Thursday, May 29

Orthodox Christians Return to St. Tikhon's...

Orthodox Christians Return to St. Tikhon's

By Jon Meyer

Memorial Day is of course filled with parades in so many places around our area but a procession in Wayne County is much different and draws hundreds of people from all over the country.

The traditions date back more than a century. It was 104 years ago when people first began their pilgrimage to St. Tikhon's Monastery.

Now the crowds in South Canaan are so much bigger. The sound of song and prayer so much louder.

"I feel as though it's a spiritual fulfillment, one you don't get from a normal church experience," said Gregory Smith of Massachusetts.

The pilgrimage is meant to mark the anniversary of St. Tikhon's, the first Orthodox monastery in the U.S. It often draws more than 1,000 people from all over the country.

"They come from Illinois, from Massachusetts, from all over. It's very touching," said Nina Kuksa of Clarks Summit.

"This is a family tradition for us. We come up here every on Memorial Day," said Ralph Rogers of Philadelphia.

The Rogers said this day has become a big Orthodox family reunion.

"This is her (a baby's) first year here. Every year, they get more into it. The boys come up for summer camp," Rogers added.

Decades ago people used to come by foot. They used to process up over the mountain to get here. Those times have changed, but many things have not.

"The idea of pilgrimage has not change, and I think that's why they come. Because we live in a very changing world and people are changing all the time but in the Orthodox church, we keep things the same," said Father John Kowalczyk of Jermyn.

So on a day so many go to Memorial Day parades and ceremonies, those at the monetary stick to their religion, praying for peace and enjoying their time together.

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