Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church
Archpriest Steven C. Kostoff
4285 Ashland Ave, Cincinnati OH 45212 - (513) 351-0907
Coronavirus Updates, Links, and Schedule Changes

Most Recent Updates

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Updated July 22, 2022

 

Dear Parish Faithful,


Our parish council Vice president, Steve Mayhugh, just sent me this Covid update:


The data is making it clear that we need to be vigilant.

Then, a concerned parishioner sent me the following link introduced by this note:

Perhaps a reminder to the parish about staying home if you are feeling unwell is in order? It is easy to think you are suffering allergies or starting to get a cold but it is actually Covid. Testing is our only tool for helping us decide how to proceed.

I fully agree. We need to be extra vigilant yet once again. If you are showing any of the symptoms listed above, then please test yourself,
and find out whether or not it is Covid or something else. 

As an act of charity and concern, if you are unwell, it clearly best not to attend any of the church's services, until you are fully recovered once again. We currently have some parishioners who have tested positive for Covid, and they are feeling pretty ill.


In Christ,

Fr. Steven

___________________

MAY 7, 2022

Church School and Fellowship Hour resume Sunday, May 8, following our brief suspension to srrest the possible spread of the latest flare-up of Covid.

Masks are optional at all servcies and functions.

___________________

 

April 30, 2022

Dear Parish Faithful,
                               

CHRIST IS RISEN!                    

INDEED HE IS RISEN!

No Church School or Coffee Hour Sunday, May 1 - Due to our widespread outbreak of Covid in the parish, the Church School and Fellowship/Coffee Hour will be cancelled tomorrow. After the Liturgy, we will simply "depart in peace."

Covid Cases Mount - Within the last week, there are now fourteen parish members who have informed me that they have tested positive for Covid. Of course, their spouses and family members are now at high risk for also testing positive in the near future. As I wrote to the choir, all those with Covid are expected to adhere to the CDC guidelines and not return to church until your quarantine period has ended.

Best Practice - Common sense alone tells us that if anyone has any "cold symptoms" - regardless of how you may test for Covid - then "best practice" would mean that you should remain at home and follow the services on our live streaming service until all such symptoms have disappeared. A weakened variation or not, we should be responsible about playing our role in not further spreading Covid within the parish. That is only fair in relation to our neighbor.

Postponed Memorial Service - Therefore, we will wait before we have a Memorial Service for Archbishop Paul here in the church. I want to allow for more parishioner presence for that service, As it is, with our current Covid patients and their respective families not here this weekend, our diminished attendance for Sunday will probably be noticeable. So, that Memorial Service will be delayed for at least another week, if not fiurther.

- Fr. Steven

___________________

FEBRUARY 18, 2022

Dear Parish Faithful,

Church School - Based on the latest Covid data and a survey of parents, the revised policy for Church School is the following: Masks are optional. Teachers and students now have the option of wearing or not wearing a mask.

Fellowship Hour to resume February 20.

- Fr. Steven

__________________

 

FEBRUARY 11, 2022

Masks now 'a matter of choice' at services.

Masks required for Church School teachers & student this Sunday, Feb. 13.

Fellowship Hour to resume February 20.

Dear Parish Faithful,

Things are looking up as Covid cases are going down. We can relax some of our recent restrictions: Mask-wearing is now a matter of choice for anyone in the parish. However, we will continue requiring masks for our Church School teachers and students for this coming Sunday, as we resume classes. A survey sent out yesterday to parents will help us chart out the future.

We will resume our Fellowship/Coffee Hour on Sunday, February 20, the day of our Annual Parish Meeting. Following the Liturgy, we will take a short break in the church hall before returning to the church for our meeting.

- Fr Steven

_________________

 

FEBRUARY 4, 2022

Church School to Resume -

  • We will start classes again this coming Sunday, February 13.
  • Teachers and students will approach the Chalice first for Holy Communion and then head for their respective classes.
  • Since we haven't had the opportunity to discuss this fully with parents and teachers, for this coming Sunday, at least, masks will be required for all teachers and students.
  • We will re-evaluate for upcoming Sundays as we resume our Church School program.

- Fr. Steven

_________________

 

FEBRUARY 4, 2022

SERVICES FOR FEBRUARY 5-6

  • SAT. FEB 5 - NO GREAT VESPERS
  • SUN. FEB 6, 9:30AM - READER SERVICE (TYPIKA)

Dear Parish Faithful,

"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."  ~  I Tim. 4:4-5

As my isolation period draws to a close, and following sound medical advice, I will not serve the Divine Liturgy this Sunday. I will definitely miss serving on Zacchaeus Sunday!

