On Sunday, December 18, the feast of Ven. Sabbas the Sanctified, His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, visited St. Nicholas Church in Stratford, CT, on the eve of the parish’s patronal feast. The vicar of the Eastern American Diocese was met by children with baskets of flower petals and was greeted by parish warden Leo Dexter Peavy, who welcomed His Grace to the parish and thanked him for coming. Bishop Nicholas celebrated the Divine Liturgy, co-served by parish clerics: rector Archpriest George Lardas and Protodeacon Paul Giatas, who were joined by Protodeacon Vadim Gan (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City) and Deacon Michael Wengrin (cleric of St. Basil’s Church in Simpson, PA).
At the Great Entrance, Bishop Nicholas offered prayers for the late Archimandrite Joasaph (McLellan), head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, on the seventh anniversary of his repose, for the late Archpriest Theodore Shevzov, who was assigned to St. Nicholas parish, and for the late Archpriest Andrei Semyanko, longtime rector of the neighboring Church of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, both of whom reposed this past year.
After Divine Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas served a moleben to St. Nicholas and presented parishioner Walter Nalisnyk with a diocesan gramota for his faithful service to the Church as a singer and reader, and for his work in repairing and restoring the church building.
Bishop Nicholas delivered a sermon about the importance of St. Nicholas in the Orthodox Church – on the feast of St. Nicholas, even parishes not named for him serve the Divine Liturgy – because of the saint’s virtue and kindness, and urged all to pray to St. Nicholas for help in being strong, kind, and faithful, in keeping the fasts and in embracing spiritual struggle. Bishop Nicholas congratulated Fr. George and the parish on their feast, and Fr. George thanked Bishop Nicholas for his visit. The children of the parish received chocolate coins.
After the service, parishioners assembled on the church steps with the clergy, Bishop Nicholas, and the parish’s icon of St. Nicholas for a group photograph. Then everyone enjoyed the parish’s annual festive fish dinner. They were joined at the dinner by Archpriest Constantine Semyanko, rector of the neighboring Church of the Presentation of Christ.
After the bishop’s visit, Fr. George and Fr. Paul served the All-Night Vigil for the feast of St. Nicholas and, on Monday morning, they were joined by Deacon Alexey Pnev (cleric of Nativity of the Mother of God Church at the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY) for the Divine Liturgy for the feast.
Bishop Nicholas visits St. Nicholas Church in Stratford, CT - 12/18/16