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OCF Members to Serve in New Jersey and Ukraine

OCF members stand in support of children afflicted with cancer at the 2013 Penn State Dance Marathon. The group contributed $5,824 of the record $12.37 million raised this year. To see more pictures, visit OCF's Facebook page.

OCF members stand in support of children afflicted with cancer at the 2013 Penn State Dance Marathon. The group contributed $5,824 of the record $12.37 million raised this year. To see more pictures, visit OCF’s Facebook page.

The Penn State Orthodox Christian Fellowship will travel to the storm-ravaged New Jersey coast this March 22-24 for a weekend of service and prayer. The group will depart Friday afternoon and spend Saturday participating in clothing and food drives for Sandy victims. Following a night of fellowship, the group will attend St. Demetrios Church in Wildwood before departing for home. The trip’s full cost is being underwritten by OCF and generous donors.

This June, OCF Treasurer Christopher McNulty will care for abandoned children suffering from cancers, birth defects, and other complications at two orph-anages in Ukraine. Donations for his mission are being accepted at Contributors will have an opportunity to learn more about his trip at a Lenten mission benefit luncheon to be held on Sunday, April 7 following Liturgy.

Help Christopher McNulty Serve in Ukraine

Mission Trip to UkrainePenn State Orthodox Christian Fellowship Treasurer Christopher McNulty will be returning to Ukraine on a mission trip hosted by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. The trip takes place from May 30 to June 16, 2013. His mission team will serve in to two orphanages (in Puhachiv and Znamyanka) to help improve the facilities, to aid the staff, and most importantly, to help the mentally and physically disabled children in those orphanages.

Christopher’s fundraising goal is $2,500, but any additional funds raised over this amount will go directly to the orphanages to help support their daily operating expenses. Every little bit helps!

If you would like to give, Christopher and his family will be hosting a Lenten mission benefit luncheon to be held on Sunday, April 7 following the Divine Liturgy. Tax-deductible donations are now being electronically accepted through Holy Trinity’s PayPal site.

Related: Christopher McNulty: My Mission Trip to Ukraine 2011


Updates from the Men’s Mission to Alaska

Friday, August 3

Team members (left to right) Fr. John Reeves, Dn. Alexander Cadman, Nikita Fedkin, Michael Haupt, Michael Stickles, Darren Torbic, and Ed Miranda. (Not pictured: Dn. Mark Oleynik, Jonathan Miranda, and Sam Leathers.)

10 p.m.: The team finally arrives at the State College airport, where the trip began almost two weeks ago. After being reunited with their families, the team gathers together for a final prayer. Thank you for your support and for following us on this journey.

Thursday, August 2

Ed Miranda puts the “finishing touches” on St. Michael the Archangel Church.

7 p.m. AKDT (11 p.m. EDT): The team is currently traveling home. We are taking 5 separate flights home and journeying for more than 24 hours straight. Check back periodically as pictures from the trip are posted here and on our parish’s Facebook page:

1 p.m. AKDT (5 p.m. EDT): After the team spent a few hours cleaning the church’s interior and grounds, the entire community joined us in offering a service of thanksgiving to God for making these amazing twelve days possible. After an emotional and uplifting celebration that figuratively lifted the (newly repaired) roof of the building, the team officially bid farewell to each member of their Marshall family in a receiving line. We will have a quick lunch, finish packing, and meet one last time as a team at the church at 4 p.m. before heading to the Marshall Don Hunter Sr. Airport.

Wednesday, August 1

Fr. John and Michael Haupt ready the narthex for its first of three coats of paint.

On our last full day of work, a third and final coat of lacquer was applied to the altar floor. Emboldened by the success of completing nearly all of the projects on our “to-do” list, we decided to tackle the painting of the narthex. Now bright white, the once unfinished narthex now better welcomes visitors to St. Michael’s here. With the new gold trim that our team has just applied to the corners of the building’s exterior, the church–located in the center of town–is now even more inviting. The improvements that we have been able to make here through days of hard work and the power of the Holy Spirit are tangible. More evident, and even more remarkable, is the transformation that has taken place in the lives of our team and among the members of the community. The bonds that have been formed here will last a lifetime and beyond. Tomorrow we have to pack and stay goodbye to our temporary home.

Tuesday, July 31

Jonathan Miranda, Michael Haupt, and Darren Torbic repair the porch of local team coordinator Willie Andrew.

There have been many types of rain during our stay in Marshall: foggy rain, cold rain, damp rain, misty rain, horizontal rain, and so forth. Today was simply soaking rain. Fortunately most of us were able to work indoors, except for a crew who ventured outside to reassemble a broken porch of Willie Andrew, our local project coordinator. Among the new tasks worked on today was the insulating of the attic above the church’s narthex. While a crew applied the first and second coats of stain to the new altar floor, another group of men spruced up grounds outside the temple, moving the remainder of the heavy beams from Saturday’s outdoor work.

Monday, July 30

Team members Dn. Mark Oleynik, Sam Leathers, and Darren Torbic (left to right) lay a new altar floor.

Today was a very productive day. Once again we split into two teams. One group of men led by Darren Torbic began to assemble a new altar floor made out of planks of three-quarter inch plywood. By afternoon, all 17 boards had been cut to size, trimmed, and laid into place to ensure a perfect fit. Outside, another team led by Ed Miranda reinforced and sealed the new plywood that underpins the newly installed insulation that lies below the church’s floor. (By the way, many people remarked at liturgy yesterday that the church feels much warmer! One of our hosts, Sophie, mentioned that in past winters, even with the furnace on at full blast, her feet would still be freezing. Hopefully those days are now over.)

With the service schedule a little lighter this week, we have been able to work longer; we can say our evening prayers after dinner and not have to completely clean up for parishioners coming to church. As the day progressed, the summer Alaska sun finally broke through the clouds and began to illuminate all of Marshall. With the forecast calling for more(!) rain by tomorrow morning, Dn. Mark Oleynik assembled an impromptu team to climb atop the church to fix its cupola (steeple) and leaking roof. Taking full advantage of the long summer nights, the roof crew was afforded an amazing view of the 11 p.m. sunset over the Yukon River as the final screws were affixed.

The team with the parish family of St. Michael’s Church following Liturgy.

Sunday, July 29

The Divine Liturgy here was wonderful. Most of the choir’s responses were sung in Yup’ik, led by A’pa Nicholas Andrew Sr. Four members of our team served (Fr. John, our two deacons, and Darren Torbic) alongside Dn. Jason and A’pa Paul from Marshall. Weather prevented our team from touring the village and seeing its environs by boat, so we enjoyed a needed day of rest in the homes of our host families. In the evening, we all came over to the Catholic church’s rectory (where some members of our team have also been staying) to have a team meeting. This was an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the past week and plan out the week ahead. Much must be done in the only three working days we have left.

Saturday, July 28

A view of a branch of the Yukon River taken from uptown Marshall, a village of 400.

Orthodoxy in Alaska is a direct result of the missionary activity of Russian Orthodox Church, which was founded in 988 by Christ through St. Vladimir (Sviatoslavich) of Kiev. It is for this reason that his feast–celebrated today in parishes following the Julian (Old) Calendar–is an important day here. (It also marks the 54th wedding anniversary of two of our hosts and the namesday of another!) The day was bookended by church services and celebration, leaving just a few hours for the team to work. Still, important progress was made. A group of men began laying out a new floor for the altar while another group moved heavy pieces of lumber left over from the old church and the construction of the current one.

Friday, July 27

One of our host families, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Andrew, Sr. (A’ma and A’pa), leave church on their ATV after Vespers. They celebrate their 54th anniversary tomorrow.

Working almost until the start of Great Vespers for the (Old Calendar) Feast of St. Vladmir (July 15/28) tonight, the team is able to celebrate a major accomplishment: the entire floor below St. Michael’s Church–both nave/altar and narthex–is now completely insulated. While much more hard work remains for the group, there was great relief that the backbreaking nailing of plywood under the church is finished. Because tomorrow is a feast day, it will be a little lighter day of work for the team. It will be a good opportunity to assess what now can be done before we depart on next Thursday.

