As we begin the new ecclesiastical year, I urge you to reflect upon the theme chosen for the last Clergy Laity Congress, "Gather My People to My Home." It is critically important for us all - clergy and laity - to respond to the call of the Church to undertake a Missionary effort in our parishes. We must to open the embrace of every Community to welcome the sojourners of life to quench their spiritual thirsts at the well of Orthodoxy. We must welcome brethren to dialogue - to discuss their concerns, their questions, their visions and yes, their complaints and disappointments with the Church. Opening our embrace and welcoming our brethren does not mean sitting in our offices or Parish Council meeting rooms. It means finding all those not connected with the Church wherever they may be---in their homes, where they work, where they spend their time. We have to feel the same imperative that Jesus had when he encountered Zaccheus at the sycamore tree. He urged him to climb down "quickly" for he had to stay at his house that day! There was no time to lose, for the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That particular day, the lost sheep was Zaccheus.
     We must feel the urgency to undertake this missionary effort immediately. There is no time to waste. Just look around you the next time you are in church---not so much to see who is there, or when they arrived, or where they chose to sit. Notice rather those who are not present for a sundry of reasons---your family members, your friends, your acquaintances. And then do something! Stop "brainstorming" about what needs to be done and begin doing it.