UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
of St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, MN!
On Saturday, December 5, 2015 a number of parishioners of St. Katherine parish, along with their pastor Very Rev. Fr. Petro Siwko gathered with the local community of Twin Cities of Minnesota to honor the memory of 10 million men, women and children – victims of the Artificially-Created Genocidal Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933.
St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church formally began to celebrate its annual patron saint's day on December 6, 2015. The pastor, Very Rev. Petro Siwko and the parish board of administration invited His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA to honor the feast day and to lead the liturgical celebrations. Prior to the Divine Liturgy, children of the parish and the parishioners greeted the bishop on the front steps of the church with the traditional bread and salt. A dozen of children presented the bishop with beautiful bouquets of flowers. Mr. Swiatoslav Mirza, the president of the parish board of administration welcomed the bishop, asking for his blessing and prayers for the parish’s congregation, and jokingly remarked that it snows every time bishop visits St. Paul/Minneapolis area.
Welcoming the bishop to the parish’s temple, the pastor of the congregation, Very Rev. Fr. Petro Siwko paid great tribute to the men and women who built the parish both physically and spiritually and left their Orthodox Christian imprint on all generations to come. “If it weren’t for the work of the Holy Spirit in the founders, our spiritual mission to the greater Ukrainian Orthodox Church in North America, thirsty for the truth, and to this neighborhood would not be in existence.” Fr. Petro’s message reminded all the members of this holy body to embrace the glory of Christ’s love and continue to come to His table, carrying the legacy of their ancestors.
And as soon as he spoke, Bishop Daniel immediately captured the hearts of not only the congregation but the children as well. In his sermon the bishop reminded the faithful of the parish family… “The church really needs your presence, the gift your of faith, your enthusiasm, your joy and conviction that you can bring to help build up the body of Christ. Go out and share your faith and values with others,” he said. “Take the message of the Gospel with you into the world. Live your life in a way that attracts people to Christ.”
Following thechanting of the Gospel Reading, His Grace Bishop Daniel delivered an inspiring sermon in Ukrainian and English languages. In his remarks Vladyka mentioned: “… It's gotten to the point today where if you're carrying a briefcase and you're rushing madly to get somewhere, you are a symbol of success. And the world worships the “god” called success.
Our concept of success is going from poverty to riches. God's concept of success is going from riches to poverty. St. Paul and all the Church Fathers simply say: "THOUGH HE WAS RICH YET FOR OUR SAKES BECAME POOR SO THAT BY HIS POVERTY WE MIGHT BECOME RICH."
For the real Christian, success is believing that the intimate God lives in me and desires to work through me. Success is being honest enough to recognize my need for God's help and humble enough to receive it when offered. Success is being God's person in every situation. Success is finding a purpose in life that is larger than life itself. And what larger purpose can there be than knowing, loving and serving God?
Success is learning to live by principles, not by moods. Success is learning, improving, growing more into the perfect icon (or reflection) or image of Christ. Success is inviting God to walk with us each day; it is being in the Kingdom of God here and now. Success is turning away from sin and returning to the Father.
Each time you pray you are a success. Each time you have faith in God you are a success. Each time you replace a thought of anger or doubt with an affirmation of God's truth, you are a success. Each time you accomplish a task, and know in your heart it was your best effort, you are a success. Each time someone looks at you for strength and support, and you are able to help, you are the real success…”
All services were conducted interchangeably in both English and Ukrainian languages at the same time, which made the service understandable to all present. Following the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Bishop Daniel lead everyone in attendance in a special Memorial service which was dedicated to the memory of the founders of the parish, the clergy that faithfully served the spiritual needs of their parishioners, and most especially it was served for the repose of the souls of about 2,335 U.S. servicemen and 68 civilians, who perished 74 years ago in Pearl Harbor attack. Moreover, the bishop recalled in his memorial petitions the fallen victims of the ongoing war conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the victims of the terrorist attack in California, and the numerous victims of ongoing persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
Bishop Daniel then administered the Holy Eucharist, first to the altar servers, and then to many children and parishioners who prepared themselves to receive the Eucharist from His Grace Bishop Daniel on this special St. Katherine Feast Day.
Following the singing of the final prayer “Bozhe Velykyj Yedynyj…” – the Ukrainian prayer which implores the Almighty God to preserve our ancestral homeland of Ukrainian-Americans - Ukraine – a long line for veneration of the cross formed and the radiant and smiling Vladyka Daniel found enough time to exchange at least a few friendly words with just about everyone who approached him and talked to him while kissing the Cross.
Among the special guests, St. Katherine parish welcomed its friends Very Rev. Fr. Evhen Kumka and parishioners of St. Michael and St. George Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Minneapolis MN, as well as parishioners of the local Ukrainian Catholic parishes of Twin Cities.
The celebrations continued with lunch in the parish hall and performances by the children of the parish. Bishop Daniel started the event with a prayer. During lunch, Pani Luba Lewytska, who served as Mistress of Ceremonies, called upon those in attendance to reflect upon the tragic events of 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine.
During the intermission of the festive luncheon, His Grace Bishop Daniel met with the representatives of Minnesota Maidan community, who shared with the hierarch of the UOC of the USA their projects and plans for the future. Both Vladyka Daniel and the representatives of the local Ukrainian Minnesota community discussed common projects that both the UOC of the USA and MN Maidan community could be engaged in. In conclusion, Vladyka Daniel received a gift of a Tshirt from MN Ukrainian-American community.
Moreover, Mykola Zomchak, a seminarian of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ stepped to the microphone and thanked those in attendance for the opportunity that he and 29 other students of the St. Sophia Seminary have while studying at the academic institution of the UOC of the USA, expressing his gratitude for the financial assistance which they received through the Very Rev. Dr. Wolodymyr Lewytzkyj and Panimatka Halyna Seminarian Fund, now administered by Luba Lewytzkyj, which enabled them to continue their studies in Ukraine and come to the United States to continue their education here.
A number of parishioners said that the bishop’s visit was an important part of getting to know his flock. “We were honored to have him visit with us… From the look on his face with the way the parishioners all welcomed him, he was happy to be here, too… What I like about the bishop’s visit was that he took time to take a picture and talk with us…” said one of the younger parishioners of the parish…
“…As a parish, we have so much for which we must be thankful to God. Our Father in Heaven gave us such a great patron and top intercessor in Great Martyr Catherine, who is our model as a parish: meek and humble like a child, yet wise in the Lord like an adult. We work together as a family – physical and spiritual – just like our patron saint did. The road may be bumpy at times, but we must not forget that we are to help and love one another, which makes our arrival at the destination even more joyous.
The success of the Ukrainian Orthodox Christian community of St. Katherine these past 64 years has predicated itself on spiritual leadership, dedication, vision and sacrifice. Our blessings from God Most-high have been our clergy and every parishioner who has helped to build a truly heavenly and holy temple for us in which to worship. Now, we must encourage our youth to carry their cross and follow Christ, take up the torch given to them by the prior generations and assist them in continuing the work of the Lord through His Holy Church. With God’s help, the parish will continue to help us all seek the salvation that the Lord has prepared for us."
The day's festivities ended with the singing of "Mnohaya Lita." Pastor of the parish family, Fr. Petro Siwko thanked the bishop for joining the parish this day, the guests for coming to celebrate with the parishioners, the cooks who prepared a wonderful meal, the children for their performance, and all the guests and parishioners for their attendance in large numbers. The parishioners were then able to spend some time speaking with Bishop Daniel and receiving his blessing.