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Parishioners Join a Half Million in Promoting Life

Year after year every January hundreds of thousands come to the nation’s capital to give a voice to those who do not have one—the unborn.

This year’s March for Life was historic, however, as for the first time ever, the sitting vice president appeared in-person. Quoting Philippians 4:5, Vice President Mike Pence shared his optimism for the pro-life cause, exhorting the crowd to “Let this movement be known for love, not anger; … compassion, not confrontation… [T]here is nothing stronger than gentleness.”

Following the rally, more than a dozen from Holy Trinity and the Chapel joined His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, head of the Orthodox Church in America, and several Orthodox hierarchs, clergy, and laity in praying for the victims of abortion, before making the two-mile trek from the White House to the Supreme Court. 

Holy Trinity’s support of life doesn’t end with this annual event. Throughout the year, our parish partners with the State College Pregnancy Resource Clinic to educate and encourage men and women to make informed life choices. 

View photographs of Holy Trinity’s and the Chapel’s participation in the March.
View a time lapse of the approximately 500,000 people to attend the March.

Holy Trinity Closes on Adjacent Property

Trinity House Blessing

Following a molieben (prayer service) of Thanksgiving to God following the Divine Liturgy on November 23, Fr. John led the parish in procession to bless and tour the newly bought facility. For more pictures, visit http://facebook.com/holytrinitysc.

by Fr. John Reeves

It’s official now: we closed on the former American Cancer Society building on the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos in the Temple (November 21) and our newly named Trinity House became ours.

The generosity of many parishioners and non-parishioners alike has enabled us to take this leap: Forward, Together, in Faith.

Over the next three months, we will review bids, hire a contractor, and oversee work on the project, hoping that we can move in sometime in February. But, as with any building or remodeling program, end-dates end up being flexible. If we can’t get in by then, we’ll simply take time this Lent working on being patient.

If you still would like to contribute to Phase II—a gift to be paid out over the next three years—and/or to donate all or a portion of the ADA restroom on the main floor (Phase III), your benefactions would be joyfully received.

Chapel Opens New Doors to the Community

In other news, beginning with Vespers this Saturday, December 6, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit will begin worshipping in the MACC on 67 Elm Street in Beaver Springs—the same location of the Family Fun Nights. The Chapel’s temporary relocation opens doors for new-comers, inquirers, and those that have expressed a need for a more central and accessible location. For a full schedule and directions, visit holyspirit-oca.org.

Parish Votes to Purchase Adjacent Building

123 S Sparks StAt a meeting of the parish today, members voted to approve a $340,000 offer to purchase the building adjacent to Holy Trinity (123 S. Sparks St.), which the American Cancer Society has owned for the past twenty years. The vote tally was 60 votes in favor, 7 votes against, with 2 abstentions.

Closing on the building is expected in November. In the meantime, the Parish Council will explore several options to maximize its sustainability and usability in order to meet our needs, the needs of our community (Penn State and State College), and the Church beyond our parish.

From Holy Trinity to a Life Devoted to Service:
Where Are They Now?

Photo credit: Dn. Alexander CadmanPriest John Diamantis

Fr. John Diamantis (Psychology ’02) lives in New York City with his wife, Mka. Andrea, and their son Stavros, born November 2012. As Chairman of the Department of College Ministry for His Grace Bishop Michael, Fr. John ministers to students throughout the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, and also serves as a district chaplain for the same area with the North American Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

Currently, Fr. John is attached to Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in East Meadow, New York. There he is involved with a variety of ministries, both in the parish and in the New York City community, where he works to train and recruit foster parents. He expects to be officially assigned to St. Vladimir Orthodox Church in Trenton, New Jersey by Summer 2013 where he will be able to fully commit himself to the work of the Church.

Thinking back to his time at Holy Trinity and the Penn State Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), St. John’s gospel, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (3:30) encompasses the spirit of everything he learned and experienced here.

Photo credit: Facebook.comPriest Hector and Presbytera Katerina Firoglanis

Missions and church service always have been a part of the Firoglanis family. Shortly after leaving Penn State, Fr. Hector (Biobehavioral Health ’99) and Pres. Katerina (Art Education ’02), served together on a Summer 2002 mission trip to Kenya. Immediately after the Paschal Liturgy the following year, Fr. Hector proposed to Pres. Katerina and they were married four months later.

Fr. Hector attended Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston while Pres. Katerina taught at Theophany Preschool. After he graduated in 2004, Fr. Hector and Pres. Katerina studied Byzantine music and iconography, respectively, in Thessaloniki for a year before serving as long-term missionaries in Albania. After completing their term, Fr. Hector became the Assistant Priest of Annunciation Church in Lancaster, the same parish he and Pres. Katerina attended in their youth.

They now have three children, Christo, Evdoxia, and Vasili. Fr. Hector always thanks God for leading him to Holy Trinity where he discovered God’s calling during one of the most critical stages of his life.

