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Baltimore, USA Transfiguration of Our Lord
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August 18/19, 2017

Church feast, with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion serving

This year, after two years of intense repairs, the restoration of our church building concluded with a complete transfiguration of the church.  Through the efforts of the rector, Father Ion Barbus, and a parish group of master builders, the entire first floor of the building was reconstructed, increasing its area twofold and turning it into a beautiful and spacious church.  Our builders performed a truly extraordinary job!

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The Baltimore parish was founded in 1963 by a Russian emigre couple - Vladimir and Anastasia Norko. A special building was acquired, which was set up to house the church and the church hall on the first floor, and the rector’s apartment on the second floor. The first rector was Rev. Nikolai Makowelski, who served diligently in this position for many years. But in 1984 Father Makowelski retired due to poor health, and the parish remained without a rector.

Church feast day.
Church feast day.

For 12 years the parish was served by visiting priests from Washington; services were held once or twice a month; during the summer months the church was often closed. Slowly the life of the parish was becoming extinguished, its light barely flickered…. Then in 1996 a miracle occurred: the Reverend Metropolitan Vitaly decided to revive the parish for services to be held in the ancient Slavonic language, since all surrounding churches serve exclusively in English, while there are many newly-arrived Russian and other Slavic emigres now living in the Baltimore area, seeking an old-calendar church serving in the traditional Slavonic language. The Metropolitan Vitaly specifically ordained a new priest to serve as rector of the Baltimore church - Father Rostislav Sheniloff, who was well-known to the parishioners: during the preceeding twelve years, while still a layman, he came to Baltimore for every service to sing and read in the choir.


On the feast day of the Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos, in August of 1996, Father Rostislav began his service and the church was truly transfigured! A normal parish life was resumed: regular services were held, a parish council was appointed; an active sisterhood in honor of the Holy Myrrh-bearing women was organized, headed by the indefatigable chief sister Anna Ogora and her deputy, Paraskeva Gaines.

A monthly church bulletin in two languages began to appear; lessons in spiritual and cultural enlightenment for children were initiated, and highly artistic annual Christmas pageants were produced

Father Rostislav serves on the day of Pascha.
Father Rostislav serves on the day of Pascha.
Christmas pageant performance. Christmas pageant.
Christmas pageant performance.

At the same time Father Rostislav began to work on the reconstruction of the church and the church building, which had fallen into a decrepit state: crumbling icons and old church vessels were replaced with new ones; used church and altar boys vestments were replaced by new sets in different colors; with the help of the church warden, Victor Ogora, the church building was renovated, a church library and a childrens room were set up; and, as the crowning touch, with Gods help the old and poorly made iconostasis was replaced, Father Rostislav widened the altar and set up a new, good-quality iconostasis with wondrous icons.

(Reprinted from Orthodox Russia, no. 18, 1999.)

The icons for our new two-tiered iconostasis were painted by one of the foremost iconographers outside of Russia, the priest Theodore Jurewicz. Father Theodore Jurewicz was the student of the late Archimandrite Cyprian, founder of the Russian school of iconography outside of Russia. From his teacher Father Theodore acquired the ancient Russian style of iconography, which adorns the iconostasis of the church of Transfiguration.

The royal doors. New iconostasis.

The icons attract and gladden the hearts of all who come to the church. From the central icons, the Saviour and the Vladimir Mother of God gaze upon us tenderly and lovingly; the archangels on the side doors the fiery Michael and the celestial Gabriel - shine with an unearthly beauty; on the left side we see our great intercessors the Royal Martyrs.

On the right side of the iconostasis there is our extraordinary patron icon: there are many depictions of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, but this icon is unique, because the talented iconographer overcame the technical difficulty of the narrowness of space on the iconostasis to create an elongated and lofty image, which elevates both our physical and spiritual gaze to the mountain top where the transfigured Lord shines in everlasting glory.

The church icon of Transfiguration.
The church icon of Transfiguration.
Feast icons.
Feast icons.

The upper tier of the iconostasis is dedicated to the major feasts, in whose filigreed representation the iconographer has shown all the delicacy of his painting. The image of the Mystic Supper over the Royal Doors is also unique.


The blessing of the new iconostasis was set for a doubly festive day August 19, 2001, when our church feast day fell on a Sunday. Our diocesan head, the Reverend Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan, arrived from New York to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Bishop Gabriel was welcomed with the traditional bread-and-salt by the church warden, Victor Ogora. Through the efforts of Kosara Gavrilovic, a member of the sisterhood, the church was wondrously decorated with white flowers and looked dazzling. Our small but harmonious choir, led by reader Daniel Olson, sang beautifully.

The Bishop with attendant clergy.
The Bishop with attendant clergy.
The church warden greets the Bishop.
The church warden greets the Bishop.

Besides our rector, the following guest clergymen concelebrated the Liturgy with Bishop Gabriel: the Synods Protopriest George Kallaur, who graciously attends our feast day every year, Protopriest Michael Amelchenya from Philadelphia and Protodeacon Leonid Mickle kindly loaned to us by our neighboring parish in Washington, D.C.

Awarding the head sister.
Awarding the head sister.

During the small entrance, Father Rostislav Sheniloff was decorated with a skufia (biretta), while at the end of the Liturgy Bishop Gabriel gave out testimonial scrolls to those parishioners who had toiled so selflessly for the good of the parish, such as chief sister Anna Ogora and her deputy, Paraskeva Gaines, the church warden Victor Ogora, Kosara Gavrilovic and chief auditor Alexander Renko.

Awarding the sisterhood.
Awarding the sisterhood.

At the end of this bright and joyous holiday the sisterhood offered a festive lunch in the church hall. In the Gospel narrative on the Transfiguration of our Lord, the Apostle Peter, being in a state of spiritual ecstasy at the wondrous sight of the transfigured Savior conversing with the prophets Moses and Elias, exclaimed: Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias (Luke 9:33), not knowing what he was saying, yet trying to hold on to this sweet moment as long as possible. But we have the greatest fortune: not three tabernacles, but a whole church in which it is good for us to be, and in which we always have with us the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Holy Mother of God, the host of angels, the Apostle Peter with all the apostles, the prophets Moses and Elias with all the prophets, and all of Gods blessed saints.


Our beloved unmercenary pastor, Father Rostislav Sheniloff, reposed in the Lord on April 16, 2002. Memory eternal!


Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky is victorious in battle

On Saturday, August 21st, and Sunday, August 22nd, our modest church in Baltimore received prominent guests, joyously celebrating its feast day of the Transfiguration of our Lord. The church glittered in its festive white garments, magnificently adorned with a multitude of beautiful and fragrant flowers.

At 1:00 on Saturday, Archimandrite Athanasy (Mastalsky) arrived from Philadelphia, bringing with him the holy Myrrh-streaming Icon of Saint Anna, mother of the Holy Theotokos.

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