UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY
2013 High School Mission Team Begins Its Journey at the Metropolia Center of the UOC of the USA
We have survived our first full day in South Bound Brook and it was a good one. We started the day by attending Divine Liturgy at Nativity of the Virgin Mary Ukrainian Orthodox parish in South Plainfield, NJ. The team was asked to sing a few of the prayers during the Liturgy. It was a wonderful experience meeting the parishioners and being greeted by Fr. Vasyl and Dobrodijka Oksana Pasakas.
Our next task involved creating a shopping list of needed food for the week. Coordinating efforts and time management were put to the test with this task!
Upon returning to the seminary, we were joined by our final team member. She hopped right in and we all began cooking lunch. Following lunch we had our orientation and then Fr. Vasyl took us on a tour and history of the Metropolia Center grounds. During orientation we discussed the purpose of our trip and our individual expectations. The team was given the commission to "show the face of Christ" to everyone and anyone that they meet in the coming days. We then discussed how this meets our Lord's Great Commission to "Go forth and make disciples of all nations."
With the help of Fr. Vasyl and Dobrodijka Oksana we grilled up some tasty hot dogs and hamburgers and the ladies made delicious 7 Layer Dip and homemade lemonade.
His Eminence Archbishop Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel arrived home from a trip into NYC. Bishop Daniel and the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ joined us in a laughter-filled evening of creating our mission team t-shirts. We then had an evening reflection with His Grace who encouraged the team members to "Discover who Jesus Christ is and what He means in your life."
After a little evening soccer we conducted evening prayers and then off to bed to start our first full day of work on the Prayer Walk!
Sunday Reporter - Natalie Kapeluck Nixon - Director of the Consistory Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry
The team started off their Monday morning by attending a Molebon service.
Our morning continued as we got setup with the materials needed to start on the pray trail crosses. The seminarians were able to join our team on the first day of our project. With all the extra help we were able to break off into small groups where some removed the icons and the saints prayers, others cleaned and sanded the crosses to get prepared for painting. Due to the wonderful work ethic of everyone we were able to paint many of the shrines before lunch.
We had a brief tour of the Consistory Administrative Offices where we met His Eminence Metropolitan Antony. The team was able to present him with his "official' team t-shirt which was created the night before. As you can see from his expression when it was revealed...he loved it! The team also toured the Holy Resurrection Mausoleum which is the final resting place of Patriarch Mystyslav of blessed memory. A summary of the life of His Holiness was conveyed to the team members as they studied the archival material of his life.
After lunch everyone came back to finish some of the cross shrines and decided that with all the help we would paint the roofs of the shrines. With just one day down we were able to finish eleven out of fifteen prayer shrines.
Later in the evening the team was able to play a few sports out in the yard with the seminarians and enjoy a refreshing popsicle. The team reflected on their day and how refurbishing the crosses were a reflection of their own need to refurbish the crosses in their lives on a regular basis.
The evening was brought to a beautiful and peaceful close as they celebrated the Akhathist to the Icon of the Mother of God of Pochaiv for the Youth of the Church led by His Grace Bishop Daniel.
Monday Reporter - Krista Ulbricht
Today was another very full and productive day for the team. We began the day celebrating Divine Liturgy for the Dormition of the Righteous Anna. We were then joined by several teenagers and young adults from Holy Ascension parish in Maplewood, NJ. Renovation of the prayer walk crosses continued and all fourteen are nearly complete. The team split into several small work teams. One team began intense work on the gazebo prayer shrine - cleaning, mending screens and adorning the small service table with stencil work.
A Duncan Donuts break was an unexpected and delicious way to refuel and finish it up.
We concluded our work day with Great Vespers and yet another yummy meal by Pani Maria Morozovska, the seminary chef. Each day we walk away very full and very happy!
The team then packed up and made our way to New York City. All were excited to see the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline up close and personal.
The Martin family greeted us warmly and we settled in for the night as we anticipate our work tomorrow at Emmaus House.
Wow Wednesday - is our thought concerning the middle of our trip. Following a VERY early morning rise, we hopped on the subway in Queens and made our way to Harlem to work at Emmaus House. Emmaus House was founded by Fr. David Kirk in the mid-1960's as a community for the homeless in Harlem and that is truly what we witnessed - a community based in Christ!
Emmaus Director Julia Demaree and Program Director Michael Taylor greeted us warmly. We began our work together in prayer in the lovely Christ of the Homeless the Chapel. Julia spent some time conveying to us the work, history and philosophy of Emmaus House. The morning was a busy one, on Wednesdays the 'house' is open for a market place. Food donated by Corbin Hill, City Harvest, Morningstide Park Farmers Market, and Cafe Latte is distributed to those who show up from the community. On a normal day up to 100 people might come and travel from as far away from Chinatown (look it up on a map - that is a hike in NYC!) We helped distribute the food and greet all of the friends from the community. It was an awesome morning and we really felt the love that is shared between those in the House and those who come to the House for help. One team member stated, " This was very different from my experience working at a food bank back home. This was much more personal and I liked that you really got to know the people you were helping, it was like friends coming over for the morning."
