Journey to Pascha! Schedule of Holy Week Services

24 Apr

Dear Friends,

CrucifixionDuring the coming Holy Week services, we will recall our Lord Jesus Christ’s Passion: His suffering, death, and resurrection. As we recall it, we will (hopefully) undergo our own Passion: dying to ego and sin, and rising to new life in Christ.

The Lord is calling us to walk with Him on this journey, to experience kinship with Him.

Come! Let the words and melodies of the Holy Week  services wash over us, softening our hearts and cleansing our minds. Come! Experience the new life, the new nature that Jesus Christ freely offers us.

Listed below are all the opportunities to journey with Jesus this week.

Or, you may click twice on this link to download a PDF of the Holy Week services, and post it on your home bulletin board as a daily reminder.

Your Pastor, Father Steven

SCHEDULE OF SERVICES: HOLY WEEK 2016

Monday, April 25, 7:00 am    

Pre-sanctified Liturgy of HOLY MONDAY

Monday, April 25, 6:00 pm  

Bridegroom Matins of HOLY TUESDAY

Tuesday, April 26, 6:00 pm    

Bridegroom Matins of HOLY WEDNESDAY

Wednesday, April 27, 9:00 am  

Pre-sanctified Liturgy of HOLY WEDNESDAY

Wednesday, April 27, 6:00 pm  

Bridegroom Matins of HOLY THURSDAY with The Rite of the Washing of Feet

Thursday, April 28, 9:00 am

Vesperal Liturgy of HOLY FRIDAY with the Commemoration of the Last Supper

Thursday, April 28, 6:00 pm

Matins of HOLY FRIDAY with the Reading of the 12 Gospels (please note the time change from previous years)

Friday, April 29, 2:00 pm

HOLY FRIDAY Vespers of the Burial of Christ

Friday, April 29, 7:00 pm

Matins of HOLY SATURDAY Procession

Saturday, April 30, 10:00 am 

GREAT AND HOLY SATURDAY Vesperal Liturgy with the Blessing of Baskets after Liturgy

Saturday, April 30, 11:30 pm 

GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA Nocturnes, Resurrection Matins, Paschal Liturgy, and the Blessing of Baskets after Liturgy

SUNDAY, MAY 1, noon

GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA Paschal Vespers

 

Almsgiving in Action

9 Apr

During the season of Great Lent, we need to include almsgiving—that is, the distribution of our wealth and the sharing of our blessings with those in need—as one of the “pillars” of our spiritual journey. Giving alms is right up there with prayer, fasting, and confession!

According to St. John Chrysostom, a 4th century bishop in the great city of Constantinople (now Istanbul):

“To do alms is a work greater than miracles. . . . To feed the hungry in the name of Christ is a work greater than raising the dead in Christ’s name. …When you work miracles, you are God’s debtor; when you give alms, God is your debtor.”

BethEl_2016_2

Dave and crew at Beth-El Center

It brings me great comfort as a pastor to note that our parishioners at Holy Ghost Church have for decades made almsgiving a priority:

  • Twice monthly without fail, our parishioner Frank Kaputa and his crew feed the homeless who gather under John Street Bridge in Bridgeport;
  • Our Outreach Committee headed up by parishioner Dave Lepesko recently made a return trip to Beth-el Center, Inc. in Milford to prepare a meal for the hungry (they were joined by friends who lent extra helping hands); and
  • Every month, I gather up the dollars our parishioners have placed in a special “charity” basket as they exit the church after services, and anonymously distribute the collected money to folks in need (ranging from parishioners experiencing hard times, to Orthodox Christian non-profits,  to a private nursery school caring for low-income children on the East Side of Bridgeport).

As I witness such almsgiving, Jesus’ words come back to me: “The poor you will always have with you and you can help them anytime you want.” (Mark 14:7).

So…if you want to help Frank with feeding our John Street Bridge friends, or feel like pitching in on a project that Dave cooks up, please see them at coffee hour and express your interest. Or, if you simply want to drop a dollar or two into the charity basket, please know that your charity will bring relief to sad eyes and encouragement to a weary heart.

