His Eminence Metropolitan Antony graced Johnson City, NY with his presence to bless a prayer trail constructed by the SR UOL of St. John the Baptist Church. A very spiritual weekend was filled with prayer and celebration of his 28 years of episcopacy. From Vespers, a bountiful meal, and socializing on Saturday, to Divine Liturgy, glorification and veneration of icons on the prayer trail, and feasting together on Sunday, the parishioners thoroughly enjoyed the weekend’s festivities, and their guests. Accompanying His Eminence were seminarians: Subdeacon Ivan Chopko, Volodymyr Yavorsky, Volodymyr Sukanets, Volodymyr Sukanets Jr., Eduardo Mourov Goncalves. Fr. Charles Baxter from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada was also visiting, while assisting Fr. Ivan Synevskyy, and Deacon Philip Harendza at the Altar of St. John's parish.
His Eminence was greeted and welcomed to our church by parish president Brian Baxendale, and Jr. UOL members. He enlightened everyone in attendance through a sermon recalling the story of Zachariah the lawyer who had asked Jesus how he could enter heaven and be granted eternal life. His Eminence highlighted Jesus’ response to abide by the greatest commandment, and explained what this means in our daily lives. Metropolitan Antony preached that in order to love God with our whole heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, we first need to love ourselves. He reminded us of the Lord’s Prayer, how we must ask for forgiveness from our trespasses, and forgive those who trespass against us. Through forgiveness and prayer, we can first love ourselves, and then be able to fully love our neighbors, family, and priests. This message will help each of us to reach salvation.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony thanked St. John’s choir directed by Melodye Onysko for their prayerful and beautiful singing.
Following Divine Liturgy we processed to Gorick Park singing the Troparian of the Cross. There we held a short prayer service and then walked the Prayer trail blessing each icon. The Prayer trail was organized and constructed by St. John’s SR UOL with the help of iconographer Michael Kapeluck. Each icon was donated by parish members and consists of eight stations along a circular path that borders the park. The prayer trail begins in the gazebo with the Orthodox Cross and then follows the path to include icons of Jesus Christ, Theotokos, St. John the Baptist, St. Cyril and St. Methodius, Archangel Michael, St. Iov of Pochaiv, and King Prophet David. Two benches were also donated for a place to rest along the path. After the blessing we gathered for a picture and then had a banquet to celebrate the Blessing of the prayer trail, and His Eminence’s 28 years of service in his episcopacy.
After the meal the seminarians introduced themselves and told a little bit about themselves. We then held a collection and donated $550.00 to St. Sophia’s Seminary. The parish was spiritually enriched by Metropolitan Antony's visit and the new Prayer Trail. Many Years Vladyko! Eispola eti despota!