Holy Ghost Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America (OCA)
210 Maplewood Avenue, Ambridge, PA 15003

Center for Hope Outreach Dinner - 11/03/2022

Our parish did our fall community outreach dinner on November 3 at the Center for Hope in Ambridge. Seventy hot meals were prepared and served by the parish for the community.

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Your Parish Family Connected - December 1, 2022

 

SCHEDULE OF SERVICES

* Saturday, December 3 - 4:30 PM - Vespers // Confessions - 4 PM - 4:20 PM

* Sunday, December 4 - 10 AM - Divine Liturgy

* Monday, December 5 - 6:30 PM - Vesperal Liturgy: Eve of “St. Nicholas” Holyday // Confessions - 6 PM - 6:20 PM

* Saturday, December 10 - 4:30 PM - Vespers // Confessions - 4 PM - 4:20 PM

* Sunday, December 11 - 10 AM - Divine Liturgy: “Forefathers Sunday”

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SUNDAY LITURGY LAITY FUNCTIONS

* DECEMBER 4 THIRD HOUR: Taylor Stahoviak [We CONGRATULATE Taylor on starting in this ministry!]

* DECEMBER 4 EPISTLE: N. Domitrovic

* DECEMBER 4 COLLECTION: B. Sopko / I. Yakich

* DECEMBER 11 THIRD HOUR: N. Domitrovic

* DECEMBER 11 EPISTLE: N. Yakich

* DECEMBER 11 COLLECTION: N. Domitrovic / P. Evans

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PRAYER LIST/ GET-WELL GREETINGS

* Helen Andrus

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DECEMBER SPECIAL OCCASIONS!

*   5: Marilyn Vogel

* 10: Danielle Ilchuk

* 16: Easton Rosak (13)

* 20: Nicole Domitrovic

+ “May God grant you many years!” +

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*          Attached are this Sunday’s Liturgy SCRIPTURE READINGS - you are encouraged to pre-read them before attending Liturgy. There will be a paper copy available on the vestibule candle desk Sunday as well - - be sure to take one as you enter for Liturgy!

*          The 9 AM CHURCH SCHOOL/ TEEN GROUP CLASSES are scheduled to meet this Sunday - (9 AM).  SUNDAY DIALOGUE is also scheduled for 9 AM this Sunday for all adults of the parish. All parish adult members are encouraged to attend this Sunday’s 9 AM discussion in the nave of the church.

*          COOKIE WALK 2022 will be held at the Youth Center immediately following this Sunday’s Liturgy. Individuals bringing cookies are asked to deliver them to the Youth Center on December 4th prior to the start of the 10 AM Liturgy or bring them to the Youth Center on Saturday, December 3rd between 2 PM and 4 PM. Individuals who pre-ordered FROZEN POTATO & CHEESE PIEROGIS can see Mary Wagner during the Cookie Walk to pick up your order ($10.00 per dozen). There may be additional pierogis on sale as well – depending on availability. Light refreshments will be available at the Youth Center during the Cookie Walk. Thanks for your support with this parish effort!

*          ADVENT (THE NATIVITY FAST) continues until the celebration of the December 25th Liturgy celebrating the Nativity of our Lord. Please make a sincere effort to honor this fasting period - - including participation in PRIVATE CONFESSION prior to Christmas. (Only parish members who have come to Private Confession during this Advent should approach to receive the Holy Eucharist on December 25th or thereafter. General Confession will not be done during this season.)

*          Please come … the next one-hour BIBLE STUDY is scheduled to take place downstairs in the church hall on Thursday, December 8 - 6:30 PM. We had “double-digit” attendance last month … let’s do it again in December!

*          REVISED DATES! CHOIR REHEARSALS are scheduled on December 14 (following the 6:30 PM Akathist) and December 21 (7 PM). Any choir member unable to attend is asked to inform Ron Markvan.

