UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Parish, Family and Friends Celebrate a Milestone in a Life of Service
“Will this rain ever stop?” That was the question for the entire week preceding the 30th Anniversary of Father Robert Holet’s ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Weather maps showed circling bands of clouds and rain through the entire week, which threatened to hamper travel and celebration activities. The angels were with us though – Friday afternoon saw a break in the weather pattern and Saturday dawned picture-perfect.
Our beloved Archpastor Archbishop Antony made the journey to the Virginia hills, accompanied by Subdeacons Vasyl and Andrij. It had been too long since we welcomed our Hierarch, and we were all touched that he made the long journey to join his Charlottesville family for the day.
When asked during the planning of this event about anything he particularly wanted, Father Robert had two requests – that our celebration include not just his accomplishments, but that it also be a celebration of the Priestly vocations. He also requested that the celebration be “low key, not a ‘big deal’.” The event committee ensured that both needs were met! The day’s celebration was warm, joyous and filled with reminders of Father Robert’s 30-year journey as well as the importance of each of the day’s attendees on that journey.
Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Antony, assisted by Father Robert and two long-time friends, Father Nicholas Ferencz, Prefect of Christ the Savior Orthodox Seminary in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and Father Jon Emanuelson, Pastor of St. Elpis Greek Orthodox Church in Hopewell, Virginia. Responses were sung by the congregation, which included parishioners, Father Robert’s mother Pauline and mother-in-law Rose Marie, and many other family members. One of the best memories will be the sound of everyone in the church singing the responses - as one family in Christ.
There were many special moments during the Liturgy. One of the most uplifting for those in attendance was Archbishop Antony’s award of the Jeweled Cross to Father Robert, in recognition of his faithful service and accomplishments.
Both Archbishop Antony and Father Robert offered reflections at the conclusion of the Liturgy. Not many dry eyes remained at the end of heartfelt expressions of joy, gratitude, and thanksgiving. The group then departed for a wonderful luncheon at Fairfax Hall, an old restored mansion in Waynesboro, about 20 minutes from the church. One of the best pictures which captures this event in the minds and hearts of those who attended is one dubbed, “Men in Black,” featuring the Archbishop, Reverend Fathers and Subdeacons in rocking chairs on the big front porch at the Hall. The luncheon provided a chance for all to visit and “catch up,” over some delicious food and drink. A poster-sized “card,” with notes from those who could not attend was available for all to write a word or two for Father Robert. A digital picture frame ran throughout the luncheon, with images from Father Robert’s ordination (as far back as Subdeaconate!) and early years in the priesthood. A huge board was covered with pictures of the most recent years of service (most of his time in Virginia). For those of us who love pictures, and those who were interested in “Father Robert – The Early Years,” these two picture stations provided a great opportunity to share remembrances.
The luncheon, and the day, ended with short remarks from Archbishop Antony, Father Nik, Father Jon, Father Robert’s nephew Joseph, and Father Robert himself. Archbishop Antony led a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” to Pani Christine’s mother Rose Marie, who shares her birth date with Father Robert’s ordination anniversary date. A celebratory gift presented on behalf of the parishioners of St. Nicholas parish was presented to Father Robert by Elaine Brogan, Chair of the Leadership Board. Pani Christine offered a toast in thanksgiving for those who joined us to celebrate the day, those who shared their memories with us, and especially for “Many Years!” of peace and happiness for her husband. With the blessing of Archbishop Antony, those gathered went forth, wondering whether the days ahead would bring sunshine or clouds, but trusting in God’s providence for us all in our journey to the Kingdom.