Anniversaries of Our Church
On October 5, 2019, the parish of St. Stephen the First Martyr and Archdeacon held a double celebration, commemorating the 800th Anniversary of the Autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the 60th year since the consecration of the church in which the faithful currently worship. After 40 years in the original church building in Lackawanna, New York, growth in the parish necessitated the purchase of new property and the building of a new church in the expanding city.
The commemorative evening began with vespers followed by a parastos for the departed founders and faithful of the parish, served by Father Christopher Rocknage, of St. Nicholas Church in Oberlin (Steelton), Pennsylvania. Concelebrating were Protopresbyter Vlatko Golić; Protonamesnik Vladislav Golić, parish priest at St. Stephen; Protopresbyter John Hutnyan; Protopresbyter Christos Christakis; Archpriest Volodimir Zablotskyy; and Deacon Steven Gjurich. Father Raphael Barberg was also present at the vespers, and Father Milorad Delić joined his brothers at the festive banquet.
Proceeding to the parish cultural center, the parishioners and guests were treated to a lively performance by the St. Stephen Alumni Tamburitzans and the Kosta Manojlovich Choir. Choir directress Diane Sullivan, who formerly directed the “Tammies,” arranged a medley of favorite instrumental and choral pieces that the multi-generational musicians executed to the delight of a nostalgic audience.
Three speakers addressed the topics of the evening’s celebrations. Peter Stevanoff, Parish Council President, gave a brief history of St. Stephen parish, associating the work of the founders of the parish with the zeal for the Faith that, not only the Serbs, but all Orthodox Christians, have had from time immemorial.
The 800th Anniversary of the Autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the major focus of the celebration and of the entire Serbian Church throughout 2019, was the theme of Father Vladislav Golić’s talk. To reinforce the audience’s understanding of the historical and spiritual significance of St. Sava’s achievement of autocephaly for his Church, Father Vladislav displayed a short video entitled “The Throne of St. Sava.” Complementing Father Vladislav’s instructional talk, the parish church school children sang two songs: “Light in the Darkness,” a poetic story about the life of St. Sava, and “Vera Naša, Vera Stara.” This song, “Our Faith, Ancient Faith,” taught the children and their listeners how their ancestors valued their Holy Orthodox Faith. And the song instills in today’s faithful the same love for the Faith that their forbears had.
In keeping with the historical theme, the honored guest speaker, Father Christopher Rocknage, talked about stewardship as the means of continuing the legacy of St. Sava and those who established the parish. He called on the audience to be not mere spectators, but active participants in every aspect of the life of the Church.
Thanks to Almighty God who blesses his people to continue serving him in love, and to the work of many parishioners, the St. Stephen parish family spent a wonderful evening together, grateful for their blessings.