The Nehrebecki's 50th Anniversary
7, 2002 Father John and Matushka Eugenia celebrated the
The Extended Nehrebecki Family gathered from all across the United States for the occasion.
Remarks by The Senior Warden
An Orthodox Christian priest must on all occasions exhibit Faith, hope, fortitude, patience, and most importantly, love, Traits which need to be emulated by all those the priest, by God’s providence, daily encounters. Not only does a priest Need to always struggle to attain our lord’s kingdom by prayer, Fasting, and good works, actions that our one, holy, catholic, And apostolic church demands from all of us, but moreover, He carries the tremendous missionary burden to have us all become Active members of both the church militant while still on earth, And the church triumphant, that is citizens of Christ’s heavenly Kingdom, when we eventually fall asleep in the Lord. Through the grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Father John has during these past 50 years struggled to accomplish all this for our salvation. Therefore, with all our love and prayers, both you and Matushka are presented, on behalf of the church council and all the church parishioners, with this gift to pay for your trip overseas to Russia.
Remarks by The Altar Society President
Dear Father John and Matushka Eugenia:
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
“With spiritual thirst longing, Wearily I wandered in a desolate desert waste, And a six-winged seraph Appeared to me at the crossing of the ways…” — from The Prophet, by Alexander Pushkin\
In many sermons given by Fr. Alexander Schmemann over Radio Liberty to listeners in the Soviet Union, he spoke to listeners who were both non-religious and religious “seekers.” Those who have a spiritual thirst, and those seeking “to grow in their faith, life and understanding of God’s revelation in Christ and the Church.” Both of you have been given the gift of spiritual thirst and the unquenchable desire to respond to that thirst. On September 1, 2002 you will begin your 51st liturgical year. From this liturgical cycle we learn there is a daily rhythm. The harmonious cycle of feasts renews our spiritual life. Each feast is an “encounter between heaven and earth,” between God and his “seekers”. The enclosed gift is meant to help quench the spiritual thirst that still exists in Russia today. Please use it at your discretion while you are in Russia to continue Fr. Alexander’s unquenchable desire to help the “seekers.”
We remain your Sisters in Christ.
And, finally, The Children
Originally, we had not planned a program for today. However, after some thought we decided that an occasion as auspicious as today could not pass without a few words. After we told Papa that we were going to have a program, he said to please make sure it was short. He did not want anyone to talk for too long. I guess that was because he was not going to do the talking. On behalf of my sisters Mariam, Tanya, Olga, Anastasia, and Theodora, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome each of you to this celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of our parents Father John and Matushka Eugenia Nehrebecki and the 50th anniversary of our father’s ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Each of you was invited because of the special part that you have played in our lives and most especially in the lives of our parents. We are all very blessed that you have chosen to be with us today and to help us celebrate. In the Book of Leviticus it says, “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year.. . it shall be a jubilee for you.” Papa, Mommy we hope this fiftieth year celebration is a jubilee for you.
Papa was born in Donora, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1928. He was the 11th child of Michael and Veronica Korsh Nehrebecki. As the story goes, Papa was to be named Theodore, after his maternal grandfather, but after delivering a 13 pound, 10 ounce baby, his mother couldn’t think of her father’s name so the doctor said, “You don’t have a John.. .we’ll name him John.” It took all us girls a while but we now truly appreciate that particular family legend. Papa was a devoted member of Saint Nicholas Church in Donora. After graduating from high school, he attended Saint Tikhon Seminary, graduated from Davis and Elkins College, received his Master’s degree from CCNY and did his doctoral work at Columbia University.
Mommie was born on April 30, 1930 in Portage, Pennsylvania. She was the 5th child of Archpriest Elias and Euphrosinia Trembach Yankovsky. She graduated from West Brownsville High School and the Washington (Pennsylvania) Hospital School of Nursing.
