Faithful members of St Zaia’s Parish in Modesto, California are continuing regular spiritual services in their church hall, following a damaging fire in the cathedral.
The fire occured on 9 January, a special feast day where parishioners attended services of the Holy Eucharist and celebrated the commemoration of their church’s patron, St Zaia.
Thankfully, the fire did not cause any injuries. However, the cathedral’s baptismal room was partially burned down.
Emergency services were immediately called and the fire was quickly put to rest, with causes still to be examined.
Plans are already being made to rebuild and renovate the church, ensuring safety and preventing future damage from taking place.
In the meantime, spiritual services have been held in the church hall, including the offering of the Holy Eucharist by Reverend Narsai Youkhanis, a recently ordained young priest visiting from the Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon.
The Holy Mass, which took place on 16 January, included the presence of His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of Western California, who offered words of encouragement to the faithful that brought tears to their eyes.
“A church is not based on the bricks, roof and tiles that allows it to physically stand but on the love and faith of those that wonder in it that strengthen it spiritually, for wherever we are and wherever we gather the love of Christ is between us, may it be in a Church or in a hall,” said His Grace.
The parish were also encouraged by words of hope and faith from Rev. Narsai, who is visiting the United States.
Rev. Narsai encouraged parishioners to stay strong under all circumstances and be patient in the Lord as everything happens for a reason. He concluded his sermon by extending words of thanksgiving to His Grace Mar Awa for the warm welcoming.[nggallery id=155]