CHICAGO – On Sunday, January 7, at the Park Number 571 Boathouse along the Chicago River just outside Downtown Chicago, St Basil Greek Orthodox Church hosted the Inaugural Theophany/Epiphany Blessing of the Waters service on the Chicago River. The half-hour service, free and open to the public, ended with Father Dimitri Tobias immersing a gold cross in the Chicago River, symbolizing Jesus Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan 2,000 years ago.
Outdoor Blessing of the Water services are spiritually important for Eastern Orthodox parishioners, but rare in this part of the world. While in the past outdoor Blessing of the Water services have been held within the City of Chicago, it has been over a decade since this yearly service has been held and the first time known to be held on the Chicago River.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago has been proud to see a resurgence of these important yearly services within the states it oversees, including ten such services this year.
On January 6, parishioners of St. Elias the Prophet Greek Orthodox Parish in Dubuque, Iowa, gathered for the Blessing of the Mississippi River by Father Dustin Lyon. This was the 2nd year the parish hosted the service in Downtown Dubuque.
On January 5, parishioners gathered in temperatures that fell below zero during the service at Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, to join the Minnesota Eastern Orthodox Christian Clergy Association (www.meocca.org) at the 2nd annual Theophany/Epiphany Blessing of the Waters service on the Mississippi River.
The ten services this year included Cedar Rapids, Iowa- Blessing the Cedar River; Sioux City, Iowa- Blessing the Missouri River; St Louis, Missouri- Blessing the Mississippi River; Peoria, Illinois- Blessing the Illinois River; Des Moines, Iowa- Blessing the Des Moines River; Des Plaines, Illinois- Blessing the Des Plaines River; and Rockford, Illinois- Blessing the Rock River.