UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Ceaselessly Working Towards Ceaseless Prayer
By Elizabeth Symonenko, Senior Junior UOL Chapter Advisor
As a child prepares to leave for school, his mother stands in the doorway praying that the Lord have mercy on him, keep him safe from harm, help him choose right over wrong, and grant him all that is good for him. When he sits to take his exam, his mother stands before an icon of Christ, and prays that the Lord open her child’s mind allowing him to do well on his test. The child is oblivious to his mother’s prayers and petitions on his behalf before God, and yet, he reaps the rewards of her efforts.
Just as the child benefited throughout the day from his mother’s constant prayers and petitions to God, so the Church benefits from constant prayers on her behalf. Saint Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) While churches are the heart of Orthodoxy, monasteries are her soul. Churches are active in the world, doing good works, teaching and assisting the poor, while the monasteries stand before icons praying for those churches. It is the monastics that pray unceasingly for the Church’s well-being, and the welfare of her faithful.
At the 2010 Ukrainian Orthodox League Convention, His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine, announced the plans for building a monastery for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. The Junior Ukrainian Orthodox League members voted on collecting funds towards the building of the monastery, setting a goal of $200/chapter for the following year. While some adults at the convention were doubtful of the juniors’ efforts, His Grace Bishop Daniel intervened on their behalf and supported the children’s efforts.
When the Jr. U.O.L. members of the Southfield Chapter heard of the plans for the monastery, a place of peace, refuge and prayer, they mobilized and decided they would do all they could to help the monastery get off the ground.
To cheer on the team, a mascot was chosen. From day one, Monakh Monomakh, named in honor of Volodymyr Monomakh who instructed his children in his Pouchenije Ditiam, to “hasten to do all good acts and praise the Lord with His saints,” cheered on the members. Monakh Monomakh’s smiling face appeared throughout the year, on all the flyers, and at all the fundraisers.
The collection began in earnest on Christmas Eve. The children began their fundraising by standing at the doorway, with a poster featuring an Orthodox church and Monakh Monomakh, asking for donations. The initial collection increased when the children donated all the tips they earned by providing and serving soda pop and water to the guests at the Christmas Eve dinner. The first day’s collection totaled $111.
On Christmas Day the children added $333 to their collection, which now totaled $444. Eager to keep the ball rolling, the children once again took up their posts, soliciting funds the following Sunday and were able to garner an additional $123, which brought their total to $567.
Having exceeded the initially requested amount of $200, the children were still eager to collect more towards the monastery. Chapter President, Andrew Powers, took to the podium during the Parish Annual Meeting, informing the parishioners and church board members of Chapter’s goals and intentions. The Chapter held a Crepe Luncheon on Cheesefare Sunday, serving freshly made crepes with cheese and fruit fillings. With Monakh Monomakh cheering them on, the members collected funds by holding a “Pascha Store”, where they sold Easter egg dyes, baskets, little icons, crosses and egg wraps. 1 a.m. Pascha morning, the parishioners found a beautifully decorated table in the church hall laden with Lenten cookies, fruits, coffee and lemonade. Touched by the children’s efforts to help them stay awake, and prompted by Monakh Monomakh’s smile, people left tips which were added to the monastery fund. Twice a month the Jr. U.O.L. Chapter manned the kitchen, preparing and serving freshly made borsch, varenyky, dessert and coffee.
Seeing how desperately the children were trying to collect funds for the monastery, parishioners happily gave what they could, and often donated the change from their purchases. Penny by penny, and dollar by dollar, the monastery fund grew to over $800!
With the deadline for donations looming on the horizon, the kids made one last ditch effort to increase their funds. On Mother’s Day the Chapter held a huge bake sale. Once again, Monakh Monomakh winked and invited everyone to partake of the homemade sweets.
Thanks to St. Mary the Protectress Parish members’ assistance, donations and support, the Southfield Jr. U.O.L. Chapter members were able to collect and donate $1,111 towards the building of the U.O.C. of U.S.A. Monastery. While it seems a fortune to the chapter, and took countless hours, and much dedication to collect, this “huge” amount is just a drop in the bucket.
The Orthodox Church measures its health by the quality of its monks and nuns. Orthodox monastics separate themselves from the world in order to pray unceasingly for the world. How blessed will we all be to have monastics praying for us, unceasingly.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us!