Therefore, the schedule will be the following:

  • NO Great Vespers on Saturday evening.
  • A Reader Service on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m.
  • Resumption of Church School and Fellowship/Coffee Hour TBD by next week.

Looking ahead:

  • Baptismal Liturgy on Sunday, February 13 (Mercy Frasch)
  • Annual Parish Meeting on Sunday, February 20

Speaking of Covid - The headline in yesterday's Cincinnati Enquirer was: Ohio nation in COVID-19 deaths per capita. The article went on to say: "On average, 155 Ohioans are dying each day of COVID-19." At the same time, it was stated that, "new cases counts are down and hospitalizations are lower." Some "good" news amidst the "bad."

- Fr. Steven

___________________

 

FEBRUARY 1, 2022

VESPERAL LITURGY FOR THE MEETING OF THE LORD CANCELED

 

Dear Parish Faithful,


Yesterday afternoon, I began to develop typical cold-like symptoms. The "safe" thing to do is to cancel the Vesperal Liturgy scheduled for this evening. That is very unfortunate, because I very much look forward to this wonderful Feast of the Lord's "Meeting" in the Temple with Sts. Symeon and Anna. As I am sure some of you were planning to attend this evening. Be that as it may, I would then suggest to go to the OCA website and at least read through the hymnography of the service, together with the Old & New Testament prescribed texts.

In the event that I would test positive for COVID, I would assume that that would keep me out of church this coming weekend also. I will keep the parish informed. If that were the case, we will have to postpone the Annual Meeting for a week and reschedule for Sunday, February 13.


In Christ,
Fr. Steven

 

NOTE FROM WEBSERVANT - Festal resources to keep the Feast at home are provided on our special Meeting of the Lord page.

___________________

JANUARY 20, 2022

 

OMICRON DIRECTIVE EXTENDED TILL END OF JANUARY:

MASKS REQUIRED FOR CLERGY, SERVERS, CHOIR,

Masks strongly recommended for all,

Church School & Fellowship Hour canceled

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Absorbing the data as well as possible; being aware of how Hamilton County continues to cope with the omicron variation; and in consultation with the Parish Council; we will all have to be a bit more patient and continue with the parish policy of the last two weeks. This will then be in effect for the final two Sundays of January.


To repeat: 

  • All members of the clergy and all servers in the sanctuary are requited to wear a mask while in church for any particular service. 
  • All members of the choir are required to wear a mask while singing during any particular service.
  • All parishioners are strongly urged to wear a mask during any particular service. By complying with this request, you could be extending charity to your neighbors by offering them further "peace of mind."
  • Church School classes are cancelled. 
  • Fellowship/Coffee hour is cancelled.

I have also been informed this week of more parishioners - including children - who are testing positive for COVID.

Again, a bit more patience and cooperation and we will make our way through this. I think to date that the parish has overall manifested a spirit of cooperation and communal support. That is very much appreciated from my pastoral perspective.


In Christ,

Fr. Steven

___________________

JANUARY 9, 2022

MASKS REQUIRED FOR CLERGY, SERVERS, CHOIR,

Strongly recommended for all

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

At this weekend's services, beginning with Great Vespers this evening, all of the clergy and servers in the sanctuary, will be wearing masks as well as everyone singing in the choir. This will last at least through next weekend. Basing myself on sought-after professional opinions from physicians, I would highly encourage you, as the parish faithful, to also wear masks to the services during this designated period. 

In Christ,

Fr. Steven

__________________

DECEMBER 17, 2021

Dear Parish Faithful,

Another Troublesome Greek Letter -

Though most of the country - and that included us - could very well be experiencing COVID-fatigue, the reality is that we are not living in a post-COVID world. Not even close.

Data from this last Wednesday tells us that hospitalizations are up 7.7% and deaths are up 4.8%. That means that the current death toll of over 800,000 Americans will continue to rise. The Omicron variation is poised to surpass the reigning Delta variation in the near future. As of yesterday, Omicron accounts for 13% of reported cases. Dr. Muge Cevik, infectious disease expert at University of St. Andrew's in Scotland, recently stated the following:

"The only thing I am sure of is that Omicron will spread so quickly through the population, making it likely impossible to contain even with the most stringent measures and giving us very little time over the next few weeks. So get your vaccines and boosters!"

Thus, the early data suggests that this variation is very transmissible, though not as harmful as the Delta variant. We hope that the data indicating Omicron as less lethal is an accurate indicator for the future. Also, the data is showing that those who are vaccinated and who also have had a booster shot are on the whole pretty well-protected, though breakthrough infections are probably going to increase. 