*          We hope you can attend our PRE-NATIVITY CHILDREN’S PROGRAM taking place in the church nave immediately following the December 18 – 10 AM – Divine Liturgy. Parents with school-age children should receive additional information about this program – including a Saturday, December 17, afternoon rehearsal at the church – via an email from Matushka Debbie. A time for DECORATING THE CHURCH will be announced by Nikki Yakich in the coming days of December as well.

*          We will have an ADVENT AKATHIST PRAYER SERVICE on Wednesday, December 14 - 6:30 PM. Come and pray as we step away from the world’s distractions and enter into prayer with our God in preparation for His Birth in the Flesh on December 25th!

*          The parish’s ANNUAL ADVENT CHARITY DRIVE to assist parish members and others in need continues throughout Advent. Please bring your donations of non-perishable food and household items downstairs to the church kitchen when you arrive at church. Also, monetary donations are a big help, too! Please give those donations directly to Fr. Bill – do NOT leave the envelope in a food bag in the kitchen area. If using a check, please make it payable to “Holy Ghost Church.” Please do not hesitate to contact Fr. Bill privately if you (or someone you know) can use our assistance – we’re here to help each other in Christ’s Name!

*          The parish’s 2023 WALL CALENDARS will be distributed free to everyone beginning this weekend. Feel free to take as many calendars as desired from the vestibule candle desk. Help in distributing these calendars to our parish members unable to retrieve them at church would be appreciated as well. We thank the BOHN-MATICH FUNERAL HOME for once again sponsoring the cost of these calendars - - as they have done for many previous years as well! (The 2023 offering envelope boxes will be made available in the coming weeks as we await their delivery from the envelope company in Ohio.)

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Let us gather to honor a great saint - ST. NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER

Let us gather on Monday, December 5 - 6:30 PM for a Vesperal Liturgy on the Eve of the Holyday of St. Nicholas of Myra to honor this model of Christianity. We will gather to celebrate and to praise with song the model of bishops and a glory to the Fathers, a fountain of miracles and a great helper of believers. Let us sing to the saintly Nicholas:

            + Rejoice, O Protector of Myra who was revered as its leader and strongest pillar;

            + Rejoice, O Radiant Star whose light of miracles shines throughout the world;

            + Rejoice, O Divine Joy to those in sorrow;

            + Rejoice, O Defender of those who are oppressed!

For even now, all-holy Nicholas, you still pray to God for us who celebrate your feast with faith and who honor you with zeal and joy!

(Holyday Troparion - Tone 4) In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you, and your poverty enriched you. O Hierarch Father Nicholas, entreat Christ our God// that our souls may be saved!

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Fr. Bill

 


Monthly Newsletter - December 2022

 

Laity Liturgy Functions

DATE                           THIRD HOUR                        EPISTLE___             COLLECTION_______

DECEMBER   4            Taylor Stahoviak                     N. Domitrovic             B. Sopko / I. Yakich

DECEMBER 11            D. Domitrovic                         N. Yakich                     N. Domitrovic / P. Evans

DECEMBER 18            M. Wagner                             M. Wagner                    R. Grano / A. Lauer

DECEMBER 25            Mat. D. Evansky                      (Deacon)                    R. Markvan / P. McKeown

^  Please notify Fr. Bill in advance if you are unable to perform your liturgical function so that a substitute can be found in an orderly manner. Please mark your calendar since we do not send individual reminders.

^ Please contact Fr. Bill if you have any questions about these ministries. New participants are encouraged as well!

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Pastoral Reminders from Fr. Bill

~ The NATIVITY FAST (ADVENT) continues through the month of December until we break the fast by receiving the Holy Eucharist at the December 25th Nativity Liturgy.

~ If not already so doing during Advent, Nativity Eve (December 24th) is a STRICT FAST DAY with no meats or dairy products consumed.

~ In light of the great joy of the Lord’s Birth, there is a general DISPENSATION FROM FASTING December 25 through January 4 (inclusive).

