February 2021 - Legacy and Responsibility
Legacy and Responsibility
It’s always wonderful to hear parishioners speak with pride about their grandparents and great grandparents who were among the original founders of our community. Some of these stories go back to the 1890’s. It’s even more exciting to see old photographs, newspaper clippings, parish records or personal documents that help tell the stories of these memorable individuals. Recently, we found a beautiful studio photograph of a group of distinguished women among the items left to the parish by the late and beloved Sally Rihbany. While researching the photo we discovered that it was taken by the renowned portrait photographer, James Edward Purdy who had his studio on Tremont Street. With the help of some of our parishioners including John and Pat Ayoub, we identified several of the women in the picture including Hifa Shalhoub, Katarine Saad Ayoub, Helen Shalhoub and Carma Rihbany. We’re proud to have this portrait as part of our parish heritage.
As it turned out the photo was of the ‘Duma Society’ ladies auxiliary and dated to about 1920. One of several benevolent organizations founded by the early parishioners of St. George, the ‘Duma Society’ assisted early immigrants to Boston from the village of Duma. They also raised funds to support the needs of the villagers back home, including educational scholarships.
Among other items in our parish archive are notebooks and scattered records jotted down on loose sheets of paper and index cards or inside the cover of old service books – written in Arabic. Thanks to Fr. Ghassan, many of these records are now translated to English and they offer a more complete record of the early births and baptisms, marriages and funerals of our founding members. The earliest record, so far, is of Mounina Zaghtini born 25 August 1901 and baptized by Fr. George Maloof on 28 September 1901. One parishioner, Catherine Aborjely was born 8 December 1819 and she arrived here in 1901 with her son Hanna and his wife Saada Habib – they lived at 42 Upton Street, she may have been our oldest immigrant. One can only imagine the stories she would have told. We continue to translate and compile these precious records of our church’s past. If you happen to have any old photos [early 1900’s] or documents related to the early parishioners we would be happy to copy them for our parish archive, please let us know.
Today, we are all proud to be members of St. George, regardless of when we came here or from where. The parish enjoys a distinguished reputation among sister churches thanks to the legacy created by our spiritual ancestors and carried on by those of us here today. St. George is the church we call home, this is where we worship Almighty God, offer thanksgiving for our blessings, grow in the Faith and enjoy the friendship offered by a loving community. This is where we baptize our children, celebrate our marriages, bury our loved ones and so much more. One way or another, we are all intimately linked to this special community. We come here to St. George Church not because we must but because we may.
This past year was a year like no other in the history of our parish. Even the pandemic of 1918 did not affect us as hard as COVID-19. The CORONA virus has forced our community to make extraordinary adjustments. We did not celebrate the Feasts of Pascha, St. George, Pentecost, Dormition, Nativity and Theophany as we normally do, we cancelled ‘mercy meals’, we closed our church-school, we postponed home blessings, we canceled our annual bazaar and other social programs, to mention just a few.
With the ‘mission’ of the parish uppermost in mind we did make the necessary adjustments. We offer on-line Liturgical services every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday as well as live-stream baptisms, weddings and funerals making it possible for those who, because of attendance restrictions, cannot be with us in person. We offer weekly on-line religious education, bible studies,
catechism and sacred music classes. Our Parish Council, Ways and Means and other organizations continue their work via ZOOM. Using email, Facebook, Messenger, the mail and the phone we are able to be informed and keep in touch as a parish community caring and praying for each other.
We plan to continue this level of ministry and service until we are all vaccinated and then we look forward to expanding our mission to include those activities we have missed so much this past year. In anticipation of the year ahead, we have proposed an operating budget for 2021 of approx. $580,000. The projected budget gives us the ability to provide the level of services, activities, support and spiritual life that our parishioners deserve and depend on.
As responsible members of St. George parish it is our privilege to contribute generously to support our operating budget. Our primary source of income is the generosity and ongoing committed financial support of our members. The events of the past year have put a strain on our budget and we are trusting on the generous support of all parishioners to help meet the requirements of our 2021 budget.
Belonging to St. George means to be an inheritor of a precious legacy created by the abiding faith and deep commitment of those who were here before us. As inheritors of this precious gift our responsibility is to bestow it, healthy and sound, to our children and their children. Without our support now we can not insure this precious legacy. If you have not already done so, please make a financial commitment today by returning the pledge form you receive via mail or by going on-line to the St. George website and making a pledge. We thank those who have already pledged and commend you for your generous support.
May God Bless and preserve us as we strive to fulfill our mission and ministry here at St. George.
Blessings, Fr. Timothy
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