The History of St. Anne Orthodox Church, Pomona, CA

by Psa. Nicole Mitescu

The founding of a new parish is always an exciting and in some ways mysterious event. Normally a group of people comes together with a desire to worship God, and with the blessing of their hierarch, they start on the journey of creating a new parish.

The founding of St. Anne occurred in a more circuitous way. In the early 1980’s, two experienced deacons serving at Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church in Los Angeles, California, recognized that there was no Orthodox presence in a large area to the east of Los Angeles and began to inquire about founding a mission to serve that area. On top of that, one of the deacons was also a professor at the Claremont Colleges (located in Claremont, California) and was eager to provide an Orthodox presence for the college students. With the support of Bishop Nathaniel of the ROEA (Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America), Holy Trinity Church, and its priest, Fr. Constantin Alecse, the Claremont Colleges Mission (later named St. John the Evangelist Mission) was created.

The two deacons were John Limbeson and Catalin Mitescu.

1985

With the blessing of Bishop Nathaniel, who sent the necessary Holy Antimins, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Holy Myrrhbearers’ Sunday, April 28, 1985. The location was the McAlister Center, the religious center of the Claremont Colleges. The priest who celebrated the first liturgy was a retired Antiochian priest, V. Rev. Fr. John Reinhold, of blessed memory, assisted by Fr. Deacons Catalin Mitescu and John Limbeson.

On September 1, 1985, Bishop Nathaniel ordained Deacon John Limbeson to the Holy Priesthood. Thereafter, through the graciousness of the Chaplains of the Claremont Colleges, who allowed the early morning use of their chapel for Orthodox Holy Liturgy. Fr. John Limbeson, assisted by Fr. Dcn. Catalin Mitescu began serving Holy Liturgy every Sunday at the McAlister Center Chapel.

Slowly the number of students attending the liturgies increased, but at the same time, parishioners from Holy Trinity (40 miles away) who lived closer to Claremont, and other Orthodox who heard about the mission also started attending the liturgies. Since the Orthodox group was the smallest and “last” of the religious groups that requested to hold services at McAlister, Divine Liturgies began very early in the morning (at least as far as the college students were concerned!) at 8:30 a.m. The services were also required to end (and the room emptied of all items) by 10:30 a.m. so other groups could use the room. Coffee hour afterwards was held in the Physics Building where Deacon Catalin taught. As the number of attendees slowly grew, this became increasingly difficult and awkward.

1987

It became clear that a larger facility would be necessary to serve the needs of the non-student community. Fr. John now began thinking of finding a new location in which to hold the services, a place which could accommodate more people and where the parish could grow under less constricting conditions than at McAlister Center. After many fruitless attempts, he contacted First Christian Church  (1751 N. Park Ave, Pomona, CA), about three miles away from the Claremont Colleges campus, and Pastor John Mann agreed to let the little group use their large day care room on Sundays for services.

One of the first challenges facing the community was to choose a new name. Since they were a group of cradle Orthodox and converts from a variety of backgrounds, they decided that they would choose a name that was familiar in English. St. Catherine was suggested, but in the end, St. Anne, the mother of the Birthgiver of God, was chosen because her feast day did not fall during a fasting period![1]

Fr. Catalin Mitescu was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on February 15, 1987, at Holy Trinity Church in Los Angeles. A few days later, on Feb 20, 1987, His Grace Bishop Nathaniel met with the St. Anne community and spoke to the parishioners both as a group and individually. He stressed the responsibilities of becoming a mission parish and asked each person to reaffirm his or her commitment to St. Anne. Two days later, he served liturgy at the Claremont Colleges mission, a most joyous and humbling occasion for the clergy and parishioners, given the limited size and facilities of the service.

Shortly after that, on March 1, 1987, Fr. John served the first Holy Liturgy of St. Anne mission in the rented room at First Christian Church, in Pomona.

The rent was very reasonable but as with most rented locations, this involved a real commitment on the part of the parishioners. Each week all the necessary articles for the service, including the iconostas, needed to be set up and taken down. The first iconostas was built and decorated by the two daughters of Jim and Eva Baker, Pam and Nancy, and their husbands, and was held together each Sunday by clamps and cement blocks. Ray Jurgella (Pam’s husband) built the altar table we still use and Fr. Andrew and Tim Lesko created the proskomedia table, the candle stand and the choir stand. There was a little kitchen that we were allowed to use, but none of the kitchen articles were to be used and no storage space was provided.

