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TRADITIONAL PROSFORA CELEBRATION

On Sunday, January 29, 2017, a glorious Prosfora Dinner Celebration was held in our Parish Community Center. Following the Second Liturgy in Ukrainian, over one-hundred and twenty parishioners and guests gathered in the beautifully decorated Church Hall. Spokesperson Gerry Tchir presented, in the English language, the rich traditions that place during Prosfora. There is a special religious emphasis on this Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper, or Sviata Vecheria. This event brought together the Saint Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church parish family and guests  to partake in rich traditions and customs, special foods, carols, and memories that reach back to antiquity.

To start the Prosfora celebration, pastor Rev. Volodymyr Popyk and 2 Church elders accompanied by twelve ladies dressed in embroidered Ukrainian attire entered the Church hall singing Ukrainian Christmas carols. Orest Popovich, a church elder, carried the “ZIRKA, Star of Bethlehem, and John Bortnyk, the second church elder, carried the “DIDUKH,” a sheaf of wheat. The twelve ladies in procession carried the “KOLACHI,” specially-made Christmas breads, that were later placed on each guest table, with a lighted candle, that served as the centerpieces. The Procession entered the Church hall singing “Boh Predvichnyj “ and “Dobryj Vechir Tobi, Pane Hospodaryu”, Ukrainian Christmas carols.

Father Volodymyr led the audience in prayer, and then the Blessed Prosfora bread, dipped in honey, was passed to each member of the table with best wishes for good health and prosperity in the coming year. The twelve course Prosfora Dinner started with kutya, boiled wheat mixed with poppy seeds and honey, and is considered the most important food of the entire Christmas Eve dinner, and is also called “God’s Food”.  The guests were then served the traditional dishes such as Borshch a beet soup with vushka, mushroom filled little dumplings, freshwater fish, varenky, boiled dumplings filled with potatoes, holubtsi, stuffed cabbage, mushroom gravy and bean salad. The Prosfora dinner ended with “uzvar” compote, a sweet combination of dried fruits mixed with honey, spices, and boiled water,  pampushky, little deep-fried pastries containing poppy seed and dried fruit, makyvniky, poppy seed rolls and a variety of Ukrainian cookies and other sweets, followed by coffee, tea, etc.

Everyone enjoyed a wonderful, bountiful meal! No one from this Prosfora Dinner went home hungry.

A very special treat at this year’s Saint Stephen Prosfora Celebration was the appearance of the wonderful Vertep Carolers. They put on a marvelous traditional Ukrainian Christmas show including costumes, caroling, and lots of audience entertainment.

The Prosfora celebration ended with the entire assembly joining together to sing traditional Ukrainian and English Christmas carols. What a joyful parish event!

Let us remember that whether Christmas is celebrated on December 25th or on January 7th, the message is the same: “Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men!”

We are blessed with this opportunity of sharing our beautiful Ukrainian Christmas traditions to express family and parish closeness and unity within our personal lives and that within our church communities!

We reach out to all our brothers and sisters throughout the world, especially those in Ukraine, to wish everyone Peace, love, good health and contentment!

Photos of the event can be viewed here.

Saint Nicholas Christmas Celebration

On Sunday, December 18, 2016, over 200 parishioners, guests, and children gathered in our newly renovated Community Center to celebrate the joyful arrival of Saint Nicholas.  A large group of elementary school aged children, beautifully dressed as “Angels”, Stars”, etc.  and in traditional Ukrainian embroidered attire, presented a festive and enjoyable musical program in the Ukrainian language, under the direction of the Ukrainian School teacher, Mariya Ivanus. After the children sang “O khto khto Mykolaya lyubyt…” St. Nicholas arrived to the delight of everyone!  He greeted the children and the guests, then with the help of his angels, he presented special cookie treats and gifts to all the children who were present in the audience!
The Community Center was beautifully decorated to create a festive Ukrainian Christmas environment and both Ukrainian and English Christmas carol background music provided the perfect atmosphere for this marvelous event.
Following the delightful children’s Saint Nicholas presentation, the audience was treated to a sumptuous, wide-variety of delicious Ukrainian home-made food, including appetizers, salads, meats, fish, and an elaborate assortment of desserts.
A special table was devoted just for the children with special child-friendly foods like pizza, chicken fingers, mac and cheese, cupcakes, etc….The children were delighted with their treats and socialized with one another!
The Saint Nicholas Celebration was an outstanding holiday success, and everyone is invited to attend our January 29th, 2017, “Prosfora” event at 12:30 pm to be held in the Saint Stephen Parish Community Center.
See photos here.

