His Grace Bishop Daniel: Axios-Worthy!



The weekend of May 9-11, 2008 has been described as a weekend of a spiritual joy and renewal for not only the more than 500 people who gathered at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH but for the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, as the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Church witnessed the consecration of a new bishop of the UOC of the USA in the person of Archimandrite Daniel (Zelinsky).

Seven Orthodox Hierarchs from around the world participated in the historical and joyful event of the Church. Metropolitan Constantine and Archbishop Antony, the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA were joined in the consecration services by Hs Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the American Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Church, His Eminence Archbishop Yurij of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, His Grace Bishop Jeremiah of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of South America, His Grace Bishop Demetrios, the assistant Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago and a representative of the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the US – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, and His Grace Bishop Andrij of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Western Europe.
     Also and participating in the consecration services were 60 priests and deacons of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and other Orthodox Churches, along with 400 faithful who traveled to Parma, OH from around the country, from California to Maine and from Canada to Florida and everywhere in between. In attendance were also three hierarchs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the USA: His Eminence Metropolitan Stefan Soroka, Bishop Robert Moskal, Bishop-emeritus Basil Losten, as well as Bishop John Kudryk of Byzantine Catholic Church of America.

The clergy and the faithful of the Church began to arrive to St. Volodymyr’s cathedral hours prior to the consecration services and the Agape Meal, which followed them. The liturgical services began on Friday night, May 9, 2008 with a Vesper service, served by Very Rev. Fr. Bazyl Zawierucha, a Provost of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary and a pastor of Holy Dormition Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Northampton, PA; Rev. Fr. Harry Linsinbigler, Dean of Florida Deanery and a pastor of Holy Protection of the Mother of God parish in Dover , FL; Rev. Fr. Vasile Sauciur, Dean of the West Coast Deanery and pastor of St. Volodymyr’s parish in Los Angeles, CA; Rev. Fr. Stephen Masliuk, Dean of the New England Deanery and pastor of St. Mary parish in Bridgeport, CT; Very Rev. Roman Tarnawsky, pastor of St. Andrew parish in Boston, MA; Rev. Deacons Dr. Ihor Mahlay and Dennis Lapushansky.

At the conclusion of the service, Archimandrite Daniel was led to the nave of the Church by Right Rev. Archimandrite Pankratij (Dubas) and Ihumen Gregory (Woolfenden) in front of the presiding hierarchs for the Nomination and Betrothal ceremony during which Metropolitan Constantine asked Archimandrite Daniel: “The Holy Sobor and Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, along with the Holy Synod of the Great Church of Christ, blesses Your Meekness, Most-Honorable Father Archimandrite Daniel, to be a bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Do you accept this election?”   The Archimandrite answered: “Seeing that the Sobor, the Council of Bishops and the Holy Synod of the Great Church of Christ have judged me worthy to be bishop, I render thanksgiving and accept, and have nothing to say contrary to this.” Following a prayer service, Bishop-elect Daniel addressed the Hierarchs of the Church, stating:
      “The will of the faithful of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Holy Synod of the Great Church of Christ call me this day to the most responsible service and authority of a Bishop, successor to the Apostles and witness to the words and deeds of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
      It is with the profound sense of humility that I stand in front of you my brothers hierarchs, reverend fathers and brothers and sisters in the Lord and reflect upon my unworthiness to receive this call and be chosen for this profound service and responsibility – a bishop in our Lord’s blessed Vineyard.
     I cannot help but to reflect upon the words of Holy Apostle Paul, describing the moral standards and characteristics of Episcopal service: “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered …  but hospitable, a lover of what is good, just, holy, self-controlled,  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
     A steward of God…. Am I worthy of this responsibility? Were the Apostles worthy of this responsibility?
     They were simple people – fishing, collecting taxes – doing the things ordinary people do to live. Then something happened.
     They were called by someone and sent somewhere. And when that happened, everything changed. They saw themselves differently, went places they never thought of going before, thought thoughts that never would have come into their heads, and did things they never would have seen themselves doing. Their world turned upside down. They were called and sent – and everything was rearranged.
     Standing in front of you I also reflect upon the words of Holy Prophet Isaiah, the very words that our Savior Jesus Christ once spoke at the beginning of his public ministry: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted… to announce a year of favor from the Lord…"
One of the first duties of a bishop is the proclamation of the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.
     I humbly realize that as a bishop, I will now enjoy the privileged responsibility of teaching the faith and proclaiming a word of hope and encouragement to people not only of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA but to people of all cultures and languages. Although the circumstances may vary, ultimately, it is one same Word that people need to hear—the Good News of our Risen Lord.
     In the Holy Priesthood - as bishops, priests, and deacons, we are ministers of God's Word, a Word that we can only proclaim to others if we have first heard it in the silence of our hearts through prayer.
     Our work of evangelization naturally leads people to the Lord's altar, to a desire to share in the mystery of His Death and Resurrection through the Holy Mystery Eucharist and the other Mysteries of the Church.
     My beloved brothers: as a shepherd, bishop is concerned not only for the unity of the Church, but also in looking for ever-new ways to promote the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception until natural death. As a teacher, bishop is not only handing on and renewing our Orthodox faithful in their understanding of the Faith, but he is also called to articulate our faith values and show how they apply to the many social issues of our times. I beg you to pray for me so that I have the strength to become a voice speaking on behalf of the basic human rights for all people. Because of my faith and ethnic background, heritage, and somewhat limited experience, I hope to have a special opportunity to witness to the special needs of people; to help others become ever-more sensitive to cultural diversity and the way our Church and our country will be stronger as we learn to share the gifts and resources with one another.
     I solemnly realize that as a shepherd among my own - Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Christian community, I must deepen my own holiness through the exercise of my episcopal ministry among the people of God. I pray that my availability and sensitivity to the clergy and laity alike will be a source of joy and encouragement for them and for myself as well. I will do everything possible to help to build up the unity of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church by involvement in the work of the parishes and institutions and organizations of our Church throughout the world that continue the teaching and healing ministry of our Risen Lord.
     This evening, I spiritually prostrate myself before the Lord, acknowledging my human weakness and dependence on God’s mercy. Then, in all humility, with every fiber of my being I shall arise from the posture of prostration – a sign of my complete self-giving – and come forward for the most powerful but ever silent gesture of the descent of the Holy Spirit - laying on of hands, the central act of Episcopal consecration, a reminder that ordination brings a whole new identity, a new way of living.
     I am being called to this ministry in order to serve in the name of the Lord. May I always remember that He alone is my life source and that all ministry will be effective and fruitful only to the extent that I must forget myself and allow Christ to work through me. 
     The obedience that I am pledging this day is not simply committing myself to a particular eparchy for a certain number of years. Rather, my obedience must embrace an attitude whereby I freely and completely immerse myself in this service and this Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church with all of its gifts and needs. 
     I prayerfully reflect upon the question posed to the sons of Zebedee in the Gospel: “Can you drink this cup?” As I am consecrated and then drink of the Cup each day, may I be renewed by the love for the Lord and His Holy Church.  May the Holy Spirit come down upon you, my beloved hierarchs and our whole Church, blessing all of us who serve together in His Name. 
     And so, with fear of God, I anticipate the descent of the Holy Spirit and with a child-like attitude I beg you, my beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord to remember me in your prayers, and you, my beloved hierarchs, I beg to bless me and remember me, a sinner, in your prayers so that the Lord will send down His Divine Grace and make me a worthy servant of His Church for His Glory and salvation of others. Amen.”

At the conclusion of the service, Metropolitan Constantine blessed Bishop-elect Daniel concluding with the joyful chanting of “Mnohaya Lita – God grant you many years!” Following the service, Bishop-elect Daniel remained secluded in a Church for prayers and spiritual reflections and instructions while the clergy and faithful participated in a social gathering at the Cathedral Center, which was organized and sponsored by St. Vladimir Cathedral Parish.