Fr. John now felt it was time to take the next step to obtain formal recognition and acceptance of the new St. Anne Mission in the ROEA. On May 17, 1987, under Fr. John’s leadership, an organizational meeting was held to petition the ROEA to grant formal Mission Status as “St. Anne Orthodox Mission.” Fr. John, in his letter accompanying the petition, wrote to Bishop Nathaniel, “Two meetings have been held to determine the depth of commitment on the part of the people to establish a permanent parish. They have further given demonstration to their resolve in their support for the Mission … It is understood that the next procedural step is to hold a meeting that will be chaired by a representative of the Episcopate to review the conditions for acceptance. This matter has been discussed with the Rev. Fr. Constantin Alecse, of Holy Trinity, Dean of the Pacific Deanery [of the ROEA]… We ask your prayers and blessings in our efforts to plant the Orthodox Church firmly, in the area of the Pomona Valley, where there is no Orthodox Church, other than a Greek language Orthodox Church in Upland. Thus this community of believers may be able to give witness to the faith, now and in the future.”[2]

Twenty-five people signed the petition, asking “We pray for God’s blessing upon our resolve and our efforts and we ask for your kind consideration to our request.”[3]

In giving his blessing to the efforts of the St. Anne community, Bishop Nathaniel wrote in his reply, “The decision to establish a new mission in Pomona is a new Pentecost, for by publicly proclaiming the desire to share the Gospel with others, you are heirs to that same Holy Spirit which motivated the disciples and brought many to the net of salvation. We rejoice with you in God’s mercy and grace and look forward to seeing Him work in, with and through you.”[4]

1989

A year and a half later, in January of 1989, Fr. John submitted his annual report to the Episcopate. In it he wrote, “St. Anne is a Mission Community of the ROEA, and is an outreach of Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church, Los Angeles, California. St. Anne is an English language community established to serve Orthodox people of the Pomona Valley, which consists of twelve cities with a population of about 200,000 people… There are 13 families, including the Mission Priest’s. These families include 25 adults and 12 children… Attendance at Sunday Liturgy averages 20 to 25 people… There were two baptisms, two weddings and four Chrismations/conversions.”[5]

Fr. John also mentions that Church School classes for children and adults have begun and that St. Anne was donating money to several local charitable groups as well as Orthodox organizations. A large part of his report is dedicated to the various efforts to increase the number of parishioners and make the mission better known in the area.

Over time, the conditions at First Christian Church became easier. The Boy Scouts, who also used the pre-school room, were given a different set of rooms thus making storage cabinets available to St. Anne. The pre-school eventually decided that it didn’t need the whole space, so the church set up could now remain in place, with a thick curtain separating its area from the rest of the room which continued to be used as a coffee hour area. In return, St. Anne voluntarily increased the amount of rent it paid to First Christian Church, and cleaned and repainted the whole area.

In the meanwhile, starting in March 1987, Fr. Catalin served one week as administrator and parish priest of St. John the Evangelist Claremont Colleges Mission (the name given to the Claremont Colleges mission) and the next week as assistant priest at our mother church, Holy Trinity, in Los Angeles. The number of students at St. John continued to be constant over time but erratic from Sunday to Sunday. It also became more difficult to contact the Orthodox students as the registrars of the colleges had always refused to ask the students to voluntarily list their religious affiliations.

1993

This situation continued for the next six years[6] until 1993 when Bishop Nathaniel asked Fr. John and Preoteasa Betty to move to Indianapolis, Indiana, to serve at Sts. Constantine and Helen Church, a historic church that had lost much of its vigor and many of its parishioners over the years. Fr. John and Betty accepted the call and prepared to move. 

One of the unique features of both St. Anne and St. John is that our clergy have always served without remuneration. Another particularity is that all services have always been in English. In the ROEA  (Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America) at that time, most of the services were served mainly or exclusively in Romanian, for the needs of Romanian-Americans and newly arrived Romanian immigrants.

But along with the obvious financial advantage of having unpaid clergy, there has always been an equally obvious downside. Fr. John, who was retired, lived a fairly long distance from the church which made weekday services and meetings more difficult, and our other priests have all had demanding secular jobs as well as their religious obligations. This has limited the time and energy they could devote to St. Anne.

Another unique factor of the St. Anne and St. John missions is that they never required nor asked for financial assistance from the Episcopate. Parishioners have been generous with their donations, with some families and parishioners tithing in recent years.

