On 1 (14) September, the faithful of St. Innocent of Irkutsk parish gathered to celebrate the beginning of the New Ecclesiastical Year and the Feast of the Holy and Righteous Joshua, the name day of the parish’s Rector. Particularly beautiful was that this marked the first Divine Liturgy offered in the recently consecrated Chapel of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco.
Each week, however, several people from the parish and the surrounding community come to visit this holy Chapel and to offer prayers to the Wonderworking Saint. After each Divine Liturgy, St. John’s relics are prayerfully processed by the faithful to the Chapel for veneration. Literally hundreds of letters have been placed at his icon in the Chapel. These letters contain prayers and cries for help that have not gone unheard. Now, however, the Chapel has received the most glorious of gifts: the very body and blood of Jesus Christ! St. Innocent parish, which borders the city of Detroit by one block, has become a beacon in the area for diligent liturgical service, a deep sense of “family” among the faithful, a growing home for converts to Orthodoxy, and a well-spring of grace through the presence of numerous holy relics. But the neighborhood is also taking notice.
As the Russian bells called the faithful to the Divine Service in the early morning hours of this Feast, the neighborhood woke up to prayer and hymns and incense. Cars were slowing down and lowering their windows to see what good thing God was doing. As Matins says, God “rests in the saints.” For the parish of St. Innocent, God has been particularly kind in the person and work of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco!