Holy Trinity Church in Whaleyvill, MD – 60th Anniversary





Sunday, June 11, 2017 was a hot and humid day. It did not stop the Parish Family of Holy Trinity from celebrating its 60th Anniversary of Service to the Lord. Over 50 people crowded the small, farming village white Church in anticipation of the arrival of their Archpastor, His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Ruling Bishop of the Eastern Eparchy to celebrate the 10:00 AM Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving. Arriving with His Eminence was Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay of the Cathedral of St. Volodymyr in Parma, Ohio. Our Seminarians from Saint Sophia Seminary also escorted His Eminence to the Church: Subdeacon Mykhaylo Bukalo, Ihor Protock, Tadei Surak and Hryhoriy Matviiv.

Michael Hrechka, President of the Parish Board and Volodymyr Stepowyj, acting Treasurer greeted His Eminence with the traditional bread and salt, asking for his prayers for the Parish Family. Joyce Hrechka offered roses to His Eminence on behalf of the Parish Sisterhood. Father Stephen Hutnick, Pastor, greeted His Eminence with the hand Cross and Holy Water asking him to pray for the Parish Family that the Holy Spirit may help them to grow to celebrate their 100th Anniversary.

After blessing the faithful with the Holy Water, His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony and the Clergy ascended to the Sanctuary to begin the Divine Liturgy. Concelebrating with his Eminence were Father Stephen and Right Rev. Mitrat Gerald Ozlanski, a past Pastor of the Parish and Protodeacon Ihor. Seminarian Hryhoriy Matviiv served at the altar and Michael Hrechka was the Starosta. The other Seminarians helped the faithful sing the responses.

Unfortunately, because of the excessive heat (the Church was 69 degrees at the beginning and 84 degrees by the end), His Eminence decided to give his sermon at the restaurant. At the end of the Service, a group picture was taken and all left to go to Doyle’s Restaurant in Selbyville, Delaware for a dinner of thanksgiving.

At the dinner, Metropolitan Antony spoke of the need, especially today, of taking our faith seriously. We must understand what it means to be an Orthodox Christian in a world that is constantly attacking Christianity at every opportunity. We need to be people of faith and witnesses of that faith in Christ. We need to stop looking at what is comfortable and instead being people of sacrifice, sacrifice that is love. He spoke of how one man, Stephen Sisak, who in 1958 purchased the present property and later in 1962 transferred the property to the Church because of his faith that this Parish would grow and flourish. Stephen served as a Trustee throughout the history of the Parish and as Parish Board President from 1986 until he fell asleep in the Lord in 2009.

Throughout the history of the Parish, most of the time the priest would come occasionally to serve the Parish needs from either Baltimore, MD or Wilmington, DE. Sometimes this would be only a few times during the year. His Eminence commented that Stephen Sisak would constantly call and write to him asking to send a priest that they might have Liturgy more often.

In the Fall of 2008, His Eminence assigned three priests to serve the needs of the people. Very Rev. Gerald Ozlanski, Pastor of Assumption Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Chester, PA, Very Rev. Mark Koczak, retired Navy Chaplain of New Castle, DE and Very Rev. Stephen Hutnick, Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Wilmington, DE and St. Nicholas Mission in Dover, DE. These three priests began to serve the Liturgy in the Parish on two Saturdays and one Sunday in each month. At present, Father Stephen serves the needs of the Parish two Saturdays a month.

Metropolitan Antony reminded the faithful present that the founders of this Parish Community sacrificed to build this Church. Although their farms may have been miles apart, it was the Church, their prayer life, which was the center place in their lives. He reminded those present that they needed to gather together to pray at the Church not just one day a week, but to gather and pray even when Father Stephen could not be present. The Church needs to be the center part of your life and you need to share it with those around you. It is only then that this Parish Family can grow.

After the dinner, Father Stephen expressed his thanks to all who helped make this celebration such a great success. To His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony for coming home, as the Bishop IS the Pastor, the Spiritual Father of every Parish in his Eparchy. Also to Father Gerald and Pani Mary Ann for coming to celebrate this anniversary. Thanks were expressed to Protodeacon Ihor who travelled from Parma, Ohio and to the Seminarians for their participation in the celebration. Sincerest thanks were also expressed to Michael and Joyce Hrechka, and to Volodymyr Stepowyj for taking the reservations for the dinner and for organizing the cleaning of the Church in preparation for the celebration. Father also offered thanks to all those who attended both the Liturgy and the dinner. Booklets with the history of the Parish were distributed to all in attendance.

Before the final prayer, His Eminence expressed his prayers and congratulations to Father Gerald and Pani Mary Ann as they had celebrated their 56th Wedding Anniversary the day before. With the final blessing, our anniversary celebration came to a close.

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