24 August, 2012
To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monastics, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Ukrainian Orthodox Communities, and the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Family in the United States of America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Each year on the twenty-fourth of August, Ukrainians throughout the world come together in the love of our Lord to celebrate the historical significance of the heroic struggle of the Ukrainian nation for freedom, liberty, and independence.
As our forefathers have done in the past, here in the United States of America, on this day we gather as families and communities to celebrate the independence of our ancestral homeland. We affirm on this important day the values of freedom and liberty that have characterized the spirit of our forefathers and our national pride. As we celebrate this national holiday, we are granted the occasion to consider that freedom and liberty are not only treasured values, but are essential and universal conditions for cultivating loving relationships with God and with others.
For us, living in the USA, this annual celebration demonstrates to all members of society of every race, culture, and religion the significance of our Ukrainian heritage and our Holy Orthodox faith. In our contemporary world, which is beset today by threats of terror and war, our heritage and faith uphold the virtues of freedom, hope in God’s presence and deliverance, and love for all human beings. These virtues are absolutely essential for the promotion of peace, for the establishment of justice, and for the cultivation of loving relationships with God and one another. Our cultural and religious legacy as Ukrainian Orthodox Christians reminds us of our sacred responsibility to ensure that all people have access to the same fruits and blessings that we enjoy as citizens and residents of a free nation. In our communities and parishes, we meet this responsibility through upholding our commitments to charity, through cultivating openness in our hearts toward strangers in our midst, through our unconditional love for our neighbors, and through our true worship of God, Who created all human beings in His perfect image and likeness.
On this Day of Independence, we pray that God may deepen our understanding of freedom and liberty in all their dimensions, that our love for Him and for one another may be also intensified. May His peace and abundant blessings abide in your hearts forever.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop and Locum Tenens of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Bishop of the Western Eparchy