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St. George in New Kensington PA Hosts 100th Anniversary Weekend

By Helen Murray

“Our Roots Run Deep” was the theme for St. George Orthodox Church’s 100th Anniversary Celebration which was celebrated with much joy and enthusiasm on the weekend of November 3, 2012.

The 100th anniversary celebration actually had kicked off a year prior, on November 5, 2011, with our Fourth Annual Sacred Arts Festival (see article on p. 28 in May 2012 issue of The Word magazine). It was a successful event and a great opportunity to share our Orthodox faith and Syrian heritage with the local community. The event included speakers, iconographers, vendors, our own bookstore, and a Byzantine choir concert.

Next, we remembered our heritage at our annual St. George Day Brunch held on May 12, 2012. At this annual feast day celebration, we recognize church school students, altar servers and high school seniors. Additionally, we recognized a couple of parishioners who were nominated for having admirably served the church.

In July, our annual St. George Golf outing was dedicated to our 100th anniversary, and was so well attended that we sold out all the carts at Hillcrest Country Club. We enjoyed a beautiful day of golf, followed by an awards banquet filled with laughter and delicious food.

A Syrian mini picnic followed in August, with favorite foods served using Syrian recipes that have been preserved from our 100 year ancestry. Favorite foods such as: Kibbee, Meat Pies, Grape Leaves, Kufta Sandwiches, Green Beans & Rice, Spinach Pies and Hummus, were some of the delicious selections offered.

Then in September, our Fellowship of St. John Divine held its annual “Liturgy in the Park” at Northmoreland Park in honor of our 100th anniversary. After Matins and Liturgy in the boathouse, we took down the “pews” and set up for our potluck luncheon. Then we went outside and participated in some fun and friendly competitions, including pass the string, tug of war, and kickball – it was great day of worship and fellowship.

Before we knew it, our 100th anniversary weekend had arrived. On Friday, November 2, we had a Parish Council dinner with Bishop Thomas and Bishop John, and were delighted that Fr. Gregory Ofiesh joined us from California, as well. Father Gregory’s father, Fr. Nicholas Ofiesh, served as the priest at St. George from 1920 through 1967. Bishop John Abdalah had also been our priest for sixteen years, beginning in 1979. We were happy to toast to St. George’s rich history, and to listen to the words of wisdom of our bishops.

The weekend festivities continued Saturday morning with a church school luncheon with the bishops. The preschool children performed a skit of “The Good Samaritan” for the bishops, in keeping with the Creative Arts theme. The bishops then graciously answered a long list of questions that the children had submitted. We were blessed to be able to spend this quality time together.

Next we joined together in worship with visiting clergy and friends for a Vespers Service. Bishop Thomas, Bishop John, Fr. Gregory and Fr Meletios were joined by our previous priest Fr. Joel Gillam, prior parishioners Fr. John Salem and Sdn. Greg Abdalah, and Fr. Anthony Yazge from the Antiochian Village. During this service, our beloved choir director, Brian Cavalier, was ordained as a subdeacon.

Then it was onto the 100th Anniversary Banquet, an event which surpassed all our expectations with over 270 people coming from all over the country to celebrate with us at Oakmont Country Club. The evening began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as we overlooked the beautiful golf course. We were then served a delicious dinner while we enjoyed entertaining and inspiring remarks from our parish council president, 100th anniversary committee chairperson, and our bishops. We were all delighted when meritorious life service awards were presented to David Namey and Larry Zeiler for many years of hard work and dedication to our church. Then the entertainment began and the room was filled with music, dancing and laughter. A Centennial Commemorative Book and DVD video were distributed to everyone that attended to preserve the memories of our past 100 years.

All of our guests and parishioners were then invited to join us for Matins and Liturgy on Sunday, a luncheon in our church hall, and the elevation of our Fr. Meletios to the rank of Archpriest. Axios! He is worthy!

Thank you to our 100th anniversary chairpersons, Dr. Henry Bitar and Vicki Herman; to all of our committees; to our community supporters; and to everyone who helped us celebrate. We look forward to our next 100 years.

Additional photos of our 100th anniversary can be found on our website or on the St. George Orthodox Church (New Kensington, PA) Facebook page.

Parish Council dinnerParish Council dinner
Church School luncheonChurch School luncheon
Vespers and Brian Cavalier ordinationVespers and Brian Cavalier ordination
Country Club BanquetCountry Club Banquet
The elevation of Fr. Meletios to ArchpriestThe elevation of Fr. Meletios to Archpriest
Sunday luncheonSunday luncheon