On April 23, 2023, when our Church celebrates the Sunday of Antipascha and St Thomas, we had the blessing and the enormous joy to celebrate our Patronal Feast, the Resurrection of our Lord in our Parish with His Grace, our Father and Bishop Kyr Irinej. Starting with the Vespers service the day before, His Grace offered edifying words to our Parishioners on the Eve of the Sunday feast.
The following day, our Parish Church was too small to embrace in its bosom all the people who came to the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and celebrate the joyous sacrificial offering of the Eucharist from the hands of their hierarch. Concelebrating with Bishop Irinej were Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Ilija Balach, and Presbyter-Economos Borjan Vitanov, Parish Priest. His Grace was assisted by Deacons Darko Tripkovic, Bojan Gligorevic, and Michael Keil (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia). Melodic responses to the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy were rendered in antiphonal chanting, joined by most all faithful, young and old alike, by Popadija Elena Vitanov and her children’s choir, together with chanters: Arsenios Blank, Nektarios Hartman, Isaiah Kerstetter, George Weis and Ed Blaine.
In his Archpastoral sermon after the reading of the Gospel, His Grace taught about the profound meaning of the doubt and how we can all very easily relate to the holy Apostle Thomas' disbelief and the need for the tangible verification of the Resurrection of Christ, which led him to proclaim, “My Lord and my God!”. In like manner, Bishop Irinej emphasized the need to experience more intimately our Lord, Who is offering Himself to us always through the mysteries of His most precious Body and Blood as the only Lover of Mankind. This way Christ meets us in a mystical union and makes us His brethren and friends for the sake of the Heavenly Kingdom. The increasing number of faithful of this Parish fulfilled these words, as everyone present approached the Holy Chalice to receive Holy Communion.
After the Liturgy, we all took advantage of the beautiful day that the Lord has made, with the procession around the temple and blessing of the Festal Bread - Slavski Kolach and Wheat - Koljivo, remembering everyone who have built themselves in our Parish. We had the privilege, to have as our Kuma, Mrs. Nataliya Ratzkovich and we thank her for being with us on this important day for our Parish.
The celebration continued in our Church Hall with the Agape Meal, wherein we commemorated our 107th Parish Slava Anniversary. Delightful musical entertainment, both classical and traditional Serbian, accompanied the festivities.
Kuma Nataliya gifted our Parish with an icon of the White Angel and reminiscing about the history of our Serbian heritage and our Parish Church of the Holy Resurrection of Christ here in Lebanon. His Grace spoke of the important historic work accomplished by Nataliya Ratzkovich as the former Archivist of the Saint Sava Cathedral in New York City. He noted that she donated her invaluable files, in which the entire history of the NYC Cathedral is preserved for posterity, to the Diocese of Eastern America, where they have been digitized and filed in a section of the Archives named in her honor.
We thank everyone for contributing to all the preparations around the feast, and above all to His Grace, our Bishop and Father Kyr Irinej for being with us and sharing the joy of the Resurrected Christ. May it be for many blessed years! Na mnogaja ljeta!