Sep. 10—Submitted by Rev. Father George Wendt
The little white church at the crossroads of Mayfield and Chillicothe roads is a mystery to many Chesterland residents.
Standing in the midst of more modern structures in the area, it is easily recognized as a unique part of our community due to its pre-Civil War design. Most Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic Parish has a long history in Geauga County; it was owned by several Protestant denominations before being purchased by the Catholic Church in the mid-1970s.
As an introduction to the residents of Geauga County, it will hold an Open House at 9:30 am. Sept. 25.
Most Holy Trinity Church Byzantine Catholic Church, located at 8549 Mayfield Road, is easily the oldest building in Chesterland, having been constructed in 1852 and dedicated in September of 1853. It was originally situated across Mayfield Road in the Town Square until it was moved to its current location in 1892. The narthex (or entry way) and bell tower were added in 1917. The basement social hall was also added in that same year and expanded into a full basement in 1932. The rectory was built in 1968. Most Holy Trinity is one of the smaller churches in the area, seating about 75 people.
When most of the original Byzantine Catholic congregation came from Eastern Europe, arriving in the United States early in the 20th Century, they brought their Byzantine Catholic Faith with them and adapted the Church building to their particular form of worship and devotion. This is reflected in the interior of the Church, which contains numerous icons telling the story of Jesus Christ and his followers as reflected in the Bible. It is a Church of icons, which will be explained in detail at the Open House. Icons are an aid to devotion and present the basic teachings of Christianity. They are found in great abundance within the interior of the building.
The Byzantine Catholic Church is a part of the greater Catholic community (or Roman Catholic Church) and is a part of what is called the Eastern Catholic Church. The Byzantine Catholic Church is sometimes referred to as "the best kept secret n the Catholic Church," because it is not well-known. Originally belonging to various ethnic branches of the Orthodox Church, a minority broke away several centuries ago, becoming members of the Catholic Church once again. While keeping its cultural aspects (such as the use of icons as an aid to devotion instead of statuary and its unique spirituality and prayer life), it has accepted the basic teachings of the Catholic Church.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Byzantine Catholic Church is its main form of worship, the Divine Liturgy (referred to as the Mass in the Roman Church). Founded in the early centuries of Christianity, the Divine Liturgy is mostly sung and is entirely in English. All of those present face East and Communion is distributed only on the tongue. Although it has undergone changes over its sixteen-hundred-year history, (it can be traced to St. John Chrysostom, the fifth century Archbishop of Constantinople) the Divine Liturgy retains its core facets: opening prayers, Bible readings, sermon, Eucharistic Consecration, Lord's Prayer, Holy Communion and Dismissal. In this way, a little bit of the ancient world is available to the local community on Sunday mornings.
The Open House will begin on Sept.25 at 9:30 am with a tour of the icons in the Church, followed by the Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. A luncheon and ice cream social will be served immediately after the Divine Liturgy. Those planning to attend, should call 440-729-7636.