Those who feel safer wearing a mask to church are encouraged to do so. With this new variant ready to spread quickly, I hold to the principle that unvaccinated parishioners should wear a mask, but that is a matter of choice for the time being. Our goal, of course, is to remain vigilant and aware of what is going on around us. Any change in policy will depend upon directives from Archbishop Paul. I will keep the parish fully informed in a timely fashion.

And here is a disturbing article about trends in Southwest Ohio, as hospitalizations continue to climb. The fact that Ohioans do not have a high vaccination rate (only 54%) is greatly exacerbating the problem:

Local COVID hospitalizations near all-time highs of the pandemic - Dayton Daily News

- Fr. Steven

_________________

AUGUST 23, 2021

Dear Parish Faithful,

Covid Update from Archbishop Paul

Please click the following link to read the most recent letter from Archbishop Paul regarding the covid pandemic: 
August 19 Covid Update from Archbishop Paul

I read this out loud to the those in church yesterday. If you have any questions or comments, please pass them on and I will pass them on to His Eminence.

Fr. Steven

______________

August 4, 2021

MASKS RECOMMENDED - NOT MANDATED

Dear Parish Faithful,

Meeting With Archbishop Paul - At our deanery meeting yesterday afternoon with His Eminence, he decided that he will not issue a mandate for parishioners to wear protective masks in church - in least for the time being. He stressed that anyone who would want to wear a mask is perfectly free to do so - adults or children. He also endorsed his earlier strong "recommendation" that unvaccinated parishioners should wear a mask as we continue to deal with the delta variant. I endorse his "recommendation:" For both personal and communal protection, unvaccinated parishioners should wear a mask to church. Since that is not very likely to happen, we will place back on the front door of the church a pastoral letter from Archbishop Paul addressing this issue. Here is an excerpt from that letter:

"While the vaccine is recommended by the CDC, those who have not yet received their vaccination, or those who choose not to receive a vaccine, assume all and any risk by entering the temple without a mask and going against the recommendations of the CDC which are also mine.

The plan is to resume our Fellowship Hour on Sunday, August 8 following the Liturgy.

- Fr Steven

______________

July 23, 2021

IMPORTANT PASTORAL MESSAGE

Dear Parish Faithful,

One of our parishioners has tested positive for COVID. This parishioner was in church for the Divine Liturgy last Sunday.

I spoke with one of our parish doctors this morning, Radu Zidarescu, a pulmonary physician who deals directly with COVID patients. Radu is very concerned about the delta variant, which is highly contagious, knowing that many people in the tri-state area remain unvaccinated. In fact, a recent report states that 97% of those now hospitalized for COVID are unvaccinated.

Upon his professional recommendations, which Archbishop Paul and I endorse, the following will be implemented in the parish beginning at Great Vespers this Saturday evening, July 24:

  • If you plan on coming to church this weekend, you must wear a mask. Masks will be made available.
  • If you test positive for COVID, please inform me immediately.
  • If you have had contact with someone who has COVID, you must quarantine and not come to church for two weeks if unvaccinated and when symptom-free.
  • Dr. Zidarescu also told me that if you are vaccinated and show no symptoms, then you need not be tested if you come in contact with someone who has COVID. 

No doubt, we are taking a "step backwards," but we will be cautious for the sake of everyone in the parish, beginning with our children. 

Here is the most up-to-date guidelines from the CDC that you may find of interest: 
https://www.cbia.com/resources/coronavirus/coronavirus-employer-guidance/respond-employee-tests-positive-covid-19/


In Christ,

Fr. Steven

Choir Requirements: All choir members who wish to continue singing will have to wear a mask until further notice. I spoke with Archbishop Paul this morning, explaining our current situation; and he wants all unvaccinated members of the choir to be tested for COVID before singing again.

One more item: Fellowship Hour is cancelled until further notice. However, I have noticed since the Spring and warmer weather, that a good many parishioners are remaining behind in the front of the church and conversing there well after our services have ended. I believe some good personal connections and friendships have been made, and that there has been some real fellowship in the process. So, weather permitting, I would encourage you to continue with this "outdoor fellowship" until we can return to the church hall.

===============

JUNE 21, 2021

 

Upcoming Full Opening of the Parish on July 4 - 

 

As of now, we have designated Sunday, July 4, as the first day of fully opening up the church for liturgical services. In other words, by July 4, you will no longer need to "purchase a ticket" for access to the Liturgy.

 

On that same date of July 4, we will also have our first post-Liturgy social hour in the church hall for the first time in a year and-a-half. It will be limited to coffee and bagels, but hopefully the fellowship will make up for the thin fare. We are retaining our sign-up for one more Sunday, June 27.

