Dear in the Lord revered fathers, brothers and sisters!
In March 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia blessed the establishment of the parish of St Luke the Blessed Surgeon. Providentially, the first Liturgy of the parish was on the eve of the Feast of the Uncovering of the relics (1996) of this great Saint, on Sunday, March 17. We are the only parish in the diaspora dedicated to this Saint who has special relevance to our struggles as Orthodox Christians in the Modern world. St Luke was an unmercenary physician who saved countless physical lives while also attending to the spiritual needs of vast numbers of suffering Russians. He patiently endured persecution and exile in an atmosphere of national hostility to the Church, yet was also able to pursue excellence in scientific scholarship.
Our parish had a humble beginning in a chapel located within a school. By the Grace of God the parish grew steadily with the tireless efforts of our rector and school chaplain, Fr Demetrio. Many of the students and their parents became parishioners. At the same time, word of our parish reached the surrounding community and it began attracting people from a range of backgrounds, those of Russian descent and other traditional Orthodox nationalities, as well as a growing stream of American converts. We are one of the only parishes worshipping in both English and Slavonic languages in South Florida and we are happy that our congregants who hold these languages dear live in harmony praising our Lord! On a typical Sundays, 50 to 65 people attend Liturgy.
Since the parish has been growing, the chapel has become increasingly overcrowded. This showed us that it was time to find a new location that would better accommodate our growing community. However, a series of events occurred over the past few months that sped up this process and forced the parish to move out of the chapel three days before the Nativity of our Lord. This was difficult for us but we have accepted it as the clear and unmistakable will of our Lord. Providentially, at the eleventh hour one of our parishioners offered to take in our orphaned community just before Nativity and we are currently conducting services in a room at his place of business. We are very grateful for God’s protection and this parishioner. However, this accommodation is temporary and even more crowded than our previous chapel. Thus, we must find a more permanent home where we can continue to flourish and grow. With prayer and faith we are exploring properties and buildings that could accommodate us in the near term and give us an opportunity to build a traditional church edifice dedicated to St. Luke.
Our hierarchs, +Metropolitan Hilarion and +Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, fully support our intent to acquire or build a church and they have explicitly directed us to do so. In obedience to them, we are seeking to raise the funds needed to plant our community of St Luke the Blessed Surgeon in a fertile new home. We sincerely hope that you will help us in this endeavor!
Our Hierarchs have emphasized to us that our struggles in exile from our former home are especially poignant in 2020, the centennial of the founding of ROCOR as a church in exile during the turbulent times of the Russian Civil War. In that year, the forces which had made a last stand in Crimea against the Bolsheviks were forced to flee, including luminaries of the Russian Orthodox Church who would become the foundation of ROCOR. We endeavor to follow their example of patience, faith and diligence in finding a new home and bringing the Orthodox faith to a wider world.
A century ago, St Luke was also struggling to find his way during difficult times. He learned the importance of patience and perseverance in faith and would later counsel his flock thus: “We will achieve the purpose of our life, which is our communion with God and the acquisition of eternal life, if we lift our cross until the end without murmuring, and if we drink from the cup of patience until it is empty.”
We are committed to follow this path of patience, love and tireless service that which was followed with such great courage by our patron, St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon. We hope that you will help support us in acquiring a permanent home for our community.
With love in Christ,
The Parishioners of St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon