Altar Consecration in Willimantic
Altar Consecration in Willimantic

The Holy Trinity Church community experienced a milestone event on Saturday, September 30, 2017, with the consecration of its new Altar Table by The Most Reverend NIKON, Bishop of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese, and assisted by area clergy.

The altar was constructed by faithful Holy Trinity parishioner Jon Matcheson, and assisted by his wife, Mercedes (‘Merci’), as a gift to Holy Trinity in celebration of its Centennial Anniversary on October 9, 2016, was built in memory of Jon’s departed mother, +Mrs Anne Matcheson. The previous unconsecrated altar had been used at Holy Trinity from 1958-2016. The Antimension which was placed on that altar by Metropolitan Theodosius in 1972 contained the relics of Saint Herman of Alaska.

The Rite of Consecration began promptly at 9:30 in the morning, with the reception of the Archbishop by Parish Council President, Mr Timothy Fetzko, who greeted His Eminence and offered the traditional Slavic greeting of rye bread and salt. His Eminence, Archbishop NIKON, received the blessing cross from Holy Trinity Parish Rector, V. Rev. Marc A. Vranes; His Eminence then presented the cross to the visiting clergy for veneration: Archpriest Michael Westerberg, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, New Haven, CT; Archpriest Michael Korolev, Rector at Saints Peter & Paul Church, Springfield, MA, Archpriest Theophan Whitfield, Saint Nicholas Church, Salem, MA, Rev. John McKitish (Holy Transfiguration, New Haven) and Rev. Steven McGuigan, also from Saints Peter & Paul, Springfield. Deacons who assisted included Protodeacon Paul Nimchek, Deacon Andrey Sukharev, and Deacon Gregory Curran. Altar servers included Jeremiah Blankenbaker from Holy Trinity, and Ivan (Vanya) Sukharev, the son of Deacon Andrey, who was a member at Holy Trinity for several years in the early 2000’s when he was a doctoral student at the nearby University of Connecticut.

Archpriest John Hopko, Saints Cyril & Methodius Church, Terryville, CT, guided all those who were serving by handing His Eminence, Archbishop NIKON, and clergy, the necessary liturgical items in order to complete the Rite of Consecration. Fr John had previously formatted the complete the Rite of Consecration document which was available in printed form with accompanying rubrics, so that those in attendance could follow each liturgical action. It proved to heighten the understanding of those who either were not serving, or did not sing in the choir. The honor of reading the Epistle for the day was given to Mr Jon Matcheson. Mr Fetzko, also the Holy Trinity webmaster and photographer, took several hundred photos.

The four stones used to secure the top of the altar table to its base were secured from Rome, Italy (Dr Robert Vranes), Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in the City of New York (His Grace, Bishop Iriney Dobrijevic), from the Gravesite of beloved Holy Trinity Parishioners, +Pafnuty and +Konstantyna Juszczak, and the final stone came from Pine Island on Long Island Sound in Groton, CT, and offered by Mr Thomas Shakun, who has spent his entire life, over eight decades, active in the Orthodox Church. Holy Trinity Reader Tikhon (Erik Wallace, Ph.D.) also gifted a shard from modern-day Hippus in Northern Israel which was the site of the Feeding of the Four Thousand by our Lord. Using wax-mastic, Fr John affixed the shard to the stone from Rome.

His Eminence brought relics of Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky of Vereya to set inside the newly consecrated holy altar table. A new Antimension, to replace the previous one, contains the relics of Hieromartyr Sergius Floresnky of Rakvere in Estonia.

To learn more about the lives of these two saints, please click here: Altar Consecration Commemorative Booklet

At the conclusion of the Rite of the Altar Consecration, the Divine Liturgy followed which was served for the first time ever on a consecrated Altar Table at Holy Trinity in its 101-year history.

“It is overwhelming and indeed humbling to know, this was the first time the Holy Eucharist was served from a consecrated Holy Altar Table at Holy Trinity,” Fr Marc said. “The historical significance of this day should always be remembered by those from our own community. It is the reception of our Lord’s Body and Blood which not only sustains us, but actually gives us the opportunity for a new Life in Christ each time we eat and drink from the chalice of our Lord. We are all called to enter into a deep, intimate, and personal relationship with our Creator, and each time we receive the Holy Eucharist, this is once more made possible. May the Body and Blood our Christ, served from this Holy Altar Table, be a constant reminder to the new life in Christ, and a foretaste of His Kingdom.”

At the conclusion of Liturgy and the veneration of the Cross, each person in attendance was presented an envelope with the sacred remnants of the Archbishop’s apron (“Stratchitsa”), along with piece of wood from the previous altar, which was prepared by Mr Matcheson for this occasion.

A festive meal was held in the church hall, and was organized by Mrs Sonja Chowanec, Dr Barbara Lacey, and Mrs Kathleen Andrzejewski. A special thanks to all those who provided food. Denise Geeza decorated the church with several beautiful floral arrangements, while Jason Geeza conducted a near-flawless choir.

The accompanying photo gallery displays selected highlights from the Altar Consecration.  The entire set of 200+ high resolution photos area available on Dropbox.  ALL photos may be downloaded used for personal, promotional and non-commercial purposes.  A copyright release form is also contained in the folder, and may be downloaded, which grants usage privileges and captioning requirements.

Link to Dropbox folder:

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