The Holy Trinity community turned out in large numbers Sunday, September 11, 2016, for several significant reasons. The day had a celebratory feel, yet at times was somber and emotional as well.
Everyone wanted to see for the first time the recently completed painting of the inside of our church. Shortly after the Centennial Committee decided to invest in interior paining, Dot Sinchuk selected an altar color that serves as the basis for an entirely new look. Timothy Fetzko put together the remaining palette to match the altar while coordinating colors within the iconostasis. They chose well. The altar is painted a heavenly blue which is offset by a darker blue over the bulkhead. The remainder of the nave is a gentle, off-white. The contrast between altar, bulkhead and nave is striking, and so beautiful. The painting was completed by Omega Painting and Decorating of East Hartford, selected from a recommendation from parishioner Dr Barbara Lacey. Omega owner Peter Papageorgiou, a Greek (Orthodox) American was pleased with the opportunity paint an Orthodox Church.
The day also celebrated the return of Holy Trinity's college students from the University of Connecticut Orthodox Christian Fellowship and also Nicole Scinto from Eastern Connecticut State University, just a few blocks down the road from Holy Trinity in Willimantic.
In what is known as "Welcome Back College Student Sunday" each of the students come to the foot of the ambo and tell us about their summer experiences and what they hope to accomplish during the upcoming academic year. The students are presented with small gift bags which Holy Trinity members filled with candy, homemade cookies, school supplies, and just about anything else that will fit in a bag. The students are grateful to be recognized for their contribution to Holy Trinity, and on the other hand, we are certainly most grateful for their on-going contribution to our church.
In addition to Nicole, a senior, the following UConn students were also recognized: Seniors Peter Hopko and John Lardas, Junior Timothy Paproski, Sophomore Sarah Jacobson, Mrs Danielle Lesperance who is in the second year of a six-year doctoral program. Also joining us this year is Dr Erik T. Wallace (Reader Tikhon) who will be teaching in the UConn Mathematics Department the next three years. Missing on this day was Senior Melanie Sulich who had a school commitment she had to honor, otherwise Mel is with us for Liturgy on many Sundays.
Peter serves in the Holy Trinity altar, John, Sarah, Reader Tikhon, and Timothy sing in the choir - often Tim is called upon to direct - while Danielle reads the Hours prior to the Divine Liturgy. Dr Wallace offered to provide rides for the students from campus to Holy Trinity as needed throughout the year.
"To have our college students return each year infuses us with energy," Holy Trinity pastor V. Rev. Marc Vranes said enthusiastically. "They are to be recognized for their continued contribution to our community. Their commitment is extraordinary, and their willing to serve our community is honorable and deserves special recognition. Students from the UConn OCF have been a significant part of our church since its inception in 2001. On this 15th anniversary, our community collectively bows in respect for what they have done for us." Our annual Welcome Back celebration was generously organized by Kathy Andrzejewski and Danielle Lesperance.
All past OCF students have been invited to our Centennial Celebration on October 9, 2016. It promises to be the largest event in Holy Trinity's 100-year history. Many past OCF students have already RSVPd to the Centennial.
Of course the celebratory feeling was tempered by the tragic losses we commemorate on September 11. Fr Marc offered special prayers of remembrance for those who lost their lives on the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11; even reciting the full names of known Orthodox faithful who perished on that day, or in the following aftermath.
Additionally we bid a fond adieu to Mr. Michael Dolan. Michael has recently graduated from the University of Connecticut and just secured a full-time job in Massachusetts. This is great news for Michael and his family but unfortunately means that we will likely be seeing much less of him. Michael has served by Fr Marc’s side in the altar since he was a young boy. And he chose to serve once again, even on his last day at Holy Trinity. Michael gave a heartfelt and emotional speech recounting his years at Holy Trinity and affirmed how important the community has been to him. Michael, like so many young people before him, are shining examples outstanding youth that we have been privileged to watch grown from children into adults. How time flies…
After Divine Liturgy our dedicated choir, under the skillful hand of Mr Jason Geeza, rehearsed again in preparation for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy to be celebrated on October 9th. Their singing was soulful as voices lifted in steady harmony and suddenly vanished at the conclusion of Ton Despotin. Reverberation echoed for a few seconds before fading away, until next week.