Given these conditions, with Fr. John and Psa. Betty leaving St. Anne after almost seven years, a first major crisis loomed. Bishop Nathaniel with great compassion and understanding pointed out that relatively few of the priests in the Episcopate were comfortable serving only in English to a diverse ethnic community, and that virtually none of them could afford to serve without remuneration. He even wondered if, as an English-speaking parish in a still quite ethnic Episcopate, St. Anne shouldn’t consider joining the OCA Diocese of the West. Although this understanding and kindness on the part of the Bishop was greatly appreciated, the parishioners of St. Anne responded rapidly by sending him a petition requesting to stay under his omophorion.

Bishop Nathaniel therefore requested that Fr. Catalin Mitescu give up his positions at Holy Trinity Church and St. John the Evangelist (Claremont Colleges) Mission and assume leadership of St. Anne, as the only other alternative would be to close St. Anne. In spite of his greatly reduced ability to work with the Orthodox students of the Claremont Colleges, Fr. Catalin agreed, and as of October 1, 1993 he was appointed parish priest at St. Anne. 

1994-1995

However, Fr. Catalin pointed out to His Grace that about fifteen months later he had committed to be away from the United States starting in January 1995, on a six-month sabbatical leave from Pomona College. His Grace responded that he trusted the Lord would provide. Miraculously, when that time came, Fr. Catalin was able to find three local Orthodox priests, one of whom agreed to serve two weeks a month, while the other two each one week, so that St. Anne was able to have Holy Liturgy every week during Fr. Catalin’s six-month absence. Those priests were Fr. Michael Reagan of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Fr. Stephen Hardy from the Greek Orthodox Church and Fr. Paul Weisanen from the OCA.

One of the most exciting and positive events in the history of St. Anne was the arrival of Subdeacon Andrew and Karen Lesko and their two children. They joined the church in July 1989, and the whole family soon became active and enthusiastic participants in all St. Anne’s activities. One of Fr. John Limbeson’s final requests to Bishop Nathaniel in 1993 was to consider ordaining Subdeacon Andrew to the diaconate to help in the leadership of the St. Anne community, and a year later, on the recommendation of Fr. Catalin and the request of the St. Anne parish, Fr. Andrew was indeed ordained to the diaconate at Holy Trinity Church in December 1994.

Fr. Deacon Andrew and his wife Karen provided vital continuity of support for the visiting priests while the Fr. Catalin was on sabbatical leave in Paris. Fr Catalin and Psa. Nicole and their children returned from their sabbatical leave in July of 1995, thankful to find St. Anne thriving as a little parish with faithful and hard-working parishioners.

1996

The next year, in May 1996, we had a sad loss – the daughter of founders Jim and Eva Baker, Pam Jurgella, fell victim to a rare cancer. She and her sister Nancy and their husbands had built the first iconostas and the altar table for us.

1997

That following year, a new family joined our parish, Narcis and Violeta Stoica and their daughter Lorelei. They became increasingly active members of our parish with Lorelei taking over the direction of the Sunday School program from Rebecca Lesko (Fr. Andrew and Psa. Karen’s daughter) and Emilie Mitescu.

1997 was a big year for St. Anne – our 10th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of Fr. Catalin’s ordination to the priesthood, with a visit from Archbishop Nathaniel to celebrate the date. New carpets, new furniture, a new cross, new altar cloths and a new proskomedia table now were added to our church. On another happy note, this was the first year of the preotese (priests’ wives) retreat offered by the Archbishop at our church headquarters, the Vatra (the hearth) in Michigan. St. Anne offered to pay the expenses for Psa. Nicole to attend the retreat, and since then the Preotese Retreat has been a line item in its annual budget.

The constant problem at St. Anne has been and remains that the number of parishioners has never substantially increased, and St. Anne is still among the smallest of the churches in the ROEA. As Fr. John wrote early on to Bishop Nathaniel, “Many times it gets kind of discouraging,” and this sentiment has certainly remained an ongoing reality to struggle with and pray about over the years. As Fr. Andrew has said, many of our members and supporters have had a “dual allegiance,” both to St. Anne and to the ethnic church and community they also belong to. Living in Southern California we have also had a fair number of parishioners who moved away from the area.