Fr. Steven

____________________________

 

JUNE 3, 2021

Dear Parish Faithful,

CHRIST IS RISEN!        INDEED HE IS RISEN!

More Comments on the New Diocesan Directive - By this coming weekend, June 5-6, we will implement the new Midwest Diocesan directives, that this will allow us to remove the masks that we have been wearing in church for over a year now. Yet, Archbishop Paul and I both agree that the transition back to "normal" parish life is going to be far more difficult than was our unavoidable transition to living with a pandemic in our midst. His new directives are meant to begin that process of normalization, but they are simultaneously causing real concern for many of the faithful, and that is true for our parish as well...

 

Read Fr. Steven's full message to the parish here...

__________________

 

Posted May 20, 2021

Dear Parish Faithful,

CHRIST IS RISEN!

Here is a very important Diocesan Directive just issued by Archbishop Paul. Everyone must make a point of carefully reading this archpastoral letter from His Eminence. It will contain a message that many have been awaiting. Others may be less enthusiastic. Tomorrow, I will make it possible for you to share any "private opinion" that you may have about this new mandate and its effect upon the parish.

Fr. Steven

#78 DIOCESAN DIRECTIVE.pdf

__________________

Posted May 11, 2021

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

CHRIST IS RISEN!  INDEED HE IS RISEN!

 

Opening Up the Parish Further - 

 

I did manage to speak with Archbishop Paul this past weekend, and he gave me some new "unofficial guidelines" over the phone about further loosening our covid restrictions. One obvious factor behind his position is the sense that many Orthodox faithful have been fully vaccinated.

 

1. We may now add 25 more tickets to the upcoming Sundays, allowing now for seventy-five worshippers. So please revisit our parish website sign-up page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sunday-divine-liturgy-tickets-119754840953 and choose the Sundays that you would now want to attend the Liturgy.

 

2. Archbishop Paul has reduced our "social distancing" to three feet. Therefore, the cloth strips blocking off every-other-pew have been removed. I ask that everyone continue to respect this guideline, and be attentive to the three-feet distancing as you slip into a pew next to another parishioner or family.

 

3. The choir has been increased to eight singers, up from the six that have been in place for some time now.

 

4. Blessed bread will now be available for those who have received Holy Communion as well as at the end of the Liturgy. It will now be held in the traditional "prosphora bowl."

 

5. We will begin having our traditional collection in the church following the homily if that is where/when you would like to offer your pledge.

 

6. The mask mandate remains in effect until further notice. The clergy have been blessed not to wear a mask. I do remove my mask for the homily delivered now from the amvon, and at times for the longer Anaphora Prayers, but otherwise out of solidarity with the parish, Dn. Johnothon, Dn. Paul and I will continue to wear our masks until the mandate is lifted.

 

- Fr. Steven

 

Permanent Links and Resources

Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm
Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm
Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm

 

Extensive resources for following the divine services at home,

compiled from the websites of the OCA and our Diocese of the Midwest

All Services will be streamed live on our YouTube Channel

Daily Scripture Readings and Lives of the Saints

Service of the Typika (Readers Service, General Text) 

Changeable Liturgical Texts - from the OCA website

Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

Fr Steven's Meditations and Counsel through the Coronavirus Crisis

Parish Health Care Workers - Scroll down for the list of our parishioners on the front lines, and remember them in your prayers!

CONFESSION BY PHONE:

Dear Parish Faithful,

I am perfectly willing to do confessions over the phone (something I have done before and which other priests are also planning). Please contact me at your convenience.  Also, weekday appointments may also be made.

May God be merciful!

Fr. Steven

 

Special OCA Page:

Resources for the Coronavirus Outbreak:

  • Includes Health Resources from the CDC and WHO,
  • Guidance from OCA Clergy & Hierarchs,
  • Links to Orthodox parishes and monasteries offering live-streamed services,
  • Online resources for doing Readers Services at home,
  • Family educational resources,
  • and much, much more, with additions to come in the days and weeks ahead.

Special Diocese of the Midwest Page:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Page:

  • Includes Statements and Updates from our Hierarchs
  • Preventive Measures from the CDC (Center for Disease Control)
  • "The Little Church" - Lenten Services for the Home
  • Livestreams for Divine Services
  • Pastoral Reflections from Diocesan Clergy
Parish Health Care Workers

Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Updated April 6, 2020

 

PARISH HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Dear Parish Faithful,

Here are the health-care workers in our parish who are on the "front lines" of the battle with the coronavirus. Please keep them in your daily prayers.

If I have inadvertently forgotten a name, please accept my sincere apology and contact me to remind me of your role.

