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On the road: a visit to St. Nicholas

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/04/17

This Sunday, my wife and I decided to do something altogether different during our vacation: we stopped by St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Orlando, the Byzantine home of my friend Deacon Daniel Dozier.

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It doesn’t look even remotely Byzantine—and for good reason. It’s a former Protestant church. But the interior is distinctly Catholic.

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It has an icon of St. Nicholas that is about 300 years old.

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And, I was happy to see, St. Stephen among the windows—complete with stones resting at his feet.

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The liturgy began at 10:30 and moved along briskly—lots of singing, lots of incense, lots of standing.

The cantor Chris Hopkins did a superb job chanting the epistle.

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I was struck by the fact that even though it was Pentecost, the color of the vestments was green—according to the bulletin, a reminder that this is a feast of great hope.

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Daniel did a superlative job chanting the Gospel, and delivered a fascinating homily on the comparisons between the “Upper Room” of the scriptures and the frequent references to God’s presence on a mountaintop. I told him after: “I’m so stealing that.”

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After the service, we met the pastor, the Very Rev. Salvatore Pignato. With a name like that, he’d fit in very nicely in Brooklyn. Like Daniel, he began life as a Roman Catholic before heading East.

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Daniel told us that the parish is very much a “teaching parish,” and attracts a fair number of tourists because of its proximity to the theme parks. So no one assumes that visitors understand what a Byzantine parish is, or what it entails. My wife and I appreciated that Father Sal took pains to explain the liturgy and welcome everyone.

After the liturgy, Daniel gave us a brief tour of the sanctuary…including the main altar…

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…and the deacon’s altar, which serves as a kind of credence table.

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No, the deacon doesn’t drink coffee during the liturgy. The insulated cup is there to keep water warm for the the preparation of the gifts.

It was a great visit and a great chance to experience a beautiful liturgy. Thanks, Deacon, for the invitation! Come visit us in Queens sometime to see how the other half lives!

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