Glorious Day at Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Palos Park, IL
Glory to Jesus Christ!
My dear reader,
As the summer warm autumn of Chicago land, surrendered to the cold fronts of Canadian winter air, faithful Ukrainian Orthodox community of Palos Park has gathered together in a warm and cozy environment of their beloved parish temple – me.
I am sorry. I didn’t introduce myself.
I am 38 years old church temple of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish community, and proud of it! I am a third generation of their temples.
A little bit of history. In 1909, immigrants from the lands of Ukraine, have gotten together and formed a parish family under the patronage of Sts. Peter and Paul in Burnside – Chicago.
The parish flourished and grew. In the middle of nineteen seventies, the need to find a new place has risen. The parish family was blessed to purchase gorgeous grounds in Palos Park area.
This is where they have built me, their third parish temple. I was truly blessed to host inside my walls many joyous celebrations in the life of my parish community. I have witnessed hundreds upon hundreds of the Holy Sacraments of Marriage and Baptism and thousands upon thousands of Sacraments of Repentance and Holy Eucharist as well as Sacraments of the Holy Ordinations. Years have passed. My kids have grown up and some have moved out of the area. I have even had to say my last goodbyes to many of my founders, those who jointly worked on my creation and development. I have cried with my parish family sending into eternal rest many of very well known to me faithful people. My parish family remembers them during the services for their love to this place and its people. Today, I pray for them and thank them for all that they have done for this parish community. They have served the parish and God by giving their part, their best. They have succeeded, by leaving good memories about the life of this parish; they have succeeded by leaving behind great parish facilities, they have succeeded by teaching their children to love God and His Church. They have succeeded by welcoming new families into their minds. I am assured that my people, my parish family will continue to do what their fathers have been doing. They will continue their legacy. They will continue giving life to this community. They have proved themselves. They have been coming over to the parish grounds to pray, work and celebrate together. They, my people, have made me the way I am now. I’ve been serving God and His people for 38 years. The time had taken its toll. My roof started to leak, my front steps were cracked, walls deteriorated, and many other things were not as pretty as they were on the day of my consecration in November of 1979. However, my faithful people didn’t leave me in such conditions. Thanks to their enormous love, dedication and generosity they have fixed my roof, remodeled completely my interior and mainly enhanced and beautified with iconography the heart of me – the Holy Sanctuary.
I’ve been truly blessed with a lot of great and joyous occasions. Today, on Sunday November 12, 2017, I was honored to welcome into my midst His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, president of the Consistory and ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who has come to bless my enhancements and lead my parish family in the Divine Liturgy. My parish community has gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. The cold, windy and gloomy day all of a sudden turned into a day filled with Triumphant light of Christ that overcomes darkness and provides its warm peaceful environment. As my pews were filling up with people and kids chatter was bouncing of the walls my spirits were lifted up. I was anxiously waiting for something extraordinary. Expecting the unexpected. His Eminence was greeted at first by V. Rev. Vasyl Sendeha, pastor, and Mr. John Beck, president of the parish council. Then, children with flowers have surrounded His Eminence trying to be first who would give him a flower and great him with a smile. The group hug has followed. The cheerful laughter broke out.
Before the Liturgy has started, Hi Eminence Daniel has read the prayer and blessed me and my faithful with Holy Water. The experience was thrilling. Two of my dedicated faithful, Ray Fischer and Elias Gordan were found worthy to be elevated to the order of Reader in the Holy Orthodox Church by His Eminence Archbishop Daniel. The ordination has taken place, right under my main dome. You should have seen the thrilling moment of laying on of hands and prayer exclaimed by the Archbishop. The tears of joy in the eyes of the altar servers, the curiosity of the kids, the melodic singing of the choir under the leadership of Subdeacon George Cepynsky and the excited looks of the worshipers have turned into powerful unstoppable source of spiritually enriched energy. The Christ Himself was there! The Christ was inside my walls as my people have gathered in His name!
The Divine Liturgy followed. Archbishop’s presence in my walls is always exceptional and spiritually uplifting. You could hear a pin drop when the time has come during the Divine Liturgy for Him to preach. Archbishop Daniel’s words of wisdom were grasped by the Faithfull in silent stillness. Even the restless kids have paused and attentively listened to the words of their Spiritual Father. Heartwarming words of encouragement, to live a life to the best of one’s abilities as a wise Christian, who makes the right choices, touched the souls of many. As the Divine Liturgy continued, spiritually uplifted children of my congregation once again adorned the Liturgy with their angelic voices singing the “Otche Nash,” the prayer of Our Father and Holy Communion Hymns. It is an overwhelming feeling of joy, to hear my little parishioners so eagerly and in such piety exclaim their prayers to Our God the Father. I can almost hear their innocent voices still resound inside my walls.
After the Divine Liturgy, the celebration continued in the Church hall, where my parish family has feasted upon delicious traditional Thanksgiving Dinner prepared by the Sisterhood of St. Anne. The food table was heavily laded. The dessert table provided by the talented bakers of the parish family was unbelievable! I bow my head in gratitude to my parish family for their love and dedication. I bow my head in thanksgiving to the Almighty God, praying and asking Him to continue to bless my people, my parish family of Sts. Peter and Paul in Palos Park, IL.
If you are visiting South Suburbs of Chicago, come, visit and join my pleasant community in prayer, inside my legendary walls.
Remaining in the love of our Lord and God Jesus Christ,
Church Temple, dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul
Glorious Day at the UOC Parish in Palos Park, IL - 11/14/2017
Photos by Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak