UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
85th Anniversary Commemoration of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Johnson City, New York!
The parishioners of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church welcomed His Eminence Archbishop Antony, to Johnson City, NY on October 28th - 29th to commemorate the 85th Anniversary of their parish with prayers of thanksgiving to God and a series of parish community events designed to pay tribute to several outstanding parish members and forty-seven parish elders; and to rekindle the faith, spirit and goodwill instilled in their parish family by their spiritual leaders and founders.
As recorded in the “History of St. John’s” published in 1982 and reiterated by His Eminence in his sermon, St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church was founded by Ukrainian Orthodox immigrants of unquestionable faith, courage and determination. Their undeniable faith and love in God and His Holy Orthodox Church. These driven faithful gave birth and life to the parish they dedicated “For God’s Greater Glory” in 1926. It is this very faith and love that the spiritual leaders and parishioners of St. John’s endeavored to preserve for future generations commemorating their 85th Anniversary in 2011.
St. John’s two day commemoration began on Friday, October 28, with a working luncheon. His Eminence Archbishop Antony, accompanied by our St. John’s Pastor, Rev Father Zinoviy Zharsky, Rev. Father Ivan Synevskyy Director of Office of Public Relations, and four seminarians Subdeacon Andriy Matlak, Yurii Andreiko and Ivan Chopko and St. John's own parishioner Subdeacon Philip Harendza, discussed the current state and future of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Six former Parish Council Presidents joined our current Parish Council Vice President and President in a constructive dialog, focusing on how to better work together for the Glory of God and good of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA Church.
Following lunch, His Eminence met the children and youth of St. John’s parish, their Church School teachers and parents in the rectory for some social interaction organized by Father Zinoviy and Dobrodiyka Nataliya Zharsky. The celebration started with blowing out the candles on the 85th Anniversary cake. St. John's is blessed, with many young families and children. Also, short musical program was performed to welcome Archbishop Antony by our church children's choir under director Maria Maire. Parish children and all who attended this event enjoyed a good time with our Spiritual Father Archbishop Antony.
After the little bit of joyous socializing, the prayerful celebration of the 85th Anniversary began with Festal Vespers celebrated by his Eminence. It was the first time the Children's Choir participated in and sang the Lord's Prayer during Vespers. All received spiritual joy through the prayers that night. Archbishop Antony at the end of the service greeted all and reminded us that we need to concentrate our lives around Christ and His church, he made a point of the importance of prayers and attending church services. At the end everyone, was anointed with blessed oil.
Later that evening, after touring St. John's recently flood damaged, church school classrooms, museum and board room in the church basement His Eminence and our other visitors were welcomed by members of St. John’s Parish Council Executive, St. Mary’s Sisterhood Executive, Senior UOL Executive and St. John’s Choir at a Fund Raising Reception hosted by Parish Council and Sisterhood Presidents, Stephan and Carol Wasylko, respectively, in their home. Donations totaling $1,100 dollars to benefit the St. Andrews Society, The Children of Chernobyl and St. John’s Flood Relief Program were made by the participants who welcomed the opportunity to interact with the clergy and seminarians in attendance.
Our Friday program was planned to provide His Eminence with an opportunity to check the pulse of our 85 year old parish, before our more formal 85th Anniversary Commemoration, which started with a procession from the rectory to the church where Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Saturday, October 29th. His Eminence received our traditional Ukrainian greeting with bread and salt presented by Parish Council President Stephan Wasylko and flowers presented by Jr. UOL member and Church School Student Rose Hatala. Father Zinoviy welcomed and thanked His Eminence for participating in our commemoration, support towards St. John’s Parish and asking his holy prayers for all the hierarchs and clergy who served at St. John's, their families, the pioneers who founded St. John's and for all the current parishioners.
St. John's parish family was also honored to have former pastor, Very Rev. Myron Oryhon, from Protection of the Holy Theotokas Cathedral in Allentown, PA, our long time beloved friend and neighbor from St. Michael the Archangel UOC in Scranton, PA, Protopresbyter Nestor Kowal. St. John's heartedly welcomed all the visiting clergy and their families who shared the joy with them on that day. During Divine Liturgy our inspired St. John’s Choir, under the direction of Ms. Nancy Tarcha raised their voices for the Glory of God and lifted the spirit of all of the parishioners and guests in attendance.