During this gathering, Counsel Oleksandr Alexandrovych, representative of His Excellency Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States of America, Dr. Oleh Shamshur addressed the clerics and the faithful of the Church, expressing the Ambassador’s greetings to Bishop Daniel as well as the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.

The weather in the morning of Saturday, May 10, 2008 was so bright and sunny that the domes of St. Volodymyr’s cathedral shone brightly from a distance inviting the clergy and faithful to the Consecration Divine Liturgy. As the Church bells rang the festal chimes an immense procession of hierarchs, clergy and the faithful made its way from the cathedral rectories to the cathedral. Sixty children of the Ukrainian School at St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, as well as members of Plast and SUM and Ukrainian-American Veterans participated in the procession which was headed by the processional cross and Church banners, followed by the hierarchs, clergy and faithful to the entrance of the Cathedral , where they were greeted by Very Rev. Dennis Kristof, dean of the Penn-Ohio Deanery and Dareen Jogan, president of the Parish Board of Administration of St. Volodymyr cathedral and children of the Ukrainian  and Church schools.

Prior to the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, Bishop-elect Daniel was once again escorted by the Protopresbyters George Hnatko and William Diakiw to the nave of the Church in front of the presiding hierarchs for the solemn Professions of Faith. Metropolitan Constantine once again asked a question of Bishop-elect Daniel: “For what reason have you come, and what do you ask of our humility?” to which the Bishop-elect responded: “The laying-on of hands for the grace of the episcopacy, Holy Masters.” Following that dialogue, Bishop-elect Daniel three times expressed to the hierarchs his detailed profession of faith. In conclusion, he presented Metropolitan Constantine with the written and signed profession of faith and his promise to the bishops, following which the Divine Liturgy began as Bishop-elect Daniel was escorted into the Sanctuary of the cathedral church where he remained until the consecration moment after the Thrice-Holy hymn.

The Divine Liturgy began with all the hierarchs mentioned above participating and assisted by the senior Deans and clergy of the Church:  Protopresbyter William Diakiw, Dean Protopresbyter George Hnatko (Western PA Deanery), Dean Protopresbyter Frank Estocin (Mid-Atlantic Deanery), Dean Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko (NY-NJ Deanery, Dean Dennis Kristof (Penn-Ohio Deanery) and Dean V. Rev. Bohdan Kalynyuk (Chicago Deanery), along with Protodeacon Irinei Dziadyk and Deacon Ihor Mahlay.

As the cathedral choir under a skilful direction of Maestro Markian Komichak completed the singing of “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us”, Bishop-elect Daniel was led before the Royal Doors where he was received by the hierarchs. He knelt at the Holy Altar and the opened Holy Gospel Book was placed on his head and the prayers of Episcopal consecration were offered by the hierarchs. At their conclusion, Bishop Daniel stood and Metropolitan Constantine vested him in his Episcopal vestments, miter and panagia. As each sacred vestment was presented, Metropolitan exclaimed: AXIOS – WORTHY, to which the clergy and then the faithful joyfully responded AXIOS – HE IS WORTHY!

Once vested, Bishop Daniel was greeted by the hierarchs and as a Prokimenon was chanted, the new Bishop offered his first Episcopal blessing, exclaiming: PEACE BE TO YOU!

Following the Gospel reading, His Eminence Archbsihop Yurij offered a sermon in which he reflected upon the moment of Episcopal consecration and called upon the faithful to remember Bishop Daniel in their daily prayers.

At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Constantine addressed the newly consecrated bishop with profound spiritual instructions explaining to him the meaning of Episcopal service as successor to the Apostles and the wonder of the Holy Spirit's guidance, which leads every hierarch.  The Metropolitan presented His Grace Bishop Daniel with the archpastoral staff and charged him to recall this Liturgy and these hierarchs, clergy and faithful who witnessed and participated in it, all of whom will keep him in their daily prayers, enabling his success - in God's terms. Bishop Daniel accepted the Episcopal staff with humility and offered his blessing to the clergy and faithful gathered at St. Volodymyr’s cathedral.

