Camp Nazareth Celebrates 40th Anniversary
On Saturday, September 16th faithful gathered together at Camp Nazareth with His Grace Bishop Gregory and our Diocesan priests to celebrate the Camp’s 40th Anniversary. It was a beautiful celebration that began with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy which was followed by a Luncheon, a dance performance by Slavjane Folk Ensemble from Pittsburgh, a speaking program, as well as a picture display and slideshow.
Fifteen priests celebrated the Divine Liturgy together with His Grace Bishop Gregory. We had a couple pleasant surprises among the priests who attended, among them Fr. Tom Kadlec who came down from Buffalo/Cheektowaga, NY to join the festivities. Faithful, mostly from Western PA and Eastern Ohio, gathered as well to celebrate and sing the responses led by a trio of cantors who included Reader Samuel Loposky, Subdeacon and Seminarian Nathaniel Choma and Seminarian Vince Dranginis. The 40th Anniversary celebration occurred during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, which made the celebration that much more beautiful. We don’t often get to see our priests’ red vestments, nor the red altar linens, and so besides the festal elements of the Liturgy itself (Antiphons, Tropar, Kondak, etc.), it was really lovely to see all the red festal vestments and linens.
The Divine Liturgy itself was peaceful. Prayers were offered during it for all the founders, benefactors, builders, workers, volunteers and supporters of the Camp. A Panachida was also offered at the end of the Liturgy for those supporters of the Camp who have passed into eternal life. During its 40 year history (and really more if you included the planning stages for the Camp) there have been literally thousands of people who have helped (and continue to help) make Camp an incredible Apostolate of our Diocese for our Diocese and for many others beyond our Diocese. From His Grace Bishop John of blessed memory and His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory to John and Olga Radick, to all the contributors and donors of the 3D Program all the way to the most recent set of Staff members, clergy and volunteers, the Camp has enjoyed the dynamism, generosity, and hard work of all its supporters. Certainly this was an important part of the 40th Anniversary celebration – to pray for all the living and departed supporters of the Camp.
Following the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Gregory addressed the gathered faithful offering them some of his history with the Camp, focusing some on the recent Science and Nature Camp, as a way to help us understand the beauty of what we have at the Camp. When His Grace refers to Camp Nazareth as our “slice of paradise” it only takes a few minutes of seeing the beauty of nature at the Camp through a child’s eyes to understand why we can call it our “slice of paradise”. That paradise, His Grace offered, is the result of God’s grace and a lot of people’s hard work, time, money, energy, blood and sweat. Having a Camp like we have is a great blessing and a tremendous responsibility, which our Diocesan faithful have embraced for 40 years, thanks be to God for everything.
A luncheon, provided by members of the Camp Staff was served in the Camp lodge after the Divine Liturgy. The food was delicious, the fellowship enjoyable, and the time was well spent eating and simply being together. After the luncheon, a dance performance was offered by Slavjane Folk Ensemble from Pittsburgh. Slavjane has been around since 1953 and is a dynamic folk ensemble consisting of children ages 4-18. It was a wonderful performance which included dancing, singing, instruments, and an explanation of everything they did.
After a brief period to get up and walk around, the gathered faithful returned to the Lodge to listen to 3 people offer their remarks. Attorney Michael Ristvey, Jr., the Secretary of the original Camp Nazareth Building Committee spoke first, followed by Very Reverend Protopresbyter Kenneth Bachofsky, Camp Overseer and Dean of the Youngstown Deanery, with His Grace Bishop Gregory offering the main address. Attorney Ristvey spoke about his gratitude for being involved in the planning and construction of the Camp and offered some really interesting stories about how Camp came to be. It was genuinely rewarding to hear how grateful Attorney Ristvey was and to hear how he felt blessed to be involved in the formation of Camp.
Fr. Ken offered a beautiful message about faith in the midst of adversity and how God’s mercy is over everything, illustrating his message and remarks with stories from Camp’s history as well as from the Holy Scriptures. One particular point he brought up left its mark on all of those who attended. Hearing that His Grace Bishop John thanked many people during his celebratory address when Camp was completed and dedicated was one thing, but to hear that he also made it a point to thank his critics and the nay-sayers was something else. His Grace Bishop John thanked those who criticized him for even trying to build Camp because he said it motivated him and others to do the very best they could for the Diocese in building the Camp. Faith in the midst of adversity was a really timely message as we move into the next chapter of Camp’s history.
His Grace Bishop Gregory gave the main address in which he recounted his time at Camp and offered thoughts on why Camp has been and continues to be necessary for our children. In His Grace’s typical engaging style, he reminded those gathered that our children need the best we have when it comes to their formation in the Faith. They not only need the best from their families and parishes, but also from their Diocesan Camp. And then His Grace recounted what has been done at Camp over the past few years to help us offer the best facility and environment in which to help our children grow closer to Christ. Again, an excellent message to hear as we enter into the next chapter of the Camp’s life.
The celebration was concluded with a hymn offered to the Most Holy Mother of God, who has in her way watched over, protected and guided the Camp and its children for 40 years. Through her prayers, may we continue to be faithful to her Son, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, as a Camp and as a Diocese which cares about, hopes the best for, and works hard to see our children grow up in the Faith.
Many thanks to the CN Staff who helped with the work of the day. Thank you to all those who attended the event. Thank you to Fr. Bob Prepelka and our parish in Ambridge, PA for bringing Paska Bread for the Luncheon. Thank you especially to all Camp’s founders, benefactors, builders, workers, volunteers, clergy and supporters, both living and departed, who have blessed Camp with their efforts, donations, hours and hearts for 40 years and more. We have been truly blessed by God and we offer Him our thanksgiving as we ask for His continued help with our beloved Camp Nazareth.