On Sunday, February 5th, 2023, the Parish Family of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Dover, Delaware anxiously awaited the arrival of our Spiritual Father, His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony for our 9:00 AM Divine Liturgy. At about 8:15 AM, His Eminence arrived with Deacon Pavlo Vysotskyj, and our Seminarians the Subdeacons Yurii Izhyk, Mykola Stefanyk, Nicholas Worobey and Maksym Zhuravchyk. All were excited as His Eminence was here to ordain to the Subdeaconate one of our own, Marc Jaskolka.
After vesting, His Eminence came to the entrance of the Church where he was greeted by the children of the Parish with flowers. The Metropolitan asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. One wanted to be a policeman, one wanted to be a martial arts instructor and even one young man wanted to be a monk! He blessed the children and asked them to pray for him and the Parish.
The Metropolitan was then greeted by the officers of the Parish. Donna Previte, Parish Treasurer, and Christina Mentis, Parish Secretary, who greeted him with the traditional bread and salt. Christina reminded him that the last time he visited, the bread she baked for the occasion didn’t rise properly. This one she said is much better (everyone tasted it during the dinner and agreed).
Father Stephen greeted Vladyka with the hand Cross and Holy Water. He was welcomed “home” as this is his Parish and Father Stephen stated that he only takes care of it for him. He told Vladyka that we are praying for his health and strength and begged him to remember his Parish Family in his prayers. His Eminence blessed everyone with Holy Water and we entered the Church for the Divine Liturgy.
At the very beginning, the Metropolitan had two of the subdeacons take Marc in front of the Royal Doors where he made the bow with them and came in front of his Eminence and made another bow. He laid his hand on Marc’s head and began the ordination to Lector Cantor and to the subdeaconate. He reminded the newly ordained subdeacon that he was entering into a new relationship with Christ and that he must take it seriously. He must read Sacred Scriptures daily and make Christ the center of his life. He was happy that the newly ordained would be able to help Father Stephen in taking care of the Church’s day to day functions.
It surprised everyone at the Entrance with the Gospel Book, that the Metropolitan stopped the Liturgy. He asked Father Stephen to make the bows to the altar and to return to him. He announced to us that he was raising our Pastor to the highest degree of the married priesthood: the rank of Protopresbyter. After talking about all that Father does for his three Parishes, teaching at the Seminary and working as the Treasurer of the Church and the President of the Ukrainian History and Education Center, he placed his hand on the head of Father and raised him to the title of Protopresbyter.
The Divine Liturgy continued. During his Sermon, the Metropolitan spoke about the importance of preparing oneself for the Great Fast. He talked about the desire of seeing Christ in Zacchaeus and the humbleness of the Publican. He talked about forgiveness and that we need to forgive from the bottom of our hearts. He reminded us that to forgive but not wanting to forget may not be forgiveness at all. He spoke of repentance and the “returning to ourselves” which is important during the preparation for the Great Fast. He urged everyone to really listen to the Gospels over the next few weeks and to take our Spiritual journey seriously during the Fast.
At the end of Liturgy, our Seminarians presented roses to Father Stephen. Subdeacon Nicholas was the spokesperson and thanked Father for being there for them. Father reminded them that he already submitted his grades for the last semester! His Eminence then presented the roses to Pani Dobrodyka Elizabeth reminding the people of the importance in the life of the Parish of the priest’s wife. She is his rock and support in times of need and his help mate throughout his ministry.
Deacon Pavlo intoned “God grant you many years” for our new Subdeacon Marc and for Father Stephen. Father thanked all on behalf of both of them
The ladies, under the Chairpersonship of Dmitra Cookson really prepared a feast. If you left hungry, then it was your own fault! The food was delicious and the fellowship was amazing.
We look forward to the next visit by our Metropolitan. It is always such a joyous occasion to pray together and to have fellowship with our Shepherd. May God grant him many, happy and blessed years! As we say in Greek: “Eis polla eti Despota”
Submitted by Christina Mentis