On behalf of the entire Saint Stephen Ukrainian Catholic parish community, we wish all a Blessed and Joyful Christmas, and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

St. Stephen UCC  “Prayer Shawl” Project

The Prayer Shawl Ministry of our parish was started in September, 2016. It is a year round project, with a group of volunteers who crochet or knit shawls and lap throws for the elderly in nursing homes or home bound situations.   While most of the work is done at home, the group meets every Wednesday from 1-3 PM in the conference room at the church. Here they share ideas and needlework techniques, while enjoying refreshments and socializing.   Every meeting starts and ends with a prayer.  Volunteers are also encouraged to pray over their shawls/lap throws while they work at home. Even though it is not known who will receive these gifts – God knows already!
Before Christmas, the ladies were excited to pack 20 white gift bags, each with a hand made shawl and a special prayer note inserted!  Pastor Rev. Father Popyk blessed these gifts and had them delivered to several nursing homes and home bound people in the community.
See photos here.

Parish Thanksgiving Holiday Feast

On Sunday, November 20, 2016, following the 10:30 AM Ukrainian Liturgy, almost 100 parishioners and guests were treated to a warm and elaborate Thanksgiving Parish Feast in the Church Community Center. Men and women of the Saint Stephen parish set-up and decorated the newly-renovated parish community center in a wonderful Ukrainian Fall theme, complete with beautiful, hand-made centerpieces adorning a white, table-cloth environment, with festive music complementing the event.

Saint Stephen parishioners and guests were treated to a wide variety and assortment of delicious home-made appetizers and desserts. A bountiful, unlimited, traditional Thanksgiving dinner, served family-style, was served to the festive dining delight of the audience.

The Thanksgiving Feast began with a prayer and an audience greeting by Pastor Rev. Popyk, followed by the serving of the parish meal. Parish fundraising activities included a 50/50 raffle and a raffle for an impressive variety of a “basket of cheer.” A special Thanksgiving poem written by Saint Stephen parish poetess, Lydia Bargiuk, was eloquently narrated and presented by her niece, Diana, as special Thanksgiving entertainment to the gathering.

The Saint Stephen Parish Thanksgiving Holiday Feast was an outstanding success, and all are invited to attend our January 29th, 2017, “Prosfora” in the Saint Stephen Community Center. See photos here.

On behalf of our entire Saint Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Parish community, we wish everyone a Blessed and Joyful Christmas, and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year…God Bless!

Thanksgiving Day

 A national day of giving thanks…
A cornucopia of savory delights…
Family and friends gathered around
A table laden with tasty morsels…

Are our thanks limited to just one day
When appetizing sights and smells hold sway?
What about the rest of the year?

Do we bury our heads in the sand?
Do we neglect to give a stranger a helping hand?
Are our thanks just empty words, not encased in deeds?

