Bishop Michael made an archpastoral visit to Saint John the Baptist Church in Rochester NY on 6-7 August. During the hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, His Grace tonsured the parish council warden Sean McNulty to be set-apart as a Reader, and then ordained his former personal assistant and driver, Leonid (Derek) Schmidt, to the holy Diaconate. Later that day, Bishop Michael traveled 25 miles south to the beautiful Finger Lakes Region to bless the vines, wine-presses, and new wine at Deer Run Winery in Geneseo NY.
Deacon Leonid Schmidt was ordained in a joyous celebration resplendent with spirited shouts of “Axios!” from clergy and faithful. All had come to know him in various ways during his tenure visiting parishes and assisting Bishop Michael. His former pastor, Father John Udics (rector, Saints Peter and Paul Church, Herkimer NY) joined Bishop Michael at the altar along with Father Ken James Stavrevsky (parish rector), Protodeacon Stephen Sweet, two Subdeacons, and several acolytes. Deacon Leonid’s bride of 15 days, Laura, joined with the parish choir lead by Bonnie Maye Schwarz in singing the responses during the liturgical celebration. Matushka Nadine Eskoff Brown (Crown Point IN), whose husband Father Thomas Brown of blessed memory had been ordained a deacon in this -- his home parish -- on the same day 23 years ago, was present and also sang with the choir. Deacon Leonid is scheduled to be ordained to the holy Priesthood on Saturday, 13 August, at Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church in Philadelphia PA. He will subsequently be assigned as assistant priest at Saints Peter and Paul Church, Syracuse NY.
Sean McNulty is a student in the diocesan Diaconal Formation Program and Senior Warden of the parish. Having faithfully and diligently completed the first of two years in the diaconal program, he was tonsured a Reader and is now prepared to enter the final year (two semesters) of traveling 3 hours each way to participate in the day-long classes conducted every Saturday of the academic year in Endicott NY. Reader Sean and his wife, Heather (along with their children, Liam and Brigid), were recognized for their joint efforts and commitment in the Diaconal Formation Program and received an icon of Our Lord’s Transfiguration as an expression of love from the parish.
The festivities of the day culminated in the blessing of Deer Run Winery. His Grace blessed the vines, wine-presses, and new wine of the winery which is owned and managed by George and Joan Kuyon. A long-time member of the parish, George built the altar at Saint John’s for the Church’s consecration in 1970. Now a retired engineer from Kodak, he and Joan -- joined by their son, Scott -- produce a variety of wines (including the sacramental wine used in the parish). An afternoon marked by heavy rainfall transformed into a sunny and pleasant scene just as His Grace arrived for the blessings. As has become a common experience in the diocese, many faithful of all ages and backgrounds rejoiced in the fellowship and love manifested in gathering around their spiritual shepherd and archpastor, Bishop Michael.