Observing the First Anniversary of the Repose of +Metropolitan Nicholas

JOHNSTOWN, PA --  It does not seem possible that one year has passed since the Repose in the Lord of our God Loving +Metropolitan Nicholas of Thrice-Blessed Memory.  There is not a one of us who does not recall where we were or what we were doing when we learned that His Eminence Fell-Asleep-In-The Lord at 3:00 pm on Sunday March 13, 2011. 

Today, on the one year anniversary many Churches throughout the diocese will be offering prayers for the repose of  the Soul of Metropolitan Nicholas.  Our Diocesan Cathedral, the home of His Eminence, will be celebrating the Parastas Service at 5:00 PM. Those  outside of the Greater Johnstown, PA area may wish to watch the service on-line as it will be live broadcasted.  Click Here to View  His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of America, who has lovingly cared for our diocese as Locum Tenens during this past year, along with Archbishop Anthony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., will lead the Parastas Service at  St. John the Baptist Church in Perth Amboy, NJ on Sunday March 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm.  

Wherever you are today, please take a moment to remember His Eminence in prayer, as he remembered all of us throughout his years of priestly and Episcopal Ministry.

We invite you to visit a special webpage outlining the special diocesan observances marking the anniversary of Metropolitan Nicholas' repose, and providing links to special collection of His written and recorded  homilies, addresses and divine services and audio recordings of him singing his beloved plain chant hymns .

Today, on this difficult day in the life of the diocese, we offer you the following words of wisdom and comfort, as we remember His Eminence and patiently await  the guidance of the Holy Spirit in discerning a worthy successor to Metropolitan Nicholas. These words were written by The Very Rev. Protopresbyter Michael Rosco, Vice-Chancellor of the Diocese and Editor of the Church Messenger shortly after Metropolitan Nicholas' Repose and have been adapted slightly to reflect the passage of time since they were first written. 

 Memories of a Memorable Man.

At 3 PM on Sunday, March 13th, 2012 a part of all of us died, when our beloved Metropolitan fell asleep in the Lord. 3 PM on a Sunday afternoon...how often His Eminence would reminisce about attending Vespers in his home parish of St. John's in Perth Amboy as a young child at that precise hour! March 13th...how significant that day had been in his life for the past 28 years, for it marked the anniversary of his consecration to the episcopacy. Yes, our Lord surely chose an appropriate time and day to take him home.

The last year of his life, His Eminence waged an ongoing battle with cancer. If you spoke to him on the phone however—even in his last few months on this earth—you would never have known that he was gravely ill. He tried his best to fulfill the duties of his demanding office for as long as he could, often exerting himself much more than he should have. He was even able to muster up enough strength to ordain a deacon on February 15th—the Feast Day of the Meeting of our Lord. But those who saw him at his 75th birthday celebration realized what those closest to him had known for quite awhile: the remarkably full life of the Metropolitan was rapidly coming to an end.

No doubt we all have special, personal remembrances of Metropolitan Nicholas. That was one of his unique qualities: despite being such a prominent public figure, when you were in his presence, he made you feel like you were talking casually with a dear friend. He did not demand respect, but he certainly commanded it. Memories...I have been blessed to have so many of the Metropolitan that I will always treasure. In reflecting about the relationship Pani Susan and I had with him after his passing, I suddenly realized that His Eminence had been involved in nearly every major event in our lives. He was Seminary Prefect during my years of study for the priesthood. He was a co-celebrant at our marriage. He baptized our son. He buried our parents. Yet my fondest memory of Metropolitan Nicholas by far is my first memory of him. Some 57 years ago, our parish in East Pittsburgh was without a priest for a period of time. One Sunday, Seminarian Richard Smisko came to celebrate services for us. As a little five year old boy, I stood with my mother (who by the way had the same maiden name as his mother: Anne Totin) as she talked to him in the church hall afterwards. I can still see him looking down and smiling at me. "Maybe someday you'll be a priest," he said, as he patted me on my head. I have always maintained that little "pat" was the beginning of my priestly vocation!

Who will now fill the tremendous void that has been left in our lives by the falling asleep in the Lord of Metropolitan Nicholas? The answer is: probably no one. He cast a giant shadow that touched so many people. But although no one will ever replace him in our hearts, someone will one day take his place in the life of the Diocese. Whoever our bishop may be will need the same support and the same love that we gave so freely to our departed Metropolitan. Many times at Diocesan celebrations, we have heard our Chancellor, Protopresbyter Frank Miloro mention that God has always blessed us with bishops who were absolutely the right man at the right time. We have no reason to doubt God's ability to select the right person to lead us in the future.

As the tributes to Metropolitan Nicholas during this past year poured in from all over the world, we should keep in mind that the best way to honor his memory is to heed the words expressed by the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Archdiocese of the USA in their letter of condolence to us: "The manner is which you remember Metropolitan Nicholas and serve the Lord, following the example he set for you, will be a living testament to his service."

God Speed Metropolitan Nicholas - May Your Memory Be Eternal!!!!