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Wonders of the Small Church

The small church has incredible importance and value, although it may not carry the pomp of churches in Europe and elsewhere. I have one particular small church in mind: ours.

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On Sunday, October 3, 2021, the Holy Trinity Church community welcomed the return of Very Reverend Donat Augusta to our church for a most significant celebration: the 51st anniversary of his first parish assignment. Father Don served the Holy Trinity community from October 3, 1970, through August, 1971. It also marked the first time in his priesthood that he had ever returned to a church to serve the Divine Liturgy after he was assigned to a different parish.

Father Don was the long-time pastor at All Saints Orthodox Church (OCA) in Hartford, Connecticut, and Saint Basil Greek Orthodox Church in New Haven. Currently, he is serving the Greek community at Saint Demetrios in Bristol, CT. Yet after 51 years of service to the church, it was October 3, 2021, a day he called “remarkable” for his entire family, that Father Don will long remember.

“It was a great joy to return to Holy Trinity and to celebrate the Liturgy with your congregation who reflect your inspiration and pastoral ministry,” Father Don noted. “It was emotional for me to return after so many years; to remember and pray for the souls who have passed and to see those who are now carrying on the faith and joy of the founders of Holy Trinity.”

In his homily Father Don reflected on his ministry at Holy Trinity and personally noted the loss of so many parishioners who helped to build and establish Holy Trinity, who have passed into eternal life. His vivid memories of so many former church members who sacrificed and gave so much, served as inspiration to those in attendance.

At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, Father Don was presented with a hand-written icon of the Prophet Isaiah written by +Janet Wagner. This was the final icon from +Janet’s collection which was presented to Holy Trinity by +Janet’s family upon her death three years ago. Nine of those icons currently hang on the walls at Holy Trinity. A festive Coffee Hour was held in the downstairs hall in Father Don & his wife Jan’s honor. No one was in a hurry to leave church this day, as many stayed into the afternoon to share conversation and fellowship.

The icon of the Prophet Isaiah was inscribed with a nearly identical inscription from the Orthodox Study Bible that Father Don had gifted current HTOC member, Mr. Timothy Fetzko, on June 8, 1994. It read: “On your joyous return to Holy Trinity. May the Lord always bless you and guide you into his Heavenly Kingdom.”

Also present at Father Don’s return to Holy Trinity were his devoted wife, Jan, son Joseph, and life-long friends Tania Bouteneff and George (Peter) Gianopolous.

“It was an amazing and emotional day; so perfect in every way,” Mr. Fetzko reported. “Father Don left everything he had on the altar table. He held nothing back.”

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