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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.


Glory to Jesus Christ!

I’m writing this for anyone who has stumbled across this page with interest in becoming Orthodox, or any others who are cradle Orthodox with absence from the Body of Christ like myself. My faith background was limited for some time and I never fully grew up within the faith. I come from a long line of Orthodox Christians going back to Russia. Some of which helped founded Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in Norwich, CT, in 1914. Over the years there were some things that drew my family and myself included away from the parish life, and subsequently I didn’t grow up with much faith influence. As a high school freshman I had a heritage project for a World History Class which brought me to my Eastern European roots, mostly Polish, Russian, and Czech. As a sophomore in high school, my great grandmother, +Tana fell asleep to be with the Lord. This was the first most memorable time in church that started me on a more spiritually driven path. I had interest in other religions as well, and I was in more or less an agnostic for a long time. I had strong Orthodox beliefs, but I wasn’t ready to take the full leap into the church.

During this time, however I remember Pascha becoming more and more special each year. My grandmother would teach me the correct pronunciation of “Christ is Risen” in Slavonic each year, and we both always rejoiced so greatly over it together. In February, 2019, my grandfather +Tom Shakun fell asleep to be with the Lord and again left a profound impression on me. During that evening of his passing, my grandfather had told my uncle (Father Steven Voytovich). “It’s okay. I’ve seen the angel.”

I wasn’t present in the room for this and found this out later. Not knowing what else to do at that time of coping with my grandfather passing, I was in the family room meditating, trying to bring myself clarity and I saw the angel come down and touch my grandfather. I know we’re cautioned in the Orthodox Faith about visions, however I truly believe this angel did come down to guide Grandfather Tom to the Lord’s Almighty Kingdom. My grandfather had also been a faithful parishioner at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Willimantic during the last four years of his earthly life. I had attended a few services since then, and a few Divine Liturgies and Vespers Services, but my commitment was still lacking. During this agnostic period however, I met much evil face to face, seeing true demons, going places that don’t exist and feeling some very torturing things.

Then in 2021 my grandmother, + Dorothy Shakun, also reposed in the Lord. Having had a very personal connection with her, I found myself mourning her death. What brought me comfort was the beautiful Funeral Service of the Orthodox Church. I had attended services with the Metropolitan Tikhon visiting my uncle’s parish Holy Transfiguration in New Haven, to celebrate Father Steven’s 30th anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. I remember standing there looking at the beautiful iconography and hearing the sermon on humility offered by then Deacon Mark Rossien, and it was at that time that I believed strongly, “This is where I belong”. There was nothing, not one other belief in me proclaimed at that time except for Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior. Since then, then I have started Holy Trinity in Willimantic where I’ve grown in faith, grown in myself as a man. I’ve began serving in the altar, being a scheduled Reader, and learning the ways of the church. From the outside I’ve turned in how I act, and even how I dress, since coming into the faith: from casual to a striving gentleman.

The path can be difficult at times, but is far more rewarding and beautiful than anything worldly. We live in an ever-changing society where we as Christians are considered counter cultural due to our traditional values and teachings. The church is where I feel the most acceptance and love, because we are the Body of Christ.

I am beyond blessed to have a loving and supporting community at Holy Trinity that continues to thrive and grow.

- by Zachary Novosad
May 27, 2023


Praise God for bringing me to the Orthodox faith and to Holy Trinity Orthodox Church! It is a miracle that I ended up here after well over a decade of seeking for Truth in all the wrong places. After years of new age, and even pagan practices, the Lord pulled me out of the deception and I began to see Jesus for who he truly is: The Way, The Truth, and The Life. As I continued down this path, my studies led me to inquire about Orthodoxy, something I knew virtually nothing about. I wanted to learn more, check it out for myself, and I discovered that Holy Trinity was located the town over. Glory to God!

I will never forget the first time I walked into Holy Trinity, experiencing my first Divine Liturgy and having no clue what to expect or what was happening. The incense, the icons, the chanting, the detail, the beauty. It felt so ancient, like I was traveling back in time. Liturgy was so incredibly different from the Methodist, or Non-Denominational protestant services I had been attending.

