UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Trenton, NJ Celebrates 97th Anniversary
Українська Православна Церква Святої Трійці у місті Трентон, Нью-Джерсі Відсвяткувала Свою 97 Річницю Заснування
Урочисту Божественну Літургію очолили Преосвященний Архиєпископ Південної Америки Єремія та Преосвященний Архиєпископ-номінант УПЦ США Даниїл. Теплі та молитовні побажання наших Владик у цей день принесли духовну радість усім нам. Як було приємно бачити коли діти після Божественної Літургії підійшли до Владик привітали їх та щиросердечно пригорнулися до них коли ті молились за них та дали їм дарунки.
У цей день ми також молились до Всевишнього за нашого дорогого Митрополита Антонія, який не зміг бути присутнім за станом свого здоров'я.
Владики згадували як вони ще були дияконами та служили у цій церкві, а Владика Єремія був висвячений Митрополитом Антонієм у цій церкві на диякона 30 листопада 1988 року. Ми молитовно згадували усіх єпископів та священиків які возносили молитви у цьому храмі та їхні родини, усіх фундаторів та усіх вірних людей які відійшли у вічність.
Парафіяльний хор під керівництвом Тараса Павловського своїм духовним співом торкався сердець вірних які прийшли до церкви у цей день щоб віддати славу Богу, та просити у Бога милості на наступні роки життя парафії.
Надзвичайно було приємно вітати у цей день наших семінаристів з Св. Софії семінарії які прислуговувала Владикам та своїм співом під час святкового обіду подарували радість усім присутнім. Також було приємно вітати пані Єлизавету Симоненко яка входить до управи Ради Митрополії та Консисторії і є фотографом УПЦ США.
Було сказано багато теплих слів та побажань у цей світлий день церковної річниці. Від імені парафіяльної родини от. настоятель Зіновій Жарський вітав дорогих Владик, Диякона Адріана Мазура, усіх священнослужителів які завітали до нас на це парафіяльне свято, та усіх гостей.
Щира подяка усім жінкам які приготували смачний обід, усім тим які на протязі багатьох років духовно і метеріально підтримували цю чудову, першу Українську Церкву у місті Трентоні та його околицях. Вітаємо з 97 річницею заснування!
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Trenton, NJ Celebrates 97th Anniversary
By Elizabeth Symonenko
After a cold and rainy week, Sunday, October 23rd, surprised everyone with its joy and sunshine. A slight breeze made the golden leaves almost dance on the trees, offering a superb backdrop for the Trenton, NJ, Holy Trinity parish’s 97th Anniversary celebration.
Having never visited the parish before, I was immediately impressed by the lovely architecture. Nestled in a quaint neighborhood, surrounded by modest homes, the church shone like that proverbial light atop the hill. Upon first sight one knew something special was planned for the day, as the red carpet was extended down the steps to greet the visiting hierarch.
The original plan had been for His Eminence Metropolitan Antony to celebrate with the parish on this momentous occasion. However, while His Eminence’s spirit wished to be there, the long week of Sobor activities and most recent illness had taken its toll. However, the parish was not to be completed disappointed, as instead of one Metropolitan, they were visited by two hierarchs. Returning, after many years, were His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah, Ruling Hierarch of the Eparchy of South America, and His Eminence Archbishop-Elect Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy and President of the Consistory of the UOC of USA. Both hierarchs had been to this parish before. Vladyka Jeremiah had been ordained in to the diaconate at this very parish, and Vladyka Daniel had first served as a deacon at this same parish. Sometimes, great things come in small packages, for even though the church building itself is modest in size, it has had a huge impact upon the Church and her faithful.
Accompanying the hierarchs were six seminarians from the St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary: Subdeacons Ivan Tchopko, Mihaylo Bokalo, Mykola Zomchak, and Seminarians Ihor Protsak, Tadei Surak and Yurii Bobko.
As the hour neared, the faithful began arriving. Their joy was almost palpable as everyone had smiles upon their faces. The children rushed to get in to position, flowers in hand, as the men proudly carried the icon banners out to meet the hierarchs. The bright blue and yellow ribbons decorating the banners frolicked in the breeze, reaching up and playing with the dancing leaves in the trees.
The bells rang out joyously, echoing up and down the street, and bouncing off the buildings, resonating to the very souls of those in the church, and most assuredly to those who were within the homes lining the street.
To the peal of the bells emerged the hierarchs from the parish hall. Led by children throwing flower petals, they made their way up the street to the church, and up the steps to be greeted by Rev. Zinoviy Zharsky, the parish priest, as well as the parish president, council members, visiting clergy, and the faithful.
As the clergy led the hierarchs in to the nave, the choir, led by choir director Taras Pavlovsky exploded in song, their voices echoing off the church walls and enveloping the faithful in a cloud of angelic voices.
It was easy to get lost in the moment, forgetting whether you were still on earth, or whether you had mystically been transported to the heavenly realms. The faces of the faithful which shown with joy, were painted a myriad of tones, as the sunshine tingled their cheeks through the elaborate stained glass windows. The windows reflected various scenes from Christ’s life, and imbued the nave and the people within it with reflective thoughtfulness, awe and joy.
Everything in the church led one closer to God and salvation. Wherever one’s eyes traveled, they were met with Godly beauty and symbolism. Many of the icons were written by renown iconographer, who also turns out to be the parish’s own Dobrodiyka Nataliya Zharsky. While all the icons were beautiful, one in particular had a splendid story attached to it. It was an icon of St. Anna, holding the young Theotokos in her arms. This icon was a handmade copy of another such miraculous icon. The original was known for granting prayers to couples who wished to conceive a child. One couple, after being childless for 11 years, had given up hope and adopted two children, when they had an opportunity to pray before the icon of St. Anna, and the very next week a child was conceived. There are other such miracles attributed to this icon. God works miracles through His saints, through icons, which are windows to Heaven, and through the earnest prayers of the faithful.