Photo credit: Facebook.comPriest Gheevarghese John

Fr. Gheevarghese John (Marketing, ’02), graduated from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 2002 and was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on March 26, 2011 at St. Thomas (Malankara Orthodox Syrian) Church, where he currently serves.

A prolific speaker and youth leader, and director of Way of the Cross Ministries, Fr. Gheevarghese is very active in campus ministry throughout the Philadelphia area, having been both the Secretary and Treasurer of the North American Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM). Since 2005, he has taught Science and Math in the School District of Philadelphia.

Fr. Gheevarghese married Linju Jacob on July 5, 2009. They have a daughter together, Bethenny, born November 27, 2011.

HTOC  Trisagion 2013-04 (Krenitsky)Nun Helene (Krenitsky)

After diligently serving the St. Nicholas Church Choir (McKees Rocks, PA) Sister Helene (Mechanical Engineering, ’05) entered the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Elwood City on July 26, 2009.

Using experience she gained while singing at St. Nicholas and Holy Trinity, she has taken on responsibility for the monastery choir for all chapel services. She is teaching the community how to breathe, blend, enunciate, and sing as a genuine choir.

Photo credit: Facebook.comDeacon Alexandros Petrides

For Dn. Alexey, his time in State College will forever be remembered as the place where his call to serve Christ was revealed. After his undergraduate studies (Civil Engineering/Water Resources, ’09), Dn. Alexey discerned a call to switch to “living water” (John 7:38) instead, and off to Holy Cross he went.

Now in his final semester at the Seminary, he is a husband (married to his wife, Stephanie, whom he met at a Penn State OCF retreat), a father (Niko, born on Pascha 2011), and was just ordained to the Holy Diaconate in January. Dn. Alexey and family will be returning to Pennsylvania after graduating in May to serve somewhere in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh.

With regards to the future, he looks forward to sending as many youth to Penn State as possible, to supply an ample Orthodox student population for the ministries of Holy Trinity and the Penn State Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

Photo Credit: Holy Assumption MonasteryNun Margarete (Roeber)

Sister Margarete (Liberal Arts, ’05) is now a member of Holy Assumption Monastery (OCA) in Calistoga, California. This monastery, the oldest for Orthodox women in the United States, was renovated over a period of twelve years, and Sister Margarete was part of an unexpected “transplant” of nuns to the property in 2009.

The community is still developing means of supporting itself, including mounting icons, baking, and producing fine chalice wine in conjunct-ion with a local Napa Valley Orthodox parish.

Photo credit: Facebook.comMissionary Maria Roeber

Maria Roeber (Nursing, ’04) is currently finishing a two-year term as an OCMC long-term medical missionary, providing health care to the people of Bukoba, Tanzania.

Although only spending a year-and-a-half at University Park (she was studying in Greece, Danville, or Hershey from the second semester of sophomore year until graduating), Holy Trinity and Penn State OCF  had a profound impact on her life. She fondly remembers going on an OCF trip to Holy Transfiguration Monastery with her sister (now) Sr. Margarete Roeber and (now) Sr. Helene Krenitsky.

They laughed at the time about the “alternative” choice of a student celebrating her 21st birthday at a monastery instead of at a bar, and it remains one of her favorite memories from her college years. Friendships formed at retreats, service projects, and Real Break Spring Break trips more than ten years ago have lasted to this day, and she continues to be so grateful to God for them.

Photo credit: Facebook.comPriest James Weremedic

Fr. James and Mka. Lisa attended Holy Trinity while he worked as the administrative director of radiology at Centre Community Hospital (now Mount Nittany Medical Center). After leaving Holy Trinity to pursue a life of church service, Fr. James graduated from St. Tikhon’s Seminary in 2001. Throughout his priesthood, Fr. James has been connected with campus ministry, serving as the OCF chaplain at Bloomsburg University while acting as rector of Holy Annunciation Church in Berwick.

In 2010, Fr. James and Mka. Lisa moved to Wilmington, home of the University of Delaware, to become rector of St. Michael’s Church. There he oversaw the completion of a half-million dollar Parish Hall construction project.

He and Mka. Lisa have been married for 27 years. They have 2 children, James Jr., who is now 23 years old, and a daughter, Victoria (age 15).

Turkey to Return Seized Orthodox Property

ISTANBUL [via AsiaNews.it] – In a sudden twist… [Turkey] will return all property to religious foundations that the administration with various subterfuges has seized in the past, after the census of 1936…

The decree was published within a few days of [Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch] Bartholomew I’s request for the return of unjustly usurped properties to minorities… According to an initial calculation, the decree provides for the restitution of 1,000 properties to [Orthodox Christians].

[In an address attended by the Patriarch, Turkish Prime Minister] Erdoğan said: “Times that a citizen of ours would be oppressed due to his religion, ethnic origin or different way of life are over.”

