25th Priestly Anniversary –

V. Rev. Alexander  Atty

and the Sixty-fifth Anniversary of

Saint  Michael Church

Louisville, KY


I am delighted to be with all of you this  afternoon, on this joyous occasion . . the occasion of Father Alexander’s  twenty-fifth Anniversary in the priesthood.  But not only this – I also  celebrate with him and with all of you, the sixty fifth anniversary of this  blessed parish. I bring with me the greetings of my brother in Christ, His  Eminence Metropolitan Philip and their Graces Bishops Antoun, Joseph and  Basil, and the best wishes of the faithful of the Midwest Region.

This afternoon, we are gathered to give  testimony to and to honor this man whom you call by the beautiful title of  “father.” By your presence here this afternoon you have shown the love and  respect that you hold for him and for his ministry among you.

We must always remember that when we honor a  priest, we are actually honoring the priesthood.  As St. Paul wrote in his  first letter to the Corinthians: “After all, who is Apollos?  And who is  Paul?  We are simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of us  doing only what the Lord assigned us to do.” So on this day that we honor  your beloved pastor, I would like to share with you what Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk  said about ……

The Duty of the Flock toward the Pastor

Because the pastor speaks the word of God,  then do whatever he teaches, pay diligent heed, O Christian, and do it.  Concerning this the Apostle says, Obey them that have rule over you, and  submit yourselves: for they must watch for your souls, as they that must  give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is  unprofitable for you (Heb. 13:17).

The pastor is the messenger of God who is  sent to you by God, and he proclaims to you the way of salvation and invites  you in the name of God into His eternal Kingdom. For this reason, revere him  as the messenger of God that proclaims to you such great good things, and  who invites you to them. “He that receiveth you receiveth Me, “ (Mt.10:40)  says the Lord. Receive, then, and revere the pastor as the messenger of  Christ.

Because the pastor provides for the common  good, and as he looks after you as well as for all so that all may receive  eternal salvation, then love him as your father and benefactor, and be  grateful to him. You call him father, that is well: he begets you as well as  others, not to the temporary, but to eternal life. Love him, then, as so  great a father to you. You love your father according to the flesh, how much  more ought you love this father.

As he takes care and provides for all and  for you, do not leave him in need, but help him in his requests and supply  his needs, that he may have time to take care and look after the common  good. Thus by mutual love and benefaction the common good will not be  without success.

Because many among the people are not men of  goodwill and as they do not love pastoral reproof but wish to live according  to their own will, they invent and broadcast no little slander and ill  report against the pastor. Then when you hear such slander and ill report  against the pastor, do not believe it and guard your lips, lest you say  anything about it to anyone else. Otherwise you will sin gravely, as you  will return evil for good, which is a great iniquity. It is a serious thing  to slander and dishonor a simple person, how much more so a pastor. From  this great discord follows among the people, and disregard and disobedience  to the pastor, and thus his labor may end without profit. Pay careful  attention to this, avoid evil gossip against the pastor. Most of all do not  spread evil gossip about him, lest you feel the avenging hand of God upon  you.

If you see in the pastor such weaknesses as  occur even among the people, do not be scandalized and do not judge him, but  understand that the pastor is a man, just like everyone else, and that he  has the same weaknesses as do the rest of the people.

Because the pastor is subject to many  temptations, and the devil and his evil servants war against him most  especially, therefore he also needs the special help and support of God.  Then, you, and all the people as well, must pray to God for him that He may  help him and strengthen him. The happiness of the household depends on a  good householder, the happiness of soldiers depends on a good commander, and  the happiness of a sailing ship depends on a good helmsman. Pray then that  the pastor may be wise and good, and that Christian society may be happy.

When the pastor himself does not do what he  teaches, but lives contrary to his teaching, heed the word of Christ which  He spoke concerning such pastors,  “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’  seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do:  but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matt. 23:2-3).  ( From Journey to Heaven, Jordanville, 1991, pp. 114-116.)

How true this is and how much we are in need of hearing  and being reminded of it!!!

On the other hand, A priest, if he is to  succeed, must start each day with love for his people, and to continue with  love even when the day is at its hottest and the work at its hardest, and to  end the day with the same love.  He must always deal with his flock in love,  with love, through love, and for love. Father Alexander has demonstrated  that capacity for love to each of you throughout his time here at St.  Michael.

It is in this pastoral love—a love shown  to all—that the Kingdom of God is revealed and proclaimed to the world.  Therefore, when this respect is given to Fr. Alexander, God too is honored  in his person.

But Fr. Alexander  has not been alone in  this effort.  He has the love and support of his wife Olga. I know that she  has been a great source of strength and encouragement to him. We express to  her and to Father Alexander  our very sincere thanks and appreciation for  their sacrifice and love for God’s Church. I thank you for your untiring  efforts, and your great devotion to our God-protected Archdiocese.

I also congratulate all of the faithful of  St. Michael, as you celebrate sixty five years of Orthodox Christian witness  to this community. What you have accomplished in this parish is no doubt  very pleasing to God. But your work is not done. I challenge you to keep up  the good work, following in the footsteps of the founders of this holy  temple, and to continue in your efforts to build up God’s Church, giving Him  all the glory and honor.

Fr. Alexander, recognizing your ministry as  a steward of the grace of the Triune God, I ask you to continue your  honorable labors in the Lord’s vineyard with an untroubled conscience as you  have been doing.  Take care to exercise your priesthood with all your strength and  with integrity, and continue to bear fruit that is pleasing to God.  I do  not need to remind you that all of us who, are deemed worthy to celebrate  before the holy altar of the Lord, have as the model Him, Christ the Great  Archpriest, the one who “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11), as  well as the holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church who have guided us and  gone before us in the priesthood.

So today, we exclaim AXIOS once again, just  as we did twenty-five years ago, for you have been a worthy servant in  Christ’s vineyard.  As we honor you today, as we give you the respect and  earthly praise that you rightly deserve on this day of thanksgiving, we know  that the true reward for your priesthood – the only one that really matters,  is the one that will be bestowed upon you in the Kingdom of God.  Today we  say to you “well done, good and faithful servant.” Our prayer is that you  will hear those same words form the lips of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus  Christ.

May I assure you of my continued prayers for  you, your family and your God-blessed community.