UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
2012 Mission Team Concludes Its Visit to Znamyanka Orphanage and Ukraine!
“We are all angels with one wing… and we must embrace each other in order to fly…” These are the words on a flyer over the main entrance to the social hall of Znamyanka orphanage (Kirovohrad region of Ukraine). Namely to this particular orphanage over the last ten years or so, the Mission Teams of College Age Students of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA have traveled and ministered to the children of the institution.
On August 10, 2012, the eleven members of this years Mission Team arrived by train to Znamyanka in order to visit about 120 children between the ages of 4-22 with special needs. The Znamyanka orphanage is classified as an institution for children with group 3 and 4 (most severe) physical and mental disabilities.
Throughout the years, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in cooperation with Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund (which ceased its existence earlier this year) has hired about 10 teachers - rehabilitation specialists to work in the orphanage, which has made a huge impact on the mobility of many children.
The Team members immediately adapted to a new orphanage schedule and missionaries offered themselves unconditionally, ministering to the children in the Name of our Savior. Among traditional projects: rehabilitations activities, walks to the local market, wheel-chair outing, etc.; this year’s Team sponsored a unique opportunity for the children of the orphanage – a visit to a traveling Circus (Kobzov Circus – the largest traveling Circus of Ukraine), which happened to be in town at the same time as the Team arrived. Having obtained medical and administrative clearance from the orphanage administration, the Team treated over a dozen of children to a unique Circus performance.
Moreover, due to a generous donation of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Pittsburgh, PA, the Mission Team purchased over 150 kilograms of meat for nutritional purposes of the orphanage’s residents. In order to enhance to nutritional program for the infants, the Team purchased and donated several boxes of powdered Nestle nutritional supplement for children.
As the time at the orphanage came to a conclusion, the Mission Team, led by His Grace bishop Daniel and Olga Coffey bid farewell to the children, attending a concert prepared in honor of the orphanage’s guests and the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, who over the last twelve years provide spiritual and material assistance to Znamyanka orphanage.
This year’s team in comprised of: His Grace Bishop Daniel and Olga Coffey – Team Leaders and Subdeacon Vasyl Pasakas (St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary; South Bound Brook, NJ), Melania Panasiuk (St. Vladimir Ukrainian orthodox Cathedral; Philadelphia, PA), Krista Ulbright (Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Youngstown, OH), Sandro Gomartelli and Eugene Hobza (Holy Dormition (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Jones, OK), Alexandra Teper (Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Jamaica Plain, MA), John Siwko (St. Andrew the First-Called Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church; South Bound Brook, NJ), Britney Wanek (Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Palos Park, IL) and Hunter Steltenpohl (St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Arden Hills, MN).
In conclusion of the missionary trip to Ukrainian orphanages, the Mission Team of the Church spent two days in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine learning about the history of Holy Orthodoxy and visiting many sacred historical sites, among hem the newly constructed monument to the victims of the Artificially Created Famine-Genocide in Ukraine in 1931-1933, during which about 10 million people lost their lives. Standing by the monument, the Team prayerfully chanted the responses to a Memorial Lytia served by His Grace Bishop Daniel.