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St. Peter Newsletter December 22, 2020

The Flight into Egypt

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Proto-Martyr Stephen the Archdeacon
Sunday after the Nativity of Christ

Commemoration of Joseph the Betrothed
David the Prophet and King
James the brother of the Lord

St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr

St. Stephen was a Jew living in the Hellenic provinces, related to the Apostle Paul and one of the first seven deacons ordained by the Apostles to serve the Church in Jerusalem (thus making him an Archdeacon). In the words of Asterias: St Stephen was “the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed his blood for the Gospel.”

The Holy Spirit worked powerfully through his faith, enabling him to perform many miracles and always defeat those who would dispute with him. The Jews in their hatred of St. Stephen lied about him to the people, but St. Stephen with his face illumined reminded the people of the miracles God had worked through him and even rebuked the Jews for killing the innocent Christ.

The people were enraged by what they thought was blasphemy and ‘gnashed their teeth’ at Stephen. It was then that he saw his Christ in the heavens and declared it so. Hearing this, they took him outside the city and stoned him to death, with his kinsman Saul (later St. Paul) holding their coats while they did it. Afar off on a hill was the Virgin Mary and St. John the Theologian who witnessed this first martyrdom for the Son of God and prayed for him while he was being stoned. This occurred about a year after the first Pentecost.

Source: OrthodoxWiki

The Flight into Egypt
The Flight into Egypt

Joseph the Betrothed and the Flight into Egypt

“Take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word” (Matthew 2:13 – KJV)

“Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1 – RSV)

“The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.” (Isaiah 19:1 – KJV)

“In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.” (Isaiah 19:19 – KJV)

“Blessed be Egypt my people” (Isaiah 19:25 – KJV)

According to the Scripture, Jesus Christ lived in Palestine, and the only other country he travelled to (as a young child) was Egypt. The Holy Family, throughout their stay in Egypt, which lasted for about three-and-half years, moved through many towns in Upper and Lower Egypt.

Many of the details of the journey of the Holy Family in Egypt are chronicled in a Mimar (manuscript) by Pope Theophilus, 23rd Patriarch of Alexandria (384-412 A.D.), who received these details during an apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary. Other sources of information include accounts by 2nd and 3rd century Greek and Jewish writers/philosophers/historians.

Many churches and monasteries were built in the locations which have been blessed by the visit of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph the carpenter. Many miracles took place in these locations during the Holy Family visit 2000 years ago (and continue to occur to this day). These Coptic churches are considered the oldest and among the holiest of all churches in Christendom.

Among the places visited by the Holy Family are Zeitun in Cairo, where the Holy Virgin Mary also appeared in 1968, and Assiut in Upper Egypt, where She again appeared in 2000 [1].

In one small street in el-Matarya district of today’s Cairo (Eid Street/Shek El-Te’eban Street), all kinds of bread and bakery cannot be leavened up to this day, since the Virgin Mary first visited that place with the Holy Family 2000 years ago and they were refused bread and cast away. This is an ongoing miracle that anyone can witness till this very day. Bread leavens normally in all surrounding streets.

Source: OrthodoxWiki.


Nativity Week Worship Schedule

The Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
  • Sat Dec 26 — SYNAXIS OF THE THEOROKOS Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM

When is the Cutting of the Vassilopita (St. Basil’s Bread) and the Blessing of the Waters (Imperial River) Next Year?

We will cut the Vassilopita on Sunday, January 3, 2021 following Divine Liturgy

We will bless the waters at Imperial River on Sunday, January 7, 2021 following the Divine Liturgy (after a very brief Social Hall.

Helping NAMI

Photos of Sarah Ann Drop-In Center
Photos of Sarah Ann Drop-In Center

A thank you letter from NAMI for the support from St. Peter’s.

Dear St. Peter’s,

Thank you very much for your generous donation to Sara Ann Center for Christmas gifts and supplies for our members. Your kindness allows us to continue providing our services free of charge and directly improves the quality of life of those affected by mental illnesses.