~ All parish members are called upon to participate in PRIVATE CONFESSION during the Nativity Fast in preparation for the Lord’s Birth on December 25. Only those believers who have come to Private Confession during Advent 2022 should approach to receive Holy Communion on December 25th or thereafter.

~ The reception of the Holy Mysteries of Private Confession and Holy Eucharist (Communion) at least annually is required to be considered a member of the Orthodox Church and this parish. Please contact Fr. Bill privately if you have any questions about your important sacramental standing.

~ Eucharist participation general guideline for the parish - - individuals who do not participate in Holy Eucharist for more than three consecutive Sunday Liturgies should return for a Private Confession before approaching the Holy Chalice. Please contact Fr. Bill about this since there is always the possibility of an extenuating circumstance.

^          There are precious few weeks left to make your 2022 PARISH CONTRIBUTIONS. IMPORTANT NOTE! Any donation given to the parish after the December 25th bank deposit has been done by the parish officers will be listed as the first 2023 contribution. We especially urge our PARISH STEWARDSHIP PARTICIPANTS to fulfill – or exceed - your 2022 pledge if possible!

^          The 2023 PARISH WALL CALENDARS and the 2023 OFFERING ENVELOPE BOXES will be available at church by mid-December for pick up. Parish members who did not pick up last year’s envelope box will NOT have a 2023 box prepared unless you make a request of Patty McKeown or Fr. Bill. This helps minimize the envelopes cost which escalates yearly. Help in taking envelope boxes to parish members unable to retrieve their box at church would be appreciated. The parish THANKS our good friends at the BOHN-MATICH FUNERAL HOME for once again sponsoring these calendars.

^          Fr. Bill will be announcing a 2023 THEOPHANY HOUSE BLESSING SIGN-UP during December so he can construct a list of parish members who DO want a 2023 house blessing beginning with Theophany on January 6. Please watch for future e-bulletin announcements during December.

 

PLEASE NOTE! While personal information concerning individuals is never used without specific approval, images of our parish’s services and group events may be used on the parish’s SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS from time-to-time. Anyone having an objection to their image being included should privately contact Fr. Bill or Tom Zelesnik to opt-out of this usage in the future.

 

^          Please forward your preferred email address to Fr. Bill if you are not receiving the parish E-BULLETINS but would like to receive them. Please note that email addresses are not shared. A limited number of copies of each week’s electronic bulletin are put in the vestibule wall pamphlet rack for those individuals wanting a paper copy with the same being true for the monthly newsletter. This e-bulletin is prepared in lieu of a Sunday paper bulletin.

 

Holy Ghost is on Facebook!  Search “Holy Ghost Orthodox Church” and be sure to “like” your parish!  Keep up-to-date with services, events, and reflections! 

 

^          Please contact Fr. Bill (Email: frbill158@verizon.net) if you, or someone you know in the parish, would like a PASTORAL VISIT prior to the Lord’s Birth on December 25th to receive the Holy Sacraments if unable to attend the Liturgy personally due to infirmity or physical impairment. Fr. Bill continues to make contacts on his shut-in visitation list but please feel free to reach out to him for a visit as frequently as you desire. This is especially important in anticipation of the celebration of our Lord’s Birth! Also, please contact Fr. Bill any time you know of a parish member HOSPITALIZED for more than a single night so he can visit that person’s hospital room and administer the Holy Sacraments (either Holy Unction or Communion) “for the healing of soul and body.”

^          All are invited to attend the parish’s BIBLE STUDY GROUP that will meet downstairs in the church on Thursday, December 8 – 6:30 PM. You need NOT have pre-registered to attend - - and invite a non-Orthodox friend to come, too! It’s a GREAT way to evangelize for our Apostolic Faith!

