Consecration of St. Mary of Egypt Parish: A Joyous Celebration in Kansas City

Glory to God for the abundant grace and mercy He has poured out on the St. Mary of Egypt parish in Kansas City, MO. From humble beginnings in 1987 on the third floor of an inner city department store, St. Mary’s now has a permanent home in a beautiful temple consecrated to the glory of God and the honoring of our venerable mother St. Mary of Egypt.

His Grace, Bishop Longin, arrived in Kansas City for the consecration on the evening of Saturday, April 13, 2024, escorted by Protodeacon Milovan Gogich, cell attendant and seminary graduate Stefan Radovic, and seminary student Miroslav Sretenovic.

Serving Vespers alongside Fr. Turbo Qualls, the rector of St. Mary of Egypt, were: Fr. Radomir Plavsic, Fr. Thomas Colyandro, Hieromonk Alexii Altschul (one of the founders of the parish), Deacon Joseph Henre, Deacon Theophan Frazier, and Subdeacon Mike Kosanovich of the St. Vasilie of Ostrog parish in Lake Forest, IL.

His Grace tonsured three new readers: Dionysios Hinaris, John Flowers, and Silouan Smith, and then ordained Dionysios a subdeacon. He exhorted them to take seriously their study of the word of God and to continue to grow in their faith and service to the Church.

After Vespers, His Grace dined with the clergy and toured the grounds. Located next to the parish are the Convent of the Mother of God, the Seeker of the Lost, an urban monastic community; the George Washington Carver urban farm; and the parish’s prayer path. His Grace spent time in each location, enjoying the beauty of these havens of prayer in the midst of the city, and offering many grace-filled words of wisdom and encouragement.

On Sunday morning, the consecration service and Holy Hierarchical Liturgy began with a triumphant procession around the church. The morning was bright and unseasonably warm, and the atmosphere was simultaneously solemn and joyous. In attendance were many Orthodox neighbors from the greater Kansas City area, including many parishioners from St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Lenexa, KS.

In his homily, His Grace commented that the consecration of a church is a joy not just for the members of that parish, but for the entire diocese and the entire Orthodox Church. He spoke about the Church being the place where we can unite with God by uniting with our neighbor, the place where the Holy Spirit dwells, and the place where the saints to whom the church is dedicated are especially present: “Today we served Divine Liturgy and we felt the presence and participation of St. Mary of Egypt.”

His Grace shared that after the consecration of a church, an angel enters that church “and remains there until the end of ages,” praying for all who enter the temple. He prayed: “May this temple be a fortress and pillar of Truth for all who seek the justice of God and salvation of their soul.”

His Grace commented on Great Lent as a time of spiritual renewal, deepening of faith, and softening of the heart: “Lent is the liberation of our enslavement to sin, from the prison of this world, it is an effort of freeing ourselves from the dictatorship of the flesh.”

He spoke about St. Mary of Egypt’s dramatic repentance and asked the question, “Does Christ expect us to go to the same extreme as St. Mary did in repenting for our own sinful ways?” He responded: “Yes, in theory, the Lord wants us to forsake all our sins. He expects us to make a U-turn in our lives and follow Him. He desires that we look at His blessed Mother and the saints and realize how greatly we fall short and, then, do what we can to become a better person. But in practice, we shouldn’t think that can be done by simply leaving this world, this society…what we are asked to do is more difficult… we must strive to live a Christlike life in a godless society.”

At the close of the Liturgy, His Grace presented Fr. Turbo with an Episcopal Gramata award in recognition of his work in building up the body of Christ in the inner city, his Christlike spirit of self-sacrifice, and his tireless service to his flock. His Grace also expressed his admiration and gratitude for the choir, led by Jacque Flowers.

After the Liturgy, there was a bountiful feast at which Moses and Theodosia Adkins were recognized as the Kum and Kuma, and children from the parish school, Mount Tabor School of the Liberal Arts, sang and recited Scripture for His Grace. Later that evening, His Grace was given a tour of the school by the faculty and current students, Scarlett Lewis and Ramona Lockridge.

We are grateful beyond measure to His Grace, our Bishop Longin, for making the journey to Kansas City, praying with us, consecrating our temple, and leaving so much joy and love in his wake. Our parish, founded by converts to Orthodoxy and consisting of almost all converts, is extremely honored to have received such a warm welcome into the Serbian Church in general and the New Gracanica-Midwestern America Diocese in particular.

Holy Mother Mary of Egypt, pray to God for us!

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