Spirits are extremely high as we have settled into our temporary home. We praise God that one of our integral team members, Samuel Leathers, is feeling much better after falling ill yesterday. The food and hospitality shown to us here in Marshall have been wonderful. We have been treated to quite possibly the best prepared and freshest fish in the world. But most importantly, the love shared between the team members and our host families is real and will definitely be missed by all this time next week.

Thursday, July 26

Ed Miranda, Michael Stickles, and Darren Torbic (left to right) cut plywood to cover the installed insulation.

The team hit its stride today, breaking into two groups: one that cut plywood; the other that affixed it below the nave floor to cover the exposed insulation we installed. Since both groups essentially worked indoors, we were able to stay relatively dry even though a steady drizzle continued to fall. But as the team emerged from our respective work areas after a long day, so did the sun, brightly illuminating the town and river that runs alongside it. It gave the team hope that Friday would be dry enough for members to fix parts of the narthex roof that had blown off, as well as completely wrap up insulating the whole church especially above and below the narthex.

It was fitting, then, for the team to give glory to God for all things. After we restored the inside of the church for worship, the village lead us in beautifully chanting the Akathist (Prayer Hymn) of Thanksgiving. Composed by an Orthodox priest shortly before his death in a prison camp in 1940, the service is an exaltation of praise amidst the most terrible sufferings. For the team, it was a glimpse into why the people of Marshall are so joyful despite living in a land and climate where mere survival can often be challenging.

Wednesday, July 25

Team leader Fr. John Reeves looks out over the town of Marshall during a walk to the airport to retrieve lost luggage.

The sun makes its first appearance since the trip began, but only briefly before the wind and driving rains move in. Keeping insulation and plywood dry have been an ongoing challenge for the team. Still the day is productive as plans proceed to lay flooring in the altar and to bring our wood cutting operation indoors to avoid further interruption tomorrow. Meanwhile, some of the younger team members have begun demolition work on a home situated on parish grounds that was given to the parish but has since fallen into disrepair. Since almost everything here is in short supply, every bit of usable wood is being salvaged. Fixtures from the old home are also being carefully removed and will be eventually moved to what will be the rectory for the new priest.

Today was a typical day. We begin with morning prayers at 8 a.m., followed by breakfast at our host homes. We are on the job from 9:30 to 4:30, breaking for lunch in the middle and dinner afterward, which are graciously served by the parishioners who have become our extended family. Then we celebrate Vespers at 6 p.m. followed by a daily team debrief. Free time starts at 9 p.m. Everyone falls asleep well before sunset past 11:30 p.m.

Team members begin to install insulation underneath St. Michael’s Church.

Tuesday, July 24

After morning prayers and breakfast, the team begins work. Our first job is install insulation below the church’s floor to save on heating costs during the harsh winters here. Last winter, temperatures hovered at -50 degrees Fahrenheit for almost a full month. This helps us put today’s rainy and cool 50-degree summer day in perspective. After Vespers this evening, the team greeted members of the community at the church. We went around the nave introducing ourselves and had the opportunity to share about our families and life experiences as Orthodox Christians in America.

Monday, July 23

The parishioners of St. Michael’s Church in Marshall sing a variety of Orthodox hymns for the team in Yup’ik.

6 p.m. AKDT (10 p.m. EDT): Led by the parish of St. Michael’s Church, the team celebrates a service of thanksgiving to God for our safe arrival and pray for the work that lies ahead. After dinner, members of the community put on a performance for us, singing carols with beautiful traditional Alaskan melodies.

4 p.m. AKDT (8 p.m. EDT): We have been progressively boarding smaller planes since Minneapolis. Planes to Marshall are 9-seaters, so the team splits up and heads to Marshall separately. Flying at 1,000 feet, the 30-minute flight gives us a really good sense of what will be our surroundings for the next ten days.  Before we all leave Bethel, the first set of photos of the team is posted to

During a layover in Bethel, Alaska, the team searches for a place to eat.

