UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
105 Years of Ministry – a Testament to the Generosity and Hard Work!
McKees Rocks, PA – Calling historic St. Mary (Dormition of the Mother of God) Ukrainian Orthodox Church "a testament to the generosity and hard work of Pittsburgh's Ukrainian immigrant community," His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine, a Prime Hierarch of the UOC of the USA and His Grace Bishop Daniel, a Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Church visited the parish community and led the prayerful festivities, celebrating the parish's 105th anniversary last Saturday, November 27, 2011 - the feast day of St. John Chrysostom.
Both hierarchs spoke of the parish's founding years and of its more recent history, reflecting upon the century old ministry to the local community. "This is my home, my heart. These are my people and I love every single person in this church," said one of the elderly parishioners of the community. "This is the same with everyone. We are one big family. We are one. It is amazing." She said several parishioners who have moved out of town returned for the special Divine Liturgy and celebration: "McKees Rocks is still their home…"
Following the Liturgy, the parish continued the celebration with a community luncheon. Reflecting upon the words of the hierarchs another parishioner noticed that when the congregation worships as one, there is a truer sense of its identity. "We're a part of the town, but also a viable part that has something to offer in terms of our culture," the lifelong parishioner said. The Very Rev. Timothy Tomson, pastor of the parish family, said his "hopping little parish," as he likes to call it, is full of life and welcoming to outsiders. The local clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in Pittsburgh Metropolitan area: Very Rev. Fr. Stephen Repa, Very Rev. Fr. Roman Yatskiw, Rev. Fr. Paisius McGrath, Rev. Fr. Mark Swindel, Deacon Dennis Lapushansky and a local pastor of Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox parish joined the hierarchs in honoring the ministry of St. Mary’s parish family.
One of the younger ladies of St. Mary’s, the youngest of several children in their family, recalled that the church was a fundamental part of her family's life when she was growing up. Her parents, she said, were strict and required that she and her brothers and sisters attend Divine Liturgy on Sundays. "If you didn't go to church, you couldn't go out," she said. “Singing in the church choir was a way to pray in Church as well as to get out of the house and spend time in fellowship of her fellow parishioners.”
Other members of the parish family shared their life stories, as they remember going door to door to raise money for the “new” church. "Some people donated for the iconography and stained-glass windows. Some people donated for the pews," she said. “The parish is like an extended family, parishioners always ready to help in times of need…It's about family and a place to call home," she said when asked about the weekend’s celebration. "It feels it has always been a part of my life."
On Sunday, November 27, 2011 Bishop Daniel officiated at the Divine Liturgy assisted by Fr. Timothy Tomson. Numerous children and adults partook of the Most Holy Eucharist. The bishop preached in spirit of the feast which the parish celebrates during these November days. He stressed the importance of living the Gospel of the Lord, through our daily efforts of kindness and fellowship with the creation of the Lord. With special petitions chanted during the Liturgy, the bishop prayed that our Heavenly Father bless His inheritance, that is our children, youth and the generations to come.
At the end of the service Metropolitan Constantine once again thanked the parish choir who sang during the service as well as the celebrating clergy and faithful in attendance for their dedication to the ministry of the parish as well as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Fr. Timothy Tomson thanked the parishioners, guests and visitors to the parish for their presence and expressed his hope that this celebration of 105 years of ministry will give birth to a more dedicated and fruitful ministry for the years to come. He invited all to stay for the luncheon prepared by the parishioners of the parish family. Though the hall was filled with parishioners and guests, everyone was served and had a beautiful time.
Mnohaya Lita – Many Years to the parish family, as they continue to celebrate their 105th anniversary!