Nativity of the Mother of God Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in New Britain, CT Welcomes Metropolitan Antony
Blessed with a bright, early-autumn day, our parish welcomed Metropolitan Antony to New Britain, Connecticut, on September 10, 2017, to celebrate our parish Name Day and share in mutual love and fellowship as we begin the new church year. His Eminence led the congregation of St. Mary, the Nativity of the Mother of God, in celebrating Divine Liturgy alongside our pastor Very Rev. Father Andrii Pokotylo and Protodeacon Anthony Szwez.
More than a dozen parish children dressed in Ukrainian embroidered blouses, holding beautiful bouquets and icons, welcomed His Eminence and seminarians subdeacon Volodymyr Yavorskyi and subdeacon Mykola Zomchak from St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary. We were pleasantly surprised to see Deacon Ivan Tchopko, who came with His Eminence and who was elevated to Subdeaconate in our parish a number of years ago. Choir Director Simion Sacalos led our joyous parish choir in both English and Ukrainian.
The congregation swelled to more than 150 parishioners, their embroidered Ukrainian attire creating a lovely palette of traditional colors in our historic parish, which celebrates its 107th anniversary this year. Prior to Divine Liturgy, His Eminence elevated Christopher Pokotylo to the order of Sub-Deaconate, instructing him (and the faithful) to pray and read the Scriptures daily so that Christ may remain a guiding force/light in our lives. Truly a “child” of St. Mary’s, Christopher is the son of our rector, Very Rev. Father Andrii and Pani Matka Oksana Pokotylo. We have seen him grow up in our parish and rejoice in his new blessing.
While we marked a day of overall celebration, His Eminence led us in prayers commemorating those who perished in the September 11th attacks of 16 years ago, and prayed for the souls that departed or were suffering the effects of the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, Texas and Florida.
In his sermon, Metropolitan Antony stressed love and forgiveness, instructing us to turn away from judging others. We must follow the direction of our Lord as a living an example of His words to love the Lord and love our neighbor as we would ourselves as we are all made in the image of God. We should strive to live up to our full human potential, our sainthood. His Eminence reminded the congregation of the Gospel of John, “We love, because He loved us first.” As we pray each day we should be mindful to ask, “Lord, teach me how to love!” This will undoubtedly help each of us move forward in our lives.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy His Eminence offered His Archpastoral prayer and blessing for the children of our church school, who will begin their new year of studies on Sunday, September 17.
After inspiring services and inspirational sermon the entire congregation joined His Eminence for a welcome borscht and holubsti dinner in the church hall, prepared by the Sisterhood of St. Olga. No one left hungry! Joy and spirit of Christian love and unity was in the air this day at St. Mary’s! Thank you, Metropolitan Antony, for celebrating our parish Feast Day with us and beginning the church year with such joy!