Happy New Year! The end of the year has been a busy time for us here in Wilkes Barre.
At the end of September, in response to an invitation from the Carmelite Sisters, we traveled with our parishioners to Sugarloaf for an evening of prayer. The evening included a Moleben to St. Theresa the Little Flower; followed by an excellent talk about Sr. Theresa the Little Flower by Father Jude Peters OSF from Milwaukee,Wisconsin; and, Compline Prayer.
A few days later, we attended the 125th anniversary celebration of St. Mary Church in Kingston. Both of us were delighted with the opportunity to meet with parishioners and many young people of the parish.
In mid-October, we attended the Eastern Catholic Churches’ Encounter in Hillsborough, New Jersey and met people from other states, ethnic faiths and religious affiliations. We participated in Melkite Vespers, Matins and Liturgy and found them inspiring. The speakers were excellent and we were particularly impressed with Bishop Peter Libasci, who received a standing ovation from the group. He spoke on breathing with two lungs – East and West – and on the “How and What of Lay Leadership,” that is, putting on Christ by witnessing Him to others. Afterwards, we enjoyed participating in the open discussion of the group.
Every Wednesday in October, we made a Pilgrimage to the Mother of God, in which a different Akathist to her was celebrated each time. On the last day, October 31, all five parishes participated as Father Paul Wolansky of Sts. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church spoke.
December brought a number of events associated with the preparation of Christmas. On the 6th, we went Christmas caroling beginning with the St. Nicholas Apostolate at Tiffany Court Nursing Home. Three days later, on December 9, we went caroling again, this time at the Little Flower Nursing Home. All residents gathered with us and sang along. It was truly a heart-warming experience.
Also on December 9, we attended the annual St. Nicholas celebration at Golden Palace. Young and old join in the celebration, and every year one man and one woman are honored with the St. Nicholas award.
Back to caroling on December 11 at St. Luke’s Villa and on December 13 at River Ridge Nursing Home.
December 11-13, we attended the “Year of Faith” mission given at a different parish every night by Father Frank Hanincik. Father stressed that Faith is related to Trust and that Mary is the Model of Faith. He mentioned that the Pillars of Faith are Scripture and Tradition; however, the Heart of Faith is our relationship to each other and the way in which we witness our faith to others.
We went to St. Michael’s in Pittston on December 23. There all of the parishes gathered for Compline celebrated at 3:00 p.m. by the Pastor’s bishop, His Grace Milan Sasik of Mukachevo.
At 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the ECF children presented a Christmas pageant which we had prepared with them. Christmas carols by the children and parishioners followed the pageant.
Then, on December 30, we attended the ECF Christmas program with Jaslickari at St. John Church in Georgetown at noon.
On New Year’s Eve, Father Jim Hayer, Pastor at St. Mary’s in Wilkes-Barre, held an early New Year’s Eve Social for the parishioners to welcome the New Year.
This Christmas season was a busy one for us. During the month of December, we also visited home-bound and nursing home residents. Sister Theodosia made cards for the parishioners of the five parishes in these homes. We also enjoy singing carols to them and we try to bring comfort to parishioners who have recently lost loved ones. Our ministry provides many blessed opportunities for us!