UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Youngstown, OH
On Sunday, October 14, 2012, a warm, sunny fall day greeted the arrival of His Grace Bishop Daniel on his visitation to Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Youngstown, Ohio. Young girls flanked the entrance where the hierarch was given warm greetings with the traditional bread and salt by Parish Council, President Joe Ewanish and Chairman of the Trustees, Ben Mischey.
Representing the Sisterhood, Betty Ewanish presented a bouquet. Fr. John W. Harvey next welcomed His Grace noting that where the bishop is there is the fullness of the church. Although he is familiar with many parishioners, this would be the first of many official visitations and that the day being the Protection of the Holy Virgin was especially propitious. As our prime pastor, his leadership in prayer along with the intercession of the Holy Virgin would be strong before the throne of God. Bishop Daniel in reply noted that on previous visits he was in tow with other hierarchs, but now he was on his own to come to know and bond with our flock. This Marian feast, being one of his favorites, made the day special.
Proceeding into the church, Bishop Daniel celebrated the liturgy in a beautiful prayerful manner. The choir, under the able direction of Fr. Gregory Becker and known for its wide repertoire of choral music included a superb selection of pieces for the occasion including a newly learned “Many Years”. During the time of Communion, an exceptionally hauntingly beautiful hymn commemorating Pokrov was delivered in the Byzantine mode along with accompanying icon (the Byzantine-style background drone).
During the Liturgy there was a moment during which the pastor, Fr. John W. Harvey was elevated to the right of wearing the jeweled cross, this being done by the initiative of the Council of Bishops. In conferring this, Bishop Daniel noted that with honors given, the weight of further effort and assigned responsibilities is to be expected. In giving this, His Grace cited Fr. John's 38 years of priestly service both in parochial life as well as time spent as Rector of St. Sophia Seminary, 32 years as spiritual director of the Teenage Conference and performing other duties for the bishops, such as many years as a diocesan representative among the Board of Directors of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. As neither Fr. John nor the Parish Council had any prior knowledge that this was to be given, Bishop Daniel gave his own jeweled pectoral cross for the pastor to wear during this festive Liturgy.
Fr. Deacon Vasyl Dovgan and Seminarian Yurij Andrejko were the bishop's entourage and made the Liturgy flow easily leading our local Subdeacons Joe Novicky and Joseph Gnat and the altar servers Nicholas Woloschak and Jeffrey Senedak while directing them deftly concerning the intricacies of a bishop's service.
Although some key parishioners were away on journeys, there was a good sized congregation and a large number of communicants. Krista Ulbrigcht, who participated this summer in the working pilgrimage to our orphanages in Ukraine, brought Black Rose incense and a carved wooden hand cross as a gift to our parish and which were used in the service. Bishop Daniel gave this cross for veneration by the faithful at the conclusion of the Liturgy.
All moved to the Orthodox Center where a Fellowship Luncheon had been prepared in memory of the late Helen Zebel by daughters Mary and Kathy Zebel. A lovely array of foods was prepared, utilizing the remembered recipes of Helen, which included zesty borshch and ikra. Bishop Daniel dined next to the widower, Walter Zebel, who lifelong has been such a blessing to this parish and is known for his years of special care and concern for our All Saints Camp. At the conclusion of the meal, Krista Ulbricht gave her slide show and commentary about this year's trip to the orphanages in Ukraine along with Bishop Daniel. She mentioned all of the changing emotions as they met these kids who had mental or physical handicaps. The experience of love and joy interacting with these kids was an emotional and life-changing experience for Khrista just as is it has had for all the past participants in this program. Khrista gave thanks to the parish for having made it possible for her to take part in this compassionate pilgrimage of love. Bishop Daniel added comments about this years journey and explained goals and possibilities of this diocesan program for the future. The possibility of adding a third orphanage is being seriously considered. As needs change the focus of our support has evolved to different needs. We have seen to aid the nannies and to promote education and fulfill other areas of needs, which had been sorely lacking in the past. A small chapel has been constructed at one venue. We do not want to create a dependency situation, but rather to encourage initiative and sustained efforts from local people. In Soviet times, such institutions were placed in remote areas, where the imperfect of society would not be readily viewed and care amounted to minimal warehousing. Attitudes have been a changing, and these orphanages provide about the only employment for rural communities. His Grace cautioned that corruption is a well-known vice that has long been endemic in Ukraine. He gave assurance that all aid, be it in money or in goods, is most carefully and closely monitored and the designated recipients do get full benefit of our donations. Bishop Daniel encouraged continued financial support for our program to designated orphanages in Ukraine as well as to send young folks and adults to join in this work. Full information can be had by consulting our diocesan website www.uocofusa.org.
As the orphanage presentation came to the end, Joe Ewanish and Ben Mischey presented a gift of love to the hierarch in thanks for his most-welcome visitation as well as an envelope for the seminarians who had participated that day. Bishop Daniel announced to an astounded Fr. John that he could keep the jewelled cross, which he had temporarily worn, as a personal gift from him. After being orphaned by the death of Metropolitan Constantine, this first visit of the new eparchial hierarch - Bishop Daniel of the Western Eparchy was quite a boost in morale.
Basking in the pleasant afterglow of this visitation, the congregation looks forward to the next visitation, hopefully for a Presanctified Liturgy during Great Lent.