On Sunday, April 30th, His Grace Bishop Irinej made his first Archpastoral visit to his flock in North Canton, Ohio. The community gathered well in advance of the Divine Liturgy, prepared to welcome their hierarch as he entered the church. His Grace was first greeted by children from the parish who presented him with flowers, after which a procession of altar servers led him into the nave as the choir magnificently sang “The Angel Cried”.
After His Grace Bishop Irinej was vested, and prior to the start of service, parishioner Mark Resanovich was tonsured as a reader by His Grace Bishop Irinej. His Grace reminded Mark of the great responsibility of readers – to be clear in voice as they fulfill the responsibility of their office. Further, as the first step in ordained ranks, it is necessary for a reader to grow in Christ by engaging with Scripture daily. As Mark was then brought into the rank of Subdeacon, the community offered a resounding “Axios!” as the orarion was tied in cruciform around him.
Following Mark’s ordination to the Subdiaconate, Divine Liturgy began with the triumphant singing of “Hristos Voskrese”, the joyful proclamation of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the Liturgy, in fact, the great joy of our Lord’s resurrection permeated everything – the triumphant singing, the reading of the Gospel, and the reception of Holy Communion by the nearly 170 people gathered in the church.
Of particular delight to all those present, His Grace Bishop Irinej delivered an inspiring sermon about the radiant joy that permeates the Paschal season. As he reminded the community, “if we have joy, people will know we are Christian – and that comes from the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
At the end of service, the community made their festal Slava procession around the church before cutting the Slavski kolac. This year’s kumovi were Ken and Jeanine Kozak, two individuals who have been faithful stewards of the St. George parish, and who are generous donors and benefactors to a multitude of Orthodox Christian charities.
When the service had completed, the celebration continued as His Grace Bishop Irinej bestowed Episcopal Grammatons on a number of individuals in the St. George parish. Many years had passed since the dedicated stewards of the community were awarded such an honor. Receiving Grammatons that day were Board President Nick Pribich and family, who routinely visit those who are ill and who helped carry the church through its one-year-absence of priestly leadership; Ken Kozak and family, caring Orthodox Christians who are not only generous stewards of their parish, but also of many Orthodox and Christian charities world-wide; Jaga Radosevic, the former head of catering at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, who together with her parish family gave many hours to raising funds for parish and hall operation; and Stephen Winovich, choir director since the age of 16 and dedicated organizer of services and rehearsals.
Serving with His Grace Bishop Irinej at this joyous service were the Very Rev. Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dennis Pavichevich of St. Nicholas in Brookfield, IL; the Very Rev. Protpresbyter-Stavrophor Dr. Chad Hatfield, President of St. Vladimir’s Seminary; the Rev. Aleksa Pavichevich, parish priest of St. George in North Canton; and the Rev. Deacon Zeljko Jurisic of St. Archangel Michael in Akron.