I have another favorite quote about almsgiving I wish to share, this time by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow:

“Through the cheap price of doing good to men, we can acquire the priceless Kingdom of God.”

God bless you as you strive to complete your lenten journey.

Your Pastor, Father Steven

 

 

 

Fishing for Men (and Women and Children!)

3 Apr

Dear Friends of Holy Ghost Church,

FullSizeRender copyJust as I finished posting my “Pastor’s Corner” about our annual Lenten Retreat, which focused on mission and evangelism, I was delighted to receive the following photos of our church school children. IMG_1355 copy

Their lesson today was from Luke 6:12–15 and Matthew 4:19. In those Bible stories, Jesus prays all night, and in the morning He chooses His 12 disciples. Some of Jesus’ new disciples had formerly been fishermen, but Jesus now promises to make them “Fishers of Men.”

During their lesson, each one of our church school children assumed the identity of one of Jesus’ disciples, and then they all had a wonderful time going “fishing.”

It’s encouraging that our children are learning early on how to be Jesus’ disciples themselves and how to “fish” for men—and women and children!—in hopes of bringing everyone they meet the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

IMG_1361 copyI want to thank our faithful church school teachers Deborah Rapoport and Carol Kaputa for always guiding our parish’s children and teaching them such valuable lessons. And, for making it lots of fun!

Your (grateful) Pastor, Father Steven Belonick

P.S. Please do read the post about our Lenten Retreat with Archpriest Michael Oleksa of Anchorage, Alaska, and learn how we all can become “Fishers of Men!”IMG_1354 copy

How Alaskan Saints Can Inspire Urban Ministry

3 Apr
Archpriest Michael Oleksa displaying an icon of Mother Olga

Archpriest Michael Oleksa displaying an image of Mother Olga Michael

On Saturday, April 2, 2016, Archpriest Michael Oleksa of Anchorage, Alaska, led our Annual Lenten Retreat here at Holy Ghost Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Using the theme “That All May Be Saved,” Father Michael spellbound retreat goers with stories of Orthodox Christian missionaries to Alaska during the 18th–19th centuries—including Ss. Herman, Innocent, Jacob Netsvetov, and Juvenaly—and demonstrated how their missionary efforts might serve as examples for urban ministry in the 21st century. He also spoke about the life of Matushka (Mother) Olga Michael, a 20th century Y’upik native, and her popular veneration among the faithful of Alaska.

Icon of North American saints

An icon of North American saints

By using detailed, mesmerizing descriptions of the saints’ lives, Father Michael illustrated key principles for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, among them:

  • Evangelize with prayer and in faith;
  • Truly love and advocate for the people with whom you are sharing the gospel;
  • Before drawing up a “evangelization plan,” determine the needs of the people with whom you are sharing the gospel, via face-to-face conversations;
  • Build bridges between cultures: listen to each others’ stories and  identify commonalities between your culture and the people with whom you are sharing the gospel;
  • Continually educate laity within the Church, so they are able to share the gospel;
  • Continually educate hearers of the gospel, so they remain anchored in the Church;
  • Invite seekers to “come and see” church worship, instead of arguing with them about doctrinal, historical, and moral issues; and
  • Be a walking witness to the joy of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Listen to one of the talks in Father Michael’s retreat, regarding how Alaskan  saints can inspire urban ministry.

 

Listen to Father Michael’s Sunday homily titled: “Lessons from the Sundays of Great Lent.”

IMG_3727

Father Michael Oleksa with Father Steven Belonick, pastor of Holy Ghost Church

Our community thanks Father Michael for sharing his superior insights into the lives of the Alaska saints and for inspiring us to imitate their missionary efforts. And, we also thank his wife, Matushka Xenia, for being with us. May our Lord Jesus Christ bless them!

Your pastor, Father Steven Belonick

Come to Our Lenten Retreat, “That All May Be Saved,” Saturday, April 2, 2016

27 Mar
Oleksas

Matushka Xenia and Father Michael Oleksa

How can we Orthodox Christians bring the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to all people?  Our parish’s Annual Lenten Retreat, scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 2016, is designed to show us how. The retreat will focus on missionary outreach to our neighbors, and the format will lend itself to robust discussion.

