UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Palos Park, IL
By Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha A prolonged reign of winter was finally over and the smiling spring with green leaves took over. On the morning of June 1, the joyous sun gently was warming up the south suburbs of Chicago Metropolitan area, as Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Parish Family was preparing to share in the joy of eight children: Nicholas McEvilly, Antony Sendeha, Clare Rolando, Jacob Drewno, Mallory Zvonek, Mikey Supilowski, Nathan Larson and Nina Kulchytsky, who were about to receive for the very first time the Holy Mystery of Confession. It was truly a great and blessed day! The celebration of this day was elated by the special visit of His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
On the gorgeous, sunny Sunday morning parishioners and guests have filled the temple. Burning candles, smoke from the censor, sweet aroma of fruits from an edible arrangement bouquet prepared to greet the Bishop filled the air.
His Grace Bishop Daniel was greeted at the Church by the parish council president Noreen Neswick and president of the Sisterhood of St. Anne – Josephine Hobert. The director of Sunday School Victoria Rak greeted His Grace on behalf of the teachers and children of Sunday School. One after the other children of the First Holy Confession class with reverence, speechlessly gave flowers to His Grace. The group hug with His Grace followed and the ice was broken, nervous looks vanished and kids cheeringly clang to His Grace almost knocking him down to the floor. At the narthex of the Church, Bishop Daniel was greeted by the Pastor of the parish Fr. Vasyl Sendeha and three visiting priests, Fr. Petro Levko – pastor of St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Yardville, NJ, Fr. Howard Sloan from Naples, FL and Fr. Silouan Rolando– pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Goshen, IN and Deacon John Charest from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish.
The Liturgy was spiritually uplifted as the children of the First Holy Confession class took turns in reading the Epistle for the day. Their frail innocent voices created an atmosphere of a complete stillness in the temple, everyone even fussy infants were at awe. His Grace Bishop Daniel came out to the Ambo to listen to the young group of readers, who were reading the Epistle for their very first time.
The choir’s joyful singing carried on the celebration. The Gospel was read from John 17:1-13 for the Sunday of the Fathers. Then the time came for the Bishop’s word, and as He spoke, complete silence filled the temple. Everyone was carefully listening as their spiritual shepherd preached about the reality of this world. His words were real, though provoking. He spoke about how contemporary world is failing in all of the virtues. How Christianity is being persecuted in an open form in the world and a masked form here in the United States. He also spoke about his own life, about his own struggles. With inspirational words of encouragement, His Grace Daniel was exhorting us to ponder upon the true value in life, the right choices one should make if that one wants to follow Christ. He was exhorting us to make the right choices boldly. The virtues ought to be practiced with great diligence among each other if we want to have peace and tranquility in our community, if we want love to overcome all the tribulations in our relationships and in our lives.
As usual, before for the prayer of “Our Father”, all of the children has gathered in the back of the church and grabbed their booklets with the words and notes for the prayers. Everyone in the church with anticipation waited to hear them sing. There are simply no words that would be able to describe the spiritual affection of the children singing the prayer. The angelic voices spilled out from the bunch of kids and traveled around the church bouncing off of the walls creating heaven like feeling.
At the end of the Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Daniel greeted children on the occasion of their First Holy Confession and distributed Children’s Bibles as gifts.
The celebration then continued at the parish hall, where a lunch was held honoring children of the First Confession Class hosted by their parents. It was truly a great day. Our Parish Family under the patronage of Sts. Peter and Paul has welcomed eight children into the world of Spiritual Adulthood.