UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
St. Nicholas Parish, Charlottesville, Virginia Celebrates Patron Feast Day
On Sunday, December 2, 2012, the UOC of USA parish in Charlottesville (Greenwood), Virginia under the patronage of St. Nicholas of Myra, welcomed His Eminence, Metropolitan-Elect Antony, for its patronal feast. Founded as a Mission effort in 1998, and Consecrated as a Parish in 2009, the Parish has recently completed an interior renovation designed by skilled members of the Parish family to increase the size of the nave, in order to accommodate the increasing numbers of faithful congregants and visitors. The weekend’s activities began with an historic, long-awaited visit by His Eminence to Southwest Virginia on Saturday and culminated in Sunday’s Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. It was with hearts full of a special spirit of thanksgiving and welcome that the traditional gifts of bread and salt were presented by Parish board chair, Ms. Cynthia Patzig and vice chair, Mr. Donald McKay, with Elena Gavrilovic representing the parish youth in an offering of flowers. The Metropolitan-Elect admitted his great love and solicitude for the Parish that he always visits with joy. V. Rev. Robert Holet, the parish pastor, welcomed His Eminence with the traditional presentation of the altar cross, noting the joy of the Parish in the announcement of the election of His Eminence to serve as Metropolitan of the UOC of USA. The clergy, including visiting Deacon Andriy Matlack, were assisted by parish Subdeacon James Guba, subdeacons/seminarians Ioan Mazur and Yurij Andreiko from St. Sophia Seminary, and altar servers Vladimir Gavrilovic and Cyrus Frost from St. Nicholas parish.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy immediately followed the entrance into the nave and the singing of the traditional hymn to St. Nicholas. After Gospel selections from the Holy Evangelist Luke, His Eminence, Metropolitan-Elect Antony delivered an urgent and compassionate sermon about “treasure in heaven.” Drawing upon his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land as well as his visit the previous day to rural Southwest Virginia, His Eminence interpreted the Holy Scripture’s teaching about God’s willingness to bestow blessings upon those who cry out to God incessantly with faith in Christ. He reminded the flock that we are called to be merciful in a similar way, not hoarding our wealth and gifts, but freely and generously distributing them as did Saint Nicholas. Throughout the entire service, a beautiful choral ensemble skillfully directed by Panimatka Christine Holet guided the congregation’s joyful participation in the hymns and responses. It was a great blessing for many to communicate in the Holy Mysteries at this Divine Liturgy.
After the Holy Liturgy and group photo, the parishioners and visiting guests enjoyed a festive luncheon in the Parish social hall. Following a brief introduction by Church School coordinator, Ms. Demetra Perlegas, the Church School youth presented a humorous but moving play, written and directed by Julia and Maureen Harrison and Elena Gavrilovic, on the generosity of Saint Nicholas, as a model of how we are called to exercise charity in our own materialistic age. The youth then welcomed a special visitor - St. Nicholas himself! - who acknowledged the presence of His Eminence, the Shepherd of the local flock, and proceeded to instruct the youth while bestowing special gifts to them in kindness.
Following the luncheon dismissal, His Eminence met with members of the St. Nicholas Parish board to discuss matters of parish life, most notably a forthcoming ‘Master Plan Project’. This project will engage the entire Parish membership in exercises designed to discern the future path of growth and stewardship of resources that will best fulfill its spiritual mission. His Eminence reviewed the presentation approach and materials and blessed the initial steps in this process, which is anticipated to begin in early 2013. If it is successful, this planning effort may be a resource that can be used in other parishes or church contexts. Treasurer Vladimir Gavrilovic and his wife Karen, who work as consultants in civic planning, will bring these talents to the Parish planning process as it moves forward, within the special context of the spiritual mission of the Church.