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Christmas - 12/25/11

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

On Saturday, December 24 and Sunday, December 25 our parish community celebrated the Birth of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels with shepherds glorify Him!
The wise men journey with a star!
Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!

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Christmas Angel Gifts - 12/20/11

On Tuesday, December 20th our parish clergy distributed the "Christmas Angel Gifts" generously donated by our parish faithful. In this long-standing community outreach toys are distributed to children whose parents are incarcerated or in dire financial situations. We are aware that "every good gift and perfect gift comes from above" and are thankful that our Lord has blessed so many in our parish family, so they can in return act as agents of our Lord Jesus Christ amongst our brothers and sisters who are struggling.

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Nativity Play - 12/18/11

On Sunday, December 18 our church school students, under the direction of our dedicated and talented teachers, performed their Annual Nativity Play to the delight of all those who attended. Each year we are treated to a top-notch production that helps remind us of the One whom we worship during the Christmas season, the Lord Jesus Christ, born in a cavern for our salvation!

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New Parish Council Installed - 12/11/11

On Sunday, December 11th our new parish council was installed with the blessing of His Grace, Bishop TIKHON. We ask that God would strengthen and inspire our parish leadership, so that they might continue be examples of faith, hope, and spiritual understanding; as well as faithful stewards of our parish finances and physical plant. God grant them many years!

Parish Council Officers:
John Schilling (President); David Martin (VP); Kathy Pankiw (Recording Secretary); Natalie Treece (Asst. Recording Secretary); Alice Mallick (Financial Secretary); Joanne Wevodau (Asst. Financial Secretary); John Dotsey (Treasurer)

Paul Hadginske; David Hancher; Carl Hisiro; Leavitt Keener; Dr. David Pawlush; Christine Priggins; Mark Rodak; Scott Staller; Richard Wood

Eleanor Herman and Larry Smith

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Thanksgiving - 11/23/11

On Wednesday, November 23rd (the eve of Thanksgiving) our local Orthodox clergy and faithful gathered for a service of Thanksgiving. His Grace, Bishop TIKHON led the Pan-Orthodox event in the signing of the Akathist "Glory to God for All Things". It was truly an inspiring service, which reminds us of the many blessing that God has poured into our lives, and such an outpouring of thanksgiving is all we can offer to the One who has given us everything!

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Happy Birthday George Cvijic! - 12/04/11

On Sunday December 4, 2011 we celebrated the 95th birthday of George Cvijic, and offered thanksgiving to God for the many blessings that he brings to our community, especially in giving us the example that you are never too old to “retire” from coming to Church and worshiping God as a member of His Body. May God continue to grant George many years!

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Welcome New Catecumens John and Sharon Shingara - 12/04/11

On Sunday December 4, 2011 our parish welcomed its newest catechumens, John and Sharon Shingara. As a parish family we understand that these next few months will be a time of instruction for the Shingara’s; however it is also a time for us all to lovingly integrate them into the fabric of our community. May God bless John and Sharon, and in “due time” unite them through the Eucharist to the flock of His Inheritance!

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Fr. Leonid and M. Laura Visit CTS - 11/27/11

On Sunday, November 27th Fr. Leonid Schmidt visited Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church and led us in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Leonid and M. Laura (a daughter of our parish), were married here July 24, 2011, and it was a joyous occasion to welcome them back to their "parish home - away from home" as Priest and Matushka. The Schmidts are attached to SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Syracuse, NY - where Fr. Leonid is the assistant pastor and M. Laura is pursuing a Masters degree in Speech Pathology from Syracuse University. It was especially poignant, as Fr. Leonid was our "adopted seminarian" during his three years at St. Tikhons, and we were able to enjoy the fruit of that support, as he led us in the Divine Liturgy as a minister of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. May God bless Fr. Leonid and M. Laura for many years!

