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Orthodox celebrate Feast of Theophany

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Roughly two-dozen parishioners of various orthodox parishes gathered at Alhambra Beach in Seaford on Monday, Jan. 6 for the annual blessing of the waters in honor of the feast of Theophany.

Multiple parishes were represented. Hieromonk Nikodhim represented St. Nicholas of Jamaica Estates, V.Rev. John Klingel represented St. Andrew of Dix Hills, and V.Rev Martin Kraus represented Holy Trinity of East Meadow. The priests were joined by His Emminence Archbishop Michael (Dahulich), of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of New York and New Jersey.

Parishioners bundled in warm clothing for the chilly winter day and sang words of praise cheerfully.

“It was actually quite a bit warmer than usual today,” said Kraus.

Orthodox Christians traditionally gather near bodies of water on this day to celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ. The feast of Theophany and the blessing of the waters officially end the Nativity season.

“We celebrate the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River,” Archbishop Michael said. “By this, He makes the water holy, and by it He makes all water holy.”

The gathering and ceremony took a little less than forty minutes in total. After the timeless hymns were sung by the faithful gathered on the beach, Rev. Kraus unveiled a wooden cross tied to a string that was to be thrown into the bay three times. Children were invited up to hold the string, and a member of the congregtion, who declined to give his name, charged into the water the third time to retrieve it, as is tradition.

“Back when I was just a priest, I went to one of these in Nebraska,” Archbishop Michael said as he chuckled and motioned his hand towards the water behind him. “There was ice.”