25 July 2013


   Fr. Thomas Loya begins his presentation with a historical perspective of the early church and iconography before the iconostas which was designed, built and painted by his brother Nicholas Loya who also wrote the icons on it. 
  Nick is the owner of Eikona, Inc. iconography studio in Cleveland.  All the murals below on the 
walls  and ceiling of the church were done by Fr. Tom..

In 987, Czar Vladimir of Kievan Rus' sent his ambassadors in search of a religion for his people. When they returned from their journey, they said of St. Sophia in Constantinoble, “We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth. We only know that God dwells there among the people, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations." Hence, the Russian people became Orthodox Christians.

On Saturday, April 13, 2013, similar words were expressed by those who attended the iconography presentation sponsored by the Carpatho-Rusyn Society/Lake Michigan Chapter. Father Thomas Loya, pastor of Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen, IL, shared his iconography talents and knowledge with the group. Under his guidance, two parishes and two missions combined and relocated to form Annunciation parish. The first Divine Liturgy in its new location was on September 19, 1999 and the consecration on May 14, 2000.

A native of Cleveland, OH, Fr. Tom pursued a career in art and eventually began painting icons. He attended SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Pittsburgh and the North American College in Rome. On July 11, 1982, he was ordained and served at Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church in Parma and St. John’s in Solon, both in Ohio followed by St. Mary in Joliet, IL before being assigned to Annunciation.
During his talk, Fr. Tom noted that icons are “written” not painted. “Writing an icon” refers to the fact that icons are more than just an art form. They communicate theology and Scripture, the Word of God. Therefore, like the Scripture, they are “written.”

     Each of the four triangular sections where a corner meets the dome contains an icon of one of the four evangelists. 
 On the left is St Matthew; on the right is St. John.

St. Mark is the evangelist in the corner.  To the left is Christ appearing to St. Thomas while Saints Cyril and Methodius who brought Christianity to the Slave peoples are below. To the left of the back door is St. Elijah being taken up to heaven.  On the right is the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Blessed Virgin Mary.    

At the top of the back wall is a Pentecost icon of the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles.  
       St. Luke is in the triangle. 

Between the Fr. Tom’s explanation of iconography and its history and his actually painting the one remaining 
icon to be completed, the women of the church delighted everyone by sharing their Rusyn culinary skills.

Fr. Tom saved one last icon to demonstrate the actual writing of an icon for the group.     
The three Byzantine Catholic bishops from Slovakia are Theodore Romzha, Paul Gojdic and Basil Hopko.   

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