Our parents met 57 years ago. According to our family tradition, Papa was asked to start an “R” club chapter in West Brownsville where Mommie’ s father was the priest. Mommie was 15 and Papa was 17. Papa made his pitch on the importance of maintaining your heritage. Mr. John Hutchko said that the “R” Club was a good way for a Russian boy to meet a Russian girl. Mommie was playing the piano and Papa sat beside her on the piano bench. A young man of color who was also invited to the meeting approached Papa and asked what would happen if Russian boy didn’t like Russian girl. Mommy answered instead and said, “Russian boy is supposed to like Russian girl.”
Of course, it was not a done deal at that point. Mommy had two concerns. First, as any priest’s daughter knows, you never want to marry anybody who was going to be a priest. As girls, Mariam, Tanya, Naschi, Theo and I made a pact. If any of us would be foolish enough to marry someone who was going to be a priest the other four girls would stop her. Apparently some of our sisters did not hold up their end of the bargain. But anyway, Papa told Mommy that he was going to be a teacher. She thought he meant a schoolteacher. Mommy’s other concern was Papa’s nose... she was afraid that all her children were going to have that nose. Mommy, Anastasia and I would like to say thank you.
Papa and Mommy were married on May 22, 1952 by our grandfather, Father Elias Yankovsky, Father John Skvir who was Papa’s parish priest at the time, Father John Mason and Father Michael Karas. With us today are Tina Homka Fedec and Father Daniel and Matushka Theodora Ressetar. Tina was the maid of honor and Father Dan was one of the ushers.
Papa was ordained on July 4, 1952 by Bishop Dimitri Magan in Lynn, Massachusetts. He was assigned to Saint Mary’s (Nativity of the Theotokos) in Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania. After serving there for one year Papa was assigned to Three Saints in Garfield, New Jersey and in 1960 left Garfield to begin Christ the Saviour in Paramus.
When my sister Tanya called and said, “Olga say something,” I thought to myself, it has pretty much all been said. Over the last several years I have had the opportunity to speak at my parents birthday celebrations, anniversaries and various church celebrations. I usually do not prepare anything and just speak from the heart. However, for Mommy’s 70th birthday I came prepared to speak. I spent quite a bit of time deciding what to say and put quite a bit of thought into it. Naschi was going to speak after me. Before we were leaving Louisville, Naschi said, “Olga what is the Proverbs reading we do during Lent about the wife?” So Naschi comes here and reads Proverbs and everyone was so impressed and I thought to myself that was not her original material. So before coming here today I decided that others have better said it before me. I reread the wedding service and the ordination service and there were a few things that really impressed me no matter how often I have heard them. Thinking not as a marriage service or an ordination service but rather from the perspective of celebrating 50 years, when I think of my parents these things ring especially true to me.
When a couple is married we pray, “O Most Holy Master, bless this marriage and give unto thy servants a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace upon their children, and an unfading crown of glory. Count them worthy to see their children’s children; preserve their bed undefiled; and give them of the dew of heaven from above, and of the fatness of the earth. Fill their house with wheat, wine, and oil, and with every good thing, that they may give in turn to them that are in need.” We further pray that, “having sufficiency in all things, thy servants may abound in every work that is good and acceptable unto Thee.. .that finding favor in Thy sight, they may shine as the stars of heaven unto, Thee, our God.” And finally from the epistle, “Husband, love your wife. . . and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
I think that is an apt summary of my parents’ relationship. In the Office used at the Ordination of a Priest, after the bishop lays on his hands he prays, “O God, grant this man a blameless course of life and an unswerving faith. . that he may be worthy to stand blamelessly before Thine Altar, to proclaim the Gospel of Thy Kingdom, to minister sacredly the word of Thy truth, to offer unto Thee spiritual gifts and sacrifices, and to renew Thy people through the Font of Regeneration, that when he shall go to meet Thee at the Second Coming.. .he may receive the reward of a good stewardship of his rank.” And when the priest is elevated to the rank of archpriest we pray, “...make him a good example.. .and be Thou well-pleased that he may finish his life in piety and reverence unto a good old age.”
Papa and Mommy, on behalf of my husband, Father Alexander and my children Katherine and Alexander, I would like to say may God continue to bless you and keep you.
Thank you for everything.
Vladimir, Olga, Tanya, Theodora, Anastasia, Mariam and Father David Vernak,