IN THE NEWS:  Montana, NY, PA, Ontario, Minnesota

Harrison, MT:  Monks, local faithful help build new monastery

Cross planted on grounds of new St. Peter Monastery.

At the end of September 2015, Father Innocent and Brother Ioann of the Orthodox Church in America’s Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco Monastery, Manton, CA and Brother Donald of the Serbian Western America Diocese’s Saint Herman Monastery, Platina, CA packed their bags and hopped into the Chevy pickup to head to Harrison, MT to begin work on the foundation of the new OCA monastery dedicated to Saint Peter the Apostle.  The monastery is being built on land owned by David and Betsy Hicks.  In 2011, a large wooden cross had been planted on the property when His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West blessed the establishment of the monastery.

“Parishioners from Saint Anthony Church, Bozeman, MT joined us in picking and hauling rocks from a neighboring farmer’s field to the building site,” said Brother Ioann.  “Over the course of several days—and with the help of a front-loader and dump truck—nearly 40 tons of rocks, to be used in erecting the walls, were hauled to the site.”

An architect from Saint Anthony parish has drawn up plans for the monastery, which will be built in several stages.

“After completing basic utility buildings on the ground level and a temporary chapel, an upper level with office space, monks’ quarters, and workshops will be built,” Brother Ioann added.  “In time, work will begin on the main church and dining hall, along with the courtyard, fountain, and landscaping.

“Good things take time and patience to achieve, and the look and feel of these monastic buildings will reflect that philosophy,” Brother Ioann concluded.  “The stonework especially will contribute a sense of groundedness and long-lived stability.”

Additional information may be found on the monastery’s web site.

Lansing, NY:  Bishop Alexander addresses Cornell University OCF

On November 17, 2015, His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America presented a lecture on the writings of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.  Sponsored by Holy Apostles Mission, Lansing, NY and Cornell’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship [OCF], the lecture was given in conjunction with the mission’s ongoing “Know Your Faith” adult education series.  “Bishop Alexander beautifully recollected his life changing experiences on Mount Athos and his personal growth through coming to understand the work of Saint Dionysius,” noted Christina Forties, one of over 20 attendees at the lecture.

Bishop Alexander, who studied the writings of Saint Dionysius while pursuing his doctorate at Oxford University, highlighted the historical context of the Areopagite’s writings while demonstrating how his thoughts bring the pious Christian to an understanding of God grounded in the mystical experience of the ascetic life.  “It was very useful for me to see how a scholar and an intellectual makes his business become more Orthodox, and makes his output both scholarly and Orthodox at the same time,” said OCF member Radu Parvalescu.

Informal conversation with Bishop Alexander; Holy Apostles’ Rector, Priest James Worthington; and participants followed the lecture.  “Although my knowledge of Saint Dionysius is limited, my interest was sparked,” said OCF member Micah Brown.  “I now plan on engaging in at least a cursory examination of his life and writings.”

Bishop Alexander’s lecture may be accessed on Holy Apostles’ YouTube page.

Edwardsville, PA: Church School students provide Thanksgiving dinner to local vets

Edwardsville students prepare to distribute gift bags to veterans and their families.

Archpriest George Volkovinsky and Church school teachers and students from Saint John the Baptist Church, Edwardsville, PA hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner at a local veterans’ center on Saturday, November 21, 2015.  The Church school had “adopted” their neighbors and vets, providing home-cooked meals each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Joining the students in serving the tasty dinner with turkey and trimmings was Monsignor Joseph P. Kelly, Secretary of the Scranton Catholic Diocese’s Human Services and Executive Director of Catholic Social Services.  The students also distributed to the veterans and their families gift bags filled with dry goods and other essential items.

Windsor, ON: Faithful send Nativity presents to needy children abroad


Continuing what has become an annual tradition, Priest Constantine Katsilas and the faithful of Saint John the Divine Church, Windsor, ON, Canada, are participating in “Operation Christmas Child” in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse to deliver shoeboxes filled with presents to children all over the world.  This year’s appeal is earmarked for children in Ukraine.

“Our parish met on Saturday, November 14, 2015 to pack boxes, assembly line style, with toys, school supplies and toiletries,” said Father Constantine.  “Many of these gifts will go to children who have never received gifts before, and every year we strive to out-perform the year before.”

Their efforts made it possible to send 155 filled shoeboxes which, according to Father Constantine, “is significant when you consider that our parish is only about 50 souls strong.”

Minneapolis, MN: Archpriest Vladimir and Matushka Virginia Lecko honored


Retired Archpriest Vladimir and Matushka Virginia Lecko were honored at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN on the weekend of November 21 -22, 2015.  His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest presented the Leckos with a Synodal gramota in recognition of Father Vladimir’s many years of exemplary pastoral ministry.  A festive brunch following the Hierarchical Liturgy brought together parishioners, friends and guests and featured the Saint Mary’s Balalaika Orchestra, originally founded by Father Vladimir.

Wilkes-Barre, PA: Archpriest Joseph Martin celebrates 50th Anniversary of ordination


Following the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy by His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania at Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA on November 7, 2015, Archpriest Joseph and Matushka Gloria Martin were honored on the 50th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.  Archbishop Mark presented Father Joseph with a Synodal gramota for his dedicated service to the Orthodox Church in America.  He also presented the couple with a diocesan gramota for their years of faithful service to the diocese and the Wilkes-Barre community.  Prior to his retirement, Father Joseph served as Dean of the cathedral.  A banquet followed at Genetti’s Restaurant.