UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Holy Ghost Parish, Slickville, PA
Photos by Debbie Paouncic and Alexandre Popichak
Sunday, July 21, 2013, was a noteworthy day in Holy Ghost Parish in the quiet town of Slickville, Pennsylvania. His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy was visiting to elevate Rev. Fr. Robert Popichak to the dignity of protopriest and to present him with a gift from the parish family.
It was on this Sunday that the ninety-year-old parish hosted, for the first time in recent memory, the formal elevation of a priest.
After processing from the rectory, Vladyka Daniel was greeted at the parish door by John Paouncic, Parish Council President, with traditional gifts of bread and salt. Bishop Daniel replied that it was his pleasure to again visit the parish for a second time, this time as eparchial bishop. Father Robert presented the cross and holy water, welcoming His Grace and asking for his prayers for the congregation. His reply was that of joy and love for our humble parish.
Led by Subdeacon Ivan Chopko, Seminarian Volodymyr Yavorskyi, Altar Servers Matthew and Alexander Popichak, Father Vasyl Dmytryshyn, Father Emilian Balan, and Father Robert, Bishop Daniel proceeded to the altar to begin Divine Liturgy.
Liturgy paused at the Small Entrance, and Bishop Daniel called Father Robert forward. His Grace explained that the advancement of position for clergy is always accompanied by additional responsibility and a greater call for service. He also expressed that he had no doubt that the Holy Ghost parish family had great faith and love for their church—and he expected Father Robert to continue to lead the parish toward Christ. He then showed the congregation the gold cross he had purchased during a recent trip to Ukraine at the request of the parish council with donations from parishioners - a true expression of their love for each other and for their priest.
He reminded Father Robert that the gold cross was not a symbol of authority, but rather a sign of service and reminder that as we advance in the ranks of the clergy, more and more is expected of us - this was just a visible reminder.
After the elevation Divine Liturgy continued, with His Grace delivering a sermon reminding everyone that faith, even the size of a mustard seed, can make a difference in life and that God should hold a part in all things we do. He concluded by reminding us that we should daily find that mustard seed sized grain of faith in our lives, to bring us closer to Christ.
At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, Vladyka Daniel asked God’s blessings upon the newly elevated protopriest Robert, Pani Matka Regina, Alexander, and Matthew, and those entrusted to him. The congregation responded by asking God to grant Many Years to His Grace, including what has become locally known as “The Bishop’s Theme Song” among the people - Eis Polla, Eti Despota!
Bishop Daniel then assembled everyone for a group photo and thanked them all for welcoming him with love. Protopresbyter Father George Hnatko, Dean of the Pittsburgh Deanery, joined the group photo as he came to visit the parish he had served several years ago.
After the photo, everyone went to the basement church hall for a lively luncheon, renewing old friendships, and asking His Grace many questions.
Among those present were Father Robert’s brothers George and Stephen, along with his friend Mother Alexandra, who all enjoyed their first (but hopefully not last) visit to Slickville. Family members and parishioners who had moved from Holy Ghost returned to celebrate this great event in the life of the parish, joined by parishioners from several other churches.
His Grace spent several hours visiting and enjoying the hospitality of our parish before leaving to travel to again eastward. He left behind a feeling of love and joy with his visit, and compared small parishes such as ours to a family.