^          COOKIE WALK 2022 will be held at the Youth Center immediately following the December 4th Liturgy. Individuals bringing cookies are asked to deliver them to the Youth Center on December 4th prior to the start of the 10 AM Liturgy or bring them to the Youth Center on Saturday, December 3rd between 2 PM and 4 PM. Individuals who pre-ordered FROZEN POTATO & CHEESE PIEROGIS can see Mary Wagner during the Cookie Walk to pick up your order ($10.00 per dozen). There may be additional pierogis on sale as well – depending on availability. Light refreshments will be available at the Youth Center during the Cookie Walk. Thanks for your support with this parish effort!

^          We hope you can attend our PRE-NATIVITY CHILDREN’S PROGRAM taking place in the church nave immediately following the December 18 – 10 AM – Divine Liturgy. Parents with school-age children should receive additional information about this program – including a Saturday, December 17, afternoon rehearsal at the church – via an email from Matushka Debbie. A time for DECORATING THE CHURCH will be announced by Nikki Yakich in the coming days of December as well.

^          Sunday, December 4 will be the date of the only CHURCH SCHOOL/TEEN GROUP 9 AM REGULAR CLASSES during this month - - we need our parents to have the children there promptly!

Also, all parish adults are greatly encouraged to attend the DECEMBER 4TH  SUNDAY DIALOGUE DISCUSSION in the nave of the church with Fr. Bill beginning at 9 AM. We hope you will find it worth the time!

^          Our ANNUAL ADVENT CHARITY DRIVE to assist parish members and others in need has begun. Please bring your donations of non-perishable food and household items downstairs to the church kitchen when you arrive at church. Also, monetary donations are a big help, too! Please give those donations directly to Fr. Bill – do NOT leave the envelope in a food bag in the kitchen area. If using a check, please make it payable to “Holy Ghost Church.” Please do not hesitate to contact Fr. Bill privately if you (or someone you know) can use our assistance – we’re here to help each other in Christ’s Name!

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ORTHODOXY “101” – Part III

            It may be difficult for us in America with its plethora of religious beliefs – even among purported Christians – to imagine a Church like the Orthodox Church that teaches the exact same faith throughout the world. One can actually visit an Orthodox parish in such global places as Russia, Syria, Greece, Argentina, Japan, Miami (Florida), San Francisco (California), or even Ambridge, PA (!), and receive the exact same understanding of the Christian Faith in all of them. In a Western world that recognizes that Southern Baptists are very different from American Baptists, or that there exist in the Episcopal Church many different beliefs and practices, Orthodox unity of belief is astounding! And this has been maintained for 2,000 years without a figure such as a “pope!”

            The only way the current worldwide Orthodox faithful and clergy (conservatively estimated at 300 million) can have absolute unity of faith and practice and have kept this same faith and practice unchanged since the time of the Apostles, is by the grace of God! So powerfully do the Orthodox experience this unity of faith that immediately after receiving Holy Communion (Eucharist), we joyously proclaim: “WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUE LIGHT! WE HAVE RECEIVED THE HEAVENLY SPIRIT! WE HAVE FOUND THE TRUE FAITH, WORSHIPPING THE UNDIVIDED TRINITY, WHO HAS SAVED US!”

            What specifically IS this “True Faith” the Orthodox proclaim and believe, and what are its sources? All the teachings of the Orthodox Church are derived from SACRED TRADITION – including the Holy Scriptures. In fact, the written Scriptures are viewed as a “pinnacle” or “jewel” within the Sacred Tradition. The different parts of Holy Tradition are not set against each other, but are seen as an organic and unified whole, like a “symphony” of the Truth.

            The Orthodox are told they should read the Scriptures daily, and they have been taught this since long before the printing press made possession of a personal Bible possible. In the 5th century, St. John Chrysostom, while a priest in Antioch, admonished his people to read the Scriptures every day, which meant they would have had to come to the local parish church and read the copy of the Bible that was there. Bible reading and study are considered extremely important, Nevertheless, the Bible is NOT open to “personal interpretation;” for as St. Peter writes: “…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1.20.)