12 p.m. AKDT (4 p.m. EDT): Now in the small town of Bethel (pop. 6,080), the team finds ways to pass the time of their five-hour layover. We learn of a pizza place and make a half-mile trek in search of it. After asking around, we find the Arctic Sun Restaurant (formerly Brothers Pizza) and spend a wonderful afternoon of fellowship. On the TV is wall-to-wall coverage of Penn State.

7 a.m. AKDT (11 a.m. EDT): We awake to hear the news of the NCAA’s ruling on Penn State football. Though we are now 3,500 miles away, State College still feels close to us. The team boards a shuttle back to Ted Stevens Anchorage International to begin our daylong trip to Marshall. More planes, here we come!

12:33 a.m. AKDT (4:33 a.m. EDT): The team arrives in Anchorage safe and sound and heads to a hotel in midtown to get a few hours of sleep before boarding a morning flight towards Marshall. Speaking of glitches, two carry-on bags containing two weeks of clothes for two passengers don’t make it to Alaska this morning. (Update: the bags will end up arriving in Marshall to greatly-relieved team members three days later.)

Sunday, July 22

The team spends an unexpected layover in State College while airline representatives reroute them across North America.

12:30 p.m. EDT: The team experiences its first “glitch” on their journey. The flight from State College to Philadelphia is delayed for more than two hours because of a mechanical problem, causing them to miss their connection. The team remains upbeat as airline representatives try for more than an hour to route all ten passengers. Though the team initially gets excited when they hear of a layover in Las Vegas, the final revised routing will take the team through Minneapolis on their way to Anchorage.


Parishioners Rally to Support Mission

Dozens of Holy Trinity parishioners came together on Saturday, June 30 to serve our community a variety of fine homemade entrees, baked goods, and crafts at the first ever State College Ethnic Food Fest. In addition to the many people who prepared the excellent fare that filled the Parish Hall, several others posted signs, passed out flyers Downtown, and spread the word on radio stations and social media. And everyone had a tremendous time over the weekend raising the more than $2,100 that will help the Men’s Mission Team travel to Marshall, Alaska to finish construction of the Orthodox church there.

Please pray for the health and well-being of our ten missionaries: Nikita Fedkin, Michael Haupt, Samuel Leathers, Ed Miranda, Jonathan Miranda, Michael Stickles, Darren Torbic, Deacon Alex, Deacon Mark, and Father John. (Michael Pelikan, Mark Radomsky, and David Swisher, who planned to participate earlier this summer, are actively supporting the effort from here in State College.)

Immediately after being sent off by the entire parish following Matins and the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, July 22 (which are being celebrated one hour earlier at 8 and 9 a.m., respectively) the team begins their 12-day journey, returning the evening of Friday, August 3. Updated information will be available at where online donations are being accepted. All funds raised beyond the $1,195-per-person tuition will go directly to fund additional projects in the Yukon River region.

Thank you for your support!

Take the “State College Ethnic Food Fest” Quiz!

With the State College Ethnic Food Fest coming up this Saturday, we thought it would be fun to test your knowledge of the various specialities that will available for takeout starting at 11 a.m. Give it a try below.

And if you can’t tell the difference between “holupki” and “halushki”, don’t be embarrassed! Though many Holy Trinity families can trace their roots to the “traditional” Orthodox lands of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa, a majority of our congregation are converts to the Faith, and are in the same boat as you… Take this terrific opportunity to sample some delicious new foods and expand your palate.

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State College Ethnic Food Fest: June 30 at 11am

June 30, 2012 at 11am-4pm (or while supplies last)Attention food lovers: Various ethnic entrees and sides will be featured at the State College Ethnic Food Fest hosted by Holy Trinity Orthodox Church (119 S. Sparks St., between College and Beaver Avenues) on Saturday, June 30 starting at 11 a.m. and continuing until 4 p.m., or while supplies last.

