Archpriest Daniel Kovalak (STOTS Class of 1974) welcomed His Eminence, the Most Reverend Mark, Archbishop of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, and numerous clergy and faithful who gathered for the 40th anniversary celebration of Holy Cross Church in Williamsport, PA. This mission parish began by celebrating its first Divine Liturgy on November 6, 1977. By September of 1978, the newly ordained Fr. Daniel Kovalak moved from Miami, Florida with Mat. Myra and their daughter Daria to begin serving the mission. He has been there since, as a beautiful church and hall were built in the midst of the congregation that grew in faith, love, and ministry during all these steps.
Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Seminary Dean, and Deacon Michael Shepherd, Seminarian, particpated in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Archpriest Eugene Pianovich (STOTS Class of 1950), Matushka Myra's father, Archpriest Daniel Ressetar (STOTS Class of 1948), Archpriest Joseph Martin (STOTS Class of 1963), and Archpriest Barnabas Fravel (STOTS Class of 2003, son-in-law of the Kovalak's) were among the concelebrating clergy. The Women's Auxiliary was recognized with a Gramota.
Following the Divine Liturgy, an incredible banquet was held at the Williamsport Country Club, that opened specially on this day! Comments were offered by Archpriest David Shewczyk (STOTS Class of 1975), and Fr. Steven. Fr. Steven read portions of a letter forwarded by His Eminence, the Most Reverend Michael, Seminary Rector. In his letter, His Eminence extended his heartfelt congratulations and warm best wishes to all who were gathered. Later in his letter, Archbishop Michael offered his prayers that Archpriest Daniel and faithful would re-dedicated themselves to God's will as they continue their journey. Fr. Steven brought a seminary icon, recently commissioned, of the saints that have walked the grounds of the monastery and seminary to the Liturgy and banquet, in part to reference the many ways that Fr. Daniel and Mat. Myra have contributed to the greater Orthodox Church, reflected also by the faithful in their dedicated ministry.
Archbishop Mark presented Fr. Daniel and Mat. Myra with the Order of St. Innocent, Silver Class, in celebration of this day. They were also presented an icon of St. Herman by Council President Eric Affsprung to reflect the missionary spirit, inspired by the Kovalak's that remains so integral to the life of the parish. The parish also presented the seminary with a contribution of $5,000, and the diocese with a contribution of $1,500 for seminarian support! Holy Cross has welcomed the Mission Choir on many occasions, and Fr. Daniel has taught a class on missions at the seminary for many years, as well as contributing through his many talents.
May God grant Archpriest Daniel, Matushka Myra, and the faithful of Holy Cross Church many blessed years!