*** Next time we will discuss specifically – What IS Sacred Tradition and how does adhering to it help ensure that we are personally on the “road to salvation,” NOT “condemnation?” ***



Church School Calendar 2022-23

 

September 11   Class
  25   Class / Sunday Dialogue
       
October 9   Class
  23   Class / Sunday Dialogue
       
November 13   Class / Sunday Dialogue
       
December 4   Class / Sunday Dialogue
  11   (tentative Christmas Program rehearsal)
  18   Christmas Program
       
January 8   Class
  22   Class / Sunday Dialogue
       
February 12   Class
  26   Class / Sunday Dialogue
       
March 12   Class
  26   Class / Sunday Dialogue
       
April 9   Class / Sunday Dialogue
  16   PASCHA!
  30   Class / Sunday Dialogue
       
May 14   Class / Sunday Dialogue

 



Parish History

Today, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Holy Ghost Orthodox Church in Ambridge, we should pause in our festivities and reflect thoughtfully on its beginnings.

Shortly after the turn of the century, many Europeans sought to escape the religious and cultural persecutions of the Austro-Hungarian rulers by sailing to America.

Approximately 14 families, including those of John Bowan Sr., Wasil Blishak, Constantine Dzubinsky, Samuel Evans Sr., Daniel Holovach, A. Kohan, Nicholas Kraynak, Theodore Kushnir, Wasil Kuhta, Wasil Towcimak, Michael Turko, and John Zawoysky, settled in the North Side and South Side of Pittsburgh, where they attended St. Alexander Nevsky and St. Michael's Orthodox Churches.

However, these pioneers soon moved on to Ambridge where employment opportunities were greater. The American Bridge Company, which erected its first plant in Ambridge in 1902, offered such security.

Although settled in Ambridge, they continued to attend church in Pittsburgh. Each Sunday morning they walked the railroad tracks, more accessible than the unpaved roads, to Leetsdale, where they boarded a train to Pittsburgh. This continued until the group established a makeshift altar in May's Hall, Third and Merchant Streets, Ambridge. There, under the guidance of the Rev. J. Sechinsky, they continued their religious devotions. A little later, services were conducted in the residence of Samuel Evans, Sr., and still later in a little shelter on a vacant lot near Third and Merchant Streets. The reverends J. Sechinsky, P. Kohanik and Nicholas Koshevich were among the early pastors.

In October of 1907, guided by Fr. Nicholas Koshevich, this determined group purchased two lots at Second and Maplewood Avenue for $1,650. With their hands, they laid the foundation of their long-awaited church. It took them two months and cost approximately $6,000 -- lots, construction and materials included. The American Bridge Co donated steel for the foundation. This contribution so overwhelmed the group that they gathered on the grounds of the American Bridge plant with their icons and glorified the donors with prayers and singing.

On November 27, 1907, the first Divine Liturgy was served in the newly built church basement. Named trustees of the fledgling church were Wasil Blishak, John Bowan Sr. Samuel Evans Sr. and Daniel Holovach. Others who contributed their services were families of Timko Romanov, Paul Romanov, Dimitri Skomsky, Theodore Lapihuska, Timko Guch, Harry Kohanik, Stephen Felk, John Evans Sr., A. Zbigley, Nicholas Kuhta, Theodore Fecik, Wasil Liseyko, Joseph Hafiez, Anton Shpak, Nicholas Kulavchik, N. Polovischak, E. Polovischak, Timko Blishko, Harry Shepella, Michael Roman, John Towcimak, Wasil Zawoysky Sr., Wasil Guch, Michael Psinka and Wasil Hritzik.

On August 21, 1911, the parish was incorporated as the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Ghost. The congregation adopted as its patron, the Descent of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) upon the Apostles.

The first recorded christening was that of Nicholas Kuhta on October 27, 1907. The first marriage solemnized in the church was that of Theodore Hopta and Anna Hnath on February 8, 1908.

