I was born in Spring Valley on E. Iowa St. (where I live now). My sisters Mary and Sadie with brother Henry were also born on Iowa Street. My brother Louis was born in Peoria. My older sister Sophie was born in Lebanon.
At about the age of 4 or 5, my sisters and I, with other youngsters on the block, would meet at the corner to play “Hide and Seek” and other games.
However, Dad and Mom set a time when we should come home, which was five o’clock. This was the hour Dad would have Vesper services, and we did not dare to ignore his instructions. If we overlooked this, Mom would come outside and call.
A small altar would be set up in the kitchen, with an icon, a lit candle, and burning incense. He would read all the Vesper Services in Arabic. We would stand with full attention while not understanding a word.
However, we learned to make the sign of the Cross. Later, as we grew older, and obeying this duty, we began to understand Arabic where we realized our daily duty and the purpose of the Vesper services we respected our parents and were convinced of their wanting us to start learning about our faith in the church and our duties toward our God.
When it was supper time and were seated to eat, we had to remember that all the conversation would have to be in Arabic per Dad’s wishes. No English was allowed in the house while Dad was present. (Now we are happy about this rule or we would not have been able to speak Arabic.)
Since we had no regular priest at the time, Dad would read from the Book of Psalms in the evening, and Mom would explain to us as he read. This went on for months. When we became older, we began to realize the need for prayers and worship, which became part of our lives.
Later, when we had mission priests come through Spring Valley, services would be held in a few homes. The first priest I remember was Father ‘Alam from Michigan City, Indiana.
When we did not have any mission priest, my sisters and I would go to Sunday school at the Methodist Church until they asked us to join the church. Then we stopped going.
A few years elapsed when a few of the parish elders had a desire to have a church. This became possible in 1918, when they purchased the old house which was on the site of our present church building (211 E. Minnesota St.) The front section of the house was used as the church. The back section was used as a meeting room.
Since we had no full-time priest, in 1925, the church elders asked Father Seraphim Nassar to be our full time priest. From then activity began, and in 1928, Father Nassar started the St. George Ladies Club.