We appreciate the support of caring people like yourselves. As we see the faces of families light up when their HUGS Navigator pulls into their driveway, or our embers smile over a Zoom meeting to see a familiar face, we are reminded of the important role NAMI Collier plays in so many people’s lives. We are here for them, for you. or anyone you know who needs us because of your donations.

On behalf of the Staff, our Members, and our Families, we thank you.

With Kind Regards;

Pamela J. Baker Ed.D
CEO of NAMI Collier County

Thank you to Mary Copeland who directs this project for St. Peter’s every year.


Stewardship 2021

Two things determined our flourishing in the past year: God’s benevolence towards us and your faithfulness. Your support of St. Peter’s enables us to experience God’s benevolence.

People who follow Christ need to come together. Our parish offers that. Without a place to meet, there would be no Divine Liturgy, no Eucharist, no place for anointing when we are sick, no place where those who are seeking Christ can call home, no place to meet dear friends every week, no place for baptisms and weddings, no place where the children can grow up with their Church friends, and much more.

We are again in the season where we have to consider our financial commitment to St. Peter’s. Our budget is growing because the parish is growing. We estimate is that our budget will increase 19% in 2021.

Please click the image to read the full message and prayerfully consider your support of St. Peter’s for 2021.


Click to view letter


Only a Few Days Left in December – Please Complete Your Stewardship

If you have not fulfilled your 2020 Regular Stewardship Pledge, please do so before the end of the year so that we may continue to meet our year-end obligations.

Thank you for your generosity throughout the year.

Also, you should have received by mail your 2021 Stewardship Pledge letter and form. Don’t forget to fill it out and return it to the church. If you did not receive one, additional copies are available in the Narthex.


Capital Campaign Update

Click here
Click the image to see how and why you can help

UPDATE: We are still accepting Capital Campaign Donations as we have not yet made our goal. Our goal is $750K and we now have $427K. Thank you for your generous contributions to date.

The Church now has set up a Brokerage account so if anyone wishes to donate stocks or bonds, the Church can accept them.

Our Capital Campaign is going well. So far $427,000 of the $750,000 we need to secure a mortgage to make a bid on the new Church property has been received. That’s over half of our goal!

Some parishioners may be under the impression that November 1 was a cut off date. It wasn’t. It was the date we hoped to receive all pledges. If you have still not pledged, you can still do so.

Download a pledge form on the St. Peter website.

Please remember, churches are hard to come by in Southwest Florida. This property meets our needs because:

  1. We can afford it (the mortgage will cost no more than what we currently pay in rent; it may even be a little less),
  2. It has buildings on site that are move-in ready,
  3. It can accommodate the growth we are experiencing and that will continue.

Many of you have seen our Capital Campaign video. Take a look at it again. It lays out our vision that has guided us to where we are and explains why a move is necessary now.

We are grateful to everyone who has supported our Capital Campaign. Thank you very much for your confidence and trust, and the hope you have in the flourishing of St. Peter’s parish.


Introduction to Orthodoxy Classes Continue

Next class Sunday, January 27, 2020. Assignment: Chapters 15 and 16.

The class is required for seekers and catechumens and also open to any parishioner who would like to attend. The syllabus will be posted on the website at soon as it is completed and handed out the first day of class.

We will meet after social hall. Get some coffee, have some food and fellowship, and then we break for class.


St. Peter’s is Going Camping!

Get more information on the St. Peter website!

St. Peter's is going camping!
Click the image for more information

2021 DOMSE Virtual Winter Retreat — Save the Date



Byzantine Chant Workshop – Weekly on Tuesday at 7:00pm at St. Paul’s


Byzantine Chant Workshop


Led by Dn. Nicholas Reid, participants will learn the basics of the tone of the week — its characteristics, scale, and various forms — and will get a chance to participate in group practice.

No prior chanting experience is required.

This will also be an opportunity to deepen our Orthodox faith by better understanding the role each tone plays in liturgical worship so that we can apply them more fruitfully in our parish life as well as in the worship of the “little church” – our own homes.

