Father Michael's Weekly Emails

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have a special need right now for a urgent project working with our Prison ministry. This is a ministry that we at Holy Cross have been involved in for over 17 years. The ministry has gone through several changes over the years. It is still evolving now. The present project has to do with the future development of this important ministry. We have an urgent need to raise about $300 by the end of July. I know we are all inundated with request for funds right now, but If we all chip in even a small amount, this $300 could be taken care of quickly and without much sacrifice. For example if out of the almost 100 people on this list, only 30 people donated $10 this would take care of this need. Please if you send in soon, or bring an offering this Sunday in cash or check make sure it is designated somehow for the "Holy Cross Prison Ministry".

..."Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:44-46
God's blessings,

Fr. Michael

You can support the prison ministry by clicking on the GoFundMe link below


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I went for my orthopedic doctor appointment today. There is good news and bad news. The good news is that I did get the cast removed and was given a fracture boot instead. This is good mainly because I can take the boot off and let my foot breathe and move my ankle some. The bad news is that I was advised to keep all weight off my ankle for two more weeks. This means that I will still not be able to stand and that I will still have to maneuver around with the knee scooter. I had hoped to graduate to a cane, especially for my vacation. I still plan to go, but I will definitely be doing a lot more convalescing than normal. Maybe this will be good for me?

Denise and I will be in NC for vacation from July 2 - July 10. Mia will be at Camp St. Thekla.

This Sunday as well  as next Sunday (July 10) Deacon Yuri will be serving a Deacon's Liturgy with Pre-sanctified Communion . Deacon Yuri will be serving Vespers on Saturday the 2nd and the 9th at 5:00 pm.  On July 17th (this is over the two weeks that I have to keep all weight off my ankle) I should be back in the Altar to serve for the first time since my fall.

Mia is in Day 11 of her trip to Spain and France. Since last Saturday when I sent my last update. She has been throughout Spain visiting and touring Bilbao in the Basque Country , beautiful San Sebastian on the Bay of Biscay, Pamplona, and Barcelona. (*Mia has wanted to go to Barcelona since she was about 10 years old when she saw a movie about the famous city.) Mia absolutely loved Spain. Yesterday they arrived by train in Paris. Today they visited the Paris Opera house and the Eiffel Tower. This evening they took an Evening Cruise on the Seine River. Tomorrow is a walking tour of Paris, a visit to the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral. In the evening they will have dinner in a Parisian  Restaurant. Friday morning they leave for home. Please continue to keep her in your prayers. Below I have posted a couple of photos.

Holy Cross Prison Ministry
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You are receiving this email because of your past willingness to support our ongoing ministry to men in prison. Most of you know that this has been an important part of the ministry of Holy Cross for almost 18 years now. Our prison ministry has gone through several changes over the years. Right now our prison efforts mainly consist of a weekly visit to Tamoka Correctional Institute. At TCI we reach a group of anywhere between 10 and 25 men, bringing to them the love of God, and teaching them the Orthodox Christian faith. Over the years many of these men have been Baptized and Chrismated  and brought into communion. Some have been released and continue a life of faith. At one time I personally carried on this ministry myself, visiting 3 maximum security prisons in Florida on a regular and consistent basis. As Holy Cross began to grow I began to get help from volunteers. Now as a result of my many health problems (especially the stroke of almost 4 years ago) this prison ministry is carried on almost completely by volunteers. One of these volunteers has really stood out as having a particular heart for this ministry and has managed keep this ministry going is James Blackstock. James is now a Sub-deacon (sub-deacon Seraphim) in the church and helps in many other ways in the work of Holy Cross. ( * We have others who have stepped up to keep this ministry going as well. Especially now, Dal Cosgrove is keeping the ministry up.
One of the ideas we have had to help this ministry is to get Sub-Deacon Seraphim trained in the St. Stephens Course of studies with the hope that some day he could be made a full Deacon. This would allow him to represent our ministry to the State Corrections Department with more authority. Most importantly though, would be the fact that as a full Deacon James would be able to take pre-sanctified Communion to the Orthodox inmates who rarely ever get this sacrament now that I am not able to go very often. James is in his second semester of the St. Stephens course and is doing very well. The biggest obstacle in getting James through this is money. I know we have been asking for several special donations lately. Believe me I get tired of asking. The needs, however, are relentless.

On June the18th a letter was received from the Antiochian House of Theological Studies that represented an unexpected change in the planned schedule of tuition payments and exam deadlines. There are many administrative changes being established at the Archdiocesan Level as a result of our new Metropolitan. It was anticipated that the tuition would be due after the residency requirement was met at the end of August through the first part of September. We expected that the tuition payment of $525.00 and the Library fee of $25.00 would be due sometime in September and that Sdn. Seraphim would have approximately 45 days, from that time, to raise money and complete exams. There was also the expectation that the books required to complete unit II could be purchased at the Antiochian Village while he was in attendance during his residency, (*although the costs of the books, $385.95!, was not anticipated or
). This leaves us with a shortfall of $910.95. These fees are due now and must be remitted and post marked by August 1st. James is now ramping up his efforts to complete those exams that he can in order to meet the August 1st. deadline and is hoping he will have the resources to obtain the books required for the others, Sdn. Seraphim has struggled for the past 6 months and managed to raise $600.00 through his own savings and and his other endeavors in order to pay for his own travel and residency requirement, which totals $725.00. He has already paid his deposits and his place there has been secured, but the tuition and cost of the books which are now due, leaves him in an unexpected urgent need for assistance. He has indicated that for seven of the required books he can obtain Kindle (eBooks) at a substantially reduced cost which will help reduce the cost of the books by 50% but the other books still have to be purchased. For his first semester, he was able to borrow books from Deacon Yuri and I, but the required books for Unit II are not in my library, nor in Yuri’s.
It is important to realize that of the total amount now due, Sdn. Seraphim has already paid $600.00 from his own funds out from the the $1635.00 total amount now due in order for him to continue his Theological Studies through the St. Stephens Course. He anticipates that he will raise another $200.00 from his own money towards this bill. Sdn. Seraphim expects to continue to personally pay as many of these costs as possible going forward from his own finances as he continues to make sacrifices. He has just obtained a new full time job which he starts last Tuesday June 21st, which will certainly help.

At this time the Florida State Department of Corrections has instituted some very debilitating restrictions for our ministry. Some of these are, we believe, unconstitutional and discriminating towards Christians. One of these policies is that we are no longer able to bring into the prisons the Holiday meals we used to do at least twice a year. Neither are we allowed to bring in Coffee and Treats once a month like we used to. This may seem to be a small problem to us, but to the inmates this is major setback. Sub-deacon Seraphim and Dal Cosgrove (with my help) are working on this by contacting State Officials and preparing letters of protest . Many of you have completely provided the funds for these meals and treats in the past. For the time being I would like to ask you divert this support to donate toward the funds needed to help get Sub-deacon Seraphim through the St. Stephen's Course. If you are able to do this. You can send your donation to Holy Cross earmarked "Prison Ministry".

Please do what you can. Thank you for supporting this important ministry. (Matthew 25:39)

God's blessings,
Fr. Michael
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