Father Marc and the entire parish community were unbelievably welcoming, charitable, and sincere. That first day Fr. Marc stayed after with me for almost an hour answering my dozens of questions, educating me on faith, and that day I walked out of the parish intrigued and fascinated. I knew that I had just stumbled down a new rabbit hole that I was going to have to process and pray through.

As time went on and I continued attending liturgy, wrestling with my Christian faith, the Lord made it very clear to me that it was time for me to enter his One True Holy Church. I can't express into words how grateful I am for this. This journey has been such a deeply enriching time in my spiritual and personal life. Holy Trinity Orthodox Church is a beautiful and blessed parish with a wonderful community, and I pray that God continues to move there. I wholeheartedly believe that over the next few years more and more young adults will discover Holy Orthodoxy, and I can't recommend Holy Trinity Church enough for doing so.

Thank you to all my fellow parishioners, and to Fr. Marc for guiding me through the process. Glory to God!

Rebecca Berner

Rebecca first visited Holy Trinity in December, 2021; she has been faithful since then. Ms. Berner was subsequently received into the Orthodox Church through the Sacrament of Holy Chrismation on April 9, 2023, on the Feast of Our Lord's Entry Into Jerusalem / Palm Sunday.


After having wandered around spiritual landscapes for years and years I came upon HTOC.  I began attending services at HTOC about 15 years ago. The Divine Liturgy was truly Divine. I was Chrismated into this small, but vibrant and welcoming, Orthodox community in 2004.  

After a few years I stopped attending. Blame it on spiritual wanderlust but, because of an invitation from Fr. Marc to join in the Church’s centennial celebration in October 2016, I have rejoined the community. I took that invitation as a sign to come back to HTOC.

Everyone I remembered from HTOC greeted me so warmly, it was like I had never left. I realized how long it had been when I saw those I remember as children all grown up and in college or married; other members have passed on and were no longer physically with us. It was very good to see the people of HTOC again and rejoin and support the church in worship, ministry and mission.

Anyone in need of a spiritual home should visit Holy Trinity Orthodox Church. It is a special place amongst special places. To all who may read this, be assured, you will be warmly welcomed to HTOC and you yourself will welcome HTOC into your life.


I was born and raised Orthodox in Northeastern PA, a mecca of Orthodoxy even now.  My brother and I literally grew up at St Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery as altar boys in the mid 1960’s wreaking havoc at services  for the present class of seminarians, especially our own father.

My father, deceased Very Rev Nestor Geeza, was a late vocation entrant into the seminary at age 39. His sons, Jason and Jeremy, then 3 and 6, were thrown into a holy world that I will never forget and always cherish.

By the time my father graduated, was ordained, and was assigned his first parish in 1968, I was already deeply involved in the church and services.  Even though I was only seven years old, I started singing in the choir in Pottstown PA.

In those days, there were choir rehearsals every week and if you didn’t go to rehearsal, you didn’t sing on Sunday.  One Sunday, there was no choir director, so I was coaxed into directing for the liturgy, I was twelve years old.  I knew the services as well as anyone, took over, and never looked back.

I witnessed firsthand the struggles and successes with various parishes that we were assigned, some of them not so pretty like the church calendar change in the late 70’s. All of our parishes; Pottstown, PA, Edwardsville, PA, Bridgeport, CT, and Norwich, CT brought with them new experiences and challenges right into the 1990’s.

Denise and I were married in Norwich in 1987 and Norwich was our home parish until 2005. We watched a once flourishing parish survive a split in 1998 by the ROCOR church, a death of a young vibrant priest in 1999, and then a steady decline after that until we left the parish in 2005.

On a much happier note, we ended up at Holy Trinity in September of 2005 after a very emotional breaking away from Norwich CT parish which we knew as home and my father’s last assignment.  Our first experience at Holy Trinity was wonderful, Fr Marc was wonderful, and once again, we never looked back.