View full article

Annual Orthodox Education Day to Honor Service Men and Women

YONKERS [via svots.edu] – On Saturday, October 1, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary here will honor military chaplains and service personnel at its annual open house, Orthodox Education Day.  Activities will center on this year’s theme, “For God and Country” and will feature several liturgical services (including a memorial for departed veterans), ethnic food, discussion panels, and military-related exhibits courtesy of St. Tikhon’s Monastery Museum. Admission to the grounds and all activities is free.

The Rev. Dr. Philip LeMasters will deliver the key-note address, “Orthodox Perspectives on Peace, War, and Violence” and US Army chaplain trainer Dr. Stephen Muse will lead a workshop exploring the emotional, physical, and psychological support we can offer veterans and their families.

For more information, visit the St. Vladimir’s website.

Meteorologists Fail to Explain Descending Cloud on Place of the Lord’s Transfiguration

ISRAEL [via Interfax] – Science cannot explain a mystery of a cloud that every year descends on the Mount Tabor where, according to the Bible, the Transfiguration of the Lord took place.

According to Sergey Mirov, a participant in the research organized by the working group on miraculous signs at the Synodal Theological Commission, Russian and Israeli meteorologists concluded that fog cannot be generated in such dry air and temperature.

Mirov stressed that the “descending of the blessed cloud” takes place only in the territory of the Orthodox monastery. He said that during the Feast of the Transfiguration, the cloud appears above the cross of the church. It then grows and descends on believers, covering them and pouring life-giving moisture over them.

Mirov’s group also examined the Holy Fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem with the help of modern, highly accurate equipment. The lead scientist, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences academician Pavel Florensky, found that the appearance of fire there is accompanied with a “powerful piezoelectrical phenomenon” similar to those that take place during thunderstorms. But since no storm was present at the time, “this event can be considered miraculous,” he believes.

Russia Gets Ready to Slap Warning Labels on Abortion Ads

MOSCOW [via LifeSiteNews.com] – The Russian Federation is poised to enact a new law requiring abortion advertisements to include warnings explaining the associated health risks. Once passed, President Dmitry Medvedev will likely sign the bill.

Pro-life legislation rolling back Russia’s abortion culture (as many as 6 million abortions occur annually here) has been strongly championed by the Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urged the government to make “preservation of pregnancy a priority task for the doctor” and discourage incentives for abortion. He also advocated state support for pro-motherhood media campaigns and crisis pregnancy centers.

Agape Grants to Assist Ministries In Eight Countries This Year

Money collected from OCMC Agape Canisters are being used to support a number of Philanthropic initiatives of the Church abroad like medicines for the medical Mission Team to Uganda. (Photo credit: ocmc.org)

UGANDA – Missionaries now have effective malaria medicine to prescribe to more than 4,000 people here because of a 2011 grant provided by the Agape Canister Program, an outreach of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC).

So far in 2011, this philanthropic and development outreach program has assisted nine projects in eight countries. Nearly 200 active partners, including Holy Trinity, oversee approximately 1,000 plastic canisters placed in offices, restaurants, parishes, and businesses throughout the United States and Canada. You can contribute by placing your spare change in the canister located in the Parish Hall.

 

OCA Bishop of N.Y. and N.J. Affirms Sanctity of Marriage

His Grace Bishop Michael of New York and New JerseyNEW YORK, NY – On June 24, the same day public officials redefined the meaning of marriage to include unions between same-gendered persons, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey issued a statement on the sanctity of marriage.

Repeating the affirmations of marriage, family, sexuality, and the sanctity of life adopted by the Orthodox Church in America’s (OCA) Holy Synod of Bishops in 1992 and echoed by all the canonical bishops of North America (SCOBA) in 2003, his archpastoral letter states, “As children of God, we are called to conform our sexual behavior to the commandments of Christ. As Christians, whether single or married, we are called to a life of chastity, pleasing to the Lord. This means struggling against those passions that incline us to “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)—fornication, homosexual activity, or adultery…

“No matter what the prevailing pressure of the culture or the legislation of the state may proclaim, the timeless teaching of the Church echoes the rule of marriage revealed to us by the Lord, written in the Scripture, and re-affirmed by the wisdom and examples of the Saints. Gay marriage or any other unblessed sexual activity is not the love that the Lord extols…

“Let us bear witness to the truth taught by Our Lord and lived by His Saints, in our daily conversations with our families, our fellow Christians, our neighbors and co-workers. Let us teach the Orthodox Christian vision of marriage, as a path to salvation shared by husband and wife… Let us join in prayer that the people of faith across the states of New York and New Jersey will continue to stand fast in the divinely revealed truth of what marriage means. And let us by our example witness to the life of chastity to which every human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is called.”

You can view the full text of His Grace’s letter here.