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Resources for Praying at Home

Because we have been asked to stay home by our civil and ecclesiastical authorities through at least May 8, the following resources are available so Holy Trinity Orthodox Church can continue its mission to Build Up the Church Beyond the Parish, even when the building is closed.

Prayer Services

Virtual Parish Gatherings

A list of virtual gatherings can now be found at holytrinity-oca.org/zoom.

Parish Commemorations

To stay connected by prayer with your parish family, an updated list of all current and prospective members of Holy Trinity and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit—including their spouses and children—is now available. The list also contains names of departed parishioners (newly-departed and historical), current members of the armed forces, and those who have asked the parish to pray for them.

Parish-Commemorations

Pastoral and Financial Emergencies

If you are in need of immediate pastoral assistance (sickness or death of a loved one), or financial assistance through Matthew 25, the Parish Office is remotely open 24 hours a day by calling (814) 231-2855. For non-emergencies, you may email/text office@holytrinity-oca.org.

All Services Suspended through March 31

His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek has issued a directive that effective immediately all parishes of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania are to immediately cease all services, activities, social gatherings, etc. with the exception of the following: 

Each parish priest may open his church on the coming two Saturday afternoons (March 21 and March 28) for two to three hours of his choosing for the faithful to come and offer a private prayer and light candles. While we are not encouraging people to do this in light of the governmental guidelines, it is realized some people will gain much strength from this visit. It is imperative that people in high-risk categories (i.e., senior citizens/individuals with on-going health problems/people not feeling well currently) not consider this act. Individuals are reminded to maintain “social distancing” during this visit and avoid interacting with large numbers of people.

Holy Trinity’s “open houses” as described above are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and next.  

His Eminence’s directives go on to say:

Except for so-called “death-bed confessions,” confessions are suspended until this period of time has concluded. (This, of course, does not preclude informal spiritual discussions between our priests and our parish penitents via the phone and emails…) 

You can reach the parish’s clergy through the Parish Office—814-231-2855 (phone); office@holytriniy-oca.org (text/email)—which remains open with as regular hours as possible should a need arise in our parish family or the broader community. While routine pastoral visits are to cease per His Eminence’s directives, our clergy, following proper personal safety protocols, are still available to you to respond to any emergency situation requiring immediate pastoral attention.

Attached is a service that can be prayed by the faithful of the Archdiocese regularly in front of their prayer corners concerning this virus. The Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, while closed to visitors during this period as per Holy Synod directives concerning all OCA monasteries, will probably continue to live-stream the monastery’s services; their web address for more info is: orthodoxmonasteryellwoodcity.org.

The work of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church continues even though we cannot gather as Christ’s people. With Fr. Ignatius’ blessing Matthew 25 met virtually earlier today with the deacons to postpone the Lion’s Pantry Drive and Soup-er Sunday to the Sundays of October, but will continue to offer immediate assistance to the State College Food Bank and other charities. We will have more on this in letters to the parish and in the April Trisagion, but in the meantime, please remember the parish through your stewardship if you are able.

Related: Official Announcement on the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh website

Parish Message on COVID-19

UPDATE (May 26, 2020): With Centre County moving to the Green Phase of Reopening on May 29, 2020, the parish’s regular worship schedule will resume with Great Vespers on Saturday, May 30, 2020, at 6 p.m.

In addition to the measures put in place in March 2020 (see the ORIGINAL POST below), the following additional measures are temporarily being enacted to allow all to participate in the liturgical life of the parish (parishioners and visitors alike) according to their personal consciences and preparedness:

  • Even though religious organizations in Pennsylvania are technically exempt from the Governor’s mandates, Holy Trinity will continue to not only practice the heightened sanitation protocols set forth immediately before the closure (see below), but also ask parishioners and visitors to voluntarily keep the church at 50% of declared occupancy or 74 persons. 