Nonetheless, as a community St. Anne was self-sustaining and eager to change its status from mission to full-fledged parish with all the obligations of a parish. As soon as it could, it had voluntarily started sending to the Episcopate the dues that were expected of each church, even though it was still formally a mission. And although it had no right to send voting delegates to the annual ROEA Congress at the Vatra in Grass Lake, Michigan, it regularly sent its clergy and parishioners as “special delegates” and observers so that it would be able to participate as much as possible in the life of the Episcopate as a whole.

1998

It was clear that the parish was maturing. In 1998, Fr. Catalin was named to the ROEA Bilateral Commission (later the Joint Dialogue Commission) researching the possibility of reunion with the ROAA (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of America under the Patriarchate of Romania). We were also facing problems on a more local level. Our church is in an economically deprived area and a homeless woman had taken up residence on the balcony that served as the entrance to our church. The problem was eventually solved when she was committed to a mental health facility but it surely brought the problems of the community literally to our doorstep. Our focus on the needs of the local community led us to increase our participation in local charities. We also attempted to help some of the homeless on an individual basis. Nicu Deacu joined us for several months each year and reminded us of the difficulties of being a homeless immigrant employed wherever possible in the construction industry. Members were also beginning to question if we didn’t need more space to grow as our numbers slowly increased.

Fr. John and Psa. Betty Limbeson had moved back to Southern California from Indianapolis, and Fr. John was now listed as retired clergy attached to St. Anne. He came as often as he could and also served whenever Fr. Catalin could not be there. At the yearly Episcopate Congress in 1998, Fr. Catalin was listed as the clergy delegate with Deacon Andrew and Fr. John being given “special accreditation.” It was at this Congress that St. Anne’s status was changed from being a mission to being a church, and was officially named St. Anne Church.

To complete our joy that year, Fr. Deacon Andrew was ordained to the priesthood on Aug. 23, 1998 at the AROY (American Romanian Orthodox Youth) convention held at Holy Nativity Church in Chicago. Fr. Andrew was assigned as assistant priest at St. Anne. At the first parish council meeting after his ordination, our new assistant priest expressed his happiness and thankfulness and reported that he had fixed the toilets and had nearly finished the display racks for books he was making. During that same time, Psa. Karen had efficiently taken the files of church music, had organized and filed them in new file cabinets, and was leading us in the singing of our services.

1999

In 1999, the next step in the process of being an independent parish was finally completed. We were now incorporated in the State of California as a non-profit religious corporation. Incorporation was such a lengthy and difficult process that we even celebrated in 2000 with an Incorporation luncheon!

2000-2001

It was also in 2000 that the Mellis family joined our church. By the end of 2001 St. Anne had a web page up and running thanks to Mark Mellis.

2002

2002 also brought several new events and changes. In February we were honored with another visit and hierarchical Liturgy by Archbishop Nathaniel to celebrate our 15th anniversary. In September, Fr. Andrew was named a chaplain in the San Bernardino Country Sheriff’s Department Chaplain Corps. He was (and remains) the first and only Orthodox chaplain to serve in the corps and spent many Friday nights driving along with the Sheriff’s Department officers. This always made his Saturday evening Vespers talk especially interesting and exciting as he brought real life crises and rescues into a Christian context.

That same year another individual important to the history of St. Anne came for a first visit. This was Skip Sharp, a talented and artistic woodworker who had been building sets for theater, and was now building Orthodox churches furniture. He agreed to build a new iconostas for us.

2004

The beginning of the year started with the sad loss of one of our founding members. Abraham Vausher died on January 4, 2004. He had created for us many of the icons still found on the walls of our church, and along with Marie, his wife, they had been “grandparents” to our church community. We are blessed that Marie is still “Grandma Marie” to many of us.

In early 2004 the new iconostas was completed and installed in St. Anne. In March 2004, Bishop Irineu visited St. Anne and during the Vespers service he blessed our new iconostas. He also blessed Reader Narcis Stoica to become a sub-deacon.

Sadly however, it was also in 2004 that another of our founders, Vladimir Ulitin died. As a retired professor of Russian at Pomona College, he and his wife Sophia had been involved in the parish since its first meeting with the Orthodox college students. His love of Orthodoxy, his whole-hearted support for our parish and his deep voice singing happily during the Liturgy, were all sorely missed.

2005

In 2005 we experienced more sorrow and joy. In August, our dearly beloved founding priest, Fr. John Limbeson, rested in the Lord. Although he had been unable to be with us during the long period of his declining health, he was surely with us in his heart and mind as we kept him in our prayers.

On October 30, 1995, we had occasion to rejoice however, as Subdeacon Narcis was ordained to the diaconate at our mother church, Holy Trinity Church in Los Angeles.

