Tsunami Relief

February 1, 2005 by  
Filed under Edit

St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church offers a worship experience unlike any other in Houston. This Eastern Rite church celebrates the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, who was Archbishop of Constantinople during the fourth century. The mystical and inspiring worship tradition was brought to America by immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The Divine Liturgy is a worship experience that involves all the senses. The liturgy is chanted by voice alone without the aid of instruments. Incense fills the sanctuary, representing man’s prayers rising to God. The iconostas, or icon screen, separates the sanctuary, which represents heaven, from the nave, which represents earth.

St. John’s is the smallest Catholic parish in Houston, consisting of 40 or 50 families. Some families live as far as 70 miles away. Unlike some of Houston’s super churches, where a visitor can get lost in a congregation in the thousands, St. John’s offers an intimate and warm community of faith. About 120 worshipers attend Divine Liturgy each Sunday.

Another unique aspect of the parish is its pastor, Father Julian Anthony. A native of the state of Madras, India, Father Julian received his bachelor’s degree from the Pontifical Institute of Theology in Bangalore, India. After his ordination in 1966, he worked with Mother Theresa in her program for socially disadvantaged people. After serving the church in India in several positions, Father Julian studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Gregorian University in Rome. He received his doctorate in biblical studies in 1977.

Father Julian celebrated his first mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Nagapattinam, India. The church was saved from the tsunami in late December by a wall surrounding the edifice, but the beach and blocks of shops leading to the church are gone.

St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church, the smallest parish in Harris County, is trying to make a big difference for this church in India, for these people who have been so devastated. These Houstonians have set up the Little Flower Charitable Trust for the victims to help rehabilitate the parish – for housing, medicine and equipment – to help their fellow Christians become self-sufficient again.

“Destruction is everywhere,” says Father Julian of Nagapattinam, India. “The smell of death is in the air – the suffering is immense.” The Divine Liturgy is celebrated on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m., Sundays at 10 a.m. and weekdays at noon. St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church is located at 5402 Acorn St. (off Antoine Drive north of 290). Visitors are welcome.

YOUR HELP A Little Flower Charitable Trust will give money directly to Our Lady of Lourdes Church and its parishioners. To donate, make your check payable to St. John Chrysostom, designate “victims of the tsunami” in the memo, and mail it to 5402 Acorn St., Houston, TX 77092.

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