This is a humble Christian autocephalous closed family communion that focuses on discipleship, spiritual direction, writing apostolate, and celebrating the Holy Mysteries (sacraments, including the Divine Liturgy).

Our worship is orthodox, authentic, deeply reverent, and liturgical, abiding by Holy Scripture and Church Tradition. We follow the Julian (Old) Calendar. We have no leaning to any ecclesial or secular politics, and focus entirely on God and worshipping Him. In daily life, we walk and pray as contemplatives, deriving much of our inspiration from the Desert Fathers, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, and pre-Schism Western saints.

Statement of faith

We affirm the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

We affirm the primitive and apostolic Christian faith of the 7 Ecumenical Councils, of Nicea (325 AD), Constantinople (381 AD), and Ephesus (431 AD), and the pre-Nicene (or ante-Nicene) thought. We affirm the Nicene Creed sans Filioque, in accordance with Orthodox theology. We affirm the Holy Mysteries (sacraments), including Baptism, Chrismation (confirmation), Eucharist (communion), Reconciliation (confession), Marriage, Ordination to the Holy Priesthood, and Holy Unction.

For daily prayer and contemplation, we tend to use the Orthodox Study Bible (preferred), translations of the Septuagint, the King James Version with Apocrypha, or the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible (DRC, since it is public domain). We also frequently refer to, and contemplate on, the Didache (writings of the 12 Apostles of Christ), the early Church Fathers, Desert Fathers, Apostolic Fathers, and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox saints and their writings, such as the Philokalia and The Way of a Pilgrim. For daily prayer, we use the common Eastern Orthodox daily family prayer, or the Prayer of the Heart (Jesus Prayer). We appreciate Eastern and Oriental Orthodox and pre-Schism Western liturgical expression. The Divine Liturgy is to us what it means – our labor together unto God.

Charism

First and foremost, our Charism is spiritual direction. As Christ said, “Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” (St Matthew 11:28-30, DRC).

We also believe our Charism is one of true fellowship of Christ’s people, as seen in Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Christians of Corinth, Greece, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10). In the same spirit of peace and wisdom, we also believe in the expression of peace, as seen in St Matthew 5:9 (DRC), “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Therefore, although we affirm the historical episcopate, the Orthodox Catholic faith, the Holy Traditions, as well as Holy Scripture, we believe faith as an olive branch, not as a weapon.

In a hurried and busy city life, many people are increasingly stressed and lost. We believe our Charism also embraces the contemplative praying life, as seen in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and see that I am God.” (DRC). And as Christian faithful, we partake in the Divine Liturgy and that of the faithful (Eucharist) as regularly as we can, to embrace the spiritual experience of the Holy Mysteries, as we see in St Matthew 18:20 (DRC), “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Patron saint

Saint Flannán (Flannán mac Toirrdelbaig) was an Irish saint in the 7th century (pre-Schism) and was the son of Turlough, an Irish chieftain in Thomond. Saint Flannán entered Molua’s monastery at Killaloe. He was consecrated by Pope John IV when he made a pilgrimage to Rome. The saint became the first bishop in Killaloe and also preached in Hebrides. He was remembered as a great preacher who traveled widely, and a wonder worker. His feast day is December 18.

Some people asked, why a relatively unknown saint? Perhaps we can think of all saints before us, as equal before the eyes of God, as each was called by God to vocation, sacrificed for the work of Christ to us in the world. Known, or unknown, is not as important as the inspiration to us. We as a small family communion, are happy to be quietly and meekly laboring for and worshipping our Lord.

Discipleship

We are an autocephalous closed family communion. We worship in English, with a provision for Chinese-speaking faithful. Think of us simply as a “family cell group”, where our families worship together.

We are part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (“4 Marks of the Church”, part of the Nicene Creed of Constantinople, 381 AD). We affirm both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Catholic Church. We draw our faith and inspiration from Holy Scripture, the Didache (teachings of the 12 Apostles), the Pre-Nicene writings, and the primitive Church (such as the Desert Fathers, Early Eastern, Armenian and Celtic saints, contemporary Russian and other Orthodox saints). We draw much of our worship inspiration from both Eastern and Oriental Orthodox who shared much spiritual lineage. We love, honor and respect all apostolic hierarchs and our brethren, as all of us are part of the broken body of Christ, as well as part of ALL that God created and loves.

We keep the group small (families and very close friends), so that we can walk in the same journey of faith together, with depth and exploration. Our community focuses on orthodoxy and orthopraxis towards Theosis, and have no interest in politics, activism, arguments, etc. We recognize that everyone has a different disposition to their walk in spirituality. The mission aims to be apostolic in service and ministry, and serves the community at large whenever possible (through service and prayer). The mission embraces the Orthodox liturgy and theology, and celebrates the Holy Mysteries (sacraments, especially the Divine Liturgy) as often as possible.

