This post was originally published on this site

Nativity of the Mother of God, New Britain




Warm Welcome of Metropolitan Antony
at St. Mary Parish, New Britain, CT

One of the first warm May days this year set the scene for Metropolitan Antony’s visit to New Britain, Connecticut, on May 22, 2016. 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.

Led by parish teens Stephanie Melnyk, Anya Melnyk and Johnny Dilozir, more than a dozen parish children, holding the traditional bread and salt, as well as bouquets and icons, welcomed His Eminence and 3 seminarians from St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary. Choir Director Simion Sacalos led our stirring parish choir in both English and Ukrainian.

More than 100 parish faithful filled the church on this joyous occasion as Metropolitan Antony bestowed two special honors. Before the Liturgy, His Eminence tonsured Choir Director Simion Sacalos to the order of Reader, the first rung of ordination to the holy priesthood. At the conclusion of the Divine services, His Eminence made special presentations to three longtime servants of St. Mary’s. The order of Saint Petro Mohyla was bestowed upon Cynthia Sirick, who continues to serve as St. Mary’s Church School Director for more than 34 years (teaching for 60), instructing hundreds of parish youth in the ways of Christ and His Church. The order of St. Olga was bestowed upon Ann Sencio, long-serving (50 years) past President of our parish’s Sisterhood of St. Olga, the tireless service and fundraising organization. And the order of Sts. Boris and Gleb was bestowed upon Dr. Joan Kerelejza, for her selfless service in maintaining the parish scholarship committee, the 20+ year (3,000+ package) relief project known as Bundles for Ukraine and a number of fundraising initiatives.

In keeping with the day’s Gospel reading of the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Siloam, His Eminence’s sermon charged the congregation to maintain their spiritual health as well as their physical health. Each day brings its own challenges for weaknesses and temptations; by following in Christ’s footsteps by word and by deed can we truly live up to our potential of strong spiritual health. Beyond attending services and reading scriptures, we must truly cleanse our souls to live a righteous life.

After singing a joyous “Many Happy Years,” the entire congregation joined His Eminence for a group photograph on the front steps and later for a welcoming Pashal/Easter dinner in the church hall, prepared by the Sisterhood of St. Olga. What a wonderful, blessed way to renew ourselves in this Paschal season!

Written by Melissa Sirick and pictures from Christine Melnyk.