Stratford, CT: Bishop Nicholas leads Patronal Feast of St. Nicholas Church
On Wednesday, December 19, the feast of the Holy Hierarch & Wonderworker Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan paid an archpastoral visit to St. Nicholas Church in Stratford, CT, where he celebrated Divine Liturgy for the parish's patronal feast day. Concelebrating with His Grace were: Archpriests Serge Lukianov (dean of New Jersey), Dionysy Nalitov (rector of St. Panteleimon Church in Hartford, CT), and Dimitri Jakimowicz (parish rector), and Protodeacons Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent :Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), Paul Giatas (parish cleric), and Paul Drozdowski (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ).
St. Nicholas parish was founded in 1929 thanks to the efforts of famed aviator Igor Sikorsky and his coworkers, who worked in the helicopter factory in Stratford: test pilot Boris Sergievsky and main engineer Nicholas Alexander. At that time, Sikorsky's factory was one of the largest businesses staffed by Russian immigrants.
The first service in the parish was held in December 1929, in a regular house on Lake Street. For the first year, services were performed by Archimandrite Panteleimon (Nizhnik), who at that time was working in Sikorsky's factory, gathering funds to open a new monastery. The next rector after Fr. Panteleimon, for nearly 40 years, was Fr. Stephan Antoniuk (later Bishop Joasaph of the Orthodox Church in America; +1978). Under his leadership, land was purchased for the construction of a church. The church was completed in 1942. Next year is a jubilee year – the parish will mark the 90th anniversary of its founding.
Parishioners and faithful from other states gathered at the church to pray at the festal Liturgy. The choir sang prayerfully under the direction of their new conductor, Natalia Przybylski.
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas greeted the clergy and faithful with the feast, and addressed those gathered with a sermon, in which he noted, in part, how dear and spiritually alive St. Nicholas is for us; this saint of the 4th century, because he was a saint who "lived from Sunday to Sunday, and lived according to God's commandments, not for himself, but for those around him... And today St. Nicholas is our spiritual teacher; he hears our prayers, is our intercessor, and leads us to salvation."
A festal luncheon was then served in the parish hall for the clergy and parishioners, during which those present continued their interaction.