Our speaker, Archpriest Michael Oleksa, a pastor and scholar, and long-time missionary in Alaska, will speak on the topic: “That All May Be Saved: What can we learn about urban outreach from the Alaskan Mission?” Father Michael and his wife, Matushka Xenia (a native Y’upik Eskimo) have experienced first-hand how to reach out to many other cultures with the Good News.

The retreat will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will be followed by Great Vespers. The Lenten Flyer 2016cost is $15.00 and includes lunch. We ask that you pre-register by April 1, so that we can prepare to welcome you. To pre-register, just contact me, Father Steven Belonick: phone (203-290-4023) or email: belonick@svots.edu.

Father Michael is a personal friend, and I’ve always admired his dedication to our Lord and enjoyed his down-to-earth style of speaking and sense of humor. I’m looking forward to welcoming you to Holy Ghost Church to meet him.

See you there! Father Steven, Pastor

P.S. Download the flier and send to your friends and family! Tell them they can find our church on Google Maps.

 

 

Great Lent: Guidelines for Sacrament of Confession

20 Mar

Sacrament of ConfessionGreat Lent is a time to come back to Paradise, to the place where our Lord Jesus Christ dwells. We do this not by dying physically but by dying to sin.

I’ve compiled this booklet is to help you to prepare for the Sacrament of Confession, a rite that helps us to die to sin.

Just click the link to read it:

“The Sacrament of Confession”

May your lenten journey be joyful!

Your Pastor, Father Steven

Come Back to Paradise: Service Schedule for First Week of Great Lent 2016

12 Mar

“This is the acceptable time. This is the time for repentance. Let us offer our virtues to God as gifts, and set aside the works of darkness, by putting on the armor of light as the apostle Paul proclaims. As the Lord killed the enemy by fasting, so let us also come to destroy his arrows and spears, saying: get behind me, Satan! when he comes to tempt us.”

—Matins of Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Jesus bringing Adam and Eve back to Paradise

Jesus leads Adam & Eve back into Paradise

During Great Lent our Lord Jesus Christ invites us to re-enter Paradise. Join us for services during the first week of Great Lent to begin your spiritual journey into God’s Kingdom.

 

Sunday, March 13
Forgiveness Vespers, following 9 am Divine Liturgy, with the Rite of Forgiveness

Monday, March 14
Canon of St. Andrew of Crete 6:00 pm

Tuesday, March 15
Canon of St. Andrew of Crete 6:00 pm

Wednesday, March 16
Confessions 4:30–5:30 pm followed by the Liturgy of Pre-sanctified Gifts 6:00pm

Thursday, March 17
Canon of St. Andrew of Crete 6:00 pm

Friday, March 18
Confessions 8:30 am, followed by the Liturgy of Pre-sanctified Gifts 9:00 am

Saturday, March 19
Confessions 4:00 pm and also following Great Vespers 5:00 pm

Sunday, March 20
Divine Liturgy 9:00 am Sunday of Orthodoxy

Sunday, March 20
Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers 4:00 pm at St. John the Baptist Carpatho-Russian Church, 364 Mill Hill Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06610

Epiphany: Schedule for House Blessings

3 Jan

theophanyThis week we Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of Epiphany (January 5th–6th). On this feast, we remember when St. John the Baptist baptized our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:1–17).

Through His baptism, Jesus accomplished three important things:

  1. He identified himself with our sinful human condition, which needed to be cleansed.
  2. He made holy (or, sanctified) the waters of the River Jordan, and thereby, all of creation, when His own holy body entered the earth’s waters.
  3. He revealed the Holy Trinity: the Father, who spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with Him I am well pleased.”; the Holy Spirit, who descended upon Him in the form of a dove; and He himself, the Son of the Father.

In the season of this joyous feast, it is the practice of Orthodox Christians to invite their parish priest into their homes, and have him bless their habitation with holy water that had been sanctified during the church services on the feast day. In this way, members of the church participate in the renewal of creation effected by our Lord.

