On Saturday, May 28, 2022 the parish family of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary gathered together to celebrate the 88th anniversary of the parish. The morning began with an Archapastoral Divine Liturgy celebrated by Archbishop Daniel, with His Eminence Metropolitan Antony in attendance. Serving alongside the parish’s pastor Rev. Vasyl Pasakas were local clergy: Rev. Sviatoslav Hot (Holy Ascension, Maplewood, NJ), Rev. Oleg Kravchenko (Holy Assumption, Northampton, PA), Rev. Andrii Drapak (St. Sophia Seminary, Somerset, NJ), Rev. Myroslav Mykytyuk (St. Andrew Memorial Church, Somerset, NJ). The Seminarian choir from St. Sophia Seminary sang the responses.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel was greeted at the doors of the Church by Fr. Vasyl’s children, Jacob, Emilia and Taissa, who greeted the honored guests with bouquets of flowers. Fr. Vasyl then welcomed Vladyka Daniel to the parish on this special occasion by offering him the cross.
During the Small Entrance, Fr. Vasyl Pasakas was elevated to the rank of Protopriest and received the Gold Cross. During the Divine Liturgy, all the founders, benefactors, clergy, and members are remembered by name. The parish was found in 1934 by Catherine Dorosh, Paul Owsinik, Michael Polehonki, Nicholas Sawczak, Julia Sharyk, and Andrew Zahuta. As we approached Memorial Day this coming weekend, Vladyka Daniel read off the names of all parishioners who had served in the Armed Forces during the Liturgy. An “Honor Roll” plaque, listing everyone’s names, hung in the parish hall reminding all of their service to our country, and will forever memorialize their memories.
Speaking at the end of the service, Fr. Vasyl greeted everyone gathered on the occasion and reflected on the role everyone played in the life of the parish-the role they had and the role the church had on their own personal lives. Reflecting on his own pastoral journey the last nine years at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fr. Vasyl emphasized on the importance and value of everyone who was gathered together. Fr. Vasyl spoke of the weddings that took place, the children who were baptized, the parishioners who passed away, Fr. Oleg who was ordained to the deaconate at the parish just a few years ago, the seminarians who sang (or sing) or now serve at the altar. All those gathered were not only there for their own parish and their faith—but for each other as well. Fr. Vasyl acknowledged the current members and supporters present at the celebration—the Ratai Families, Marinich Families, Vakulchik Family, Hlushko Family, Honcharenko & Andrec Families, the Pasakas Family, the gathered clergy and seminarians. Fr. Vasyl also reflected on the recent passing of long time member, devoted altar server, and parish president Andy Olear, who recently passed away at the beginning of the year. These were blessings which Father Vasyl will cherish forever.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony offered a reflection of his own memories serving at the altar at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He reflected on the last Pascha he celebrated with the parishioners several years back. Although small in number, those gathered were truly dedicated to their faith and their parish family, even late in their ages.
At the end, Vladyka Daniel gifted longtime parishioner Mike Ratai and his wife Nancy with a beautiful icon as a token of everyone’s gratitude and deep appreciation for their continued service, help, and dedication to the parish. Aside from being a member of the parish board, Mike recently took on more responsibility in caring for the parish and the parish property, and for the volunteer work of his wife Nancy. A deep gratitude is extended to the both of them for their extra-ordinary dedication.
All in attendance, were invited to the adjacent hall for a catered luncheon to celebrate the occasion.
Photos by Subdeacon Yarolsav Bilohan abd Dobrodijka Oksana Pasakas