Once the "market" closed, the team aided in projects around the House. Intern Will Travers guided the team (which was joined by our host in Queens Charissa Martin), on beginning the renovation of one the their rooms that will be used for individuals with nowhere else to go, who may come to Emmaus House looking for somewhere to stay . Scraping, spackling, taping oh my! It was hard but good work. The other teams members were working in the entryway prepping and painting the area, while another group worked on cleaning boots that had been donated in preparation for distribution during the coming fall and winter months.
When our day was complete we left our new friends after evening prayers. Since we were so close to the city we made our way to Manhattan and caught a show at the Joyce Theater of BalletX. (It was a great coincidence that they were in town being that Zachary Kapeluck of Sts. Peter & Paul UOC of Carnegie dances with the company!) We then, tired but happy made our way back "home" to South Bound Brook to contemplate finishing up our projects.
We are almost at the end of our time here in South Bound Brook, NJ. Today was a long, productive day.
We began the day with morning prayers followed by a nutritious breakfast with His Grace Bishop Daniel before he departed to fulfill his daily duties at the Consistory offices.
Following morning prayers and breakfast we were once again joined by the Shevchuk siblings from Maplewood. Work continued on finishing up the prayer walk project. Intermittent rain kept us on our toes jumping back and forth from working outside to taking shelter inside.
We went straight to work, preparing the grounds around the crosses for mulching and planting. After they were prepared we proceeded to lay mulch and plant flowers in front of the crosses. We were later joined by one of the many generous workers here at the Consistory who helped us finish all the crosses diligently. After all the mulching was finished we took a short break to enjoy delicious snacks and refreshing Gatorade.
After finishing their classes the seminarians joined us to clean up the bridge, which included sweeping, washing, and sanding. We were able to personally pick out flowers for the flower beds in front of the Consistory signs. After completing only one of the flower beds, it began to rain. Due to this we were unable to work outside, but we focused the rest of our day on preparing an icon that will be used in Saturday's service.
In the evening we took some time to work on a few small projects such as preparing a damaged icon to be used for one last time at the Blessing of Water service on Saturday. Andrea also came home to us!!
Following dinner, we were invited to get ice cream with his Grace Bishop Daniel. It was a nice evening filled with ice cream, reflections, and laughs. He also provided us with a lovely reflection this evening which ended in a hand-painted icon necklace for each of us!
Thursday Reporters - Brandi Rohal and Danielle Walewski
It is hard to believe that it is our final day of work here in South Bound Brook. The team has worked very hard and are doing so joyfully! Today we started early to beat the rain and also to ensure we completed all of our projects. Several of the prayer crosses needed touch-up painting and to have their roofs done. Icons were rehung and prayers reattached. We then completed the landscaping at the entry signs to the Consistory complex.
After another delicious lunch prepared by the seminary cook, Pani Maria, we were taken on a tour of the Ukrainian Historical and Educational Center. The old bookstore is currently being used as a display area. It was doubly special to some of the team members because it contained embroidery and pysanky from a member of their parish, Josephine Repa. Natalia Honcharenko, Museum Curator, spent time presenting the display and guiding the team through the museum structure.
A highlight for the team was meeting His Eminence's dog, Lacy the Labrador! She is super cute and energetic. Just that little pick-me-up in the afternoon that you need. Then back to work!!!! The team tackled painting the realllllly long wooden bridge that connects the two halves of the property. With some help from the seminarians we were able to complete the railing work, which is very detailed....with a lot of sides to keep track of. At times there was more paint on us then on the fence.
Following dinner the team was welcomed at the Heinrich Fisher house which is on the property of the Consistory. It is a historical home cared for by Emil and Shirley Skocypec. Each team member was given a Ukrainian spider ornament as a remembrance of the Fisher House. A little more touch-up painting in the gazebo on the blessing table and then back home for evening prayers and some baking!!!
Tomorrow is our day "off" and we are looking forward to what the day brings.
Saturday! We have come to the end of our week and may sit back and enjoy the time that is left here in South Bound Brook. It was a blessing that our trip coincided with the 1025th Celebration of the Baptism of Rus' - Ukraine being held at the Metropolia Center. Divine Liturgy was beautiful and sung in English and Ukrainian in Antiphonal style by three choirs!! We then processed to the Gazebo Chapel of the Transfiguration where we celebrated the Lesser Blessing of Water. It was wonderful to see the repairs we made to the gazebo screens and the improvements to the small blessing table being enjoyed by our hierarchs.
Off for a quick bite at the delicious luncheon of Ukrainian foods and then we were off to the Big Apple - NYC! The seminarians joined us for the evening. Fr. Teodore and Pani Matka Elena Masur of Holy Trinity UOC in lower Manhattan guided us to their parish and shared with us the beautiful renovations to their parish building. Icons cover the interior of the church from floor to ceiling. Fr. Masur became our tour guide taking us to Ground Zero. It was very moving to be witnesses to those who were lost on 9/11. We then proceeded to the area of City Hall and eventually over to Battery Park and the pier for the Staten Island Ferry.
When in NY - do as the New Yorkers do ... and that means walking, lots and lots of walking! We walked through Wall Street, Tribeca, Soho. Finally we hopped the subway and emerged at Times Square. The bright lights, street performers and energy were amazing. We all were dazzled by the bustling center of New York.
Exhausted but happy we traveled home. A tinge of sadness meets our final night knowing that tomorrow we leave for home.