The parish grew steadily, and soon plans were being formulated for completion of the church. In 1912 a building committee was established. The church was completed in December 1914 at a cost of $14,000. The Rev. Andrew Ivanishin officiated at the first Divine Liturgy in the new edifice. The cornerstone, donated by Samuel Evans Sr., and the newly built church were consecrated by the Most Rev. Archbishop Alexander, assisted by Fr. Ivanishin and visiting clergy. The dream had become a reality. Just one year later, a parish home next to the new church was purchased for $5,100.

Now thoughts turned to the church interior. In 1927, led by the Rev. Damian Krehel, the church commissioned Michael Kupetz, a parishioner, to paint the murals for $2,200.

Two years later the present three bells were purchased. Metropolitan Platon blessed them.

The Great Depression ruled out further improvements until November 27, 1941, when, under the leadership of the Rev. Emilian Skuby, a new iconostas and newly renovated church interior were blessed by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin, Bishop of Pittsburgh and West Virginia. The new iconostas was designed and erected by the famous architect-artist Gennady Gordeyev.

That same year saw the outbreak of World War II, and 1950 brought with it the Korean conflict. Twelve young men of the parish were killed in those wars: Michael Chaykowsky, Edward Chumak, Peter Dudenich, Paul Durniak, John Kucer, Michael Kucer, Frank Pastrick, Steve Pastrick, Nicholas Sapovchak, Michael Sudik, George Torhan and Dimitri Wrobleski.

On November 21, 1954, a crystal chandelier was installed and dedicated to the memory of twelve young men from the parish that gave their lives to the service of their country in World War II and the Korean conflict.

In July 1974 a new parish home was purchased on Pilgrim Drive, Leet Township. The old parish home next to the church was converted into an educational center. There the church school organization, which was initiated by the Senior R Club (FROC) during the presidency of Mildred Erdelyn Mitcheil in 1947, continues to meet.

In February 1975 a fire started in the front of the church, severely damaging one corner of the interior. Fr. Vladimir Soroka and Church Council President Irene Bell led the ensuing restoration.

In 1975 The Holy Ghost Orthodox Youth Center began as a gift. The merged Russian Community Society and Russian Society of St. Michael donated the empty building at 405 Maplewood Avenue that formerly housed the Russian Community Society. A building committee was appointed, led by co-chairmen Frank Markvan and Ted Hritsko. The former building was mostly razed and a new structure erected under the guidance of architect George Ruscitto and builder Jerry Steinmetz Construction Corporation. In 1977, two years after the ownership was transferred to the congregation, the transformed building was opened as a center for both parochial events and public events. Today the Center is a hub our Annual Slavic Festival and other church related activities.

In the early 1990's, the parishioners of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Aliquippa were welcomed as members of the Holy Ghost congregation when their parish was closed.

In November 1996 the congregation undertook one of the most ambitious renovation projects since the founding of the church in 1907. Cupolas of reinforced gold fiberglass replaced the four deteriorating copper cupolas. This project was the centerpiece of a series of renovation projects that included the complete repainting of the interior of the church, enhanced internal and external lighting, and re-pointing the brick exterior of the church. All of these major projects were completed prior to the congregation's celebration of its 90th anniversary in 1997.

The congregation has just completed a 10-year capital improvements plan in time for the parish's 100th anniversary. These projects included all new iconography in the altar, including a new Platitera icon in the apse over the sanctuary, the total refurbishment of the chandelier, renovated restrooms in the church basement, new wall-to-wall carpeting, and new iconography on the proscenium arch above the iconostas.

From the original 14 families the parish has grown to over 200 adults and 30 children.

From those hard working immigrant families who formed the nucleus, to the present pastor, V. Rev. William Evansky, church council, church organizations and congregation, we are deeply indebted. To those now deceased -- May God grant them eternal rest. To those still in our midst--thank you for a job well done! God bless you and guide you in your continued efforts.


Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western PA