Saint Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church

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Our God and Us

Prompted by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, Bishop John of Nyssa of blessed memory assigned a young priest, Father David Moriak, to organize a viable Orthodox presence in the vicinity of the historic Freehold and shore areas of New Jersey in July, 1975.  The fledgling mission was placed under the heavenly protection and patronage of Saint Paul the Apostle as a zealous and vibrant inspiration to its communicants.  No one could predict what the outcome would be, but there was no doubt the Holy Spirit was guiding these efforts and how it would unfold would depend on a generous response to the richly infused grace of our eternal Father.

For several months, prospective Orthodox believers were sought out and visited so that on October 5, 1975, the first Divine Liturgy of the established mission was celebrated in the facilities of Laura Donovan Elementary School in Freehold. Spiritual enthusiasm and genuine need led to the establishment of a religious education program each Sunday with classes held at Grace Lutheran hall.

 Finally, on April 14, 1976, a parcel of land in Freehold Township was purchased by the diocese from the Elkins Family as the permanent site for the new faith community. The 6.48 acres of land included an historic home with potential as a rectory, a machine shop building and a five car garage. The natural location site is an inspiration for the physical erection of a notable facility which will beautify and bless the area and serve the spiritual and temporal needs of the community. From its very inception, St. Paul the Apostle Parish included diverse Orthodox nationalities who continue seeking their salvation within its holy embrace.

 The home became the residence of the pastor, the machine shop was converted into a chapel and the multi-car garage evolved into the parish center. As with every new endeavor, numerous difficulties and trials appeared so that the faithful might respond with an increase in spiritual stamina and appropriate zeal-inspiring fervor in overcoming them. Numerous projects were begun to raise necessary funds to augment the sacrifice of time, treasure and talent made by the faithful parishioners.

 In 1978, Father Kenneth Bachofsky was appointed to the parish. During his pastorate improvements to the chapel were made, the Icon Screen installed and the garages converted into a modern kitchen and Social Center. In 1985, Father Michael Shuster arrived and the parish continued to thrive. His Grace, Bishop Nicholas made a canonical visitation to bless the Icon Screen on October 5, 1985 in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the parish.

 Father Stephen Krivonak was assigned temporarily in October, 1987 and was followed by the appointment of Father Charles Lehman on February 1, 1988. It was during his pastorate that the pan-Orthodox character of the parish became better known and appreciated. In February, 1990, His Grace Bishop Nicholas once again visited the parish and blessed the illuminated stained glass icons in the vestibule of the church and upon his retirement to a nearby community, Father Stephen Sedor celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the faithful.

 A plan of action was initiated and some renovations in the existing properties were envisioned and became reality. A new heating/air-conditioning system was installed, walls constructed and major restructuring successfully completed. Countless hours were offered to the Lord in sacrifice for his blessed grace.

 When his Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas visited the parish in the fall of 1999 to consecrate the newly fabricated altar table by a devoted parishioner, George Szmaida, he observed the vibrant growth and influx of new-comers into the parish. Father John Cmur who retired from active priesthood, began to concelebrate each Sunday.

 On May 15, 2000, His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas appointed to the pastorate of St. Paul the Apostle Parish a new leader in the person of Father Robert E Lucas and the Silver Jubilee of its founding was observed on October 29, 2000. At that time his Eminence issued a dramatic and momentous challenge to parish believers: begin now to seriously plan for the erection of a permanent parish church so that the 30th anniversary observance could celebrate ground-breaking. Inspired by the confidence placed in them and guided by the Holy Spirit, the nucleus of devoted communicants began in earnest a whole variety of spiritual, prayerful and fund-raising activities which would respond to the seriously proffered challenge.

 Upon retirement form active parish priesthood, Protopresbyter Peter P. Buletza was attached to the parish and began concelebrating on Sundays after taking up residence in a nearby community with gracious Pani Mary. Age never limited their avid and active support of our parish and even after he entered eternity, Pani Mary continues to pray and support or missionary endeavors.

 A monthly Healing Service and devotions to St. Nectarios the Wonderworker were begun. A Prayer Chain was introduced which encouraged and permitted believers participation in fulfilling their baptismal vocation of intercession for souls in need. A fuller more inclusive schedule of liturgical services, including holy day vesperal Divine Liturgies was once again instituted. Expanded educational services are provided in the regularly issued weekly bulletin and ongoing continued pamphlet series, enlightening believers in all areas of interest and need regularly. A children’s section in the bulletin is greatly appreciated by both parents and children.

 The parish now boasts the largest Orthodox library in the state and second in the diocese only to the book collection  of the diocesan Seminary. Designated times for the reception of the sacramental Mysteries were extended and made available to meet realistic need. Social activities increased. Summer Bible Camp Classes were begun with success. Adult evening weekly Scripture Study classes were initiated. A host of new altar and church appointments, including vestments, altar table linens and furnishings were secured. Monthly Pirohi Sales and the huge ambitious undertaking of baking cookies and Walnut, Poppy Seed, Lekvar and Apricot Rolls was introduced for the holyday and holiday seasons, making our potential unique spiritual contribution to the community better known.

 In the past five years, over $125,000.00 has been raised for the Building Fund to realize the long-held collective dream augmenting some $50,000.00 which already has been invested in securing vital and necessary kitchen and hall equipment to increase  and lighten the efforts of eager, enthusiastic helping hands.

 January 11, 2004 witnessed the ordination to the diaconate of Kenneth E. Ellis who with his family now enriches the spiritual ministries provided by the parish.

 The thirtieth anniversary of the parish was observed on October 29, 30, 2005 at which time ground was broken for the new parish church and parish center. This historic event was expressed and personified most intimately with the ordination of yet another communicant, Reader Daniel J. Korba, cantor, to the Sub deaconate. Thus was initiated a significantly momentous time when a new, compelling and engaging era was begun in the history of Orthodoxy in the area. Communicants of St. Paul the Apostle Parish recognize their singular and distinct blessing in being possessed of a complete parish staff, including a particularly prepared and educated parish cantor.

 The new parish church and parish center, to be built as soon as details are resolved with local planning board and building commission will include library and classroom facilities, parish offices and much needed myriad space for the various apostolates of the faith community. During this time various updating and repairs along with renovations have been made on the parish rectory which is presently occupied by the parish deacon and family.

 To be erected for the glory of the Triune God, the new facilities notably express thanksgiving to the richness of grace and mercy afforded us individually and as a parish faith community. The building effort will be apportioned to three phases. The initial one involves the erection of the church building separate and apart from the present facility and adjacent to the rectory. The second phase immediately follows with the building of the parish center attached to the present facility which will be expanded into a larger and more workable kitchen. The third and final completing phase will be the imposing façade of the church and exterior and additional interior restructuring and reformation of the existing kitchen/hall facility into further storage areas, church office and heritage center, unique as a parish witness to the daily contribution of faith to life.

 With grateful hearts, the faithful of St. Paul the Apostle Parish praise and bless our God for his munificent benediction on our sincerely and humbly offered efforts. We earnestly pray we continue to be found worthy to witness completion of this shrine to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to his all holy name and to continue laboring for the salvation of souls.

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