In his sermon, his Eminence spoke of St. John's founders who overcame tremendous adversity and hardships through their faith and commitment to God and our Holy Orthodox Church. They should be an example for all of us. Valdyka Antony talked about how strengthening our Orthodox faith, effects and enhances every aspect of our live. He voiced the importance of paying attention to our youth, the future of Christ's church. The Archbishop reminded those in attendance that we should reflect Christ in our life, because we could be the only ones to show Christ to the people around us.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence presented Hramotas – Certificates of Appreciation – to honor several long standing, selfless contributors to our church and parish family. The honored recipients were Mrs. Nancy Tarcha who has labored in His vineyard and played a major role in St. Johns parish life since her childhood; Dr. Peter and Phyllis Hatala who represent the very essence of outstanding Orthodox Christian parents and role models for their children and grandchildren; Mr. John and Josephine (In Loving Memory) Baranyk who represent an entire generation of parishioners that have lived their faith in word and deed since immigrating to the United States after World War II. Later, the choir and all the congregation sang “Mnohaya Lita” to our Hierarchs, His Beatitude our Metropolitan Constantine, His Eminence Archbishop Antony, His Grace Bishop Daniel, all the clergy, those who received the Hramotas and all the parishioners and visitors.
Once our parish family photo was taken, our members and guests all gathered in St. John’s Memorial Center for a luncheon program in honor of our forty-seven parish elders. Following the Invocation by His Eminence, Archbishop Antony, the president of the parish’s board of administration Stephan Wasylko introduced the head table and thanked the participants that came together to commemorate our 85th Anniversary and honor our country’s and our church’s “Greatest Generation.”
Many of our parish members of this generation who came from Ukraine and abroad in early 20 century grew up in the United States during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II or to support the cause of liberty on the home front. Others survived the hardships of World War II in Europe and by the Grace of God made their way to our parish family in Johnson City in the late 1940s and early 1950s. All of them, including their brothers, sisters and spouses who are no longer with us, have been pillars of our parish for many decades and each of them that is still with us was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by Archbishop Antony. The Certificate beseeches the Blessing of Almighty God upon them for their sincere devotion to the Holy Orthodox Faith and their many years of service, dedication and donations made for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the benefit of this parish and the Glory of God.
Father Zinoviy introduced invited clergy and their families and conveyed his greetings in which he mentioned that “Today is an unusual day, we all feel uplifted and are grateful to God for 85 years of this parish existing. For 85 years thousands of people were able to worship in this God's temple, receive the Holy Sacraments and enjoy the beauty and fellowship of His church. With all our hearts we thank all those Ukrainians who established this parish, and built this church back in 1926 and the new church in 1969. It's marvelous in God's eyes that you continued the good work of your parents and grandparents. It's a great responsibility to remember and pray for all the Hierarchs, priests, their families, all the faithful and benefactors of this congregation who now exist in eternity. For 85 years St. Johns proclaimed and spread the Orthodox Faith in our community and beyond, we are part of the universal church...”
Very Rev. Father Myron Oryhon and Protopresbyter Nestor Kowal also greeted and congratulated our parish family and greetings were read from Very Reverend Father Mirone Klysh, a son of St. John’s Parish who is currently serving our Lord at his parish in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In closing, we wish to express our sincere thanks to His Eminence, Archbishop Antony, for his blessings on this special occasion in the history of our St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Johnson City. We also thank the members of our 85th Anniversary Commemoration Committee for the time, energy and goodwill they devoted to making this a joyous event for our elders and parish family in our finest St. John’s tradition. Last, but not least, we thank our Good Lord for the blessings and inspiration He has bestowed upon our church and parish since 1926. We have faith that He will hear our prayers, in helping us remain strong and for many more years into the future НА ДОВГІ - ДОВГІ РОКИ!