Saint Nicholas
Orthodox Church in America
1000 Barber Ln. Joliet, IL 60435
A Quick Glance

Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church is a parish in the Diocese of the Midwest of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). It has been serving Joliet, IL since September 1907.· Over the last 100+ years, St. Nicholas has grown from a primarily immigrant parish, to one whose members are primarily Americans both cradle and convert with some Slav transplants.

At present, St. Nicholas has 50+ members with many friends of the parish in attendance. We are a growing church community worshiping God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — in the 2000+ year-old Tradition of the Apostles.·

While many aspects of Orthodox worship may seem strange and unfamiliar to you as a visitor, we trust that over time the beauty, sanctity, and reverence of the Divine Liturgy will bring you into a closer and eternal relationship with God. You will be in our prayers, and we invite you to visit our church family.

Recent Events
Blini luncheon benefits Joliet's Morning Star Mission - 02/25/17

Following the Divine Liturgy at which Father Ned Lunich presided on Forgiveness/Cheesefare Sunday, February 25, 2017, we anticipated the beginning of Great Lent by sharing a delicious blini luncheon in our parish hall.  Among those who skillfully prepared the tasty crepes packed with a variety of savory, meatless fillings, were Deb Cook, Iryna Baker and Zinaida Martynuk.  Profits from the luncheon, as well as parishioner-donated non-perishable food for the needy, totaled nearly $500.00, all of which was earmarked for Joliet's Morning Star Mission, which our parish has assisted for many years.

2017 Parish Council members installed - 02/19/17

With the blessing and confirmation of His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago, members of our 2017 Parish Council were installed into office after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, February 19, 2017.

Elections took place during our annual parish meeting on Sunday, January 29, at which Father John Matusiak presided.

Dr. Greg Grabavoy continues to faithfully serve as president, completing the term of the late Stephen Platko.  Elected to a three-year term as treasurer was Mike Baker.  Deb Cook continues in her second three-year term as First Vice President, while Lori Snode, who completed her first three-year term, was elected Second Vice President.  Kathy Whalen was elected to a three-year term as Secretary and Cindy Gallick was elected alternate council member.

Subdeacon David Hanneman was elected to complete Mike Baker's term as auditor, while Richard Brumer will complete Laura Grabavoy's term.  Also elected as an auditor was Michael Baloy.

We thank everyone who participated in our wonderfully productive and well attended annual parish meeting, and especially those who have stepped forward to offer their stewardship of time, talent and treasure serving on our parish council "on behalf of all and for all!"  May God continue to bless us!!

Presentation on iconography prelude to iconostasis conservation project - 02/19/17

After the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, February 19, 2017, Father John Matusiak gave a comprehensive presentation on iconography in preparation for our parish's impending project by which our historic iconostasis icons will be conserved and restored to their original beauty.  The six main icons on the iconostasis are the work of the late Matushka Tamara Elchaninov of Paris.  They were commissioned for the parish in the mid-1950s during the pastorate of the late Father Vladimir Borichevsky.  The remaining eleven iconostasis icons, as well as over a dozen smaller icons that adorn the church walls, are the work of her daughter, Matushka Maria Elchaninov-Struve, and were commissioned after our present church was constructed in the 1960s, during the early days of Father John Kuchta's pastorate.

Father John M. explained that iconography is a liturgical, rather than decorative, art that is intimately connected with the Church's liturgical worship.  Icons are not portraits; that is, they do not attempt to depict realistically or accurately how someone looks, as would a portrait or photograph.  Rather, icons are "windows into heaven," depicting Christ, His blessed Mother, and the saints in their glory and holiness in the Kingdom of God.  Our icons -- probably the largest collection of Elchaninov and Struve icons in a single parish church in the United States -- represent the return to traditional iconographic form after some 200 years of western influence in part initiated by the reforms of Emperor Peter the Great of Russia in the 1700s.  As such, they are a living link between our parish and the broader historical development and return to traditional iconography that began in the late 1800s.  Over the years, due to a variety of climatic and other conditions, our icons began to deteriorate, crack and discolor.  Rather than discard them or replace them with newer icons, our parish elected to restore them as a part of our history, as well as the broader history of iconography in America and beyond they represent.

Our Patron

Saint Nicholas March 15th, 270 – December 6th, 343), is a 4th-century saint and Bishop of Myra (Demre, part of modern-day Turkey) in Lycia. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as “Nikolaos the Wonderworker”. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. In 1087, part of the relics (about half of the bones) were furtively translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari. The remaining bones were taken to Venice in 1100. His feast day is December 6th.

Nicholas was born a Greek in Asia Minor during the third century in the city of Patara (Lycia et Pamphylia), which was a port on the Mediterranean Sea, and lived in Myra, at a time when the region was Greek in its heritage, culture, and outlook and politically part of the Roman diocese of Asia. He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents named Theophanes and Nonna. He was very religious from an early age and according to tradition, Nicholas was said to have rigorously observed the canonical fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays. His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara. He tonsured the young Nicholas as a reader and later ordained him a presbyter (priest).

In AD 325 Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, the very first ecumenical council. More than 300 bishops came from all over the Christian world to debate the nature of the Holy Trinity. It was one of the early church’s most intense theological questions. Arius, from Egypt, was teaching that Jesus the Son was not equal to God the Father. Arius forcefully argued his position at length. The bishops listened respectfully.

As Arius vigorously continued, Nicholas became more and more agitated. Finally, he could no longer bear what he believed was essential being attacked. The outraged Nicholas got up, crossed the room, and slapped Arius across the face! The bishops were shocked. It was unbelievable that a bishop would lose control and be so hotheaded in such a solemn assembly. They brought Nicholas to Constantine. Constantine said even though it was illegal for anyone to strike another in his presence, in this case, the bishops themselves must determine the punishment.

The bishops stripped Nicholas of his bishop’s garments, chained him, and threw him into jail. That would keep Nicholas away from the meeting. When the Council ended, a final decision would be made about his future.

That night, Nicholas was ashamed and prayed for forgiveness, though he did not waver in his belief. That same night, Jesus and Mary his Mother, appeared, asking, “Why are you in jail?” “Because of my love for you,” Nicholas replied. Jesus then gave the Book of the Gospels to Nicholas. Mary gave him an omophorion (a bishops stole), so Nicholas would again be dressed as a bishop. Now at peace, Nicholas studied the Scriptures for the rest of the night.

When the jailer came in the morning, he found the chains loose on the floor and Nicholas dressed in bishop’s robes, quietly reading the Scriptures. When Constantine was told of this, the emperor asked that Nicholas be freed. Nicholas was then fully reinstated as the Bishop of Myra.

The Council of Nicaea agreed with Nicholas’ views, deciding the question against Arius. The work of the Council produced the Nicene Creed which to this day many Christians repeat weekly when they stand to say what they believe.

St. Nicholas lived a number of years after the Council and was reknown for the many miracles. Today, there are more churches named for him than any other "church" name in the world.


Bishop Paul
Bishop Paul
Bishop Paul
Metropolitan Tikon
Metropolitan Tikon
Metropolitan Tikon

Parish Council

President - Gregory Grabavoy

1st Vice President - Deb Cook

2nd Vice President - Lori Snode

Treasurer - Mike Baker

Secretary - Kathy Whalen

Parish Directory

100 Year Anniversary Celebration

Social Updates
Contact Information

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
1000 Barber Ln.
Joliet, IL.  60435
Hall    (815) 725-4742

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