St. Camillus Parish (Western Orthodox)

Quartzsite
Arizona
Senior Pastor: 
Fr. John Medina
Denomination: 
Orthodox
Generous, Spirit-filled Orthodoxy
5

In April 2004, my sweetheart and I traveled from Los Angeles to Quartzsite, Arizona to be married, and obtained a marriage certificate from a county clerk, but the judge with whom we'd scheduled an appointment left early.  Since my sweetheart had an appointment in immigration court, we were eager to be married without undue delay.  With the help of a kind and unforgettable bookstore proprietor named Paul Winer, we were able to contact Fr. John Medina, leader of a church that was charismatic in worship, western in culture, and Orthodox in liturgy.  His church was named after St. Camillus, a former soldier who cared for the sick and dying, seeing in them Christ himself.  Welcoming us with open arms and a warm smile, Fr. John gave us marriage counseling and received us into membership in his church so that we could receive sacraments.  He called a church member named Bob to come as a witness and wedding photographer.  Fr. John led us in an exceptionally beautiful wedding worship service that included the sacraments of Holy Communion and Marriage.  The loving presence of God was deeply felt that evening, and we will always be grateful to Fr. John for the blessing of his ministry, which we recommend with gratitude to others.  Whatever the future might hold for St. Camillus Parish (I've heard that it suspended services), it will always have a special place in our hearts.

Comments

"Fr. John gave us marriage counseling and received us into membership in his church so that we could receive sacraments. He called a church member named Bob to come as a witness and wedding photographer. Fr. John led us in an exceptionally beautiful wedding worship service that included the sacraments of Holy Communion and Marriage"

Rob, your story reflects the power one person has on our perception of whatever group they are representing. Very touvhing story. A couple of questions
1)Did everything recorded in the above statement take place on one day? (if so that must be some kind of record)
2)You say you heard they suspended services, did you call and check up on them or Fr John? or did you juts hear through the grapevine? I'll bet Fr John would love to hear about the impression he made on you

O one more thing - are you and your wife active members of an Orthodox Church currently?

The trip from Los Angeles to Arizona happened during the day, and the appointment with the judge (that wasn't kept by her) was scheduled for 4 p.m.  I called clergy from a local phone book but without success: one pastor said that he had company coming that night, whereas another said that we'd have to be members of his church for him to preside at our wedding.  I stopped at a grocery store and a restaurant to see if anyone knew local clergy, but no one there did.  I drove to the sites of some local churches but no one was there.  We went to the bookstore, where Paul Winer (apparently famous in the area for wearing a minimum of clothing) said that he knew Fr. John Medina, who served on the city council.  Mr. Winer called another member of the city council, and obtained Fr. John's home address, so we then went to his home.  The rest happened that evening (April 8, 2004).  We needed to be married ASAP since my sweetheart was in removal (deportation) proceedings in immigration court, and we needed to be married in Arizona rather than California as my dear had an expired passport and the two states have different marriage requirements.  We could have waited for the court to open the following morning, and seen if the judge was available then, but this would have meant getting a hotel room before our marriage.

We continued to be in communication with Fr. John long afterward (my wife and I now live in Massachusetts), and he told me of changes in his parish leading to suspension of worship services (I hope they have since been resumed).

The blessed encounter with Fr. John Medina and his church stimulated my interest in learning more about the Orthodox tradition, but we are not presently members of an Orthodox church.

 

Rob

Thanks for the detailed response. It really reflects the kind of treatment Jesus gave to those who came to him with open hearts.

Thanks also for contributing to other ratings of churches

Thank you, Jim.  You and Casper have quite an interesting Web site.  The notion of rating a church is a bit uncomfortable, though I suppose people do something like this informally, even if without using a rating system with up to five stars.  I'm glad to have had this opportunity to express my appreciation for Fr. John's contribution to our lives.

Happy to help

It seems more honest to us that is Christians do this in private why would they want to hide that from each other?

Because we mess up a lot like everyone else.