There are so many positive things to say about Holy Trinity such as the priest, the people, the caring, the children, the participation, and the sense of community, but what’s most inspirational to me is the college student involvement.

For someone that went to Penn State University from 1978 to 1982, never even thought of going to church while I was there even though there were services on campus, somehow survived that four years to be successful in life, I was absolutely stunned by the OCF in 2005 and still am now in 2013. They are truly inspirational to me and an integral part of the Holy Trinity family.

I have a very deep rooted love of the church, its services, and its music and I am very happy to be a member of Holy Trinity in Willimantic CT.


Born and raised in the Russian Orthodox Church in New York City, at about age 12 I asked my mother to bring my sister and me to a church where English was spoken. She chose an Episcopal church.  I attended Episcopal services intermittently for several decades, through college and the early years of marriage, and our children were raised in the Episcopal Church.  However, I maintained contact with the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection in New York, one way or another, throughout this period.

When the “empty nest syndrome” occurred in 1998, my husband accompanied me as I went “church shopping.”   At the Orthodox Church in Willimantic, I heard services in English, and it’s been a wonderful homecoming ever since. With the inspired leadership of Fr. Marc, and parishioners who gradually have become good friends, I have a new sense of community, especially after retiring from teaching at a Catholic college. I also enjoyed the opportunity to take part in the informal adult education program held after services, when adults in the parish made presentations on “The Lives of the Saints.”

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church has been an anchor for me in a changing and challenging world.


My conversion to Orthodoxy came to me very late in life, at age 81. Prior to becoming Orthodox, I was Episcopalian, Baptist, and Unitarian. Each was a great blessing to me. I also spent time in the wilderness, alone, without any direction or vision for longer than I would like to admit.

The chanted services is what attracted me initially to the Orthodox Church; yet when I discovered the fullness of the faith, at such at advanced age no less, how it is unchanged from early Christianity, then it became clear I must become Orthodox, and that the Orthodox Church is indeed the ancient church, the one founded by Christ.

Now I am a member of a community of Christ’s fullness, and remain thankful to God every day of my life.  

Evelyn R., 93
Valedictorian of Pittman High School (NJ), Class of 1936


What I have found with Orthodoxy isn't like anything else. I have debated in the past that organized religion is more of a social outlet than a viable way to pursue a relationship with God. And I felt like my argument was valid... but after attending Holy Trinity for a while, I realized something else entirely.

The knowledge of God, the reading of the scriptures, the icons, the feelings that come from being within the Church, living within a community of a shared faith from those in attendance every Sunday and the multitude that have celebrated the same Liturgy before us ~ it just isn't something I can put into words. And it isn't something that can be explained to someone living outside of this reality.
A friend recently posted a tag on Facebook that said, "You don't need religion. If you don't know right from wrong, you need empathy, not religion." And it was all I could do to not comment. I wanted to tell her, I don't believe you understand what religion even is. What it can offer and provide. I couldn't explain what I wanted her to understand. But even if I could have put my feelings into words, it wouldn't have mattered. It isn't something that can be explained, it has to be experienced.


I was baptized Orthodox as an infant and it's been the only Church I've ever known.  However, when my wife and I began our search for a new place to worship with our children, we wanted to find a church that was not only Orthodox, but had a strong sense of community as well.

From the moment we arrived, the people at Holy Trinity made us feel welcome and part of the family.  Fr. Marc is a wonderful priest and spiritual advisor, and the warmth of the community is a reflection of how he cares for his people.

Our children have been baptized and participate fully in the life of the church.  They are fortunate to be able to attend Sunday School and learn about Our Lord and His church from dedicated and creative teachers.

There are a number of younger children of the same age, whom I'm looking forward to watch grow up together, as well teens, young adults and college students who are tremendous people and strong role models.

There is genuine caring amongst the faithful at Holy Trinity, and we are truly thankful to be part of the community.

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