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Thanksgiving Stewardship - 11/22/11

On Tuesday November 22, 2011 our clergy distributed non-perishable food items, turkeys and over $500 in grocery store gift cards collected by our parish family to our surrounding community. May God bless those who participated in this act of love and mercy; and grant us all hearts which are compassionate to those around us, and to see the image of God in our brothers and sisters who are in need. 

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Bishop Tikhon Visits CTS - 10/23/11

On Sunday, October 23rd, His Grace Bishop TIKHON made an Archpastoral visit to Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in conjunction with the Central PA District O Club Convention. His Grace led the gathered clergy, faithful and guests at the Divine Liturgy and presided along with the O Club officers at the meeting and banquet. Those gathered were treated to a musical performance by Sophia Ressetar (who was accompanied on piano by her grandfather, Fr. Daniel Ressetar). We are thankful for the opportunity to host the O Club Convention and for the presence of Bishop TIKHON, and pray that God will continue to strengthen them each in their respective ministries to Christ's Holy Church.

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Newly Ordained Deacon Seraphim - 10/21/11

Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg) hosted Fr. Timothy Hojnicki, newly ordained Deacon Seraphim Reynolds, and the faithful of Holy Apostles Mission (Mechanicsburg) for daily Divine Liturgies every morning the week of October 17-21. Due to weekday constraints at their chapel, we were given the opportunity to offer our church for the services and the training of our local areas newest Deacon. The church smells like "it should" from all the incense that was offered, and a palpable grace from the prayers of the faithful and the daily Consecration of our Lords Holy Eucharist still "lingers" in our spiritual home. It was a week we will not soon forget! Axios to the newly ordained Deacon Seraphim, M. Mary, and their family! Glory to God for all things! 

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Fr. Joseph Huneycutt - 10/05/11

On Wednesday, October 5th Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church was blessed to host an evening lecture entitled "The Way of Christ is Easy... We Just Make it Hard!" with Fr. Joseph Huneycutt.  Fr. Joseph is the author of the "Orthodixie" internet blog, as well as three books published by Conciliar Press. He is also the host of the "Orthodixie" podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. Over 70 parishioners and guests attended his witty, substantive, and engaging lecture.

We learned that the theme of the talk - "The Way of Christ is Easy... We Just Make it Hard" is the first part of a quote from an Athonite elder which actually continues to say: "The way of Christ is easy, we just make it hard because we don't want to do it."  Food for thought and much discernment! May God continue to bless and strengthen Fr. Joseph in his parish ministry, as well as his ministry through the internet and in offering lectures throughout the country!

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2011 Slavic Food Fest - 10/02/11

Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg) held its annual Slavic Food Fest on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd. Many of our parishioners, neighbors and friends came to support this annual event, despite the unseasonably cold and rainy weather. The food fest featured many homemade Slavic favorites such as halupki, pierogies, hulushki, kielbasa sandwiches, and Macedonian hamburgers; as well as a variety of ethnic pastries. This year we added an expanded Basket Raffle, featuring over 50 baskets! The church was open for tours and many of our guests came to see our beautiful temple and learn about the "one thing needful" our Orthodox Christian Faith.

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Fr. Michael Kovach - 68th Anniversary of Ordination - 09/18/11

On Sunday, September 18th our community celebrated the 68th anniversary to the Holy Priesthood of the V. Rev. Dr. Michael Kovach. He was ordained on September 21, 1943, which was the Old Calendar feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, by +Bishop MAKARY (Ilyinsky) of New York. In honor of his anniversary, Fr. Michael was the main celebrant at the Divine Liturgy and at the conclusion he spoke humbly about his ordination and his hope that his priestly ministry spanning 68 years would be considered "acceptable" to our Lord.