We had been talking for several years about the need to move to a larger facility. Although we had saved money diligently, the price of land and construction in Southern California still made buying or constructing a church out of our reach. However, larger and nicer rooms that would be for our exclusive use became free at First Christian Church. After some discussion about the obstacles we would face, we decided to move into these new rooms. Once again Fr. Michael Reagan who had been one of the priests substituting for Fr. Catalin during his sabbatical in 1995 and had also painted our old rooms, came to our rescue and repainted our new rooms.

2006

Spring of 2006 brought another sad loss to St. Anne parish. One of our long-time members passed away of cancer. Georgia Kirillin-Han in her quiet way had added a special dimension of Orthodox spirituality and sensitivity that we would sorely miss.

The big move into our new rooms took place on Labor Day weekend 2006, and that Sunday we had our first Liturgy there. We were also blessed in that Kevin Mellis chose as his Eagle Scout project to re-upholster chairs no longer needed by another church, so we now had beautiful new chairs for our church.

A month later, on Oct. 10, 2006, we had the joy of hosting Archbishop Nathaniel to a celebratory luncheon in honor of his 25th anniversary of being elevated to the Episcopacy.  Skip Sharp also extended our iconostas with new icons on each side of the Deacon’s doors. And to complete the year, in December, Fr. Andrew was made Commander of the Chaplains’ Corps of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

2007

The following year, 2007 was another big anniversary year for us, since it marked 20 years since the founding of St. Anne and the ordination of Fr. Catalin to the priesthood. On the weekend of Feb. 10, 2007 Archbishop Nathaniel was with us for Great Vespers, hierarchical Divine Liturgy and the following banquet. During the hierarchical Liturgy, Kevin Mellis was tonsured a reader to our joy.

One of the new activities started in the fall of 2007 was the formation of a little singing group. At St. Anne, we have always had congregational singing, led by Psa. Karen or Psa. Nicole at the music stand. As Fr. John Limbeson always reminded us, the Lord told us to make a “joyful noise to the Lord” (Psalm 99:1) and we did our best to do that!

Archbishop Nathaniel had been encouraging us to learn the music used by the ROEA in the Vespers service. So five or six people began meeting every week to learn the new music. It has taken quite a while but this group now provides the foundation for our singing at all our services and we have taken on other projects such as singing at convalescent and retirement homes at Christmas.

Also in 2007, Fr. Andrew, who had been serving with great diligence as Co-Pastor at St Anne, made it clear that he was eager to move on and have more responsibility. At the same time, Fr. Catalin was asked by the Archbishop to become Chair of the Department of Missions of the ROEA.

A constant theme in Fr. Catalin’s monthly reports to the Parish Council had always been the amount of traveling he was already obliged to do for his scientific, family and church obligations. This new responsibility as Chair of the Missions Department would greatly increase the amount of traveling he was expected to do. Therefore on June 1, 2007, Archbishop Nathaniel named Fr. Andrew Pastor of St. Anne, and Fr. Catalin was named Second Priest.

And to end the year on a very happy note, Deacon Narcis was ordained to the priesthood on December 30, 2007 at Radu Voda Monastery in Bucharest by Bishop Varsanufie Prahoveanul (vicar of Patriarchate) on the request of Archbishop Nathaniel.

2008

One of Archbishop Nathaniel’s comments to us during his last visit was that he wondered if we were not getting “too comfortable”. We were not growing in numbers, our outreach efforts did not seem to be bearing fruit, and perhaps we were just getting a bit too satisfied with the status quo.

This came to a turning point in 2008.

In March our newly-ordained Fr. Narcis was sent by the Archbishop to Cambridge, MA, to serve the Nativity of the Ever Virgin Mission. It was with real sorrow that we said goodbye to Fr. Narcis and Psa. Violeta, although Psa. Violeta would be staying in our midst until their housing and job situation could be worked out.

Fr. Andrew had become increasingly frustrated and uncomfortable in his new position and felt that he was unable to carry out his goals and aims for the parish. He therefore took advantage of an opportunity to further develop his ministry and requested that he be released from our parish and from the ROEA in order to serve the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s large mission in South Orange County.

