The 59th Annual St. Nicholas Celebration was held Sunday, December 6 – the Feast of Saint Nicholas – at St. John the Baptist Cathedral and Center in Munhall, Pa. Co-sponsored by the Greek Catholic Union and the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, proceeds from the event benefit the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius.
The afternoon and evening of festivity began with a Moleben to our Holy Father Nicholas the Wonderworker, presided over by Archbishop William. Cathedral Rector Father Dennis M. Bogda was the celebrant, with Deacon Timothy Corbett and assistentia from the Seminary. Seminary faculty member Father Christiaan Kappes was the homilist; Seminary vocal instructor Coreen Poklembo led responses.
Following the moleben, event patrons filed into the Cathedral Center, where they were greeted at the door with seasonal choral selections by the Archieparchial Choir. The banquet hall was alive from wall to wall with a Powerpoint slideshow of past St. Nicholas events, a gallery of 64 entries into the St. Nicholas Creativity Contest, a table of information about the Seminary, tables with icons for purchase, an entire wall of tables with religious gifts from the Byzantine Seminary Press, and a display of seven outstanding “Silent Auction” items and a “Mystery Bag” promotion.
Patrons enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails while the children in attendance were treated to a special “Kids Corner” activity led by BCW columnist Sandy Simko (see page 8 for story). Master of Ceremonies Christopher Singel kept a smooth flow for the evening, as he called guests to be seated and began the dinner program, which included a welcome address by Seminary Rector Father Robert Pipta and a bigscreen slideshow featuring biographies of the current seminarians. GCU President George Juba took the podium and reminisced about his early memories of attending the St. Nicholas Charity Dinner before he presented Archbishop William with the fraternal organization’s annual contribution to the Seminary, which this year totaled $100,000.
Before inviting Keynote speaker Sister Kathleen Hutsko, SSMI to the podium, Chris Singel announced the winners of the St. Nicholas Creativity Contest (see pages 6 and 7 for a gallery of all winners and entries) and welcomed St. Nicholas (the Cathedral’s Marty Bovee) who greeted the children in attendance and presented them with a memento.
Sister Kathleen brought the program to a close as she focused on the event theme “Family: Foundation of Consecrated Life” and captivated the audience with her easygoing storytelling style. (A special column featuring Sister Kathleen’s presentation will be featured in the Jan. 17, 2016 BCW in observance of the Feb. 2 conclusion of the Year of Consecrated Life).
Following the announcement of the seven winners of the Silent Auction, Emcee Singel turned over his microphone to Deacon Joseph Wargacki, a seminarian from Seattle,
Wash., to deliver the invocation. Archbishop William imparted his blessing over the meal, and the gala evening concluded with dinner enhanced table-totable serenading by the Continental Dukes.
The Greek Catholic Union, the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, the Byzantine Catholic Seminary and the St. Nicholas Celebration Committee thank everyone involved with this 2015 event who helped in any way to ensure its success.