Blessed with a bright, early-autumn day, our parish welcomed His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel to New Britain, Connecticut, on September 17, 2023, to celebrate our Temple Feast Day and share in mutual love and fellowship as we begin the new Church year. Our Hierarchs led the congregation of St. Mary, the Nativity of the Mother of God, in celebrating the Divine Liturgy alongside our priest Very Rev. Father Andrii Pokotylo, Proto-Deacon Anthony Szwez and Very Rev. Stephen Masliuk of St. Mary’s Protection, Bridgeport, CT.
Several parish children dressed in Ukrainian embroidered blouses, holding the traditional bread and salt, as well as bouquets and icons, welcomed our Hierarchs and seminarians from the St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary. Choir Director Simion Sacalos led our joyous parish choir in both English and Ukrainian.
The congregation swelled to more than 180 parishioners, their embroidered Ukrainian vyshyvanky creating a lovely palette of traditional colors in our historic parish, which celebrates its 113th anniversary this year. Prior to Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel ordained Scott and Evan Kerry, a father and his son, to the order of Sub-Deaconate. During the dual-language sermon, Archbishop Daniel instructed us not to leave our good Christian behavior inside the church, but bring Christ and His teachings with us as we go into the world, countering evil with goodness.
Our Temple Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God follows on the beginning of the Church Liturgical year as well as the start of the parish school year. At the end of Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Antony called up the Church School children and teachers for a special blessing. He asked them to open their hearts and minds to Christ’s teachings during their studies at the parish school so that they will lead good, spiritually-healthy lives. He then doused the laughing young crowd with Holy Water for a cheerful blessing.
At the conclusion of the beautiful service, Metropolitan Antony called a few individuals up to the Amvon for recognition. He bestowed the Medal of St. Peter on several hardworking parish members for their decades-long devotion to serving St. Mary’s in many volunteer capacities. These parishioners included John Bouchard, Julie Breen, Yaroslava Buzcko, John Sirick and Meroslava Szwez. After singing a joyous “Many Happy Years,” the entire congregation joined our Hierarchs for a panoramic group photo inside our historic church. To prompt a smile, Archbishop Daniel proclaimed “Slava Ukraini!” to which we loudly cheered, “Heroyam Slava!”
Photos by Subdeacon Maksym Zhuravchyk and Subdeacon Christopher Pokotylo