Fr. Michael wore the bronze cross he was ordained with, and noted that while most newly ordained Priests are blessed with a silver cross, he was awarded a bronze one due to his desire to serve as a military chaplain. He also shared that his ordaining bishop, Bp. MAKARY, cried during the ordination, and the bishop later confessed that his tears were those of love and concern, knowing he was responsible for Fr. Michael's priesthood. Truly God has blessed the Orthodox Church in America with a loving servant for 68 years, and our parish has been blessed by his presence for over 30 of them. May God grant him many more! Axios! He is worthy!

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911 - 09/11/11

On Sunday, September 11th our community gathered to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the 10th Anniversary of the 911 terrorist attacks. We added our prayers to citizens throughout our country in asking God mercy on the departed, and consolation & strength for those who survive them. This event is a reminder to us that we have been given a precious gift, our free will. It is important for us to use this gift to glorify God and to "bear one another's burdens". The misuse of this gift is tragic, destructive, and ultimately a rejection of God's infinite love. May He grant us the grace to do His will!

We also continued our custom of asking God's blessing upon our returning students and teachers. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy we offered a prayer of intercession and thanksgiving and asked that God would bless, encourage, and inspire them to "comprehend the wisdom of His law".

Following the service we gathered at the parish hall patio for our annual Parish Family Picnic. Great food and fellowship was enjoyed by all, and we thank the St. Alexis Men's Club for once again providing such a wonderful "spread"!

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Dormition - 08/15/11

The community at Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church celebrated the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Mother of God on Sunday, August 14 and Monday, August 15. At both the Vespers and Liturgy we blessed flowers and fragrant herbs, which remind us of the fragrance found at the Tomb of the Theotokos when the Apostles discovered Her translation. The prayers remind us that they may also be used to incense our homes in times of need or distress.

Kontakion (Tone 2)
Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.

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Paraklesis to the Mother of God - 08/12/11

On Wednesday, August 10th and Friday, August 12th our parish family gathered to sing the Paraklesis (Supplication Service) to the Mother of God, as part of our preparation for the feast of Dormition. On Wednesday we were blessed to have the V. Rev. Dr. Alexander Atty, Dean of St. Tikhon Seminary, as our guest celebrant. At the conclusion of the service Fr. Alexander was anointed, as we asked God to bless him for the major surgery he underwent the following day (by the Providence of our Lord and the intercessions of His Mother, he is back at the seminary is doing well in his recovery). A small group of our ladies led the congregation in a beautiful Byzantine chant both nights. Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

Ode 1 (Tone 4)
Assaults of the passions have shaken me,
My soul to its limits
Has been filled with much despair;
Bring peace, O Maiden, in the calmness,
Of your own Son and your God, all-blameless One.

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Removal of Wedding Crowns - 08/07/11

On consecutive Sundays (July 31 & August 7), newly-weds Laura and Derek Schmidt (married July 24) and newly-weds  Christopher and Sarah Coles (married July 31) celebrated the 8th day of their marriage by participating in the service of the Removal of Crowns. This service is a reminder that marriage is truly a Sacrament of the Church - and therefore not only of this earth, but also of the Kingdom. We ask that God would receive their crowns, and grant them the strength to be a light and means of salvation for each other, and that others may be blessed by their example of a Christ-centered Christian marriage. May God grant them all many blessed years!

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Transfiguration - 08/06/11

On Saturday, August 6th our community celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. This feast of Light and Divinity reminds us that Christ "was, is, and always shall be" co-eternal and co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. That He, out of His great humility, "hid" this Radiance so that He might be born, suffer, and die for our salvation. During the feast we blessed grapes and various other fruit in a spirit of Thanksgiving for the physical and spiritual harvest Christ offers His creation.

Kontakion (Tone 7)
On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God,
And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;
So that when they would behold You crucified,
They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
And would proclaim to the world,
That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!

