For those that are new to St. Thomas you may not know about our beautiful freindship with Fr. Stephen Kaznica. The story of how Fr. Stephen and Fr. Onouprhy became friends is a beautiful one and providential but that is a story I'll save for another time.
Fr. Stepehen first visited St. Thomas back in October of 2020 when we were still in the little shed in King. He was able to come and meet several of our families and have a meal with us.
Since that time my father, Fr. Onouphry, and Fr. Stephen have kept in touch weekly and developed a friendship of their own. He has a special place in his heart for us and we for him.
Fr. Stephen has three children and sadly on the morning of October 2, 2021 their son Matthew fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 27. From his announcement that day:
"Matthew found joy in every moment that he lived, and he had a spiritual acuity that enabled him to see beyond this world and into the next one. Many times we witnessed him with his gaze fixed upon an icon, in conversation with the saints. He exuded the Love of Christ in a world that's increassingly devoid of it, and so while his years were brief the example that he left us to follow will live on, for as long as we have love."
Father Stephen had asked Dan to start constructing a coffin for Matthew as the time drew near a few days before. Having lost our own son in 2012 our hearts broke for Fr. Stephen and his family. We knew what they were about to go through and wanted to help in any way we could. We learned that there was little money set aside for Matthew's burial so I was able to organize a Go Fund Me campaign for the Kaznica family. Little did I know that by simply starting it and posting it on Facebook it would not only reach the goal of $12,000, but SURPASS the goal! In total 142 donors raised $15,605. It was a great blessing to their family and a wondeful gift to ease at least one seemingly trival burden of this world.
This all brings me to sharing the letter and the Icon of St. Sebastian below that Fr. Stephen, Matushka Valerie, Alexei and Anna gifted to our Mission earlier this month. It is my fathers' wish that the icon reside at each of St. Thomas' families homes for a week as we enter into the new year. We are hopeful that Fr. Stephen and his beautiful family will be able to come and visit us again in 2022 and that our connection will continue to grow together in Christ in support and love of one another.