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Archpastoral Visit to Rockford, IL (12/10/22)

On Saturday Dec. 10th His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa with Chicago Dean, the Very Rev. Protopresbyter Father Sam Sherry of St. Michael Church in Niles, IL visited the parish community of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Rockford, IL served by Father Jonathan Bannon and Pani Marianna.

Great Vespers for the Forefathers of Christ (2nd Sunday before Christmas) began with the traditional bread and salt and words of welcome. Following the service and guiding words from His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory a fellowship meal was offered with carols sung led by a parishioner's violin, a presentation with gifts from the parish's young adults and a song from a college student. His Eminence spent time with many people in an atmosphere of gratitude and love.

Many years to His Eminence and all who helped prepare for this special Archpastoral visit! - Fr. Jonathan Bannon
Decorated icon of the Sunday of the Forefathers 2 weeks before the feast of the Nativity
Pani Marianna preparing the flowers
His Eminence shares a memory with a younger member of the church who remembers
His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory enters the Sanctuary offering prayers as He arrives before Vespers.
Parish Board President Jeremy Erber offers the traditional bread and salt with words of thanksgiving and welcome from the heart.
Parish priest Fr. Jonathan Bannon offers the altar-cross and offers words of welcome quoting the desert fathers, "it is enough for us to see you" as the community anticipates here guiding words from His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory.
A Belarusian tradition of holding flowers making a tunnel of honor and welcome for His Eminence.
Very Reverend Protopresbyter Father Sam Sherry was an honored guest and had served the Rockford parish for 16 years and is always welcomed home when visiting.
So much selfless care went into preparing the church from the flowers to the chanting to the fellowship meal. God bless everyone for their great Faith and Stewardship.
People from all over the world shared the Lord's Prayer in different languages from Nigerian Dialect, Nepalese, Swahili, Fante Twi, Slavonic, Greek, Arabic and Georgian.
Metropolitan Gregory speaks to everyone about the importance of staying strong and trusting that we are God's children and our Father in Heaven watches over us no matter what.
Many young adults attended! College students inviting friends, those who recently converted and many catechumens and inquirers came to pray with and meet His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa.
The Young Adults offered a gift to His Eminence and collectively prepared a letter of welcome. They spoke of the care His Eminence had for us during the Pandemic, celebrating the overturning of Roe recently and encouraging them with the 8th annual Prayer Challenge!
Founding member Michael Strapko brought his violin and lead the evening's program with 3 Christmas carols.
Kate who recently converted, sang a song that she is preparing to offer at a recital at Lewis University soon. She will be attending MIT this Spring as well!
Anthony and Fern who moved here from Thailand not long ago, greet His Eminence.
For most of our inquirers and catechumens this was their first opportunity to meet an Orthodox Hierarch.