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Bishop Tikhon Visit - 07/31/11

On Sunday, July 31st His Grace Bishop TIKHON made a pastoral visit to Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg, PA). We were blessed to have our Diocesan Hierarch lead us in our celebration of the Divine Liturgy and in our reception of the Holy Eucharist. During his homily we were all challenged to participate more fully in the Liturgical life of the church (Saturday Vespers, and Feast Day services) so that we might more fully appreciate and understand the wealth and depth of the Sacred Scriptures. At the conclusion of the service His Grace celebrated the "Eighth Day Removal of Crowns" for newly-weds Alexei & Laura Schmidt, as well the blessing of six new lampada which were donated by several parishioners in memory of their loved ones.

Later in the day, His Grace led a Pan-Orthodox gathering of over 100 clergy and faithful in a service of Thanksgiving and Blessing for the Agia Sophia Coffee House and Bookstore in downtown Harrisburg. You may view a photo gallery, as well as a video, of this event on our Diocesan website:

Glory to God for all things!

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Bishop Michael Visit - 07/23/11

On Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24th His Grace Bishop MICHAEL of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey made a visitation to Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg, PA). His Grace was formerly the dean of St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary, and was a "fixture" in our parish for many years during his visits with the seminary choir and for other services and events. On Sunday afternoon, His Grace presided at the marriage of Laura Hadginske (a daughter of our parish) and Alexei Schmidt (Bishop MICHAEL's driver and assistant). Note: we hope to have another photo gallery from the wedding soon.

It was a weekend of many blessings, and it was a unique joy to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with Bishop MICHAEL, to benefit from his insightful homily, and to share once again in our Lord's Body and Blood at the Holy Altar. Many years, O Master!

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2011 Vehicle Blessing - 07/17/11

On Sunday July 17 (the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Elijah), the clergy and faithful of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg, PA) again participated in special prayers and a blessing for our vehicles, as well as other forms of transportation. We are mindful that since we have asked God to bless our vehicles they should be used for His glory, and we affirm once again that without Him "we can do nothing" (cf. John 15:5).  May God continue to protect each of us in our travels, and grant us grace to imitate His saints.

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2011 Graduates Recognized - 06/19/11

On Sunday June 19, 2011 our parish recognized its class of 2011 graduates. Each graduate was presented with a prayer book and a traveling icon for their continued spiritual growth and as a token of our love and prayers. For a complete list of our graduates, please see the attached pamphlet. We also want thank the St. Mary's Altar Guild for generously supporting the graduate gifts.

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Pentecost 2011 - 06/12/11

On Sunday, June 12th our community gathered to celebrate the "Descent of the Holy Spirit" - Holy Pentecost. Following the Divine Liturgy the Kneeling Vespers were celebrated, and we were again reminded to rise up from our knees and to go forth into the world to proclaim the "Good News" of Christ's Death and Resurrection, and to witness to the promise that He has sent His Holy Spirit, Who leads us into all Truth!

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Baptism of Grace Vernak - 05/15/11

On Sunday, May 15th our community gathered to celebrate the Baptism and Chrismation of Grace Vernak. The main celebrant was her grandfather, V. Rev. David Vernak. Other family members also con-celebrated, and were joined by our parish faithful, as well as numerous clergy and faithful from throughout our local area. The participation of the greater community reminds us that Baptism is not a personal event, but an event of initiation into the Death and Resurrection of our Christ, and into His Body - the Church (those gathered and called by His Name). 

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Bright Tuesday - 04/26/11

On Bright Tuesday (April 26) our parish hosted His Grace, Bishop TIKHON, as well as clergy and faithful from throughout our Diocese and local area, to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. It was a great honor for us to host this event, which is now being held each year on a rotating basis throughout the Diocese of Eastern PA. Following the service we were all treated to a gourmet meal prepared by Steven Wood (a professional chef, and son of our parish). Kristos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!