Questions? Contact Dn. Nick (


Pledge & Income Report – November 2020

Donations received in November $17,553.00
Amount of money needed to cover expenses: $18,167.00
We are behind by $614.00

Over the last 2 months, our donations have not met expenses. Please give generously in December so that we can make our year-end budget numbers.

Please note:Please continue your generous support. If you cannot make it to church please mail in your donation to:

St. Peter Orthodox Church
24850 Old 41 Road Suite 6
Bonita Springs, FL 34135


You can also donate online (scroll to bottom of page):

Click to donate


Bishop NICHOLAS Offers a Weekly Live Stream

These are short thirty minute presentations where His Grace Bp. Nicholas speaks on one theme in Sunday readings for fifteen minutes followed by questions from the listeners. It’s worth tuning in. Get instructions on the St. Peter website on how to use the Band App on your phone or computer to participate.



Calendar At A Glance

Calendar also available on the St. Peter website.


  • Sun Dec 20 — Orthros 8:30am / Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Sun Dec 20 — Catechism Class following Social Hall
  • Tue Dec 22 — Byzantine Chant Workshop at St. Paul’s 7:00pm
  • Sat Dec 26 — SYNAXIS OF THE THEOTOKOS Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Sun Dec 27 — Orthros 8:30am / Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Sun Dec 27 — Catechism Class following Social Hall
  • Tue Dec 29 — Byzantine Chant Workshop at St. Paul’s 7:00pm
  • Tue Dec 29 — THE HOLY INNOCENTS Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Fri Jan 01 — CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST / ST. BASIL Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM


  • Sun Jan 03 — Orthros 8:30am / Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Sun Jan 03 — CUTTING OF THE VASILOPITA following Divine Liturgy LIVE STREAM
  • Thu Jan 07 — CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST / ST. BASIL Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Sun Jan 10 — Orthros 8:30am / Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Sun Jan 10 — Blessing of the Waters (Imperial River) following Divine Liturgy
  • Mon Jan 11 — ST. THEODOSIOS THE GREAT Divine Liturgy LIVE STREAM
  • Tue Jan 12 — Byzantine Chant Workshop at St. Paul’s 7:00pm
  • Sun Jan 17 — Orthros 8:30am / Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Mon Jan 18 — ST. ATHANASIOS / CYRIL Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Tue Jan 19 — Byzantine Chant Workshop at St. Paul’s 7:00pm
  • Wed Jan 20 — RIGHTEOUS EUTHYMIOS Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Thu Jan 21 — ST. MAXIMOS THE CONFESSOR Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Sun Jan 24 — Orthros 8:30am / Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Mon Jan 25 — ST. GREGORY THE THEOLOGIAN Divine Liturgy 9:30am LIVE STREAM
  • Tue Jan 26 — Byzantine Chant Workshop at St. Paul’s 7:00pm
  • Fri Jan 29 — DOMSE Virtual Retreat
  • Sat Jan 30 — DOMSE Virtual Retreat

Wisdom From The Elders

From the time of the Fall of our ancestors, who dreamed of becoming gods, egoism became so firmly embedded in human nature that the ability to do good for goodness’ sake was lost. Archbishop Averky (Taushev)

To suffer less from passionate thoughts, it is necessary to remove oneself from occasions that arouse them. Abba Poemen

Fear malice as you fear the fire; do not admit it into your heart, even upon any plausible pretence, and still less by reason of anything disagreeable to you; malice is always an evil, a child of hell. Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt

Fear and uneasiness proceed from unbelief. Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt

As soon as condemnation comes into your head, immediately say with attention: “Lord grant me to see my sins and not condemn my brother.” St. Nektary of Optina

Likewise people: they go to bars and restaurants together and get drunk, smashing glasses and bottles, and they come home with cuts and bruises, but they find no comfort. They look for comfort everywhere, but it cannot be found. But those who are one with the Lord, like the angels, are always at peace and have joy in their hearts. Their peace and joy are unchangeable. Elder Thaddeus(Strabulovich) of Vitovnica


Remember in Your Prayers

The Prayer List has been revamped. To bring order to the list we will do the following:

  • Names will remain on the list for two months.
  • If you would like to keep them on longer please mention it to Fr. Hans. We will keep the names on the list for as long as the person needs prayers.
  • Names will include the person who requested the prayers and the month the name will be removed.
  • The permanent list includes friends and members of St. Peter’s and others including shut-ins.