And we must also thank the wonderful Armenian Apostolic Church, where our humble group has been so blessed by her hierarch (His Eminence Abp Aghan Baliozian, of blessed memory, whom we see as our spiritual father) and kind administrators, to worship in one of her very old churches in our locale.

Unity in faith

From the blessed Saint John of Kronstadt, we believe wholeheartedly this expression of love and faith: “I believe in one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”

Do you believe that all Orthodox Christians are members of one and the same body, and that therefore we must all “Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), must care for one another, help one another? Do you believe that the saints are likewise members of the one body of Christ – that is, of the Church, and are our brethren, interceding for us before God in heaven? Do you respect every Christian, as a member of Christ, as His brother according to human nature? Do you love everybody, as yourself, as your own flesh and blood? Do you generously forgive offences? Do you help others in need, if you yourself have means? Do you teach the ignorant? Do you turn the sinner from the error of his ways? Do you comfort those who are in affliction? Faith in the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church inspires, obliges you to do all this; and for all this you are promised a great reward from the Head of the Church – our Lord Jesus Christ.

“They who are of the Church of Christ abide in truth; and they who are not of the truth are not of the Church of Christ. We are reminded to distinguish Christianity not by people of ecclesiastical titles, but by the truth and by the exactness of the Faith.” – St Gregory Palamas, Holy Father among the saints.

Ecumenical context

“Ecumenical”, as traditionally defined by early Church Fathers, refers to the Greek “oikos”, meaning a house/family gathered into the worldwide assembly of God’s people; and “oikoumenikos”, of being a living church open to, and participating in the whole world as part of the Catholic (universal) Church. It may not be confused with the contemporary rendition of “ecumenical,” which implies “relative” inclusiveness whereby all doctrines are seen as equal.

Financials

You will not find a collection plate during our services, nor will you find paid clergy, as said in St Matthew 10:8 (DRC): “Freely have you received, freely give.” This ministry is self-funding. Therefore, any expense that is incurred (e.g. web hosting, development costs, software, communication charges, use of location for worship, liturgical items, etc) will be borne by the founding clergy (who are “tent makers”). Our clergy are not paid, but hold secular jobs, laboring out of love for God and His people. Should you feel compelled to donate, please donate to any charitable cause you feel strongly for. There are also many Orthodox Catholic priests and missions who are deeply suffering and in need, that you can help directly. Thank you.

Priest and Spiritual Director

Father Raphael is a bi-vocational priest (“tent maker”) and spiritual director (anamchara). Fr. Raphael received his call to vocation when he faced a tremendous challenge in life, when God called him specifically and gave him great mercy of healing and peace, and Fr Raphael accepted the faith and the call to vocation, studied, prayed, and eventually took up the call to the priesthood, as spiritual director, writer, and bridge-builder. He was elevated as provincial for the Province, from the Primate (now retired) of the Province of St Brendan. Currently he is under the omophor of Vladyka Teofano. He focuses on spiritual direction, writing apostolate, and community service.

His ecclesiastical name is “Raphael”, or “God heals”, because of the tremendous mercy God has shown to him throughout his life. One particular Mercy of God is when a surgeon told him, that by looking at his spinal X-rays, he should be bedridden or in a wheelchair. And yet God, in His infinite Mercy, has gifted Fr Raphael to walk and go about his life. He is interested in pre-Nicene, Orthodoxy (Eastern and Oriental), Desert Fathers, Apostolic Fathers, liturgical and sacramental expressions. He is a member of the International Chaplains Assn (ICA) and Spiritual Directors Intl (SDI). Fr. Raphael’s secular work is in corporate training and information technology (IT). He admires Saint Benedict’s ideal of “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work), and especially Orthodox teachings of the Philokalia, Way Of A Pilgrim, St Seraphim of Sarov, St Nikolai Velimirović, Greek elders, and Desert Fathers such as Saint Antony of Egypt. In his oratory, there is a holy relic of St Benedict of Nursia.

“Men should regard us as servants of Christ and administrators of the mysteries of God.” – 1 Corinthians 4:1

Scriptural References

Scriptural studies is based on the Orthodox Bible (Septuagint translations) and DRC (Douy-Rheims Bible Bishop Richard Challoner Revision). Scriptural quotations are based on DRC due to its public domain status and not necessarily an assertion of theological stance. For internal reference, we may use the Orthodox Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson, where the Old Testament text is attributed to SAAS (Saint Athanasius Academy Septuagint™), 2008, and the New Testament text is attributed to NKJV (New King James Version), Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982.