The Hard Work of Building an Orthodox Mission Parish Continues in Arizona

Fr. Mark Hodges is the first full time priest at St. Brendan the Voyager in Bullhead City AZ. This mission parish is the only Orthodox presence in a growing tri-state area for hours in any direction. The mission survived for 5 years off reader services and the support of a dedicated, largely formerly Evangelical core group. Their faith and dedication in sustaining a mission were rewarded with the assignment of Fr. Mark Hodges to pastor them.

Missions are hard. As you read through this update from Fr. Mark, imagine the personal sacrifice needed to build an Orthodox parish from scratch. To serve Christ in this mission, Fr. Mark has to spend long months away from his large family. To save money, he is living in two rooms provided by one of his families. The faithful have to work hard as well. Many necessary items at the parish are handmade such as the iconostasis and the cross for the Elevation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross pictured below. Things those of us in established parishes simply take for granted can be challenging for a new mission.

Share the Faith, through the support of our donors, has been blessed to support Fr. Mark and St. Brendan’s since August 2022. It is through your generous donations that Fr. Mark is able to continue to grow the Kingdom of Christ to the Glory of God the Father! For more information about Fr. Mark and his mission in Arizona, please visit his Share the Faith page.

Missions are difficult in Orthodoxy. Without you, many missions are simply impossible to get off the ground. Please donate today.

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Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

St Brendan’s has begun celebrating the major feast days for the first time. Honoring the birth of the Mother of God was very well attended, and dedicated members brought a large, homemade Cross to our feast of the Elevation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross and beautified it with lovely flowers –see the pics of our feast day! (pics 1 & 2)

I’m not sure if I mentioned that His Grace Bishop JAMES visited St Brendan’s and was very well received, with 24 attending, and the faithful provided a lovely meal for all. His Grace stayed with us at length, and repeatedly said he was very pleased. My superior who drove His Grace, Fr John Peck, told me later that His Grace kept talking positively about the people of St Brendan’s! (pics 3, 4 & 5)

Nearly the whole membership worked, helped, or contributed to our community swapmeet at the Mohave Community College, to raise funds for episcopal items needed for bishops’ visits to Arizona. We made new friends, shared about Orthodoxy, and, along with our own offering, raised over $500 for the fund. (pic 6)

We have filed with the state and are in the process of opening our own, independent bank account, appointing a treasurer, and opening a separate bookstore account, as well as other basic things a new mission must do. We are also actively looking for land, with our without a building, to take a giant step forward from our little storefront. We were given six acres of unusable & inaccessible land in the desert, and we are finishing the transfer in the hopes of either using the land someday as a camping retreat, or sell it to go toward usable property.

We have especially been encouraged by many new, interested people who have come to St Brendan’s. I am working with each of them in their various situations via-a-vis catechism. Please pray for these new catechumens:

  • Christian Morgan (a young man coming back soon from Israel)
  • The Light family (Royce & Justine, Boone, Elise, Boaz)
  • Janette Collins-Abbott (Chelsi’s mother)
  • William Barth (an eager young man)
  • Carlos Rubio (and girlfriend Alma, friends of St Brendan’s for quite a while)

Please pray for our established members:

  • The Kelly family (CJ, Chelsi, Pierce, Phineas, Prudence — CJ, an excellent chanter, is the initiator of St Brendan’s, a convert from and former Asst. Pastor of Calvary Chapel)
  • The Wolcosky family (Albert & Judy and son Jordan away from home — Albert is my altar server, and a former Deacon)
  • The West family (Jim, Deborah, Jesse — who is our singing leader)
  • Karen Peters — who along with her husband Joe is graciously letting me stay in two rooms of their house
  • Daniel & Michelle Shelton (our neophytes, baptized in the Colorado River the day I arrived!) — you can see their baptism here.
  • The Hamlett family (Craig & Mystie — whose daughters Rubie & Krystie are a delight)
  • James Pappos — our elder statesman

Please pray for our new members, Orthodox who have come since I arrived:

  • Gary Kirchner — from Las Vegas, a wonderful man who is a great organizer –he was instrumental in making our swapmeet happen!
  • Donna Fletcher — from South Carolina, a former Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission member who moved to Bullhead City specifically for St Brendan’s, and who fit right in from her first visit.
  • Mitchel & Adrienne Smiley — a terrific couple who have an amazing testimony and a lot to share.
  • Hannah Harrison — in the process of moving to our area.

Also, please pray for our singing — we are just beginning to learn the hymns of the Church services (haven’t even started on the Tones yet).

On a personal note, it’s been a very busy time. My older brother David died in August of painful cancer, and I thank God that I was able to be with him both after he was diagnosed and then constantly with him in his last two weeks as he fell asleep in the Lord. I was honored to bury him in Lima, Ohio, where he moved about 10 years ago to be with our parents and my family. It’s also been a challenging time for my whole Lima, Ohio, family while I’m away, including my wife Donna, our eight adult children and their seven spouses, our thirteen grandchildren (plus four miscarried grandchildren), my frail mother who moved to Lima with my dad before he died, my sister-in-law who moved in to our house, my younger sister Edith (who has kidney failure) and her husband who also moved to Lima, and my niece and her husband who moved to Lima, and who just had a baby boy at Thanksgiving. (pic 7) Your prayers are very appreciated.

If I may be so bold, I ask those reading this to pray for my mother, Lois. She is now bedridden completely, and has lost the will to live. She is 90, and her organs are strong but her bones are very frail. (The attached picture of her was taken a long time ago.) (pic 8) My amazing wife Donna is taking 24/7 care of mom, as well as taking care of my sister-in-law, who has had to have several major surgeries. Also, please say a prayer for my adopted autistic son Micah, who is incommunicative and whose increasing violence has made him a danger to himself and others. He is living in a group home, supervised 24/7, but reports of violent incidents last month were not good at all. (pic 9)

Finally, I’m ending on a positive note: As you can see in the picture of our little storefront (pic 10), Fr. John Peck (the missionary founder of St Brendan’s) designed a logo for us, of an Orthodox Cross with the bottom of an anchor. (How appropriate for St Brendan the Navigator/Voyager!). Well, my beloved six year old granddaughter Phoebe in Ohio, completely on her own, saw the pic and drew the logo herself, and gave it to me as a gift. I was very touched. I framed it (and put it up next to the church calendar near our Table of Preparation!). (pic 11)

Many heartfelt thanks for Share the Faith and all those who are praying and supporting St Brendan’s! (You can watch a video of St Brendan’s by Share the Faith here.

Fr. Mark Hodges


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