lord Himself commanded it. However, H.E. emphasized on the reality of where we are today, and the accountability we must all bear so that we can ensure that our unity is augmented and true. He continues saying that we must remain mindful of the criteria through which we must be willing to assess our adherence to this mission, and that is holiness, and nothing else. For that which requires much of us, can be nothing less than that which is most precious for us, and that is what our Diocese did. Our beloved Bishop reiterated his fervent pledge to continue his mission in uniting us in Christ, “I first! Let me take the adversary’s snares, and you behind me”.

Following the morning Mass on May 5th, 2013, our Youth Ministry, SMYLE, filled with joy and enthusiasm invited our beloved Bishop to bless the future basketball court. Ministry members, teen and the Youth, welcomed our beloved Bishop outside to meet our prospective team, and discuss Ministry’s vision in building up SMYLE Jr. as part of big brother- big sister community outreach. Mar Sarhad spared no time or effort, blessed the court, dedicating it to St. Mark the Apostle. The Bishop gave the children a brief account of John Mark, and went on to explain the father/son relationship between Mark and Peter, “1 Peter5:13”. For this reason, Mar Sarhad chose Mark to be the patron saint for this team.

Our Parish continues to reap the goodness of her devotion to Christ’s Unity, as we extend our gratitude to His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo who gracefully joined us in this beautiful event, and for his unfailing efforts in providing us continuous pastoral care. We are grateful to have Archbishop Mar Thoma E. George of Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East, Nineveh-Iraq, to celebrate this beautiful event, and his heartfelt blessings.

We extend our gratitude to the continuous and unwavering support of the Pastors of both St. Matthew and of St. Thomas Parishes, Fr. Awraha Mansoor and Fr. Peter Georgis. Also, to our special guests: Fr. Poulos Ghozairan and members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Orangevale, Fr. Michael Barota and members of St. Mary in Campbell, members of St. Thomas in Turlock, from our Diocese in San Diego Sr. Tarbytha along with Seminarians of Mar Abba the Great, as well as guests from neighboring parishes. Special thanks are due to Sr. Tarbytha, Seminarian Royal Hannosh, Dn. Anthony Garia of St Mary’s and our Parish Media Team for this event media coverage.

May the blessings of this Devotion be upon all those who volunteered so to make this event one to remember, our Parish Council, Daughters of Mary, Daughters of Charity, Deacons and Choir, and our Youth volunteers and children. God bless you all.