On April 10, 2022, the threat of rain was imminent around the Lower Mainland. Many parishes of the diocese of New Westminster planned to celebrate the Liturgy of the Palms prior to the commencement of the Sunday of the Passion Eucharist. This was the case at St. Titus, Oakridge, a parish that has gone through considerable transition over the past 15 years, which most recently included a name change and all the legal wrangling that entails. This would also be the first visit to the parish by Bishop John Stephens and the bishop’s first visit to the church since the name change. For many years Bishop Stephens was the Regional Archdeacon with responsibility for the parish formerly known as St. Matthias and St. Luke. Happily, the rain did not fall until much later in the morning and the Palm Sunday processional took place with joyful “Hosannas” sung.
During the opening section of his homily (which followed the reading of the Passion according to St. Luke), Bishop Stephens made these comments about the December 30, 2020 name change:
“This is the first time for me to be here after your name. I know that it was a complicated decision to change the name of this church and to consider what that means in relation to the future of your ministry and your hopes and prayers for this parish. St. Titus was a contemporary of St. Paul in the early days of the formation of the Church and this seems the perfect patronal saint for a church. In the world of today as we rethink how we are to live the gospel in our time and our place, St. Titus seems an excellent example of one who understood much about church formation and development, about how to live out faith in Jesus Christ and grow and develop the Church. Well done on this change.”
The congregation consisted of onsite worshippers and a small contingent joining remotely via Zoom. In fact, the Prayers of the People were led by, Elli Sy via Zoom. Although not visible on the screen, the sound was excellent, and the prayers came through with remarkable clarity.
Vicar, the Reverend Marion Wong, Music Director, Kevin Zakresky and the lay leaders of St. Titus put together a prayerful and uplifting liturgy for Palm Sunday. The music under the leadership and organ and piano skills of Kevin Zakresky (who is a very fine tenor), was augmented by a guest choral quartet consisting of: Anna Wawzonek, Canita Mai, Heather Fitzgerald, Mary Ann Saunders. Not only did the singers lead the congregational singing of the Hymns and the Mass setting they also offered two choral pieces, Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” and Franck’s “O Salutaris Hostia”, the first followed the bishop’s homily and the second just prior to the post Communion prayers. Another treat was the superb playing of oboe soloist, Zofia Stefanicki, who is a member of the parish. Situated in the gallery located at the west end of the church she performed a Prelude and a Postlude both accompanied by Kevin Zakresky.
Deacon, the Reverend Christine Wilson, a member of the St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale clergy team was “on loan” for Palm Sunday and it was indeed a busy liturgy for a deacon, with the Gospel reading for the Liturgy of the Palms, Luke 19: 28-40 and the narration of the Passion, Luke 23: 1-49. The Reverend Wilson also prepared the altar for the Eucharist during the Offertory.
Following worship, the Reverend Wong had several announcements, followed by a brief address from Bishop Stephens. Prior to a celebratory lunch in the hall downstairs, Kevin Zakresky screened a new promotion Facebook video titled, “Why Do I Come to St. Titus”, consisting of parishioner testimonials. The video is available below on this post.