On June 13, 2021, the Seventh Sunday following Pascha, when we celebrate the memory of the 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council (325AD), His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America celebrated the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the parish church of the Holy Ascension of Christ in Youngwood, Pennsylvania. Concelebrating with His Grace were Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Rodney Torbic, Presbyter Rumen Stoychev, parish priest, and Protodeacon Milos Zdralic. Also, prayerfully present was retired parish priest, Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Adam Yonitch. Also joining in the festivities was Archpriest Andrei Alexiev from St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church in Blairsville, Pennsylvania.
In his homily, His Grace began by noting that during this celebratory year, we commemorate, among all else, the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the first diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada. The same was founded by the Holy Bishop Nicholai of Zhicha and Ochrid in 1921. As this was Bishop Irinej’s first official visit as Diocesan Hierarch to this parish, he quoted Bishop Nicholai who celebrating Pascha one year in Jerusalem, expressed his feelings by noting, “we waited, and we waited and then, finally, our expectations were fulfilled when the chanting of “Christ is Risen” began. So also, the Bishop’s expectations in waiting to visit this parish were fulfilled on this day in the celebration of the parish feast.
The parish choir responded beautifully to the chanting of the Liturgy. Toward the conclusion of the service, the many faithful that came from far and wide for the occasion, gathered around His Grace to witness and partake of the blessing of the Slava gifts of Wheat – Koljivo, wine, and Festal Bread – Slavski kolach, and to join together in the turning of the bread.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the faithful gathered, together with their hierarch and after the Invocation, shared in a well-prepared Agape meal in celebration of their Slava. The Master of Ceremonies for the banquet program was Nick Sava Yackovich Jr., a son of the parish from Michigan. Remarks were offered by church board president James Wiedel, honored Kuma Marianne Klassen, parish priest Rumen Stoychev, and concluded with the comments of Bishop Irinej, followed by the Benediction.
Everyone departed in joy and satisfaction, eagerly anticipating the following year’s Slava in celebration of the 110th anniversary of the Holy Ascension parish! Many years to all!