Let us resolve on this great day
To thank God in a true Christian way…
By supporting our church—our community…

Let us be a loving—caring you—starting today
By doing things God’s way.

by  Lydia Bargiuk
Thanksgiving Day 2016

New Pyrohy Campaign Launched

 An enthusiastic group of over 25 parishioner volunteers met on Friday, 10/20/16, and Saturday, 10/21/16, to revive the pyrohy-making parish tradition which originally started with the opening of the Church in 1993. This newly formed dedicated group of men and women, led by Rev. Volodymyr Popyk and his wife, Natalia, participated in this productive and socially-enjoyable endeavor. They worked together to peel potatoes, grate cheese, knead dough and pinch pockets to make over four hundred dozens of pyrohy. The pyrohy-making event was a fun, social opportunity, with singing, chatting, and warm sharing tips on how best to make pyrohy, and fond memories of Ukrainian life together. The event turned out to be a great fund-raising event with many parishioners and neighborhood customers pre-ordering their home-made pyrohy! These sales greatly benefit Saint Stephen Church. Rev. Popyk was very pleased and encouraged with the number and enthusiasm of the parish volunteers, and is scheduling continuation of this pyrohy-making project on a regular monthly basis. Plans are to make hundreds of dozens more!! Anyone interested in buying these home-made Ukrainian pyrohy should contact Pyrohy Hotline at (732) 505-6293 or at (732) 505-6053 and leaving a message. Alternatively an email may be sent to pyrohy@ststephenchurch.us.
See photos in the photos page

Parish Celebrates Pastor Rev. Popyk’s Birthday

 On Sunday, October 16, 2016, an exuberant group of over 120 people attended a birthday celebration for new pastor Rev. Volodymyr Popyk. Hosted by his wife, Natalia, the Church hall was beautifully decorated in a fall theme, and a plethora of delicious, homemade delicacies including borshch, holubtsi, varenyky, chicken, kovbasa, sausage and peppers, canapes, etc., and with special Ukrainian desserts featuring pampushky, pastries, and other baked goodies. A specially Ukrainian decorated sheet cake with embroidered designs and red poppies served as Rev. Popyk’s birthday cake for all to share. Besides the parishioners and other guests coming together to celebrate with Father Popyk, also participating were his mother and mother-in-law, and son, Marion.

Speaking on behalf of the entire congregation, spokesperson Gerry Tchir congratulated Rev. Popyk on his birthday, and recent arrival to the Saint Stephen parish. Gerry thanked Mrs. Natalya Popyk for the elaborate and abundant birthday reception, and then asked the congregation to stand and sing Happy Birthday and Mnohaya Lita to Rev. Popyk. It was a wonderful and cheerful parish event enjoyed by all.
birthday-cakegerry-tchir-congratulating-father

Fall cleanup of grounds

On October 8. 2016, a dedicated and enthusiastic group of  male and female members of the Saint Stephen parish contributed their time and labor to perform landscaping, pruning, and clean-up efforts on the spacious Saint Stephen Church and Community Center grounds area.  Led by Father Volodymyr Popyk, this group worked to restore the landscaped beauty and organized appearance of the entire parish property. Not only did this activity beautify the church property, but it also socially bonded the participating workers. They took pride in their work and it was appreciated by the pastor and all parishioners!

 

Installation of New Altar Rosary Society Officers

On October 2, 2016, Reverend Volodymyr Popyk, our Pastor led the large church congregation in a prayer-filled service, and performed the Holy Rosary Society Induction ceremony following the 10:30 AM Ukrainian liturgy.  The new slate of elected officers included Maria Onyszkewycz, President, Dorothy Rygiel, Treasurer, and Olga Tchir, Secretary.  Mrs. Lesia Obaranec was inducted into the Altar Rosary Society at this celebration. The Rosary Society Pledge was recited in English and Ukrainian. The Rosarians lead the church congregation in the recitation of the rosary every Sunday before the 10:30 Liturgy. Everyone was invited to a celebration coffee hour in the church hall. Father Popyk also extended a warm farewell to Rosarian and very active parishioner, Jessie Kaciuba. He thanked her for all her hard work and wished her well on her out of state relocation . “Mnohaya Lita” was sung by all!

 

Please see photos in the “Photos” page.