Slovakia: Jubilee celebration of the feast of St Cyril and Methodius and the Mother of Perpetual Help in Stropkov (26 June – 5 July 2024)

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It has been 75 years since the consecration of the Greek Catholic Church of St Cyril and Methodius in Stropkov and 100 years of public veneration of the icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help in Stropkov, the first faithful copy of it in Slovakia.

We started celebrating the feast of Our Lady as early as Wednesday evening, June 26, on the eve of the feast of the Mother of Perpetual Help. Together with our Roman Catholic brethren, we celebrated Holy Mass in the nearby old church, where the missionary of mercy, Father Michal Zamkovský CSsR from the Bratislava-Prague province, shared the word of God.

At 17:45, there was a procession from our Redemptorist church to the old church with the icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help, where we prayed the Novena and then celebrated Holy Mass.

The icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help was installed for public veneration in this church, where the first Slovak Redemptorists lived 100 years ago. This is the first authentic copy of a Roman painting in Slovakia.

On the Mother of Perpetual Help feast, June 27 2024, the entire day was dedicated to preparations for the evening celebration. At 5:20 pm in our church, we prayed the Akathistos to the Mother of Perpetual Help, and then at 6:00 pm, the holy liturgy began, presided over by Archbishop and Metropolitan of Prešov Mgr Jonáš Maxim.

In his homily, Mgr Jonáš encouraged us to learn to look to Christ from Mary. During this holy liturgy, five local superiors of our five religious houses (Michalovce, Stropkov, Stará Ľubovňa, Uzhhorod, Korolevo) received the golden crosses, which they will be able to wear during their service as superiors of the monastery.

After the end of the holy liturgy, there was a procession with the icon to the central Stropkov Square, where it was blessed by Archbishop Jonáš.

On Friday, June 28, after the evening Holy Liturgy and the Charismatic Prayer of Praise, our church opened a commemorative exhibition of historical photographs of our two anniversaries.

The next day, on the feast of St Peter and St Paul, the Basilian sisters held a Marian academy after the evening liturgy. On Sunday, June 30, we had a similar academy by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

From 1 to July 3 2024, Fr. Jaroslav Štelbaský CSsR, superior of the monastery in Michalovce, held a spiritual preparation for the feast. On the principal feast of St. Cyril and Methodius, we began the afternoon of July 4 with the prayer of the holy rosary and Byzantine vespers. We celebrated the sacred liturgy with the eparch emeritus of Košice, Bishop Milan Chautur CSsR, who also delivered the homily.

After the holy liturgy, the believers and I prayed the Akathistos to St Cyril and Methodius, apostles of the Slavs. The Akathistos hymn was followed by silent Eucharistic adoration until 10 pm. Our celebration continued on the feast of St. Cyril and Methodius on July 5 with Morning Prayer and Holy Liturgy at 08:00.

The solemn archdiocesan liturgy began at 10 am, presided over by the Eparch Emeritus of Toronto, Bishop Marián Andrej Pacák CSsR. In his homily, Vladyka Marian reminded us that Cyril and Methodius wanted to get even closer to the people they walked among in order to preach the word of God to them better and more effectively.

After the holy liturgy, there was a procession around the church, followed by the unveiling of a memorial plaque in honour of Fr Jozef Čverčko CSsR. He worked for many years in Stropkov and, with his humility and love, left a deep mark in the hearts of many people. During the jubilee celebration, the choir of St Cyril and Methodius, who work in our church, performed. A parish feast was also held on Saturday.

Fr. Jozef Troja CSsR

Photos courtesy of Beliny Photography and Andrej Belovežčik