Decades later, long-lost chalice discovered at Valdosta parish

Originally Appeared in : 9710-5/11/17

“Absolutely dumbfounded” and “heart stopping.” These are two of the phrases Father Justin Grose used to describe how he felt after he noticed a message in his Facebook inbox in March suggesting that a prized possession of his had finally been located.


Father Grose, a retired Russian Orthodox priest who lives in Denver, Colorado, hadn’t known the whereabouts of his long-lost gold chalice—inlaid with jewels from his parents and grandparents for his ordination—since parting with it in 1987. 


In his correspondence with Lynn Barfield, the office director at Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church, he discovered that his chalice had been re-discovered during a cleaning of the Valdosta parish’s sacristy. 


“I never ever expected to see it again,” Father Grose said, explaining how he had sold it in 1987, partially to help finance his and his wife’s trip to Israel, where they were recruited to serve as headmaster and administrative assistant, respectively, at a Russian Orthodox all-girls school in Bethany.  Though their stay in the Holy Land was intended to be indefinite, he and his wife, Alexis, returned to the states approximately a year later when the Intifada began endangering the safety of the school and its students. 


Father Grose says that he reached out to the chalice’s new owner but realized he wouldn’t be able to afford an exchange and later the two parties lost contact. The chalice then “slipped away into memory.”


Though the path of his “little gift from God” to Valdosta is not yet clear, the parish has agreed to return the chalice and its accompanying paten back to its original owner, and Father Grose said he hoped to able to use it during his celebration of Mass at Easter. 


“You feel to a certain extent like you shouldn’t pray for something like that because it is a worldly thing,” Father Grose said. “Even though it is a sacred object, it is a temporal, material thing that you shouldn’t be so attached to. It’s like a little kid running to God at Christmas and saying please give me a red bicycle. God operates on a higher level than that. But anyway nevertheless we were praying for it.”


Jessica L. Marsala is assistant to the editor at the Southern Cross.

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