There will be several homemade Russian, Greek, and Eastern European specialities available for takeout, including holupki, halushki, borscht, pirogi, kolachi, koulourakia, makovník, and orechovník.

All proceeds from the bake sale will benefit a construction mission team that will be serving the village of Marshall, Alaska from July 22 through August 3.

For more information or to be a part of this community event, contact or call (814) 231-2855.

Get directions to the Fest:

(Eastbound and southbound travelers may take Railroad Ave. or Calder Way from Atherton St. as an alternate to College Ave., which is closed until early July because of construction.)

Men’s Mission to Alaska Confirmed

Consider giving to support the Men’s Mission to Alaska! You can now donate online at

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center has confirmed that a construction team from Holy Trinity will travel to Marshall, Alaska to improve St. Michael’s Church this summer.

The Team will depart Sunday afternoon, July 22, and return August 4. Although the participant cost has increased slightly to $2,000 per person, this includes all travel, as well as room/board, orientation (which will be done in advance at State College), and an OCMC administrative fee. Each member is responsible for raising his own funds.

The Men’s Fellowship will be holding several fundraisers this spring to help members go. The first will be on Annunciation (Sunday, March 25), with a mission luncheon after Liturgy. On the menu will be Russian-Alaskan pirok, a delicious fish pastry dish.

There will be no charge but a free-will offering will be received. Our goal for this dinner is $2,000. Please make plans to attend, enjoy a wonderful taste-treat, and help our missionaries get to Alaska.

Pray for our missionary team members: Nikita Fedkin, Michael Haupt, Sam Leathers, Ed Miranda, Jonathan Miranda, Michael Pelikan, Michael Stickles, David Swisher, Darren Torbic, and Deacons Alexander and Mark. Fr. John, who served Marshall on his Sabbatical, will serve as the team’s leader. (Konstantin Kucheryavvy and Mark Radomsky, though no longer able to travel with the team, plan to help with fundraising.)

A Prayer of Preparation

If it is to be first you desire, be last. If to rule, be the servant. If to be heard, be silent. You desire to have, then give. If you desire to buy, then save… If honor, love those around you. If you desire they love you, suffer long, be amiable, do not get angry, nor exaggerate, nor boast. Love your neighbors and you, too, will be loved. If you desire to be God’s, do good for life…

If it is the grace of the Holy Spirit you desire, think
with God, live with God, piously. Paul came from Saul.
All that you desire is attained through effort… You are on sand and it is marshland beneath your feet. In a moment you fall and become filthy. In a moment you lose all you have attained…

O Lord of the hosts, be the Commander of my life! Thou alone givest to those undeserving and love where there is no love and heal where faith has been lost, and are merciful to those filled with hate and heal those who ridicule Thy Name. Thy love is inexhaustible,
it rejoices the heart and gives hope. Without Thee,
O Creator, there truly is no meaning and life turns to the darkest of nights. With Thee is fullness, without Thee only an empty nothing. Be, then, our power,
help and strength…

If it is to have that you desire, then fill your hearts
and minds with the Lord. All will be yours. He is the “All and Everything” and beyond all things and in all things, Whom we desire and to Whom we hasten.
It is Him that my soul thirsts for. To Him be glory:
to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

— Fr. Simon J. Turkic
(courtesy of


Mission Alaska Dinner Raises Nearly $1,700

Thank you for your generous support of the Men’s Mission to Marshall, Alaska at its Annunciation fundraiser dinner. In the coming months, look for more ways to help the construction team raise funds for the July 22 through August 3 trip.

Make Plans to Attend “Mission Alaska” Fish Dinner

The Men’s Fellowship will be holding a mission luncheon after the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Annunciation this Sunday, March 25. On the menu will be Russian-Alaskan pirok, a delicious fish pastry dish. There will be no charge but a free-will offering will be received. All proceeds will go to support the Holy Trinity men’s construction mission to Marshall, Alaska. Our goal for this dinner is $2,000. Make plans to attend, enjoy a wonderful taste-treat, and help our missionaries get to Alaska.

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