UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Nativity Archpastoral Celebration in Parma, OH!
By Subdeacons Vasyl Pasakas and Yurii Andreiko
For the first time since assuming the Archpastoral responsibilities, the Eparchial Bishop of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, Ohio on the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
His Grace Bishop Daniel, Bishop of Western Eparchy, successor to the Holy Apostles through the canonical laying on of hands, embodied the joy of the Feast when He officiated this year at the St. Vladimir’s Cathedral on January 6-8, 2013 according to the Church Calendar.
The Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ is a true feast of joy, the celebration of the divine taking on human flesh, the celebration of Jesus Christ coming to the hearts and homes of believers.
The St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH is a parish of dedicated and hardworking Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, under the spiritual care of Very Rev. Fr. John Nakonechny; Rev. Fr. Michael Hontaruk and Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay and the faithful from various generations of Ukrainian immigrants as well as converts to the Holy Orthodox Church.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy lifts believers to new levels of Christian experience each time it is served. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy radiates the presence of Christ to immeasurable distances. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy unites the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy transcends and unites believers from all of the centuries. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy transcends geographic boundaries. When the Diocesan Bishop serves, the whole Diocese is the beneficiary of the worship experience, and that was evident through the bishop’s ability to reach out to the faithful of the cathedral parish community, who kept asking the bishop to return back to the cathedral parish for yet another spiritually uplifting visit.
Following the liturgical services on Sunday, January 6, 2013, Bishop Daniel visited with various clergy of Penn-Ohio Orthodox community. In the evening hours, the bishop joined the cathedral community for a traditional Holy Supper at the cathedral hall, prepared and sponsored by St. Vladimir’s UOL Chapter and for the 29th year in a row, chaired by Mrs. Doreen Jogan, who is also president of the cathedral’s parish board of administration. The pastor of the cathedral family Very Rev. Fr. John Nokonachny, assisted by his wife Panimatka Mary Ann and Rev. Fr. Michael Hontaruk and panimatka Anna led the congregation of about 100 individuals in opening prayers and asked the eparchial bishop to bestow a blessing on a communal meal which united everyone in Christ the Savior. As the traditional Christmas Eve Holy Supper came to a conclusion, the faithful ended the evening with traditional Ukrainian carols and proceeded to the cathedral for liturgical services of the evening hours.
On Monday morning, as the church bells rang, Bishop Daniel arrived to his cathedral and presided over the Archpastoral Divine Liturgy, which was broadcasted over the local Cleveland area Radio stations and via Internet – reaching out to the homebound and inform, as well as to the family friends and relatives of the parishioners of the cathedral community throughout the world. Towards the end of his sermon, Bishop Daniel shared with the faithful of the cathedral family his thoughts about the importance of such outreach project – since himself he listened to the liturgical services from the cathedral over the Internet about three years ago, when the bishop was hospitalized in Chicago hospital during the Nativity of our Lord festivities.
In his sermons, throughout the weekend the bishop shared with the faithful his reflections upon the meaning of the Nativity celebrations and the contemporary issues of the society that impact the Christian tradition, and the response that as Christians we must have to the challenges of the world. “…Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." These words of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds in Luke’s gospel (2:10) are not referring to the past but addressed to you and to me today. The angel spoke into a world where poverty, injustice, violence, sickness and death were daily present. Has anything changed since then? Are we not despite all the technical and scientific progress suffering the same problems?
We Christians must re-examine ourselves and allow ourselves to be unified, indeed reconciled to one another in Christ. We can start by removing, with God’s help, all enmity and ill-will that exists among ourselves; we must consciously make ours the following characteristic measures by which we can judge just how close we are to Christ – “do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” “forgive men their debts, just as our heavenly Father forgives us our debts.” No matter how chaotic the world may be, no matter how much hatred and bitterness that exists among men, we know that when men take seriously Christ’s command to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” the influence and effect of that love is so great that it can again overcome the world.
This historic visit by the Diocesan Bishop was shared with faithful located in far distances from the St. Vladimir’s cathedral, but connected by heart and spirit. As the liturgical cycle of the day came to conclusion, the cathedral choir, under the leadership of Maestro Markian Komichak treated the faithful in attendance to a spiritual wreath of Nativity carols.