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St. Andrew: The 'first-called' apostle

Art at St. Andrew Church, Coral Springs

CORAL SPRINGS | You'd think someone with a little brother like St. Peter would have been more prominent. But although Peter went on to become the first leader of the Church, St. Andrew's life took a more low-profile track.

However, Andrew, whose feast day is Nov. 30, has his own list of achievements. He was the first apostle to step out in faith and follow Jesus. He introduced Peter to him. And he preached the Gospel among sophisticated Greeks and perhaps man-eating barbarians. He richly earned his name, which means "manly" or "courageous."

Born in Bethsaida, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Andrew and Peter worked as fishermen. Andrew then became a follower of John the Baptist, who was preaching repentance and the coming of the Messiah.

One day Jesus walked by, prompting the Baptist to shout, "Look! The Lamb of God!" That prompted Andrew to spend the day with Jesus. Eastern Orthodox Christians accordingly call Andrew the "Protokletos," or "First-Called."

He then told Peter, "We have found the Messiah!" and brought him to Jesus. However, the two continued fishing until one day, when Jesus called them to become "fishers of men." That time, they dropped everything and followed him.

Andrew seems to have been among the foremost of the 12 apostles. The New Testament typically names him fourth, after Peter, James and John. But he seldom takes the lead in the Gospel accounts.

However, he apparently had Jesus' ear. In the feeding of the 5,000, it was Andrew who told Jesus about the boy with a few loaves and fishes. On one occasion, St. Philip asked Andrew when he wanted to talk to Jesus. Andrew also joined Peter, James and John in asking Jesus about the fate of Jerusalem.

After Jesus died and rose, according to legends, Andrew headed northward, preaching in Greece and around the Black Sea. One story even has him preaching among the Anthropophagi, a reputedly cannibalistic Scythian tribe.

Andrew also ministered in Asia Minor, what is now Turkey. Orthodox Christians say he also ordained the first bishop of Byzantium (later Constantinople). The ordination established the line of Greek Orthodox patriarchs that continues today.

A tradition says he was crucified at Patras, Greece, on an X-shaped cross, saying he was unworthy to die on a T-shaped cross like that of Jesus. The disciple's remains were taken first to Constantinople, then to the cathedral in Amalfi, Italy.

Many Scots, however, believe that at least a few of his bones were brought to a monastery in St. Andrews, Scotland. A Pictish king credited the saint with helping him win a battle in the ninth century, after the king saw an X-shaped cloud in the sky.

Andrew became Scotland's official patron saint in the 14th century, and the X-shaped cross — now called St. Andrew's Cross — is on its national flag. He is also the patron saint of fishermen, Greece and Russia.

Beginning on his feast day, some traditional Catholics say a novena as an Advent devotion. The prayer, recited 15 times a day, is addressed to God and focuses attention on the Nativity.

St. Andrew Parish in Coral Springs was born in 1969, with Masses in private homes. The humble start featured an altar improvised from an old wooden door, hinged in the middle for folding and storing.

Nowadays, the members worship in a soaring, 1,200-seat building dedicated in 1986. Inside the fan-shaped auditorium, two rows of clerestory windows depict major events from the Bible: Old Testament on the left, New Testament on the right. Rising under the tilted roof, the two rows meet at the large wooden chancel crucifix, showing that the center of the Bible is Jesus.

The church has lots of other stained glass as well. One set of windows symbolizes seven parables told by Jesus. Another set shows the seven sacraments. And the perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel, a separate two-story-tall building, shows symbols like the chalice and the mother pelican.

The members of St. Andrew run a range of ministries including Respect Life, Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary, a parish pantry, and a Haitian prayer group. Each fall, the church donates backpacks to students in its parish school who need them.

St. Andrew parish has retained a community vision as well. In 2017, the church hosted an interfaith press conference against bigotry. And in 2018, Msgr. Michael Souckar, the pastor, led a prayer service to console community members after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in neighboring Parkland.

The parishioners usually hold a community Thanksgiving dinner, which drew 1,000 people in 2019. This year, because of the pandemic, they’ve instead planned takeout dinners for 400 at the church, plus 200 for the neighboring St. Andrew Towers residence.

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Comments from readers

Gigi - 10/25/2020 09:15 AM
my beautiful parish since I was 5 years old! Thank you God for this gift. A blessed 50th anniversary St. Andrew!

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