On Friday, July 7, the feast of the Nativity of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist of the Lord John, St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA celebrated its patronal feast day. Celebrating Divine Liturgy on Friday morning was His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, co-served by His Grace, Bishop Saba of the Georgian Apostolic Church in North America, and local clergy:
- Archpriest John Sorochka (cathedral rector)
- Archpriest Claude Vinyard (rector of Holy Protection Mission in Lewisburg, PA)
- Archpriest David Hritcko (rector of St. Basil’s Church in Simpson, PA)
- Archpriest Basil Micek (rector of Sts. Peter & Paul Church MP in Scranton, PA)
- Archpriest Michael Lepa (rector of St. Nicholas Church MP in Wilkes-Barre, PA)
- Abbot German (Ciuba; rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Old Forge, PA)
- Archpriest James Dougherty (diocesan cleric)
- Priest Andrea Midodashvili (cleric of the Georgian Apostolic Church)
- Priest Daniel Franzen (cleric of the Mid-American Diocese)
- Protodeacon Stephen Howanetz (cathedral cleric)
- Protodeacon Dimitry Temidis (cleric of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY)
- Protodeacon Gregory Petrochko (cathedral cleric)
- Deacon Nathaniel Sorochka (cathedral cleric)
- Deacon Dimitri Krenitsky (cleric of Holy Trinity Church in Vineland, NJ)
- Deacon Michael Pavuk (cathedral cleric).
Praying in the altar was Archpriest Daniel Geeza (cleric of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk OCA Monastery in South Canaan, PA; retired). Singing in the choir was Deacon Michael Wengrin (cleric of St. Basil’s Church in Simpson). The divine services were adorned by the singing of the cathedral choir, under the direction of choir conductor Paul (Gary) Brzuchalski.
Prior to the start of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas tonsured Kentigern Paul Siewers a reader. Reader Kentigern Paul will continue his service of prayer at Holy Protection Mission in Lewisburg, PA.
At the Little Entrance, with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Claude Vinyard was awarded the right to wear the second pectoral cross, while Deacons Dimitri Krenitsky and Michael Pavuk were awarded the right to wear the double orarion.
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he said, in part:
"Today we give thanks to our Lord for His blessing to celebrate our parish feast day. The ultimate sign of gratitude and thanksgiving is the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, and today we are truly blessed with this divine service. For a parish, the patronal feast day is considered a second Pascha – we know that Holy Pascha is the feast of feasts, and here the parish’s feast day has the honor to be considered the second Pascha… But this feast is very special in its own right: after Holy Pascha and the Twelve Great Feasts, three more feasts are celebrated above the others: the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter & Paul, the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, and the Nativity of St. John, which we celebrate today.
"St. John was the Forerunner, he came before Christ. He was the light that shone the way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He spent his life proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, calling on the people to repent. Each one of us today should ask ourselves what it is that we are doing with our life; we are born into this world, and we want to enjoy life. We are Orthodox Christians, we are good people, we pray – but do we really live a life in Christ? Are we preparing for the eternal life? This is nothing to be scared of, but rather to be joyful about, that we have this temporal life to prepare for life everlasting. And how important it is for us to cherish this opportunity and life on this earth.
"Let us look to the Church ,to the divine services, and we will see that everything is laid out there for us. If the Church celebrates life and birth today, then we also must celebrate these blessed things. There is no other avenue, no exceptions: we must be strong, and proud, and joyous that we are given this life, given a chance to live a life in Christ, following the light given to us by St. John the Baptist, grateful for the many mercies we have, and secure in the knowledge that we are not alone, that God is with us."
Bishop Nicholas thanked Fr. John Sorochka and all those present for their warm reception and prayers, and on behalf of Metropolitan Hilarion and himself congratulated the clergy and parishioners with their patronal feast day. In turn, Fr. John thanked the archpastors for their visit and joint prayer, spiritually uplifting the faithful.
The protodeacon then intoned the Polychronion for the hierarchs, clergy, parishioners, and namesday celebrants.
After the service, a bountiful lenten luncheon was served in the parish center.
Full video of the Liturgy can be viewed here.