Fr. Catalin once again added Pastor of St. Anne to his other responsibilities in the Episcopate and at Pomona College. We also lost several parishioners after Fr. Andrew left. As a parish, we faced some critical decisions. After much discussion, the parish held a special General Assembly in December 2008, to request that the Archbishop name a new Pastor for St. Anne since it didn’t seem right to ask Fr. Catalin to carry the full burden. We also hoped to find a priest who could dedicate his ministry to serving St. Anne without the other responsibilities that the Episcopate depends on Fr. Catalin to fulfill.

We were now ready for the first time to offer a salary and benefits package to this priest although he would probably still need to work at least part-time if he also had a family to support. The parishioners made a lengthy list of things they hoped the new priest would bring or add to St. Anne, among them more services, more spirituality, more activities for young people. But the priest’s main effort would have to be directed at increasing the size of our parish.

2009

At this point, in June 2009, we are still in a stage of transition. No new priest has been assigned to us yet and although this has slowed down our longer-term planning, it has not quenched the enthusiasm and love of the parishioners for St. Anne. Fr. Catalin has attempted to make sure that the Divine Liturgy is served every Sunday even if he cannot be present, although we have also been using the Typica service when no substitute priest has been available. Our Sunday School continues to function very well under the caring direction of Jana Mellis and we have a faithful group that meets after Holy Liturgy on many Sundays to read and discuss a book (currently The Orthodox Church by Met. Kallistos) led by Steven Lee.

Conclusion

St. Anne has served the Pomona Valley and Inland Empire of Southern California for twenty-two years now. We have had baptisms, weddings, funerals (in this report I have mentioned only the passings of the founding members) as well as all the regular services of all Orthodox Churches. We have had much happiness as well as sad and difficult times.

St. Anne has always had people willing to contribute time, effort and expertise to it. The parish Council members, especially its hard-working presidents and treasurers, have led us with caring and thoughtfulness for the best interests of the parish. There have been many special efforts – Lillian Barabas and her mother making beautiful altar cloths for us, Laurie Tadros finding the fabric to recover our chairs when we moved rooms, and sewing the side curtains of the iconostas, David Koman returning to St. Anne in record time after heart replacement surgery.

We also have wonderful ladies who provide a delicious lunch for us every week, help keep our facilities clean, and create beautiful flower arrangements at Pascha and another times during the year to beautify our church.

Reader Kevin Mellis provides a sure and steady voice during our services and also provides leadership for our altar servers.

There are also many of our parishioners who are the unsung heroes of the parish. To give only one example, Vicky Ursa, one of our founding members, has served in all the offices of the Parish Council, and along with Marie Vaucher, she provides us with the prosphora we use at the Divine Liturgy. Vicky also reads the Hours before Divine Liturgy every Sunday morning and mails off weekly bulletins to parishioners absent on Sundays. She has also donated several items to the church, from the beveled glass covering the altar table to the microwave oven in the kitchen. Other families have also been generous in their donations: the Pantocrator icon of Christ on the wall behind the altar, and the beautiful new baptismal font donated in memory of Jordan Cripe are only two examples.

We have also been helped in many ways by visiting clergy who come when needed or when they are in the area and provide an extra dimension to our services and extra caring for our parishioners.

And we are especially thankful to the younger members of the parish who are coming with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, ready to take over the work and leadership of the parish as the years go on.

In a small parish, we are truly like a family and each member is vital.

We have been richly blessed in many ways. Even as a small parish in the short period of time St. Anne has been in existence, we have contributed four priests to Orthodoxy: Fr. John Limbeson, Fr. Catalin Mitescu, Fr. Andrew Lesko and Fr. Narcis Stoica. For that we give heartfelt thanks to God, to our hierarch, Archbishop Nathaniel for his loving guidance, and to our clergy who have led us with love and commitment.

This is a time of anticipation and hope for us. It is time for us to re-invigorate ourselves with the guidance of our new priest when he is sent to us as well as Fr. Catalin’s continuing steady hand, and find the spark to grow and increase our witness in our area


[1] Information provided by Fr. Andrew Lesko. All other information not foot-noted comes from Parish Council Minutes or weekly bulletins
[2] Fr. John Limbeson, letter to Rt. Rev. Bishop Nathaniel Popp, dated June 20, 1987
[3] St. Anne Orthodox Mission of the Pomona Valley, petition May 17, 1987
[4] Rt. Rev. Bishop Nathaniel, letter to St. Anne Orthodox Mission, dated June 29, 1987
[5] Fr. John Limbeson, Report for the St. Anne Mission Community, January 1989
[6] I could find no records or Parish Council Minutes from the previous years.