The Dormition (or 'falling asleep') of the Mother of the Theotokos is a special time at the monastery due to the presence of the miraculous St. Anna icon. The OCA has a good summary of the Feastday but here is a homily excerpt from Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit of the Greek Archdiocese on how St. Anna and her husband's often unseen role in our salvation:
The infant Mary was a miracle. But she was not magical. She did not enter the world ready-made for her role as the Virgin Mother. The work of Joachim and Anna in God’s plan of salvation did not end after a conception and nine months of pregnancy. They were called not merely to be progenitors, but even more, to be parents. The Latin word is so fitting, sharing as it does a root with the word “prepare.” A parent is not simply the one who sires a child, but the one who prepares a child to become an adult—through instruction, through patience, by word and example.
This, too, is part of the greatest story ever told. That the mother of our God had parents who were role models of love and self-sacrifice, of perseverance and prayer.
When you hear the story of the Annunciation and you listen to the Virgin Mary singing the Magnificat—can you not hear the voice of Saint Anne, singing psalms of God’s praise to the infant at her breast?
When you hear the story of the Crucifixion and see beneath the Cross the Virgin Mary standing watch as her Son departs from this life—do you not recognize the strength of Saint Anne, bidding farewell to her only child at the end of every visit to the Temple, staying strong even while her heart breaks?
Without the motherly example of Saint Anne, day by day and year by year, who would the angel Gabriel have to hail as the one full of grace? This too is part of our shared Gospel, and part of our witness to the world of today: strong adults gave us a strong Mary!
And this is perhaps the greatest message for this day. God has opened the gates of Heaven to us as a community of faith – as a family. It is not realistic for us to grow and be nurtured in the faith as Christians without the caring love and concern of others — and firstly, of our families. Yes, as we add the life and contribution of St. Anne to the story of God’s love for us, we remember that we are never alone … we are always part of a community … of a family.
Sts. Joachim and Anne demonstrate this for us today just as much as the holy family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. You and I are more able to be here today because at some point in our life not only did God call us to His house, but we also were blessed to witness the faith and example of parents, of relatives, of teachers, of clergy, and of friends. Yes, even the voices of the cloud of witnesses who repeated the words of the Samaritan woman to us: “Come and see.”