UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Pinellas Park, FL
The parish temple of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Pinellas Park, FL was filled to its capacity for the celebration of the community’s Name’s Day. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, the Ruling Hierarch of the Eastern Eparchy of the UOC of the USA, His Grace Bishop Daniel traveled to Tampa Metropolitan area in order to lead the celebration of the parish’s family. As in the past, considering a long history of relationship that exists between Bishop Daniel, who served the parish as a substitute priest, and the community – on Sunday, November 24, 2013, the bishop brought the larger Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA a bit closer to the local community with a visit to the parish.
The community patiently awaited the arrival of their bishop (considering the dead battery on a car, which was to bring the bishop for the celebration) in order to share with him the plans for the future of the parish family as well as to inform the hierarch of the completed projects in the life of the community since the last episcopal visit.
As always, leading the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Daniel addressed the faithful in his sermon, reflecting on the Gospel narrative, yet addressing the challenges of the modern world. "An awful lot of people have a concept of God that is [near the maturity of] the second grade… People do not grow up with an image of God. The image is frozen." The hierarch explained that "you can will your own existence after death." He expressed an observation of today's youth as being lackadaisical towards religion and caught up in the belief that "self makes self" instead. "We don't have a vertical relationship with God. We have a horizontal one," he said. "We see God in water and wine, in bread and oil, but we don't see these things as charged with divinity." Bishop Daniel said that he is well aware of the predicament youth fall prey to, concerning their faith. "The meaning of life has always been a challenge," he said. Faith, according to the bishop, requires an active participation of the faithful. "We are not supposed to hold back anything," he said. "[There is] no topic we couldn't explore… We cannot live our lives separating the world into US and THEM… We are all a family in Christ – let’s live our lives as such!"
Using the opportunity to visit with the parishioners, the bishop touched upon a variety of topics, including the social and moral dilemmas of our society, as well as the growing concern over the issue of secularization and materialism. Advising against society's tendency to live life materialistically, Bishop Daniel commented on the growing popularity of what he called "trophy possessions," or items purchased mainly to impress peers, not to really live by their value, in the traditional sense. "The house isn't something I am going to live in," the bishop explained. Today, rather, the mentality is that a house is "a reflection of where I come from… the model of a car defines us as people, etc" Having challenged and spiritually uplifted the faithful, the bishop returned back to the Holy Space and continued to preside over the Divine Liturgy.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Petrouchtchak, pastor of the parish congregation, welcomed the bishop, reminding everyone of the meaning of bishop’s role in the life of the Church. Fr. Ivan thanked His Grace for the work in the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA; while Bishop Daniel expressed greetings of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and his gratitude for Fr. Ivan’s service in the life of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Pinellas Park, FL.
Later in the day, the entire parish family was treated to a beautifully prepared luncheon in honor the parish’s celebration. Children with flowers and the members of the Parish Board of Administration greeted the hierarch with a traditional bread and salt, showing their respect and sharing their hospitality.
As the day afternoon came to conclusion, His Grace spent several hours with the parishioners, giving spiritual instructions and hearing confessions.