On Sunday, December 18, His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony visited with the faithful of the Mission Parish of Saint Nicholas in Dover, Delaware. Bringing with him our newly ordained Deacon, Deacon Ivan Tchopko and two of our Seminarians, Subdeacon Volodymyr Yavorskij and Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak and plenty of sunshine (the temperature reached 67 degrees), His Eminence entered into the Mission to celebrate the Divine Liturgy for the Mission’s 9th Anniversary and their patronal feast day.
His Eminence was greeted at the door with roses by Sophia Rus representing the youth of the Parish and Frank Biddle, Auditor, representing the Parish Membership. Father Stephen Hutnick, Pastor of the Mission, along with Protopresbyter Constantine Christo greeted His Eminence and the procession to the Altar of the Mission began. Responses were beautifully sung by the Parish Choir under the direction of Veronica Perrine. The Epistle was read by Marc Jasolka.
During the Divine Liturgy, at the Little Entrance, His Eminence stopped and asked Father Constantine to come forward. Having been accepted into the ranks of the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA as a Protopresbyter, for his diligent work as Professor of Canon Law and Church History at St. Sophia Seminary, and for his dedication to St. Nicholas Mission, Metropolitan prayed and elevated him to the rank of Mitred Protopresbyter. As he bestowed the miter, His Eminence reminded him that for every elevation in the Holy Priesthood comes a heavier weight of obligation. With the joyful singing of “Axios!” the Liturgy continued.
During his sermon, the Metropolitan talked about the importance of history in our daily lives. Through our personal history, we become the people that we are through our families, our upbringing and most importantly, through our faith. Can you imagine how we as Orthodox Christians can change the people around us just by our smiles as we leave the Church? It would inspire others to search out the reason and bring them to Christ. He admonished the faithful to prepare for next year’s 10th Anniversary celebration in a bigger worship space as we continue to look for a permanent property for worship.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, it was revealed that December 18th is the birthday of Father Constantine’s mother, Myrophora, who was present at the Divine Liturgy along with Father’s wife, Pani Matka Georgia. It was the first time that she witnessed any of the elevations in the priesthood of her son!
It is amazing to watch the transfer of the worship space from Church to hall. Within fifteen minutes, the faithful had taken down all of the liturgical appurtenances and set up the tables with their covers and chairs. With a prayer of thanksgiving by His Eminence, the fasting feast began. Special thanks are expressed to all of the ladies and men who worked so hard to put the dinner together.
Almost at the end of the meal, a special visitor entered the Mission. It was none other than St. Nicholas coming to bless all who were there. Our youth must have been very good this past year listening to their parents and saying their prayers for they all received a gift from their Patron. His Eminence, our Deacon and the Seminarians were also very good as St. Nicholas had gifts for them as well.