UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
THOUSANDS PARTICIPATE IN ANNUAL ST. THOMAS SUNDAY PILGRIMAGE AND PROVODY
It was one of the most beautiful weekends we have seen for years in terms of weather that drew thousands of Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic faithful to our Metropolia Center in South Bound Brook/Somerset, NJ for the annual Ukrainian religious tradition of sharing the good news of our Lord’s Resurrection with their departed loved ones on the Sunday following Pascha/Resurrection. This year’s event took place on 25-26 April and was inaugurated with the service of Divine Liturgy in St. Andrew Memorial Church on Saturday morning. The Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel, assisted by several clergy of our Church. During the Liturgy commemorations were made for all those buried in St. Andrew Cemetery.
On Sunday morning, Divine Liturgy was celebrated by all three of our hierarchs: Metropolitan Constantine, Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel, assisted by many clergy of the church. The bishops walked in procession with all the clergy and alter servers from the Fisher Home to the Memorial Church while the ancient bells sounds “Greeting of the Metropolitan” filled the air throughout the neighborhood. The Divine Liturgy was a beautiful service, prayerfully enhanced by the St. Andrew Memorial Church choir. Special guest for the service was His Excellency Yurij Sergeyev, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Nations.
Bishop Daniel preached the sermon during the Divine Liturgy. He spoke of the scars on Christ and on the His Mystical Body - the Church. The bishop reflected on the pious traditions of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians of visiting the graves of their loved ones in order to share with them the news of the Resurrection of Christ. Bishop Daniel reflected also on the tragic events of Chornobyl Nuclear disaster that occurred exactly 23 years ago. His Grace spoke of the various historical, political and Church related scars of modern day Ukraine and the United States of America and called upon the faithful gathered in the Church to be true witnesses of the Risen Lord in the world that is so thirsty for a word of love, hope and mercy.
A procession led the members of the Ukrainian American Veterans Association all the clergy and faithful made its way through the cemetery to the large ceremonial cross at the center. Here, a memorial service was conducted during which all those interred in St. Andrew Cemetery and Mausoleum, all the hierarchs and clergy of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the members of the Fisher Family – original owners of the estate upon which our Metropolia Center is located – were commemorated. Also especially remembered were the ten million victims of Stalin’s genocidal famine of 1932-33, the millions of victims of the Soviet repressions in Ukraine, the victims of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster and all those who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of Ukraine and the United States of America.
Following the Panakhyda, Ambassador Sergeyev spoke to the gathered faithful about the sacrifices so many of our people have made throughout the history of the Ukrainian Nation. He expressed his deep gratitude that those who perished – especially during the twentieth century – many of whom are buried in our cemetery so far away from their native land have found such a place as this holy ground to be interred together. Walking through the cemetery is like walking through the pages of Ukrainian history, with so many important people to remind one of that history.
Following the service at the Memorial Cross, the bishops, clergy and faithful went down into Holy Resurrection Mausoleum to the crypt of Patriarch and Metropolitan Mstyslav where another memorial service was conducted commemorating the Patriarch, Metropolitan John and all the other bishops of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and in Diaspora who are interred in St. Andrew Cemetery. Following this service, Archbishop Antony, Bishop Daniel, the deacons and seminarians visited the graves of all twelve hierarchs buried throughout the cemetery, as well as Metropolitan Vasyl Lypkivskyj at his memorial and at the United Ukrainian Orthodox Sisterhoods sponsored memorial to all the women and children who perished in the genocidal famine – Holodomor in Ukraine.
In the days following St. Thomas Sunday, services were also served at the graves of those individuals who left so much to our Church from their estates: Sviatoslav Kybaluck, Metropolitan Andrew Kuschak, Michael Werbiany, Michael Bereszynskyj, Serhij and Marie Krotiuk, John Kozol, Yurij Chaplenko, Alexander Stowba, Petro Stepurka, Gregory Fedoruk, Uleana Moszynskyj and John Hassack. May their memories live eternally in God’s Heavenly Kingdom.
Throughout both days of the weekend, a Ukrainian Cultural exhibition and sale was held in the Ukrainian Cultural Center, along with food service for the participants in the weekend’s events. Much gratitude is hereby expressed to all those who made the weekend the usual success it has always been: the Consistory office and property management staff, the Cultural Center staff, Memorial Church choir, the members of the Ukrainian Orthodox League who handled the parking needs.