|(Click on photo to make larger). Photo by Andrij Lysiak.|
New St. John the Baptist Church is consecrated in Whippany, N.J.
The Ukrainian Weekly
WHIPPANY, N.J. – The solemn consecration of the new St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church took place here on Saturday, September 21, with hundreds of parishioners and clergy in attendance.
Officiating at the consecration was Archbishop Stefan Soroka, metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in the United States. Also participating were Bishops Paul Chomnycky and Basil Losten (emeritus) of the Stamford Eparchy, as well as the Rt. Rev. Mitred Protopresbyter Roman Mirchuk, pastor of St. John’s, and visiting clergy.
The occasion was marked by three days of services and ceremonies with the faithful attending en masse in their Ukrainian embroidered finery. Also present at various times during the celebrations were a number of elected officials, among them U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Hanover Township Mayor Ronald F. Francioli and Township Committee Members John L. Ferramosca and George Coppola.
On Friday evening, September 20, the new church’s cornerstone was blessed after a vesper service next door, in the temporary church housed in the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey. The new church’s consecration and a gala banquet at the UACCNJ took place the next day. On Sunday, a pontifical divine liturgy was celebrated in the new church and was followed by a community banquet at the cultural center.
The consecration of the new St. John the Baptist Church took place nearly seven years after the grand opening on November 10-12, 2006, of the UACCNJ, which is affiliated with St. John’s Parish; indeed, it housed the congregation’s temporary church when the parish moved from its old church on the corner of Route 10 and South Jefferson Road to the center on North Jefferson Road.
The three-day event in 2006 encompassed the blessing of the parish rectory, the dedication of the cultural center followed by a grand opening banquet, and the blessing of the temporary church and the first liturgy there.
The continuity of parish life is perhaps best symbolized by the iconostasis, the work of Christine Dochwat, that was moved from the old church to the temporary church and now into the new St. John the Baptist Church.
The new church, designed by architect Taras Dobusz of Bridgewater, N.J., stands on land between the UACCNJ and the rectory. It is a contemporary design with features of the traditional Hutsul style seen in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains. On consecration day, two of the church’s golden domes were in place; three were yet to be erected. Nonetheless, the new church, both its exterior and its spacious interior, won high praise from parishioners and guests alike.
On the day of the consecration, Saturday, September 21, the church hierarchs, clergy and faithful processed from the temporary church to the new church, circling it thrice. Metropolitan Soroka blessed the church’s exterior.
Once inside, the consecration rites continued in the sanctuary, as the altar was established, washed and consecrated, and relics of saints were placed inside its four corners. The faithful were able to see these unique proceedings as they took place behind the iconostasis on two large TV screens inside the church.
The foundation charter of the new church was then read in the Ukrainian and English languages.
Some 370 people attended the grand banquet that evening which featured a photographic history of the 92-year-old parish; performances by the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Ensemble – including an original dance choreographed for the occasion by Natalia Ejova; pianist Laryssa Krupa Slobodyanik; baritone Oleh Chmyr; and a song by children of the parish. The Rev. Mirchuk spoke to thank all who had made the day of the church’s consecration possible.
Sunday’s afternoon banquet – held after the first liturgy to be celebrated in the new St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church – featured Iskra, pianist Ms. Krupa Slobodyanik and violinist Andriy Gavrysh (who performed individually and as a duo), the Buniak Trio of singers, the parish choir directed by cantor Oksana Telepko, as well Ms. Telepko accompanied by children of the parish in a vocal performance. Also part of the program were videotaped reflections of St. John’s parishioners.
The story above is reprinted with permission from The Ukrainian Weekly (www.ukrweekly.com). It appeared in that newspaper’s September 29 issue.