So, during January I’ll be making my “house calls” to parishioners and bringing you all the blessing of the Holy Trinity, demonstrating that you too are part of a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I look forward to seeing you! To help you prepare your household for my visit, I’ve jotted down a few notes, below, and I’ve included a tentative schedule as well.

In our Lord, your pastor, Father Steven

PREPARATIONS FOR THE EPIPHANY VISITS
1. Prepare a table with a clean tablecloth, a candle, and an icon.
2. Provide a bowl with Holy Water that you brought home from church.
3. Provide a list of the LIVING — names of members of your household, along with others you wish remembered during the short service.
4. Please provide a list of the DEPARTED — names of your departed loved ones you wish remembered during the short service.
5. When the priest arrives, please gather your family in front of the table with the icon.
6. Please turn off all radios, TVs, stereos, cell phones, etc.
7. Please close off any rooms you do NOT wish Fr Steven to bless.
8. You may use the Epiphany Hymn offered below to join in with the singing.

TROPARION OF EPIPHANY:
When Thou, O Lord wast baptized in the Jordan,
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest!
For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee,
And called Thee His Beloved Son!
And the Spirit in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself,
And hast enlightened the world, glory to Thee!

NOTE: I will provide an icon and/or Holy Water if you cannot provide them.

TENTATIVE BLESSING ROUTE
JANUARY 7, 9 Bridgeport
JANUARY 10, 11, 12, 13 Stratford
JANUARY 14 and 16 Trumbull
JANUARY 17 and 18 Milford , Orange
JANUARY 17 and 18 Fairfield, New Canaan, Southbury
JANUARY 19, 20, and 21 Shelton, Derby, and Monroe
JANUARY 23 and 24 Seymour, Beacon Falls, and Sandy Hook
JANUARY 25 and 26 West Haven, Woodbridge, Naugatuck
JANUARY 27 and 28 Miscellaneous

Video

View Our Christmas Concert 2015: Joy to Our Neighborhood!

27 Dec

Xmas Concert_HGROC_2015With the help of two anonymous benefactors, our parish brought joy to our neighborhood by hosting a free Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 13, 2015.  “The American Modernist Singers,” led by conductor Kevin Sherwin, sang a program of classic Christmas carols and gospel spirituals, in English and Spanish.

Additionally, the choral group included the Orthodox Christian liturgical hymn of the feast—”Thy Nativity, O Christ, Our God”—in their repertoire. One of our own parishioners, Marcia Maslo, sang in the ensemble, as did Anne  Wilkinson, parishioner at Christ the Savior Church in Southbury, and Father Walter Smith, acting rector of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church in Waterbury.

 

Enjoy the full concert by clicking this link!

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Your Pastor, Father Steven

Bring Christmas caroling to our parishioners who are homebound or in healthcare facilities

16 Dec

join_usfor_carolingBring some joy to our parishioners who are homebound or in healthcare facilities Sunday, December 20, 2015 by joining us for Christmas caroling.

Here’s the schedule:

12:45 pm       Leave Holy Ghost Church

1:00 pm         Arrive Hewitt Convalescent Home: Sing for Sophie P. (1st floor)

1:45 pm          Arrive Lord Chamberlain: Sing for Lydia G. (2nd floor)

2:25pm           Arrive Atria: Sing for Ann S. (1st floor)

3:00pm          Arrive at home of Helen K. in Stratford: Sing for her

4:00pm          Arrive at home of Irene C. in Trumbull: Sing for her

Directions

Hewitt Convalescent Home, 45 Maltby Street, Shelton, CT: Take Route 8 to Exit 14 (Howe); at end of the Exit take a right, and then another immediate right; cross over bridge, and then take an immediate left into parking lot.

Lord Chamberlain, 7003 Main Street, Stratford, CT: From Hewitt parking lot, take a right; at the stop sign, take another right; at the end of the street, take a left to the dead-end; then take a right toward Stratford; Lord Chamberlain is across from Sikorsky Company.

Atria Stratford, 6911 Main Street, Stratford, CT: Simply exit Lord Chamberlain parking lot and enter Atria parking lot, which is directly next door.

Questions: Call Fr .Steven’s cell phone: 914.274.1151

 

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