Much to the delight of the parishioners of St. George, His Grace Bishop Thomas made his annual hierarchical visit to Bridgeville, Pennsylvania over the weekend of September 10 and 11, 2011. During his stay, His Grace provided many wonderful opportunities for the membership of our community to meet and interact with our beloved hierarch.
On Saturday morning, September 10, our Church School children and teachers gathered with His Grace for breakfast and a lively discussion of the Orthodox Christian faith. His Grace, in his fatherly fashion, accepted questions from our children as well as questioning them regarding their progress in their understanding of the Orthodox Christian faith. His Grace’s presence and words, as always, were supportive and lovingly challenging.
Following breakfast, our pastor Fr. Jason DelVitto escorted His Grace to the Pittsburgh FOCUS Center located in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. Upon arrival at the Center Sub-deacon Paul Abernathy, Director of FOCUS Pittsburgh and a member of the Parish Council of St. George, Bridgeville, welcomed His Grace and thanked him for visiting the Center. Following Paul’s welcome, His Grace led those gathered at the Center in prayer and proceeded to bless the Center, the people who are involved in accomplishing the extraordinary ministry to the poor done through the Center, as well as the vehicles which are used delivering food, furniture, etc., to those in need.
Following the blessing, Fr. Jason presented a check issued from the Olga T. Gazalie Trust in the amount of $50,000.00 to help support the various ministries of FOCUS in the greater Pittsburgh area. This donation was made in blessed memory of Fr. Jason’s uncle and aunt, Albert E. and Olga T. Gazalie of Brownsville, PA. In addition, Fr. Jason placed an icon of the Protection of the Mother of God under the stewardship of FOCUS Pittsburgh as a sign of the Theotokos’ protection of all who entreat her in prayer as she intercedes before her son and Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
That evening, following the Great Vespers Service at St. George Church, Bishop Thomas and the members of the Parish Council, as well as representatives of other ministries of St. George, gathered for dinner and fellowship and discussed various issues regarding the present and future ministries of our community.
On Sunday morning, September 11, His Grace presided at the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy followed by the Trisagion service which was held in blessed memory of the many victims of the attack on our nation on September 11, 2000. May their memory be eternal! We pray that God will continue to strengthen and support all of those who have suffered and continue to suffer this great loss.
We are very thankful to God for His Grace Bishop Thomas and all of our Hierarchs who have been called by Christ to shepherd His flock with the greatest love and care. May God Grant them Many Blessed Years!