UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
St. Mary (Protection of the Mother of God) Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Allentown, PA Marks 100 Years of Prayer and Service!
The founders of St. Mary (Protection of the Birth-Giver of God) Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Allentown, PA began their immigration to North America at the end of the 19th century. Their deep spiritual nature, rooted in the thousand year old ties between the Ukrainian people and the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, manifested itself in a desire to worship in their ancient Eastern Rite. The tragic history of their homeland, which was then divided between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires, however, had gradually severed these ties. Civic and religious freedom as well as economic opportunities attracted more and more immigrants to the New World. The rolling farmlands, coal-rich mountains, and developing industry of eastern Pennsylvania attracted a large proportion of this immigration. Large numbers of Ukrainians began to settle in the First and Sixth wards of Allentown, PA and planning began soon thereafter for a parish for their special spiritual needs.
With this in mind, the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA: Metropolitan Constantine, Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel traveled on October 10-11, 2009 to Allentown, PA to celebrate with hundreds of pious members of the cathedral community the centennial of their dedicated ministry among Ukrainian-Americans of Lehigh Valley, PA.
The celebration itself began a year ago – in October of 2008 – when the hierarchs and local clergy, along with the pastor of St. Mary Cathedral, Very Rev. Myron Oryhon and the faithful, celebrated an inaugural Divine Liturgy to mark a year long commemoration of one hundred years of prayer and service. The parish community dedicated itself to a renewal of the cathedral with a new Holy Altar and iconography throughout the church.
This year’s celebration began on Friday evening, 9 October 2009, with Great Vespers, presided over by His Grace Bishop Daniel and served by Fr. Myron Oryhon, with the cathedral choir singing responses. The Bishop Daniel came from the Metropolia Center of the UOC of the USA in South Bound Brook, NJ bearing relics of Venerable St. Anthony the Great, which were to be placed in the newly-consecrated altar on the following day. The procession with the relics entered the cathedral temple and they were placed in front of the icon of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the Iconostas awaiting installation during the consecration of the new Holy Altar on the following day.
Bishop Daniel greeted the faithful present at the Vespers, reflecting upon the life of St. Anthony and calling upon them to identify themselves with the zeal and dedication of the holy saint, in order to inspire the next generation of Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in the cathedral community to carry the torch of Faith in this 21 century, during which they will face the continued secularization of society and powerful forces tempting them to turn their backs on our Lord.
On Saturday morning, 10 October, His Eminence, Metropolitan Constantine, His Eminence, Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel, assisted by St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary seminarians: subdeacon Vasyl Pasakas, Andriy Matlak and Vasyl Dovgan, arrived at St. Mary Cathedral to the climax of the year-long anniversary celebration of the community’s foundation. The three hierarchs, assisted by Very Rev. Myron Oryhon, the pastor of the cathedral community; Protoresbyter Frank Estocin, pastor of St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA; Archimandrite Demetrios from St. Volodymyr parish in Pittsburgh, PA; Very Rev. John Nakonachny of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH; Very Rev. Yakiw Norton of Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Clifton, NJ; Very Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, pastor of Holy Assumption parish in Northampton, PA; Very Rev. Volodymyr Khanas of Protection of the Mother of God parish in Philadelphia, PA; Very Rev. Yurij Siwko of St. Andrew Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ; Protodeacon Oleh Maletych of St. Andrew Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ and Deacon Michael Sawarynski of Holy Assumption parish in Northampton, PA, completed the consecration service for the new Holy Altar in the sanctuary and the blessing of the new iconography, prior to Divine Liturgy.
During the Liturgy, Metropolitan Constantine, in behalf of the Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, elevated Very Rev. Fr. Myron Oryhon to the rank of mitred priest in honor of his 30 years of dedicated service to our Lord and His Church. The Metropolitan placed the mitre on Fr. Myron’s head during the entrance with the Holy Gospel. This entrance commemorates the public ministry of that Gospel by our Lord during His earthly ministry and the Metropolitan reminded Fr. Myron of how important his own ministry would continue to be in today’s world.
During his sermon, Metropolitan Constantine reflected upon the spiritual mandate of our Lord that each of us must fulfill, so that we can indeed call ourselves that blessed name “Christians” - Ukrainian Orthodox Christians of the Holy Mother Church. He stressed that during the Sacrament of Chrismation each Orthodox Christian is “branded” as a child of God and that we are imprinted at that moment with the knowledge that God is our Father and the one we must follow and look up to all our lives – the One with Whom we must be One as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was One with Him. This is the goal of our life – to become one with God, loving Him with all our heart, all our mind and all our soul. The only way we can truly “celebrate” this 100th anniversary is to rededicate ourselves to this goal – in spite of the temptations of this modern world.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the hierarchs, clergy, faithful and guests of the cathedral community participated in a centennial banquet. Various political and community dignitaries offered their greetings to the cathedral community, among them U. S. Congressman, Representative Charles W. Dent, of the 15th Congressional District of Pennsylania; PA State Senator Patrick M. Brown; Joseph F. Brennan, member of the PA State Representative; Donald T. Cunningham Jr.- Lehigh County Executive; Mayor Edward Pawlowski - City of Allentown, PA.
Fr. Myron Oryhon greeted the faithful of the cathedral community commenting on the years of dedication and hard work of the parish family and honored various members of the cathedral family for their dedication and hard work in the Vineyard of our Lord. Nicholas Fartuch, President of the cathedral parish board of administration, challenged the community to rededicate themselves to the ministry of the Church in order to be a positive example to the next generation of pious members of the parish congregation. His Eminence Archbishop Antony as well as His Grace Bishop Daniel offered their greetings, calling upon everyone in attendance to open their hearts to our Lord, namely proclaiming the Word of God by daily actions and sacrifice for the sake of those who are in need and opening the doors of their parish and their hearts to all who seek to know our Lord.
Each person present received a copy of the centennial commemorative book, which summarized the year-long celebration: “We the members of the 100th Anniversary Committee dedicate this book to our ancestors who left us not only with a beautiful parish, but also a love for our Ukrainian Orthodox Church. With the help of Our Lord Jesus Christ may we have many, many prosperous years ahead!”