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The Power & Operation of the Holy Spirit

By the descent of the Holy Spirit, we are made children on the Most High and are brought under his love and guidance. As a result, we are no longer orphans.

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The Holy Trinity community bid farewell this morning to Dr. Chris Masterjohn, a significant part of our parish community since January, 2008. Chris attended Holy Trinity during which time he was studying for a doctorate in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. He earned his Ph.D. in May, 2012.

Chris took an unconventional route to earning his doctorate. He has no high school diploma, making him, admittedly, a rare exception among those with a Ph.D. When he was 15 years old, Chris left high school in order to home-school. A year later, he dropped out of homeschooling, so that he would be legally able to take the General Educational Developmental (GED) exam. The process allowed him to earn his High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED).

He enrolled in college when he was 16, and earned an Associate of Arts degree from Springfield (MA) Technical Community College two years later. Chris then earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in May, 2003, from UMass Amherst. Chris does not possess a Master’s degree, either.

During his years at Holy Trinity, Chris, 30, was often either the first or second person in church. When the door opened downstairs, it was either Chris or Bessie Liapes. Chris would read the Hours, chant the Epistle, sing in the choir, and read Post Communion prayers. Chris’ knowledge of the structure of services was also a huge asset to our choir. He also developed an especially close bond with the students from the UConn Orthodox Christian Fellowship. With the exception of an occasional visit to see his family in West Brookfield, MA, attend Divine Liturgy at his home parish, Saint Nicholas in Shrewsbury (MA), or being invited to make an out-of-state presentation, Chris was in church every Sunday for 4½ years. He continues to pay great attention to the development of his spiritual life.

During his years of study at the Storrs campus, Chris was a member of the UConn Ballroom Dance team. Years before, while still a teen, Chris learned to juggle rocks in downtown Warren, MA. That’s Chris; very eclectic.

He lists his favorite book as Wounded by Love: The Life and Teachings of Elder Porphyrios. His favorite scripture is Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The Holy Trinity community presented Chris with a book: Blessed John The Wonderworker - The Preliminary Account of the Life and Miracles of Archbishop John Maximovitch, along with two small icons; one of the Holy Trinity, as a reminder of his years with us at Holy Trinity in Willimantic, and the other an icon of the Three Holy Hierarchs (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom) because of Chris’ devotion to theological education.

Chris expressed his humble gratitude for the support Holy Trinity provided him during his years of doctoral studies.

“Actually,” Chris began, “you will all have a bit easier than I will. You will just have to get used to being without one person. Me? I have to prepare to move on and get used to a different life without all of you. I think that will be much more difficult.”

As our community celebrated the Great Feast of Transfiguration this morning, Chris’ final words to the community where the same ones offered by the Apostle Peter to our Lord on the mountain, “Lord, it is good to be here.”

Chris now moves on to Illinois this month where he will pursue a post-doctoral research position at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. There, he will investigate the interactions between vitamins A and D. This research has the potential to revolutionize the way requirements and safety thresholds for vitamins are determined by emphasizing the interdependence between different nutrients, rather than considering each one individually.

The Holy Trinity Church community expresses its deep gratitude for the contribution Dr Chris Masterjohn has made to build our parish; we will miss him, and we wish him all God’s blessings, with good health and a sound mind, as he continues to make his mark in this world. – Fr Marc Vranes

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