During the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence awarded Fr. John with a jeweled cross for his pastoral service in Christ’s Vineyard. The cross was a gift from the St. Vladimir’s parish family and was selected by Metropolitan Constantine, of blessed repose. Archbishop Antony mentioned that Metropolitan Constantine was going to award Fr. John with the jeweled cross, and in a small way, His Beatitude Metropolitan was present with us in a tangible way, just as he had been for more than a decade. Archbishop Antony shared a reflection of what this cross represents. The Archbishop stated that the cross was not solely a gift for the deeds that Fr. John has done, but that it is also a reminder of the cross that God has given each of us. This cross is to be a reminder for Fr. John to constantly strive to find ways to carry out Christ’s will in order to guide our parish.
After the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Antony shared some additional thoughts and reflections on this celebration. He mentioned that he was glad to be at St. Vladimir’s for such a joyous occasion because twenty years ago when Fr. John was ordained and assigned to this church, the parish was struggling and the hierarchs did not know what would become of St. Vladimir’s in Southside. However, twenty years later, Archbishop Antony said it was a pleasure to come and pray here with our parish family that has grown out of the struggle it had once been in.
Archbishop Antony brought forward Fr. John’s mother, Mary Haluszczak, and wife, Pani-Matka Anne Haluszczak. His Eminence wanted the parish to take note of the roles that these two women had in Father John’s ministry. His mother helped to form Fr. John’s life in an Orthodox manner. Meanwhile, his wife supported him in serving Christ; Archbishop Antony said that Pani-Matka Anne’s involvement in Fr. John’s ministry was evident by how the parish shows their love for her.
A luncheon was held for Fr. John after the Divine Liturgy; it was a beautiful effort organized by the parishioners at St. Vladimir’s in Southside to show their love for the church and for Fr. John. The church hall was decorated with flower arrangements created by the parishioners of St. Vladimir’s—flowers that His Eminence thought were beautiful. There was a slideshow of events throughout Fr. John’s ministry at St. Vladimir’s, a children’s program that highlighted what makes Fr. John special from each child’s perspective, and remarks by Archbishop Antony, Larissa Kocelko, Missy Sheptak, and Fr. John. In attendance were several members of Fr. John’s family—Mary Haluszczak (his mother), Pani-Matka Anne (his wife), Eric, Kira and James Senedak (son-in-law, daughter, and grandson), Nathan Haluszczak (son), Lara Haluszczak (daughter), Paul Haluszczak (his Godfather), and guests from his childhood parish of Sts. Peter and Paul UOC in Carnegie, PA.
The luncheon and program had many sharing smiles and tears over the many joys, trials, and reflections of the first twenty years of Fr. John’s service in Christ. Near the end of the program, Fr. John shared a few words with those present. He commented that this celebration was not just for him, but that it was a celebration of the parish working together over twenty years—working together and growing spiritually stronger as a family. Fr. John acknowledged Metropolitan Constantine’s help and support that guided him throughout his ministry. Just as the children’s program impressed Fr. John, he was touched by the gift of the cross from the parish and was moved by the fact that the parish family put together this luncheon on their own without Fr. John or Pani-Matka Anne lifting a finger. Fr. John said it truly was a special treat to see how the fruits of their labors came together. As it was a joy for Fr. John to work with this parish family for the past twenty years, he said that he looks forward to working on everything that comes our way in the future.