On June 17-18, 2023, the Sunday of All Saints who have shone forth in the land of Russia, His Grace, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Luke of Syracuse, came from Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY to Saints Theodore Church in Buffalo, NY, where he led the celebrations in honor of one of the parish’s patron saints, Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates and the translation of his relics.
Bishop Luke was greeted by parish starosta, Valentine Fudala with the traditional bread and salt. Bishop Luke led the divine services, co-served by parish clergy: rector Priest Andrew Hammond and Deacons George Hammond and Daniel Watkins. In addition, with Fr. Gregory’s blessing, POMOG lent the services of Deacon Nathan Reff. The service of the clergy was accompanied by the beautiful singing of the parish choir, led by Justin Kawa and Reader Paul Trinca at Vigil and Matushka Ioanna Hammond for Divine Liturgy.
Upon conclusion of Divine Liturgy, Bishop Luke delivered an uplifting homily, highlighting the importance of prayer shared in common amongst the faithful in the church. Fr. Andrew said a few words thanking Bishop Luke for his attendance at the celebration of one of the parish’s feast days. This was followed by a long overdue parish picture as the parish has changed and grown substantially in the years since his last visit.
After Liturgy, the parish sisterhood, under the leadership of Sisterhood President Natalia Davies, provided a bountiful festival meal. Prior to his departure, Bishop Luke was able to be amongst the people, engaging and building intimate relationships with the faithful.
May God continue to strengthen us by His divine grace to carry on the mission of this holy household blessed by Archbishop Averky as an English-speaking missionary church of the Russian Church Abroad to bring to these lands the light of truth and piety to one day baptize this nation into Holy Orthodoxy. Through the prayers of the Holy Great Martyrs Theodore Stratelates and Theodore Tyro, may God strengthen us to carry out this vision into the future!
Text by Priest Andrew Hammond