NEW ROCHELLE, NY – The children and the youth give a special coloring to the celebration of Christmas at the Holy Trinity parish of New Rochelle, New York, which consists of 550 families and is considered one of the most prestigious and growing parishes in the Archdiocese.
In an interview with The National Herald, the parish’s presiding priest Fr. Nicholas Anctil said that “it has been the tradition of the parish for the last 40 years to celebrate the Christmas Liturgy on Christmas Eve followed by the singing of the carols by the whole parish. We also celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the Saturday before Christmas and host a beautiful Christmas pageant on the Sunday before Christmas after the Liturgy.”
Fr. Nicholas also said that, “from Thanksgiving to Christmas we collect canned items and dry goods for the New Rochelle Food Pantry. Starting this week, we also provide gifts for children in New Rochelle through a program we call the St Nicholas Giving Tree. Each family will take a tag off of a paper tree and purchase as many gifts as they wish. We usually collect about 200 children’s gifts. We use these gifts to sponsor the Christmas party for the children who are connected to the New Rochelle ‘Drop In’ after school centers.”
Asked if the young men and women of the parish participate in the services, Fr. Nicholas said that “the Junior Choir chants the Saturday before Christmas Liturgy as well as the Christmas pageant. The Sunday School children all participate in the Pageant.”
When asked what the congregants have been asking him regarding the mystery of the Holy Incarnation and generally about the Orthodox Faith, Fr. Nicholas said “this generation lives on the internet. There are many sites that reduce the celebration of Christmas to Santa Claus and Christmas gifts. It’s my job to teach them that God’s greatest Gift to mankind was His Only Begotten Son. I have a nice dialogue/sermonette with the children of the Sunday School program right after the reading of the Gospel. They do have a difficult time understanding the Birth narratives. I have to use an icon on the back wall to explain the sequence of the Birth events.”
To the question “what does Christmas mean to you,” Fr. Nicholas answered that “at my age, Christmas reminds me of this amazing event that [signified that] God wanted us all to be saved, so he sent us a New Adam to be the example of a perfect Man and a perfect God. It means that I need to keep doing good without being tainted by the ills and sarcasm of our society.”