Our Paschal Celebrations were especially joyful this year. As usual, the church was packed, and our choir did their normal wonderful job singing the beautiful, joyful, paschal melodies. Following the Matins and Liturgy everyone proceeded outside for the traditional blessing of paschal foods. We had a special treat at Vespers, as our Bishop, Bishop Andriy, officiated at Paschal Vespers with us, which brought even greater joy to all. Christ is Risen! Христос Воскрес!
Our Holy Week Services began with the celebration of Our Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem. Many of the faithful approached for Holy Communion, and as is our custom willow branches were blessed before the end of Liturgy. The solemnity of the Holy Week services, especially on Holy Thursday, Holy Friday, and Great Saturday, was edifying to all. Besides our wonderful choir, we were blessed with many singers and readers who helped sing the responses and perform the readings, especially on Holy Saturday. Yuri Hladio offered a sermon on the Book of Jonah on Holy Saturday, and the pre-paschal joy by the end of Liturgy was palpable.
On January 18th and 19th our parish celebrated the Great Feast of the Theophany of our Lord. On the eve of the feast the Vesperal Divine Liturgy with the Great Blessing of Waters was celebrated at 5 PM, followed by the traditional Holy Theophany Supper in the Fellowship Room under the Church. The service was sung beautifully by our Church Choir, and our Sisterhood prepared a delicious lenten meal which was enjoyed by everyone after the service. During the meal we enjoyed fellowship as well as the singing of our beautiful Ukrainian Christmas and Nativity Carols. On the day of the feast we again served the Liturgy with the Great Blessing of waters. Many thanks are offered to the sacristans and altar servers who helped with the preparations as well as distribution of the Holy Water, as well as to our Choir who again sang the service in the morning.
On January 7th we celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord. Royal Hours were served on the previous Friday, and on Saturday evening Great Compline with Litia was celebrated. The morning of the 7th saw a full church, with many of the faithful approaching for Holy Communion. After the Liturgies for the feast of the Synaxis of the Mother of God and St. Stephen on the 8th and 9th, we received a special treat. The "Prut River Boys" of Toronto attended our Old Calendar New Year's Eve celebration ("Malanka"), joined in singing the Vesperal service, and entertained everyone at the pot-luck meal afterwards with their beautiful Christmas Carols. It was truly a celebratory week that will be long remembered.
Our parish hosted Bishop Andriy for an hierarchical Liturgy on October 22nd to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of our "Holy Protection" Sisterhood