Were names dropped that should have remained? Please mention it to Fr. Hans. He will add them back.

Current Prayer List (Updated December 14 / Resets January 1)

David (Dusckas 2/21)
T.R. (Dusckas 2/21)
Debbie (Breitenbach 2/21)
Barbara (Dusckas 2/21)
Mary (Marianthi 2/21)
Sarah (Wolffe 2/21)
Pauline (Jacobse 2/21)
Benjamin (Jacobse 2/21)
Marcie (Breitenbach 2/21)
Jo Ann (Breitenbach 2/21)
Angela (Fred 12/21)
Despina (Diveris 2/21)
Ronald (Sovjani 2/21)
Katherine (Dusckas 2/21)
Marlene (Tewis 2/21)
Gail (Jacobse 1/21)
Robert (Tewis 1/21)
Sergio (Mary Kazakos 1/21)
Rae (Semeretis 1/21)
Mary (Semeretis 1/21)
Heather (Waterman 1/21)
Zachary (Constantine 1/21)
Peter (Foltz 1/21)
Alexa (Buchanan 1/21)
Rebecca (Aguado 1/2021)
Jacob (Aguado 1/2021)
Baby Mackenzie (Zafiris 12/20
Weston (Teufel 12/20)
Nolan (Zafiris 12/20)

Permanent Prayer List

Fran (Hansen)
Nina (Krotov)
George (Chapekis)
Franklin (Pyrrson)
George (Chionis)
Stamatia (Jacobse)
Stamatia (Evelyn)
Demetrios (Kuchera)
Theodosios (Palis)
Theodora (Webb)
Helen (Rogers)
Robert (Smith)
Robert (Jarvis)
Presbytera Rosy (in Pakistan)
James (Hord)
Ann (Rellis)
Vassiliki (Kontinos)
Vassiliki (Morekeas)

Founders, Members, and Benefactors Departed this Life

John (Hansen)
Anatoly (Kurdsjuk)
Thareni (Brooks)
Milan Evanoff
Jean (Sam)
Eleni (Pearson)
Richard (Pearson)
Fr. Stephanos (Shagoury)
Panagiota (Bea Chionis)
Anthony (Mourgis)
Anthony (Mankus)
Constantine (Houpis)
Constantine (Joseph)
Mary (Jarvis)
Panagiota Margarita (Palis)

How should we pray for the sick? Remember them daily. Say their names (first names are sufficient) and ask God to bestow mercy and grace on them.

Add or remove names and print this list for easy reference during your prayer time on the St. Peter website.


Sunday Readings


Christ Giving Blessing



For St. Stephen

His voice has gone out into all the earth. The heavens declare the glory of God.
The Reading from the Acts of the Apostles. (6:8-7:5, 47-60)

In those days, Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

Then they secretly instigated men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

The high priest said, “Is this so?” And Stephen said: “Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.’ Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living; yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his posterity after him, though he had no child.

But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What house will you build for Me’, says the Lord, ‘or what is the place of My rest? Did not My hand make all these things?’ You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they grinded their teeth against him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him.

Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.


For the Sunday after Nativity of Christ

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (2:13-23)

When the wise men had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a
dream and said, “Rise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I
tell you; for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy Him.” And he rose and took the
Child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he
sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region, who were two years old
or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled
what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud
lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
saying, “Rise, take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the
Child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the Child and His mother, and went to the land of
Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was
afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he
went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled,
“He shall be called a Nazarene.”

St. Peter Orthodox Church