UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Troy, NY
On a chilly Sunday morning, December 16th, 2012, in Upstate New York, the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Church of Troy, warmly welcomed their newly elected Metropolitan Antony on their Praznyk – Patron Saint’s Day. It was also the commemoration of the 115th anniversary of the parish. One of the first acts of new Ukrainian immigrants in the 19th century was to establish the parish. Since 1897 St. Nicholas has been celebrated and remembered by Ukrainians in Troy and they were honored to have Metropolitan Antony share with them in this joyous celebration.
The youngest parishioners, children and teenagers from age four through 17, dressed in their finest Ukrainian embroidery and holding the traditional welcome bread, joined pastor Fr. Paul Szewczuk and parish president Lida Kulbida to greet His Eminence. We were honored by the presence of clergy of the deanery who concelebrated: Very Rev. Wolodymyr Paszko, Pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Hudson, NY and Very Rev. Ivan Semko, Pastor of Sts. Peter & Paul Parish in Utica and St. Mary Parish in Herkimer; Deacon Andriy Matlak and seminarian-subdeacons, Ioan Mazur and Yuri Andreiko from St. Sophia's seminary and four local altar boys assisted at the Hierarchial Divine Liturgy.
In His inspiring sermon Metropolitan Antony recalled the dedication and sacrifice that our founders and benefactors made when they first came to the U.S.A. at the end of the 19th century. He prayed for and encouraged spiritual rebirth and growth, citing the example of our ancestors; the example of St. Nicholas of Myra, frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist at every Divine Liturgy along with deep knowledge and familiarity with Sacred Scripture. A Litia-Panakhyda was prayed for the children and adults of the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, who just days before were victims of a tragic shooting which has shaken American society to the core. The Metropolitan stated that we Ukrainians know, perhaps better than most people in the world, the horror of mass murder, having experienced the genocide of ten million of our brothers, sisters and children during the artificial famine of 1932-33. Therefore, knowing that the consequences of that horror still attects our lives 80 years later, we must pray for the victims and their surviving relatives, fellow students and teachers and friends on a regular basis asking our Lord to strengthen them in rebuilding their lives without their lost ones.
At the end of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, His Eminence invited everyone for a group photo in front of the iconostasis, which was followed by a wonderful family meal in the parish social center. Joining in the meal were Rev. Mikhail Myshchuk, pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Watervliet, NY his parish Deacon Thomas Gutch with their families and parishioners. Rev. Terenti Wasiliewski, pastor of St. Nicholas OCA church in Cohoes and his predecessor V. Rev. Roman Shak visiting from Ukraine, honored us with their presence. The social center was filled to near capacity with parishioners, guests and friends from all over the Upstate New York area.
A concert was presented under the direction of parish Choir Director Mikhail Tcapar, during which a trio sang traditional Ukrainian songs and the church choir sang Christmas carols. The Zorepad Ukrainian dance ensemble of the Capital Region, led by Lida Kulbida, entertained us with "hopak" dances in their brilliant embroidered costumes. Several children also recited poems and sang songs in honor of St. Nicholas, hoping that their studiousness with their teachers and parents would show to St. Nicholas that they were being good. At last with much anticipation, the moment the children were waiting for had arrived: St. Nicholas bearing gifts for them al, as well as for many guests among the people present. May we imitate St. Nicholas as he teaches us to bring joy to everyone and follow Christ faithfully.
Let us sing with joy, “In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Nicholas, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved (Troparion). You revealed yourself, O saint, in Myra as a priest, for you fulfilled the Gospel of Christ by giving up your soul for your people, and saving the innocent from death. Therefore you are blessed as one become wise in the grace of God” (Kontakion).