The Mission Choir visited Sts. Peter and Paul Church, in Lorain, Ohio, on April 21-22. The parish was celebrating its 105th anniversary! Five years ago, the parish sought to celebrate their 100th anniversary, and Metropolitan Tikhon, who was to join Bishop Paul, was unable to come due to suffering from pneumonia. Now five years later both Bishop Paul and Metropolitan Tikhon were scheduled to participate in the divine services together. An “All-Star” version of the Mission Choir (including members who graduated in 2017 who attended Dn. Jonathan Lincoln’s ordination earlier in the day) sang Great Vespers.
An interesting reunion took place between the Divine Liturgy on Saturday, and Vespers. Kathy Jacob introduced Fr. Steven to her brother, John Slanta (STOTS 1979). At Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Fr. Steven also met Archpriest Yves Claude Babich (STOTS 1980), Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Lakewood Ohio. In perceiving that they were likely classmates, Fr. Steven brought the two together, who then began sharing their shared seminary experiences!
After Vespers all traveled to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for a dinner and program prepared by Samuel Jacob, one of the newest members of the St. Tikhon’s Seminary Board of Trustees. Protopresbyter Michael Gulgas, Parish Rector, was present for the evening’s events. Fr. Andrew Bartek, Pastor of Holy Assumption Church in Marblehead, Ohio, closed his parish so he and faithful could participate in the weekend’s events. A small ensemble of parish parishioners provided music during dinner.
Parishioner Samuel Koukios was emcee for the evening. Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop Paul, Michael Herzak (Seminary Board of Trustees Chair), and Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Seminary Dean, all offered comments. The Mission Choir also sang a short program of liturgical music celebrating the Paschal Feast.
In the morning, Metropolitan Tikhon and Bishop Paul concelebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, with Fr. Joseph McCartney, Pairsh Rector, Archpriest Basil Stoyka, and Fr. Andrew Bartek. Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak served with Protodeacon Edward Kolenda. The church was packed, well in advance of greeting the hierarchs. Fr. Joseph presented Fr. Steven with contributions to the seminary that would total nearly $10,000. The whole parish with celebrants took a parish photo on the front steps of the church!
After the Divine Liturgy, the Mission Choir joined Metropolitan Tikhon in traveling to Ridge Hill Memoral Cemetery. John Lachowyn responded to a challenge during the Mission Choir’s visit in 2017, committing $1,000 to have the Mission Choir visit his home during this year’s visit, to sing a short program. John passed away in January, so the Mission Choir sang the responses as Metropolitan Tikhon served a Litya at his graveside, with his wife Rosyln and many family members present.
Later that afternoon all participating in the Divine Liturgy were invited to the home of Sam and Kathy Jacob for an afternoon of more food that they prepared, fellowship, and another short program of liturgical music. The weather cooperated to make this a most enjoyable afternoon!
Fr. Steven commented on how moving it was to visit Sts. Peter and Paul Church, feeling their supportive embrace these past few years! May God grant Fr. Joseph, Archpriest Basil, and parish faithful many blessed years as they look ahead to the next 105 years!
(Photos by Seminarian George Davis)