  • Sarah (daughter-in-law of Peter and Di Carter,  an ER doctor and she is pregnant)
  • Jessica
  • Sarah
  • Adam (brother of Anthony Flick)
  • Courtney
  • Shannon
  • Hanh
  • Joshua
  • Tony
  • Amy
  • Arthur
  • Amanda
  • Joe
  • Katie
  • Michaealanne
  • Michael
  • Wagih
  • Radu
  • Jeff Rohal  (Kris Gansle's brother)
  • Kirsten Sutherlin (Kris Gansle's goddaughter and cousin)
  • Susan (presvytera's sister)
  • Emily (my daughter's close friend)
  • Lauren (my niece)
  • Jessica (my son's girlfriend)
  • Linca (Presvytera's sister-in-law)


In Christ,

Fr. Steven

 

Theotokos, Our Refuge

Click to view/download medium-size JPG image file
Click to view/download medium-size JPG image file
Click to view/download medium-size JPG image file
May 18, 2020

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

Christ is Risen!   

Indeed He is Risen!

Here is a beautiful new icon "written" by an iconographer who desires to remain anonymous. You can read his short note to Mother Christophora below. The icon, in turn, was sent to us by Mother Paula of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, PA. 

- Fr Steven

  • Download the full-size file, 2614x3509 pixels, PNG image format, 10.2MB; suitable for printing:
  • Theotokos-CovidIcon.png

 

Dear friends, 

Thought you would like to see this beautiful icon recently painted. Our local iconographer sent this photo to share.

Yours in our Risen Christ,

Mother Paula

Mother Christophora,

Attached is a photograph of an icon I have finished for the covid-19 pandemic.
I have sent this to a number of people in the hopes that they will in turn send it to others.
It is my hope that it may be a comfort to many.  I do not need my name mentioned, as I want ownership to be by no one/everyone.  There are no end use restrictions and it can be reproduced  if one desires.  

I hope you will like it, and if you do, that you will make it available to as many as possible.

 

Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

View Full Size
View Full Size
View Full Size

 

The Morning Prayer
of the Last Elders of Optina


O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming
day brings to me with spiritual tranquility.
Grant that I may fully surrender myself
to Thy holy Will.

 

At every hour of this day, direct and support me
in all things.

 

Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day,
teach me to accept it with a calm soul
and the firm conviction that all is subject
to Thy holy Will.

 

Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions.
In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget
that all is sent down from Thee.

 

Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely
with every member of my family,
neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.

 

O Lord, grant me the strength to endure
the fatigue of the coming day and all the events
that take place during it.

 

Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe,
to hope, to be patient, to forgive
and to love.

 

AMEN.

 

Download the PDF version

Order the plaque from Uncut Mountain Supply

 

Icons of Saints interceding for us

The Theotokos & St. Nikephoros before our Crucified Lord

(SOC-EAD) - During this pandemic, as we collectively experience the global outbreak and exponential spread of the coronavirus, the Venerable Nikephoros the Leper appeared to someone in Greece and told him: “Tell the people not to be afraid of the virus. And, in the event that someone gets infected, tell them to pray to me and I will help them.”

 

Rendered at the hands of iconographer, Archimandrite Evsevije (Meandzija), a Serbian post-graduate student at the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, this new icon for our times, represents the Theotokos and St. Nikephoros praying before the Crucified Lord to save humankind from the coronavirus.

 

Read a brief life of St Nikiphoros here.

St Nikiforos the Leper (†1964)
St Nikiforos the Leper (†1964)

 

Saint Nikiforos (1887-1964) is a saint of our time.

 

Born in Greece in 1887, he suffered from leprosy and was sent to live in a leper colony at age 13. He joined the monastery of Chios in 1916 at age 24. He bore his ailment and its disfiguring effects with patience, chanting in the church and praying ceaselessly. He was given the grace to prophesy and work miracles. When he fell asleep in the Lord on January 4, 1964, his relics emitted a fragrant scent. He was glorified as a saint in 2012.

 

St Nikiforos, The Leper and Wonderworker (Zoë Press)

St Nikiforos the Leper - Paraklesis & Akathist Booklet (Zoë Press)

New Icon of St Nikiforos the Leper (Legacy Icons)

 

Assembly of Bishops COVID-19 Resources

 

Assembly of Bishops COVID-19 Resource Center

NEW YORK – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA announces a resource center for clergy and faithful during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Resource Center includes updated news from the various jurisdictions as well as practical guidelines and resources for families, ministry leaders, parish leadership, and everyone.

The Center can be accessed at http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/covid19 and will be updated regularly with new materials and expanded selections.