    Volunteer greeters will keep the current attendance constantly updated and posted on the doors of the Nave. Should the number exceed you or your family’s comfort level, you may opt to view the liturgy from outside the church, from the Parish Hall, or from the Lower Level or Atty Lounge areas of Trinity House via closed-circuit television (a scannable link will be posted on the doors to the church if you would like to view the service on a mobile device on parish grounds or in your vehicles); Holy Communion will be brought to these areas at the appointed time by a deacon.
  • So all are able to make “a sacrifice of praise” (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) Sunday Typika services will continue to be available. To ensure Communion is available to all parishioners who have prepared themselves through prayer, fasting, and recent confession, Fr. Ignatius will distribute the Eucharist by appointment to those unable to physically attend on Sundays (for whatever reason). This will be done primarily at the church throughout the week, using PPE upon request.
  • The weekly bulletin will be posted online and available to download to your mobile device via a scannable QR code. (Yes, Father is allowing you to use your phones and tablets in church for holy purposes only! 😇). Printed bulletins will be placed in the tract rack, located on the south wall of the Narthex.
  • Finally, because we will be worshipping in several locations (at home, the Parish Hall, Trinity House, on church grounds, etc.), Coffee (Fellowship) Hour will be discontinued until further notice. The parish will also schedule Virtual Coffee Hours from time to time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Church Office at (814) 231-2855. Our clergy and ministry leaders are here to serve you. Thank you to all who kept vigil at home during the pandemic, allowing the parish’s mission to continue unabated. Read more here.

ORIGINAL POST (March 13, 2020): In accordance with guidelines released Friday, March 13 by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, Fr. Ignatius updated parishioners, guests, and visitors on measures now in place to ensure that the parish continues praying for the health and salvation of the world, while at the same time adopts common-sense, temporary precautions to limit the spread of infectious disease. 

The worship schedule remains unchanged and all faithful not in a high-risk category are encouraged to offer thanksgiving to our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, and receive His Holy Mysteries. However, it is imperative that anyone who exhibits symptoms of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (a.k.a. COVID-19)—fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.—self-quarantine for fourteen days. Father also fervently asks you to seek medical assistance and let a member of the clergy know if this is the case so that they may provide you pastoral support and visitation to the furthest extent possible.

There will be no changes to the way Holy Communion is administered, however, the parish is adopting the following changes through at least the end of March 2020 (in addition to the aforementioned guidelines mentioned above): 

  • Antidoron—the blessed, but not consecrated, holy bread taken to cleanse one’s palate after receiving Holy Communion—will be cut and distributed by one healthy adult only, who has prepared himself according to the parish’s standard practice (washing of hands and application of hand sanitizer); as opposed to the open bowls on the sides of the church. 
  • To minimize the amount of surfaces touched, our Greeters will assist by opening the main doors of the church for you, and the doors leading into the Nave will remain open for the entire service. (To create a prayerful atmosphere for all, parents with young children are asked to give them their necessary breaks in the Nursery, which is located at the east end of the Parish Hall; audio from the service is piped in.). 
  • Fr. Ignatius can bless you over the head with the Cross at the conclusion of each service, as opposed to the traditional hand blessing. The veneration icons will remain in place—and they will continue to be cleaned as usual—but you may reverence them by simply bowing before them, if you so choose.
  • Sunday School will resume March 15 and remain in session during this time, but teachers will sanitize all classroom surfaces before the start of class.
  • Bagel service has been discontinued until at least Sunday, April 5, and the rest of Coffee Hour will be scaled back to include only coffee and items that are served by hosts wearing gloves; there will not be an open table in the Parish Hall for the time being. (Because Soup-er Sunday has always been served in this manner, the Sunday, March 29 fundraiser luncheon is still on! Parents and teachers will take extra care to ensure our youth food preparers and hosts take all the appropriate precautions.)
  • Likewise, at each of the remaining Wednesday Lenten Potlucks, please place your covered food in the kitchen before the Presanctified Liturgy to be served by volunteers cafeteria-style. If you are interested in assisting with this task, please let Deacon Alex know.

Please join your fellow clergy and all members of the parish in praying for all those afflicted with and adversely impacted by COVID-19. Thank you for your continued stewardship of the parish—including the Matthew 25 Ministry (student food insecurity will remain a problem after the current crisis abates)—so we can continue ministering to the least among us and Building Up the Church Beyond Our Parish

Join us at the March for Life

Help fill our van to the 47th Annual March for Life!

HolyTrinity and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit are currently accepting reservations by email through this Wednesday for the annual one-day pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. Our vans depart Friday, January 24 at 6:30 a.m., and return around 10 p.m. College students and youth are especially encouraged to attend. As in previous years, all costs are covered by the parish.

Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday

The Holy Synod has designated this Sunday as Sanctity of Life Sunday in all of the parishes of the Orthodox Church in America. You can read His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon’s proclamation of life ahead of the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

However, the best way to witness life is by attending the January 24 March for Life in Washington D.C. with your fellow brothers and sisters from Holy Trinityand the Chapel. All expenses will be covered by the parish; simply bring a packed lunch or money for food and/or souvenirs. For more information or to RSVP, email events@holytrinity-oca.org.

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.”

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