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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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Saturday, April 13, 2024, Vespers was held at the Three Holy Hierarchs Chapel on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs. Vespers was sung by Earthtones, a group of students from the university, all of whom were in an Orthodox Church for the first time. There were 85 people into the chapel, and had space allowed, we could have had considerably more.

Earthtones is directed by Dr. Mary Ellen Junda who after more than thirty years of teaching, is retiring. Mary Ellen was our lone choir director at Holy Trinity for many years. She has given her life to the Orthodox Church. Even after Liturgy last Sunday when she addressed our community to express her gratitude, she noted that no matter what she may have accomplished in the field of music during her decorated career, what matters the most to her is our Holy Trinity Church Choir.

What is remarkable is that Mary Ellen was able to accomplish what she did with her students in just eleven classes. So as to sing with meaning, classroom instruction accompanied the vocal components of this class. There were no music majors in Earthtones, making what she was able to accomplish, even more impressive. At the conclusion of Vespers, and in order to show their appreciation to those who were in attendance, Earthtones sung the Nikolay Kedrov's Otche Nash which the students sang in Slavonic.

Included is an email shared by Father Don & Jan Augusta, friends of Holy Trinity, who were in attendance for Vespers. Father Don is currently the priest at Saint Demetrios Church in Bristol, Connecticut.

Fr. Marc and Mary Ellen,
Excellent Vespers service this evening. This was a wonderful effort by you and Mary Ellen and her students. I am sure those students had an experience that was enlightening and meaningful.
Jan and I were moved to tears during the evening service. Your ministry with the parish and working closely with Mary Ellen brought forth a wonderful fruit that we partook of in the Three Hierarchs chapel this evening. It reminded me of my years at St. Vlad's (Saint Vladmir's Seminary). Thank you for this evening Vespers experience and may you Fr. Marc and Mary Ellen be richly rewarded and blessed for your ministry for the Orthodox faith. God bless you.

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