My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The reaching of one hundred years in any sort of enterprise is an incredible landmark. It shows not only the determination and hard work of the person or group with the original vision, but that there have been those of subsequent generations that have recognized the value within the original vision and effort, who continued to move forward, uniting their own efforts to those who came before them. A century speaks to the people united through time by something greater than themselves.
What could be a better example of this than the Church? What unites those who enter and struggle within its walls with the centuries of fellow workers that came before and will come after them more completely than Jesus Christ? Where do we see that unity in purpose and effort more concretely than in the Eurharist partaken by each with faith and love?
We are fortunate in our parish to have not one, but two patron saints to emulate. The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul can serve us as excellent examples of how we must continue the incredible vision of our parish for the next one hundred years. With prayers to St Peter, and along with him, we are called by Christ to "feed My sheep." As God is infinite, there will always be more for each of us to learn and experience in our relationship with Him in and through our Church. We must continue to be a center for those Orthodox Christians who wish to come here to receive the sacraments and deepen their relationship to the Holy Trinity. In St. Paul, we have the example of our vocation to preach the Gospel outside the walls of our building as well. With his prayers, we must always look outisde of ourselves, and boldly seek to share the Gospel with our various communities through actions and words, that the world might know we are Christ's disciples by our love.
Loking back over our long history, a history I have only recently joined, we can see incredible lives and deeds filled with the love that built this parish. It was not the love of Albania, or of our community here in Philadelphia that built this church and gave it its staying power and vision, although that love was in no way absent. It was the love of Christ and the desire to truly worship Him that built and maintained this parish and preserved it in His grace. It is our job not only to use the gift that those who have come before us have provided but, like the good and faithful servants who had talents given into their care, we must expand and grow this gift for those who come after us.
May the Living Christ, through the prayers of the Theotokos, and under the patronage of the Holy Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, bless, keep and preserve us in His love for many Years!