The St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania hosted Forgiveness Vespers for the Pittsburgh Deanery of the Eastern American Diocese on Sunday, February 26, 2023. This was the first time for the parish to host Forgiveness Vespers.
St. Elijah’s parish priest, Economos Father Branislav Golic, host clergyman, warmly welcoming all in attendance. Episcopal Deputy Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Rade Merick represented His Grace Bishop Irinej. Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Stevo Rocknage, Dean of the Pittsburgh Deanery was the featured homilist.
Additional clergy included Protopresbyter-Stavrophors Dr. Rodney Torbic, Rajko Kosic, Protopresbyters Rumen Stoychev, Dejan Barac, Sasha Nedic, George Veselinovic, Presbyters Dragan Vukovic, Stefan Djoric, Deacons Daniel August and Mark Matejevich. Presbyter Theodosios Palis from the nearby Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church also participated. Robert Baron and Luka Kosanovich assisted in the altar. The St. Elijah Choir under the director George Milosh provided inspiring responses.
Forgiveness Vespers is the first of the weekly Deanery Vespers to be held in the journey leading to Pascha. Father Stevo in his powerful homily on the theme of forgiveness said the goal of the Lenten journey is to become more Christ-like. He described Jesus Christ’s greatest miracle to be the forgiveness given to the thief, while Christ was on the Cross. To vividly demonstrate the value of forgiveness from a personal perspective, Father Stevo spoke from the heart of a family experience involving a great act of forgiveness that was completely transforming.
The Prayer for the Beginning of Great Lent and the Rite of Forgiveness took place at the conclusion of the service. All participating clergy and all the attendees from the parishes in the Deanery joined in seeking forgiveness from each other. The Pittsburgh Deanery consists of Pennsylvania parishes in Aliquippa, Carmichaels, Johnstown, McKeesport, Midland, Monroeville, Pittsburgh and Youngwood. The parish in Steubenville, Ohio and the mission parish in Fairmont, West Virginia are also included in the Deanery. All parishes were represented. Following the Vesper service, Father Branislav invited all to a meal of love in the St. Elijah Center prepared by the parish’s dedicated Circle of Serbian Sisters under the leadership of CSS President Kathy Loverich.
Thus, the Pittsburgh Deanery experienced a solid beginning in this year’s Lenten Journey. Thank God for the loving welcome and warm hospitality of Father Branislav Golic and the St Elijah Church. Thank God for all the clergy and faithful for participating.
Father Rodney Torbic