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); firstname.lastname@example.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.
UPDATE (July 17, 2020): The parish is no longer asking that attendees voluntarily limit attendance in the Nave to 50% of capacity—the alternative locations in the Parish Hall and Trinity House proved to be not conducive to worship. Although service attendance will not be capped in any way at this time, the choir has been moved to the front of the Nave to provide even more space for spreading out.
In addition, Fr. Ignatius Hunter now asks that every medically-able adult and child over the age of 8 wear a face covering upon entering the State College church as a voluntary act of self-sacrifice for the unity and good of the community. There is a supply of masks available in the Narthex for your use.
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 follow the Commonwealth’s guidances according to their consciences and abilities.
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.
As part of our commission from Christ to minister to least of His brethren, Matthew 25 is sponsoring a special drive to help those affected by suicide. Please support your fellow parishioners who are walking on Sunday, April 29, 2018 to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, whose goal is to reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025. Join our team today!
The poor are among us even in State College: A recent article in the Centre Daily Times noted that the “poverty level stays hidden in Happy Valley.”
But through your donations of time, food, gifts, or money—and through prayer—we can serve Christ by serving others. Matthew 25‘s Thanksgiving food drive is now in full swing, and in December, the ever-popular St. Nicholas Tree will make its annual appearance.
Learn how you can get involved in these important drives through the bulletin, Web site, and announcements following Divine Liturgy.
This Lent, Matthew 25 is organizing a gift card drive to benefit Housing Transitions. Grocery and department store cards of no more than $25 each will be accepted. Cash offerings, which support an ongoing mission of helping the needy in our area, may be placed in the alms box. (Clothing donations should be made directly to St. Vincent DePaul Society on Westerly Parkway this year.) See Diana Van Duin, Lenten Drive Coordinator, for details. “You have and eat; give each day to someone who is poor to eat also.” (St. Raphael of Lesvos)
Each year, Holy Trinity provides school supplies for underpriveledged children through Matthew 25. Monetary donations are especially appreciated since we purchase all outstanding items for our forty-plus sponsored children. Contributions will be accepted through Sunday, August 21.
In thinking about our quarter collection effort for Centre Houseministry news (the local homeless shelter) my mind was “nudged” into one of those strange connections and I thought of the old song “Pennies from Heaven” (see lyrics here). Oldsters like myself will remember the title of the song, but how many of us ever focused closely on the lyrics?
Believe it or not, the old Bing Crosby song has a strong theological message. It first talks about not appreciating what we have until it’s covered by clouds. But the lyrics also remind us that blessings can come from those clouds. Today, the residents of Centre House are likely feeling that their skies are pretty cloudy. But we can help them see the “silver lining”—that there are people who care about them in their distress—by contributing quarters for their laundry needs or for parking when they go for job interviews.
Inflation may have necessitated changing pennies to quarters, but the meaning is still the same. Please help your neighbors at Centre House by depositing quarters in one of the two collection receptacles (one in the Narthex and one in the Parish Hall), which can be identified by the photograph of Centre House.
Thank you to everyone at Holy Trinity who made our Matthew 25 ministry news appeals so successful this Lent. As a parish we collected fifteen bags of clothing for the St. Vincent de Paul Society; approximately ten boxes of food for the Food Bank of the State College Area; and 22 Wal-Mart and Target gift cards so residents of Centre House (an emergency shelter operated by Housing Transitionsministry news) can buy necessities. In addition, an amazing 500 quarters (a total of $125) were donated for the residents’ laundry needs. If you missed an opportunity to give, Matthew 25 accepts cash donations year round to fund our parish’s community social outreach.
This Lent, Matthew 25 is coordinating four almsgiving opportunities: A food drive, with donations going to the State College Area food bank; a clothing drive, with donations going to the St. Vincent de Paul Society; a gift card drive (grocery/gas/etc.) so Housing Transitions (the local homeless shelter) can purchase items they need to help residents be clean and comfortable in their temporary housing; and a coin collection so these residents can do their laundry.
How is this serving Christ? Surely He doesn’t need canned food or clothes or gift cards… or quarters!
Or does he? Christ Himself tells us, “…inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” (Matt. 25:40)
Even in an apparently well-to-do community like ours, there are many of Christ’s (and our) brethren who need us to reach out to them. Please consider responding to Christ’s words through one of these opportunities. Collection receptacles will be avail-able in the Narthex and Parish Hall, and the Church School has made a special poster on which to place the gift cards. For more information about these activities, please see me or Dn. Alex.
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