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Double Anniversary in Hermitage - May 7, 2023

For the community of Saint John’s Orthodox Church in Hermitage, Spring 2023 contained two notable anniversaries. Like many parishes in our Diocese, Saint John’s was founded in 1938, with the first Divine Liturgy being celebrated on April 3 of that year. Thus in 2023, the parish celebrates 85 years of service to God and His people. In addition, it has been 10 years since the parish’s relocation to Hermitage on March 24, 2013 and the consecration of the new church on May 18, 2013.

On Sunday, May 7th, 2023, over 100 parishioners and friends gathered to thank Almighty God for His blessings and to celebrate this double anniversary. The day began with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory. His Eminence was welcomed with the traditional sweet-smelling bread and salt by parish board president, Archon Steven Lukac. The Rev. Fr. David Mastroberte presented the hand cross and offered words of welcome. His Eminence was then escorted to the throne by Fr. David and Deacon John Anderson for the beginning of the Divine Liturgy. Liturgical responses were offered by the parish’s choir under the direction of Paula Kudelko.

During his homily, Metropolitan Gregory recalled the rites and ceremonies of the consecration of the church and explained their spiritual significance. Saint John’s has the honor of being the first church consecrated by then-Bishop Gregory after his consecration to the episcopacy.

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Brent Hynes was blessed as an Acolyte by Metropolitan Gregory, who encouraged him to continue in his dedicated service at the Holy Altar.

Following the Divine Liturgy and the distribution of antidoron, everyone gathered again in the church’s Fellowship Hall for a celebratory banquet. The banquet began with the singing of the Paschal Tropar, the blessing of the meal, and a rousing “God Bless America”. The youth of the parish presented Metropolitan Gregory with a bouquet of red roses and a small bouquet of chocolate roses (locally produced at Philadelphia Candies in Hermitage). During the meal, remarks were made by Archon Steven Lukac, Fr. David Mastroberte and Metropolitan Gregory. His Eminence congratulated the parish and stressed the need for the community to be open and welcome all people who are searching for Christ and the Orthodox Christian faith. As the more formal aspects of the meal wound down, Metropolitan Gregory—as the shepherd of the Diocese—visited and spoke with many members of his flock.

Overall, the combination of a joyful Divine Liturgy punctuated by Resurrectional hymns; a full church with many communicants; and a family-like gathering for food and fellowship made this anniversary celebration seem like a second Pascha. May God continue to bless Saint John’s Orthodox Church for many years to come!
Over 100 faithful gathered to celebrate the 85th anniversary of founding and 10th anniversary of relocation of Saint John's in Hermitage on Sunday, May 7, 2023.
His Eminence sang the troparion of the Holy Cross "Soson Kyrie" before entering the church.
Archon Steven Lukac welcomed Metropolitan Gregory with bread and salt.
Fr. David Mastroberte presented the Holy Cross to His Eminence.
Metropolitan Gregory enters to begin the Divine Liturgy.
Metropolitan Gregory blesses the faithful.
Metropolitan Gregory blesses the faithful with the Holy Cross as he enters the church.
"The blessing of the Lord!"
Metropolitan Gregory proceeds to the throne for the beginning of the Divine Liturgy.
Deacon John Anderson proclaims the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, while the men of the parish hold the "trojca" (triple candle) and other candles.
Deacon John Anderson reads the Gospel account of the healing of the Paralytic.
"May the Lord our God remember all you Orthodox Christians in His kingdom..."
The Great Entrance makes its way through the nave of the church.
Metropolitan Gregory offers commemorations during the Great Entrance.
"Eis polla eti, Despota!"
The clergy receive the Eucharist from the hands of their hierarch.
"In the fear of God, with faith and with love draw near! Christ is risen!"
Altar Server Brent Hynes is formally blessed as an Acolyte.
Metropolitan Gregory offers words of encouragement to the newly-installed Acolyte.
For many centuries, the epigonation (diamond-shaped vestment) has been used to cover the face of unsuspecting altar servers.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory with Fr. David Mastroberte, Deacon John Anderson, and parish acolytes.
Metropolitan Gregory and his flock in Hermitage.
The faithful venerate the icon of the Resurrection and a relic of St. Alexis Toth (commemorated on May 7).
Archon Michael & Nancy Ristvey come forward to venerate the icon.
Metropolitan Gregory distributed antidoron and greeted everyone as they exited the church.
Parish youth presented Metropolitan Gregory with a bouquet of roses and a bouquet of chocolate roses from the local Philadelphia Candies.
Metropolitan Gregory and the parish youth present for the celebration.
Flowers can also be used to hide the face of unsuspecting altar boys.
Archon Steve Lukac offered reflections on the life of the parish and the building project.
Archon Steven Lukac spoke about the journey to relocate to Hermitage.
A view of some parishioners in attendance.
His Eminence spoke to those gathered for the banquet.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory offered the closing prayer.
Fr. David Mastroberte leads those gathered in "Shine, shine" at the conclusion of the meal.
Archon Michael and Nancy Ristvey enjoying the festivities.
Time was spent in fellowship following the banquet.
Smile! Choir Director Paula with Steven and Karen pose in front of one of the photographic displays.
Metropolitan Gregory and Michael Ristvey.
Deacon John, Debbie and Emily Anderson.
Pani Vikkie and Elias look at one of the displays of photographs from the 85 years of the parish's history.
A great time was had by all!