Sunday’s reading was from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 7:11-16) retelling how Christ raised the widow’s son. During his sermon, Vladyka Daniel explained the deep symbolism and meaning behind the reading.
His Eminence continued the sermon by making everyone take a moment to reflect on their own personal salvation – are they heading towards life, or death? We often judge things from the outside, and yet, we need to take a closer look, not so much at others, but, at ourselves. While we may look pleasing to the eye, how pleasing are we truly to God? True holiness comes from love – love for God, and love for one another. It is our duty, which gets easier the more we act upon it, to care for our neighbors. We are to be good, and do good. We are to let our “light shine before men, so that they may see our good works and they should glorify our Father in the heavens.” (Matthew 5:16). He continued to instruct us to take a look at ourselves. A good hard look. We may think we are perfect, and yet, sometimes we get upset when we hear someone complain about us. They seem to find something wrong in us, and we are offended. Perhaps we need to take a step back and see ourselves how others see us. Nobody is perfect, but, God above. We all have things we need to improve upon. Vladyka Daniel encouraged us all to start today, this very moment, and join the path of life leading in to the city.
With everyone contemplating the gravity of their hierarch’s words, they rose to continue the Divine Liturgy, the work of the people, as one cohesive family working towards a single goal. As the choir’s voices swirled, ebbed and flowed, so did the prayers of the faithful, who had a renewed vigor and purpose behind the verses. His Eminence’s words stirred something within each person, and lit a flame deep within their souls.
As the children lined up for Holy Communion, leading the way with their arms crossed upon their chests, they were followed by the adults, who approached the Chalice with a new sense of awe, eagerly anticipating a rendezvous with true life, not death.
Renewed, invigorated and permeating with new hope, the faithful smiled as Vladyka Daniel called forth the parish’s youngest members to come forward. Tumbling, tripping and hopping, the children of the parish approached their bishop, and stood attentively as His Eminence prayed over them, asking God’s intervention in their lives, to protect them, guide them and lead them to salvation. Having prayed over the youngest members of his flock, His Eminence sprinkled them with holy water, and gifted each little hand a tiny silver cross, to be worn in faith, in order to safeguard the littlest of lambs.
His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah spoke a few words after the conclusion of the service, reminiscing on his earlier times at the parish. He expressed his joy at seeing the parish alive and growing, being an active part of the community. Vladyka Daniel concluded by sharing his own recollections from the parish where he served as a deacon. At the conclusion, His Eminence called everyone to come forward and participate in a group photo. Surrounded by his flock, Vladyka Daniel fairly glowed with the joy that emanated from him, as the faithful eagerly came up with smiles on their faces and surrounded their bishop.
The festivities continued in the parish hall, as the faithful gathered and settled down for a meal. The meal began with the church choir, directed by Taras Pavlovsky singing the Lord’s Prayer. After praying before the meal, His Eminence Archbishop-Elect Daniel expressed that His Eminence Metropolitan Antony had every intention of attending the parish festivities, and as of the previous evening was making plans to travel to Trenton. However, due to the strenuous previous week of Sobor, and recovering from his recent illness and battle with kidney stones, Vladyka Antony regrettably was not able to visit the parish on their anniversary celebration.
However, due to the modern miracle of technology, Vladyka Daniel surprised everyone when he placed the microphone to his cellphone and the room resonated with the voice of our beloved Metropolitan Antony. His Eminence expressed his regret at not being able to join the faithful on this day, however, he assured them of his continued prayers and well wishes. He expressed his joy at the parish reaching their 97th anniversary and was assured that through their hard work, diligence and faithfulness they would be celebrating many future anniversaries, which evoked a rousing rendition of Mnohaya Lita from those in the room. Before ending the call, Vladyka Antony assured the parishioners of his continued prayers on their behalf.
As Fr. Zinoviy took the microphone to thank various individuals, the sisterhood of the parish presented those gathered with a meal one would expect to find at a fine restaurant. One course followed another, followed by yet another; each tastier than the one before. Having satiated their souls in church, the parishioners now satiated their physical bodies. With conversation flowing, the room filled with laughter, and singing. While the meal was being concluded, the seminarians of St. Sophia seminary performed for those gathered. The rich all-male voices raised in praise to the Mother of God (Rejoice O Unwedded Bride) made everyone stop what they were doing and quietly listen, with bowed heads at the glorious sound and rejoiced together with the Virgin.
As the meal continued, the faithful were entertained by additional numbers played on an accordion and songs sung in Spanish by guests from a neighboring church.
What struck me most was how everyone enjoyed everyone else. People were not intimidated or uncomfortable as they might be when surrounded by strangers. I saw just the opposite. They felt free to be themselves. They joined in the singing, they got up and danced, they laughed, hugged and were often seen helping each other move around the hall. Everyone was kind and gracious, like a true family ought to be.
Having never been to the parish before, I nonetheless did not feel like a stranger, but, like one of the family. From young to old, from new immigrant to locally born, everyone smiled and was courteous.
May the Lord continue to shower His blessings upon this kind and loving parish, and may they continue to grow and prosper, not only for another 97 years, but, for all eternity. Mnohaya Lita!
97th Anniversary in Trenton, NJ - 10/26/16
Photos by Dobrodijka Natalia Zharsky and Elizabeth Symonenko