UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Bishop Daniel Visits Dormition of the Most Holy Birth-Giver of God (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Jones, Oklahoma!
On Friday 03 February, His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA arrived in Oklahoma (formerly known as Indian Territory) for an Archpastoral Visitation to the Dormition of the Most Holy Birth-Giver of God (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Jones, Oklahoma. His Grace was accompanied by Seminarian Vasyl Dovgan and his wife Ilona. Bishop Daniel’s Archpastoral visit to St. Mary Church in Jones, Oklahoma, caused a spiritual awakening among the parishioners. The members and guests were anxiously waiting to see their Hierarch and Spiritual Father.
Saturday evening, at the invitation of His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita of Antiochian Christian Orthodox Diocese, Vladyka Daniel presided during Great Vespers at Holy Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Great Vespers was served by the V. Rev. Justin McFeeters, Pastor of Holy Ascension, who was assisted by Archimandrite Rapahael of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox parish community. Following the liturgical celebration, the bishop reflected upon the words of the Psalmist “To you, Lord, I lift my soul.”, stating that God does not forget his people; the almighty and merciful God invites us to lift our souls to Him. This means that we should walk the joys and the sorrows of life in communion with Him. We must not rely just on our own strength. God hears us. But, do we truly seek for his support? Each of us must find an answer to this question as we journey through life…” The service was followed by a very elegant reception in the parish trapeza, lovingly prepared by Holy Ascension’s parishioners.
Following the rainy Saturday, Sunday was a wonderful morning as the sun brightly enlightened everything around St. Mary’s Church and its rays reflected on the morning dew and on the church’s dome. Peace, Prayer and Silence reigned around the church of St. Mary. At that exact moment His Grace Bishop Daniel arrived at the church and was escorted by the parish altar servers and seminarian Subdeacon Vasyl Dovhan. At the entrance to the church Archimandrite Raphael and the president of St. Mary’s, Oklahoma City Police Captain Greg Johnston, met His Grace, greeted him in the name of the parish, and asked Him to pray for the church and parishioners. Then Bishop Daniel started the Divine Liturgy. Spiritual inspiration filled the souls of those people who were present. Prior to the beginning of the Liturgy, Vladyka Daniel set aside Reader Sandro Gomarteli to the subdeaconate. The Bishop also blessed Eugene Hobza, Steven Peck and Mikita Dzialendzik to serve as alter-servers at St. Mary Church. The First, Second and Third Antiphons were lovingly sung by the St Mary’s choir. At the moment that the choir sang “Is-pola eti despota,” His Grace blessed the faithful with the “Dikir and Trikir.”
After the reading from the Holy Gospel, His Grace delivered a sermon, stating “…the Pharisees believed in a discriminating God who loves good people and hates bad people. People behave like the God they believe in. So the Pharisees quickly learned to love only good people like themselves and look down with contempt on bad people and sinners like the tax collectors… Our Lord Jesus Christ told this parable against the Pharisees because they "trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt" (Luke 18:9). The tax collector, on the other hand, trusted not in himself or in anything he had done but only in God's mercy. Standing far off, he would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and prayed, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" (v. 13). This is the man who went home at peace with God and not the self-righteous Pharisee…This morning, like the Pharisee and the tax collector we too have come to God's house to offer worship and prayers. Like them we too hope to go home at the end of this service reconciled and at peace with God. Then let us learn from the tax collector the secret of worshipping in a manner that is acceptable to God.”
Following the dismissal, twenty-two of the church school students presented His Grace with a special gift, which they had purchased with money they had personally earned. Bishop Daniel was surprised – and delighted – to receive a large, custom-made cowboy belt buckle inscribed with “+Daniel, Vladyka of the Wild West.” Several jewels emblazoned the buckle alongside outlines of the State of Oklahoma and a cowboy, holding his horse’s reins as he kneels before a Cross.
The ladies of the St. Mary’s Sisterhood completed the day with a lavish feast featuring various Oklahoma and ethnic foods which represent the ancestral homelands of our parishioners – Ukrainian, Belarusian, Georgian, Lebanese, Mexican, Romanian, Russian and Native American. We are, to be sure, an eclectic parish.
Bishop Daniel Visits Dormition of the Most Holy Birth-Giver of God (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Jones, Oklahoma! - 02/11/2012Bishop Daniel Visits Dormition of the Most Holy Birth-Giver of God (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Jones, Oklahoma!