UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Silver Anniversary Celebration in Brazil
Photos by Luiz Branco
Over a thousand faithful from across Brazil and Paraguay gathered at the site of the soon to be constructed Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Papanduva, Parana province of Brazil for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Holy Priesthood of the Ruling Hierarch of the Eparchy of South America – His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah.
This was the first official visit of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, as a Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Locum Tenens of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora to South American Eparchy. Greeting the Primate of the Church at the airport in Curitiba, Archbishop Jeremiah expressed his sincerest welcome to the Metropolitan who is a spiritual father for so many Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Latin American countries, especially Brazil. One must note that the earliest records of presence of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Brazil date back to 1895.
The four days visit to Brazil was well scheduled for both bishops of the UOC of the USA. In addition to liturgical services scheduled for the official celebration, Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Daniel met with the local representatives of Curitiba Ukrainian Orthodox community as well as the elected officials of local Brazilian towns. Moreover, a cordial meeting with Consul of Ukraine in Curitiba, Brazil Her Excellency Larysa Myronenko took place, addressing concerns of Ukrainian-Brazilian community as well as reflecting upon the events in the life of Ukrainian nation.
On Saturday afternoon, prior to the beginning of all formal festivities, associated with Archbishop Jeremiah’s 25th Anniversary, all three hierarchs visited a local Papanduva cemetery of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Probably for the very fist time in the history of that parish family, all three hierarchs at the same time had a Memorial service on the grave of the first pastor of St. Volodymyr’s parish family – Very Rev. Dimitrio Sidlesky, who fell asleep in the Lord in October of 1945. This was also a very first visit for His Grace Bishop Daniel to the area, where he was able to learn about a challenging past of so many Ukrainian Christian immigrants from Ukraine to a distant Brazil, where they settled and established first Ukrainian Orthodox communities.
Upon arrival to Papanduva, Metropolitan Antony held a meeting with the clergy of the South American Eparchy that arrived from across Brazil and Paraguay for the celebration. Addressing the pastors of the parish families on South American continent, the Metropolitan called upon them to stay closely connected with each other as they share in the ministry of Christ. One must note that some of the parishes of the Eparchy are scattered from each other for thousands of miles away. The Metropolitan also addressed a deacon of the Eparchy – Rev. Deacon Gregory (Edson) Filakoski, who was about to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood during Sunday’s Divine Liturgy. Vladyka Antony called upon Deacon Gregory to participate in the ministry of Christ with every fiber of his being, remaining true to the ancestral traditions of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Brazil.
Following the Vespers service, which was served by Rev. Fr. Eugene Gulievich, a graduate of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, NJ – USA), Metropolitan Antony offered a short reflection to those in attendance about the importance of the sacred office of a bishop, referencing in his reflections the early writings of St. Paul and the Fathers of the Church.
Even though the rain storm somewhat created additional travel concerns for those who were driving in for the Sunday Divine Liturgy from a distant Paraguay (27 hours of driving time), the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, January 26, 2014 began promptly at 10am with over 500 hundred Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in attendance. The members of the parish’s family, as well as the clergy of the South American Eparchy welcomed Metropolitan Antony, Archbishop Jeremiah and Bishop Daniel to a temporary parish space. Traditional flowers, bread and salt were presented to the bishops, who in turn called upon those in attendance to offer their unconditional prayers for their eparchial bishop.
A choir of 50 members chanted the responses in Ukrainian, Portuguese and Spanish languages. Following the Litany of Fervent Supplication, with the blessing of His Eminence Antony, Bishop Daniel led the congregation of 600 faithful, who lowered their knees and heads, in prayer for Ukrainian nation, as the political uncertainty continues to escalate in the ancestral homeland of so many faithful in attendance. Archbishop Jeremiah summarized the prayer in Portuguese language for those in attendance from other cultures and ethnic background.
Following the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the entire congregation witnessed an ordination to the Holy Priesthood of Deacon Gregory. Kneeling in front of the Altar of the parish family; the very sacred Altar that was constructed by the early immigrants, priest Gregory offered himself to a service of unconditional love of Christ for all who shall thirst for His presence and love.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Anton delivered a sermon in Ukrainian and Portuguese languages, reflecting upon the son of South American Eparchy – Archbishop Jeremiah, who started as a youth in Brazil, traveled to the United States of America to study Theology and Ukrainian language, returned back to His native country and accepted Archpastoral service/leadership of his beloved flock. The Metropolitan offered sincerest gratitude to the Archbishop’s mother - Mrs. Theresa Ferenz, who shared her son with the rest of the Church and offered him in the service of Christ.
Upon the completion of the Divine Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Daniel, speaking on behalf of the faithful and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, presented His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah with the gift – an archpastoral panagia. While Metropolitan Antony was bestowing the panagia upon the Archbishop the entire church prayerfully exclaimed – AXIOS!
Following the chanting of traditional “God, grant you many years! – Mnohaya Lita” the Archbishop offered his gratitude for those in attendance, reflecting upon his journey of faith. Vladyka Jeremiah made reference to the early years of his seminary education and the importance of Vladyka Antony’s presence at the celebration, as he was the ordaining bishop to the Holy Deaconate of back then deacon Jeremiah. Concluding his remarks, Archbishop Jeremiah presented His Grace Bishop Daniel with the icon of Archangel Gabriel, prayerfully written by the iconographers of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Papanduva. However, the biggest surprise was prepared for the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora – His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, - a well known and respected iconographer and artist of Parana province, and all Brazil, Mr. Luiz Branco masterfully created a bust of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, commemorating his election to the most sacred office of the Metropolitan of the Church. The South American Eparchy presented the gift exactly on the day of the first anniversary of Enthronement of Vladyka Antony as a Metropolitan of the Church.
As always, the day concluded with a formal banquet in honor of the 25th Anniversary of Archbishop Jeremiah’s ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Over 1000 participants arrived for the banquet, bearing gifts of love for their archpastor. The highlight of the banquet program was a presence of the well-known Ukrainian Orthodox Dance Company – KALYNA, from Fram, Paraguay. One must note that most dancers in the group range in age from 50 to 75 years old. Yet, there are determined to preserve their ethnic traditions and pass them to the younger generation.
The day concluded with many farewells and wishes of safe journey back to the United States of America for Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Daniel. However, the most important mission was accomplished by the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – they gathered together in prayer to offer gratitude to Almighty God for the dedicated service of His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah to the faithful of South American Eparchy.