Parish trip to Holy Apostles Church in Mechanicsburg, PA – December 2019

Holy Apostles Church in Mechanicsburg, PA
Holy Apostles Church in Mechanicsburg, PA

Witnessing to the fullness of the Faith.

On Sunday December 15th with the Arch-pastoral blessing of Archbishop Mark, our parish family gathered early in the morning for a “field trip” to Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Mechanicsburg, PA.  We organized this excursion to help our parishioners see how a vibrant Orthodox community can grow from a small seed planted by faithful Christians.

Parishioners at Holy Apostles Church in Mechanicsburg, PA

As we arrived at Holy Apostles, we were immediately greeted and welcomed by the parish faithful.  The temple was filled with old and young alike. During the Divine Liturgy the parish rector, Fr. Timothy Hojnicki, Chrismated a baby girl recovering from her first heart surgery.  This was the completion of the emergency baptism performed at the hospital on the day she was born. It was beautiful to see the entire community offer prayers on her behalf!

Chrismation of a baby girl recovering from her first heart surgery at Holy Apostles Church in Mechanicsburg, PA.
Chrismation of a baby girl recovering from her first heart surgery at Holy Apostles Church in Mechanicsburg, PA.

After the Divine Services were completed, our faithful were able to socialize and get to know the wonderful people of Holy Apostles.  We participated in judging a gingerbread house competition with donations helping local charities.

Communion at Holy Apostles Church in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Before we left for home, we met with Fr. Timothy (our Dean) to discuss our plans going forward.  Fr. Tim graciously encouraged us to remain faithful in our attendance of Divine Services, and to grow our presence in the community at large. He also volunteered his time to visit with us in the coming months to help steer our vision and educate our faithful.

On the drive home, we discussed the beauty of the Services and shared some ideas on what we need to strengthen our mission in Schuylkill County.

We would like to thank Fr. Timothy and the entire Holy Apostles community for their hospitality and prayers as we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s Nativity!

Nativity Decorating – November 2019

St. Marys Orthodox Church decorated for Nativity
St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Saint Clair, PA decorated for Nativity.

Cleaning and beautifying God’s house.

The morning of Saturday, November 30th our parish family came together to clean and decorate our small Temple for the upcoming Feast of the Nativity of our Lord. In the past the Church was decorated by one of our faithful parishioners, but this year we decided to do something a little different and organize a “crew”. With renewed leadership, we invited our people to participate and the call was answered with a resounding YES!

Decorating and cleaning, St. Marys Orthodox Church

We started by preparing the decorations to be placed on the window sills. It was decided to add a candle and some green and holly to accent the beauty of the stained glass. Our parish youth helped by making sure all of the tree decorations had hooks suitable for the tree branches. A long time parish member gratefully donated a new (to us) tree to be placed in the Church.

All of the glass was cleaned, the pews wiped down, candle stands polished, and floor vacuumed. After all of the cleaning and decorating of both the Church and parish hall, we decided that it would be best to feed our worker-bees! As we sat in fellowship sharing a meal, we reminisced about days gone by and shared stories of our unique family experiences during the holiday season.

At the end of each Divine Liturgy, the Priest prays that our Lord will “sanctify those who love the beauty of Thy House”. May our offering of time and effort be accepted and blessed by the Lord of Hosts, who’s Temple we adorn in celebration of His blessed Nativity!

We cordially invite to come and celebrate with us as the Church is robed in majesty in anticipation of our Savior’s birth!

Acrylic Icon Workshop – November 2019

Acrylic Icon Workshop - November 2019 - St. Mary's Orthodox Church

Icon Painting Class in Our Parish

On Sunday November 24th, members of our Parish family took part in an Acrylic Icon painting workshop.

Icon Painting Class in Our Parish - St. Marys Orthodox Church
Ms. Larissa Holowaty, seated at the head of the table, instructed Parishoners in our class.

Organized and led by Ms. Larissa Holowaty, our students of all ages were able to trace an Icon of St. Nicholas of Myra and then apply paint filling in the outline.  Reader Gregory Sagan discussed the importance of Icons in Orthodox worship, the difference between worship and veneration, and how traditional Icons are written with natural materials given to us by God.

We learned that in all of Orthodox worship, we give back to God what he has given us. When we sing we offer our voices, when we celebrate Liturgy we offer gifts of bread and wine for the Eucharist, and when we write (paint) icons, we use natural wood for the base and brush handle, egg tempera for the paint, and natural colors for pigment. Reader Gregory also noted that icons are an important theological tool to help the faithful clearly understand the events or Saints being depicted. We know that the icon is two dimensional, and that we become the third dimension (bringing the icon “to life”) by our participation in veneration.

Each student had their own unique take on vestment colors, and enjoyed the fellowship while participating in the workshop.

Acrylic Icons painted by students - St. Mary's Orthodox Church
Icon of St. Nicholas of Myra , as painted by students in acrylic medium.