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Great and Holy PASCHA - 04/24/11

Late Saturday (April 23) and early in the morning of Great and Holy Pascha (April 24) the clergy and faithful our parish celebrated the Feast of Feasts, the Holy Day of Holy Days... the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour! We were blessed to have Dn. Ian Shipley (a student at St. Tikhon Seminary, and our sponsored seminarian) and his family with us from Holy Wednesday through our celebration of Holy Pascha. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

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Great and Holy Saturday - 04/23/11

On Great and Holy Saturday (April 23) our clergy and faithful gathered to celebrate the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. This service is marked by 15 Old Testament readings, which were read primarily by our parish youth. They all did a great job... but most importantly we pray that they will be encouraged in their faith and devotion to Jesus Christ! Another exciting element in this service, is the changing of Vestments from the dark purple of Lent/Holy Week to the bright white of the Resurrection during the singing of "Arise O God and Judge the earth..." Following the service, many of our faithful stayed to prepare the church, and assemble the red eggs which were distributed on Pascha in the early morning!

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Great and Holy Friday - Lamentations - 04/22/11

On Great and Holy Friday evening, the clergy and faithful of our parish gathered to continue our devotion to Christ as we commemorated His Blessed Sabbath (Matins of Holy Saturday), in which He laid in the Tomb. Psalm 119 and the lamentation hymns were sung by the choir and clergy, in which we hear the profound anguish of the Mother of God, in seeing her Son dead and in the Tomb. A procession around the Church allowed us to participate in Christ's harrowing of Hades, especially as we passed under the Plaschenista and heard Ezekiel's prophecy of the Resurrection of the dead, as well as other liturgical elements which showed us the first signs of what Christ was accomplishing in Hades during this Blessed Sabbath. 

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Great and Holy Friday - Burial Service - 04/22/11

On Great and Holy Friday (April 22) our parish clergy and faithful gathered for the Vespers of Holy Friday, in which we participate in the "Death of the Life-giver" at the 9th Hour (which is approximately 3-4pm). The service is also referred to as the "Un-Nailing" in many Orthodox Churches, as the icon of Christ is removed from the Cross, and wrapped in a linen cloth as the faithful await the Holy Shroud (Plaschenitsa) to be laid in the Tomb prepared in the center of the church. This service is a unique way for us to participate in a deeply meaningful and profound way, in the death and burial of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Following this service, the "Grave Watch" began at the Tomb.

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Great and Holy Thursday - 04/21/11

On the evening of Great and Holy Thursday (April 21) our parish clergy and faithful gathered to hear the Passion Gospels (the Matins of Holy Friday). We are thankful for the opportunity to again gather and be reminded our Lord's Jesus Christ's Extreme Humility in accepting "spitting, scourging, the crown of thorns, and Crucifixion" for our salvation. Glory to Thy long-suffering O Lord!

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Great and Holy Wednesday - 04/20/11

On Great and Holy Wednesday (April 20, 2011) over 100 faithful from Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg, PA) and Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission (Mechanicsburg) gathered to celebrate the service of Holy Unction. In addition to our respective parish clergy, we welcomed V. Rev. Nicholas Molodyko-Harris (our guest homilist), Rev. Joseph Toroney, and Rev. Dn. Ian Shipley from St. Tikhon Seminary. 

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Sunday of Orthodoxy - 03/13/11

On Sunday, March 13th (the Sunday of Orthodoxy) our parish youth and clergy participated in an icon procession, and led the faithful in proclaiming the "Synodikon of Orthodoxy". At the conclusion of the service, we also welcomed a new Catechumen into our parish family - Sarah Sauls. We pray that God will bless Sarah during her time of study, and that "in due time, she might be united to Christ's Holy Church.

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Lenten Retreat with Fr. Michael Oleksa - 03/12/11

On Saturday, March 12th, Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg, PA) hosted a Lenten Retreat with the V. Rev. Dr. Michael Oleksa, Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska (OCA) and an eminent theologian and commentator on cross cultural communications. The retreat opened with the St. Theodore Saturday Divine Liturgy, which was celebrated by His Grace, Bishop TIKHON, as well as our parish and visiting clergy.

