© 2023 St Olympia Orthodox Church

St. Olympia Mission Finds A Home by Peggy Wheeler

Saint Olympia Church has come a long way since February 2012, when we held 
our first regular Liturgies on the campus of SUNY Potsdam, and had to bring in
and set up the altar, icon screen, and all items necessary for each Liturgy. In the
past eight years, we have prayed with, taken Holy Eucharist with, and ministered
to many people: old friends and new, long-time residents of St. Lawrence County
and new additions to our community especially college students, both “cradle”
Orthodox and converts.

Within four years, we grew from having Divine Liturgy twice per month, to
having Liturgy every Sunday! Early on, we moved from the campus to a private
chapel where we still worship today. Soon, we included Matins on Sunday
mornings, and we were able to add Great Vespers on Saturdays in the summer of 2017.
We were starting to worship like a regular Orthodox church!

Our Lord continues to move in the St. Olympia parish beyond our own limited vision.
Two years ago, if someone had asked us when we would have a resident priest,

we would probably have answered, “years from now.” It was barely a dream. Yet by
the following summer, His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, had sent Father Peter Irfan
to us. Similarly, when we began our first steward-ship drive for 2017, we established
a building fund. We thought that it would take years to grow the funds necessary for
acquiring (much less renovating and maintaining) our own building. Nevertheless, the
Lord preempted our time-line again! In April 2019, we were approached by the
Congregational Church of Norwood, NY, located about six miles north of Potsdam.
This congregation was founded in 1858 and the church building was dedicated in 1862.
Trustees of this parish’s diminishing population were convinced that the church must
remain a sacred space; they wanted their sanctuary to transfer to another church
rather than have the property become a business establishment: they wanted to
give us their building! Archbishop Michael met with our parish last October, and
with his blessing, we began the legal process of acquiring the building. We have
completed all of the paperwork for the transfer of property, and are waiting to
hear from the State. Converting the building into an Orthodox worship space will
take some time. Beneath the deferred maintenance, needed repairs, aged systems
and necessary renovations is a building with a strong foundation. With the support
of Archbishop Michael, much of the repair work can be completed by teams of
volunteers from the Diocese. Of course, all such plans are on hold during the
pandemic. Mean while, though, we continue to enjoy our beautiful chapel at
the home of one of our parishioners.

Reprinted from the September 2020 Koinonia