St. Tikhon’s Seminary Mission Choir visited Three Saints Church in Ansonia, CT, over the weekend of January 18-19 2014. This visit was quite full and included some challenges. Fr. Patrick Burns (STOTS 2009), has been pastor of the parish since the fall of 2010.
The weekend’s plans included the baptism of Fr. Patrick and Matushka Mara’s son Simeon Joseph on Saturday morning, followed by Vespers and Divine Liturgy including an archpastoral visitation by Archbishop Nikon. The Mission Choir’s trip was challenged on several fronts. Snow was falling intensively in Pennsylvania Saturday morning. Additionally, Benedict Sheehan, the Choir’s Director was sick at home, and one of the choir members was with his wife as they awaited the imminent birth of their child. Being a committed group of seminarians, however, they decided to take one of the student’s vehicles that had both front wheel drive and snow tires in order to successfully make the trip to CT.
Fr. Steven celebrated the baptism of Simeon Joseph along with Fr. Patrick, being godparent to his older Sister Dorothy. Fr. Nicholas Dellerman (STOTS 2008) and Matushka Anna were godparents, traveling to Ansonia from St. Nicholas Church in Norwich, CT. The Mission Choir arrived during the course of the baptism and joined those singing the responses.
The photo taken with the celebrants after the baptism includes on the far right Archpriest Nicholas Timpko (class of 1962). Fr. Nicholas was pastor of Three Saints Church for 27 years, and recently celebrated 50 years of marriage and ordination! It was during his tenure that Fr. Steven and his then fiancee’ Cindy initially came to Three Saints. Cindy directed the choir, and Fr. Steven served as parish secretary while completing his seminary studies.
The Mission Choir of four rehearsed early in the afternoon, with Fr. Steven stepping in to direct in Benedict’s absence. Archbishop Nikon arrived, and in consultation with Fr. Patrick, decided that they would celebrate full hierarchical Liturgy in the morning. The Mission Choir sang Vespers, and following pizza with Archbishop Nikon, Fr. Patrick, and faithful in the parish hall, seminarians stayed overnight with parishioners.
To reveal the dedication of our St. Tikhon’s faculty, Fr. Steven communicated with Benedict in the evening the plan for full hierarchical Liturgy in the morning, and Benedict immediately e-mailed several key hymns that the Mission Choir knows well, that are not in the regular music books. Following morning rehearsal the Mission Choir sang the hierarchical Liturgy. Protodeacon Paul Nimchek came from Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Terryville to serve. Given the complexity of this Liturgy and the choir singing with a new director, the Liturgy responses were sung well. An ethnic luncheon was served after the Liturgy.
As dean of St. Tikhon’s Fr. Steven shared being very proud of the dedication of the Mission Choir members to follow-through on the scheduled visit despite facing challenges, and that of Benedict Sheehan, Choir Director, for his support of the success of this visit even from his sickbed!