As has been the custom for many years at the parish of St. Stephen the Archdeacon and First Martyr in Lackawanna, New York, on January 13 and 14, 2018, the faithful celebrated, with their Hierarch and Father, Bishop IRINEJ, the commemoration of two heavenly protectors: St. Stephen, the patron saint of the parish, and St. Sava, the patron saint of all Serbian schools and children. Sladjan and Ruza Petrovic and family were the kumovi for the parish slava.
The festal services began with vespers on Saturday evening at which the parish priest, Economos Vladislav Golic, served with Protodeacon Milos Zdralic under the omophorion of Bishop IRINEJ, who officiated from the Episcopal Throne. The devoted faithful were in attendance, singing the responses together with guest reader and chanter Nemanja Jovanovic, student of Theology from the University of Belgrade.
On Sunday morning, over 200 souls were gathered around their Archpastor, understanding the teaching of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Godbearer, that “where the bishop is, there is the Church.” Serving with His Grace IRINEJ again were Father Vladislav and diocesan Protodeacon Milos, while Deacon Steven Gjurich, from St. Stephen parish, and several adults, young men, and boys assisted in the altar. The Kosta Manojlovich choir, under the direction of Diane Sullivan, sang the majority of the responses, with the children of the church school responding at the augmented litany and Nemanja Jovanovic joining the clergy as they sang the troparia and kontakia.
No one will dispute that His Grace’s homily, a good part of which he addressed to the children who were assembled at the front of the church during the liturgy, was the most memorable portion of the service. Engaging the children with his warmth and a little humor, their loving Archpastor spoke about the multiple events the Holy Church commemorated on Sunday, January 14 (January 1, old style—Julian calendar): the Circumcision and Naming of Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, the feast of St. Basil the Great, the Sunday before Theophany, and the New Year. Additionally, the parish was celebrating two slavas: St. Stephen and St. Sava. After the cutting of the second kolach, for the glory and honor of St. Sava, which the children turned with their Father, Bishop IRINEJ, His Grace joyfully distributed the beautiful decorations from the bread among the children. Without a doubt, the attention and love of their bishop will have made a lasting impression on the children and will engender, in turn, their love for the Church and her clergy.
Following a festive meal that the St. Petka Circle of Serbian Sisters and president Kata Pajic prepared, the St. Stephen Tammies and Dancers, instructed by Shelley Vranjes and her children, Kristina and Michael and Erica Nedelkov, presented a short program. The culmination of the St. Sava program, coordinated by Popadija Sara Golic, was the medley of songs, poems, and instrumental pieces that the children presented to the delight of their parents and the entire assembled audience.
With thanksgiving to God for his ceaseless blessings, the faithful of St. Stephen parish look forward to another year of spiritual growth with their pastor, Father Vladislav, and to the edifying instruction of His Grace Bishop IRINEJ, on the occasion of his next visit to Lackawanna.
N. M. S.