A most beautiful part of all the Consecration services - in addition to the magnificence of the Cathedral choir under the direction of Markian Komichak, as noted above - was the participation of our youth in singing and reading portions of the service, which had a powerful and emotional effect upon all the clergy and faithful gathered.

The joyful weekend ended with the Agape banquet in honor of the newly-consecrated bishop at which the more than 400 people present were addressed by the hierarchs and the several guests. Metropolitan Constantine presented the blessing and greeting from His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch:

     “The consecration of a new Hierarch at the Cathedral Parish of Volodymyr, Parma Ohio, within the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America is truly cause for joy and source of blessing for the entire Church in general but especially for the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
      The Orthodox Church has preserved the central role of the Bishop in the Eucharist and in the community, retaining a profound sense of communion with the celebration of the Kingdom of Heaven, while also reinforcing a profound sense of solidarity with the world in which we live and where we are called to minister unto the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters. Indeed, the Church as “communion of saints” (koinonia ton hagion) is a microcosm of the Kingdom of Heaven. Where the Liturgy takes place, there also the Kingdom of God is revealed in all its glory, transforming the suffering of this world into the broken Body and shed Blood of our Lord for the life of the world.
     In this liturgical perspective and within this theological context, the role of the Bishop is neither secondary nor incidental; it cannot simply be reduced to an expression of the authority and power of this world. Rather, it comprises the most essential and constitutive dimension of the Body of Christ, reflecting the ministry of service and discipleship in the vineyard established by the right hand of God. Therefore, the responsibility of the Bishop is not simply that of an administrator but rather that of a pastor; not that of an organizer but rather that of president of the Eucharistic assembly that gathers in unity around the Divine Liturgy. Where the bishop is – to recall the formative and definitive words of St. Ignatius of Antioch – there also the entire Church is to be found.
     We are, then, with you in spirit and in prayer as you celebrate the consecration of a new Bishop in your Consistory. For this celebration is truly an occasion for joy inasmuch as it reflects and seals the unity of the entire Church of Christ. And we join in proclaiming at once and praying: Axios!”

Halyna Zelinska, mother of His Grace Bishop Daniel, came from Ukraine and greeted her son with the words of love and parental instructions about his responsibilities as a shepherd of souls. This was a most moving and emotional moment, which brought everyone present to tears.  In conclusion, Bishop Daniel addressed the participants of the banquet with words of gratitude, stating:  