During the retreat, Fr. Michael energetically spoke about the way in which we as Orthodox Christians ought to approach the question of environmental stewardship, and how the Scriptures and Holy Fathers teach that God cares for and loves the entire "Cosmos" - not just humanity. Therefore, as His disciples, it is our sacred trust and responsibility to care for and love the environment - to ignore this call is a sin.

We were treated to a gourmet Lenten luncheon by chef Steve Wood, and viewed the DVD "The Green Patriarch" at the fellowship hall, which was followed by an engaging and informative questions and answer session.

We were truly blessed to have Fr. Michael lead us and inspire us at the conclusion of the first week of Great Lent. May God grant him many more blessed and fruitful years of sacred ministry in our Holy Church!

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Scouting Sunday and Souper Bowl of Caring - 02/06/11

On Sunday, February 6th our parish joined Orthodox communities around the country to celebrate Scouting Sunday. We were blessed to have several of our Boy and Girl Scouts participate in various activities throughout the Divine Liturgy, as we brought attention to how as Christians they are also called to the service (diakonia) of Christ, His Church, as well as their families and communities.

Also, for the ninth consecutive year our young adults participated in the "Souper Bowl of Caring", a national service project involving a variety of churches and organizations throughout the USA. Parishioners brought canned goods and offered donations to support our local homeless shelter, as well as the International Orthodox Christian Charities (I.O.C.C). In the previous eight years over $3,000 has been raised by our parish youth, and we encourage them to continue to "remember the poor" and develop a strong sense of compassion for those in need.

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"Tastefully Simple" - 01/09/11

Photos from the "Tastefully Simple" fellowship at Holy Trinity Cathedral following the River Blessing.

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Susquehanna River Blessing - 01/09/11

On January 9, 2011 (the Sunday after Theophany) the faithful of the Orthodox Christian Churches of Greater Harrisburg gathered at City Island Park to participate in the service of the Great Blessing of the Waters. This is the third year since this ancient Christian tradition has been renewed amongst our Orthodox faithful in the greater Harrisburg area. We were especially blessed by the archpastoral presence of His Grace Bishop TIKHON of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, who led 8 clergy and over 100 faithful in the blessing this year.

The following local parishes participated in this years event:
Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Harrisburg (OCA)

Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church in Steelton (MAC)
Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission in Mechanicsburg (OCA)
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Lebanon (SER)
Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Camp Hill (GOA)
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Oberlin (SER)

We pray that God will continue to allow us to participate in His awesome acts of sanctification, and that we might be faithful witnesses of His power and grace to our local communities.

Following the services, we gathered for fellowship and a "Tastefully Simple" event at Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Photos courtesy of Kirill Burnett, John Constantine, and Grisha Ressetar 

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His Grace Bishop TIKHON Visits CTS - 01/09/11

On Sunday January 9th, His Grace Bishop TIKHON visited Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church (Harrisburg, PA) in conjunction with his invitation to serve later the same day at the Pan-Orthodox Blessing of the Susquehanna. His Grace gave a homily about our Lord's message of repentance, and how Orthodox Christians ought to view this message as a call to His light and His love and an invitation to follow His commandments in a spirit of humility. At the conclusion of the service, His Grace made a special visit with our church school children and sat with them during our parish luncheon. We are thankful to have again hosted our diocesan hierarch, and ask that God grant him many years! Eis pola eti despota!

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Phoebe Firestine Baptism - 01/01/11

On Saturday January 1st 2011 our parish began its new year with a "new birth by water and the spirit". Phoebe Firestine was Baptized and Chrismated into the Holy Orthodox Christian faith... and to the amazement of all, she was so pleased with everything she didn't even cry! We congratulate her parents Sean and Jennifer Firestine, along with sisters Grace and Evelyn, as well as her godparents Mark and Christina Yerke. The following day, Phoebe received the Holy Eucharist and was fully united with our community through the Precious Body and Blood of Christ! 

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