Beloved in the Lord,

“O Virgin, we extol the great grace of your Protection, which you spread out like a bright cloud beyond all understanding; for you invisibly protect your people from the foe's every assault. Since we have you as our shelter and certain help, we cry to you with our whole soul: Glory to your great deeds, O most pure Maid. Glory to you shelter most divine. Glory to your care and providence for us, O spotless one.”

Apolytikion of Holy Protection of the Theotokos, First Tone

Fires are once again spreading in both northern and southern California, creating dangerous and even deadly conditions for the people in these areas. Following years of drought, the parched land becomes instant fuel for fire whether the conditions are a result of adverse weather or human carelessness. Unfortunately, the end result is the same – mass destruction, loss of life, and devastation to God’s creation.

There are currently two major areas impacted by the fires. In southern California, the Hill and Woolsey Fires are threatening several faithful from the parishes of Saint Demetrios in Camarillo and Saint Nicholas in Northridge. Over 100 families are presently evacuated and are seeking shelter with family, friends and with the assistance of community agencies. Several homes and structures have been destroyed and many more are in harms’ way. None of our parishes are in the path of the fires, but with the excessive winds, we continue to monitor this situation very closely.

The Camp Fire in northern California has grown to be the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, ravaging over 6,400 homes and more than 250 commercial buildings, as well as claiming the lives of at least 23 people. We do not have parishes in this immediate area but we pray for all those suffering from this raging inferno. We have also been recently informed of at least one parishioner who lost their home in the fire. Because of the excessive smoke, this has led to unhealthy air quality, and the minimal containment of these fires indicate that these conditions will only worsen in the days ahead. Several of our clergy are trained as First Responders with IOCC and they remain active and ready to assist local agencies and provide for the spiritual and emotional needs of those impacted by the fires.

Please pray for the strength and safekeeping of the firefighters and those in law enforcement working to protect and preserve our land and the residents of these areas. We also ask for God’s comfort, through the intercessions and the Protection of the Theotokos, that those suffering may find consolation and be uplifted during this time of uncertainty, fear and devastation.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco

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