     “Thank you for joining me today as I give thanks to God for the gift of this new call to ministry in our Lord’s Holy Vineyard. Your presence here today allows me the opportunity to thank each of you for the support and love you have shown me throughout the years. My joy and gratitude this day are all the richer because of you. I am especially touched that many of you have traveled a considerable distance to be here. In particular, we are blessed today by many hierarchs from around the country, and indeed, from various parts of the world, especially I wish to acknowledge various hierarchs that have arrived from Brazil and United Kingdom, Canada, etc. I am well aware of the many demands on your schedules; I truly appreciate the honor that you do me and the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA by your presence and participation in today’s joyful events.
     I also wish to recognize friends and fellow religious leaders/hierarchs of various religious communities, representatives of the churches of other denominations. In particular I greet Metropolitan Stefan Soroka, Bishop Robert (Moskal) and Bishop Basil Losten of the Ukrainian Catholic Church as well as Bishop John Kudryk of Byzantine Catholic Church. I thank all of you for your good will and prayers, and your witness to our work in Christ…
     I cannot remember exactly when it was, but it had to be more than 15 years ago that I stood with the congregation in the small town church and listen to the sermon of the local priest, who said: “God loves you as though you were the only person in all the world to love. Each of you is a very important person and God loves you. And I, as your priest – love you too…”
     I cannot recall how many times I recalled the words of that priest. It sure did change my entire life: starting as a little boy in a drama school that used to perform a variety of communist propaganda plays – I simply never even considered a possibility of becoming a priest, without even mentioning – being called to be a bishop, yet in America…. Today, it has all changed.
     I clearly remember the very first time someone called me “father”, it sounded strange. I not only felt too young to carry that title, but I also did not feel worthy or ready for the responsibilities that accompanied that God-ordained office. But I grew to embrace the title and to this very day I respond to it with joy.
     Father, thanks for your sermon …. Need to talk to you…… my Mom is in the hospital…. Just died…. Guess what, we are going to have a new baby…… the X-rays do not look good…. Can you pray for me…
     This list is endless, but you know what I mean and how it feels….. Those of you that share with me in the ministry of the Holy Priesthood know and understand how ministry can be beautiful and painful at the same time. But it is the call and the sense of God’s unthinkable presence that keeps us from running away… It is the love, upon which the Lord established His Church that gives us the strength to move forward, because we have the wonderful privilege to give love, to be loved and to lead others to express God’s love in the world around us, the world that thirsts for love.
     I remember reading somewhere that “the gospel of a broken heart demands the ministry of bleeding hearts...”
     Loving those we serve is the notion, practice which lies at the very core of our ministry. We are the agents of the Father’s love in our parish communities and the world around us, because: “…it is clear to us, brethren, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something very special” (1 Thes. 1:4) I personally believe that one’s ministry – our ministry – becomes much more enjoyable and more effective as we increase the love for those whom we serve. Love makes us more Christ-like.
     I remember how once I had a conversation with one of the seminarians about certain circumstances in the life of a priest in which we find ourselves completely out of control. In those moments we realize that we have to lean on God, because He is All we have. He is always more than enough. All we need to do is to grasp His hand. It is the same hand that reaches out to save Peter from the water; it is the same hand that reaches out to save us, to hold us, to protect us and to guide us.
     One old priest said: “I would rather be with God in the dark that by myself in the light…” – with this in mind I shall conclude putting all my trust in the Lord, as I begin this new service in His Vineyard.
     The most important lesson I have learned in my life is simply this: every one of us has the gift and power of making all things new in Christ. We do so to the extent that we always focus on the gifts and the needs of the whole Body of Christ, the Church. Whatever gift we have received is not for ourselves, but for others. And in our every need, as we humbly and gratefully receive support and sustenance from others in the Church, we come to know and experience the healing, and renewing love of our Lord Jesus Christ, our true and eternal High Priest. ”

In conclusion, His Grace greeted all mothers present at the impending celebration of Mother’s Day and presented his own mother with a bouquet of flowers and closed the evening with a benediction.

None of the events of this spiritual, wondrous and joy-filled weekend would have been possible without the organization and hospitality of St. Vladimir Cathedral Pastor, V. Rev. Fr. John Nakonachny, who oversees every detail, Mrs. Dareen Jogan, President of the parish Board of Administration and her board members, Deacon Ihor Mahlay, the staff of the Cathedral Social Center under the direction of Mr. Gene Boyko and the entire parish membership in their efforts to cooperate in in preparation and organization with Archbishop Antony and the Consistory Staff. 

The Archbishop wrote to the parish following the event:  "When we think of the glorious days spent with you, we are reminded of the quote from 1 Peter: 'Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.' (1 Peter 4:8-10)   You all are the embodiment of those words.  We say to you:  'Well done good and faithful servants…', know that you are much appreciated and that your entire Church has experienced through your kind efforts a moment of Grace, which will produce an abundance of fruit for decades to come – especially through the life and deeds of newly consecrated Bishop Daniel.

On Sunday morning, the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing women, His Grace Bishop Daniel served his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, which was concelebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Antony and the clergy who remained following the celebration.

Photos by Michael Nakonachny

Please, read a detailed description of this joyful event in the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in the next issue of the Ukrainian Orthodox Word.

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