International Orthodox Christian News

It was a joyous celebration of new beginnings and time to recognize those who set examples for all people to live a better life, grow a healthier society.

Priests representing several Orthodox Christian churches from areas including Reading and Harrisburg and about 300 congregants gathered Sunday, March 8 2009; at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in York Township to celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vesper Service.

According to the Rev. Andrew N. Tsikitas of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, the Sunday of Orthodoxy is celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent and represents triumph of truth over heresy and error.

The day also marks the ancient anniversary of the church's restoration of icons, which are images of saints that, for a time, could not be featured in churches.

"The gathering is to celebrate our Lent and Easter," said Chris Saltos, vice president of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church community.

After the service, the congregants were to share a Lenten meal. All Orthodox Christians are supposed to fast until Easter, which is their main religious holiday, he said.

"It's the most important because of the resurrection (of Jesus)," he said.

The event also included prayers for forgiveness of offenses and sins, and hymns performed by a choir of about 60 members from the various churches, said Tsikitas' wife, Katherine.

"It's a way for us all to share in our faith. . . . Ultimately, our goal is to enter into the kingdom of Heaven," she said.

The event also served as a reunion for friends from various parishes, she said.

Zachery O'Dell, programs assistant for International Orthodox Christian Charities in Baltimore, Md., asked the congregants to emphasize the meaning of Christianity rather than see Sunday's celebration as a ritual.

"We are here to become better Christians," he said.


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