Archpastoral Visit of His Eminence Archbishop Daniel to Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church In Lyndora, PA
On Sunday, January 14, the Leave-taking of Theophany (according to Gregorian Calendar), Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Lyndora, PA was blessed by the Archpastoral visit of His Eminence, Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Braving the very cold and snowy weather, we gathered to enjoy a very spiritually uplifting and warm celebration of our faith and to welcome His Eminence and the seminarians from Saint Sophia’s Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary Ivan Venhry, Myroslav Mykytyuk and Yaroslav Bilohanas they came to be with us on this special day.
This Archpastoral visit began with the Greeting of His Eminence with flowers by Marleena Hassler on behalf of her fellow students of the Parish Church School and all the children of the Parish community. His Eminence was then welcomed with the traditional gift of bread and salt by Karen Sheptak, President of the Parish Executive Board, welcoming His Eminence and thanking Him for coming to share this time of prayer and fellowship with the faithful of this parish community. Then Father Paisius McGrath, pastor of Saints Peter and Paul, welcomed our Archpastor on this visit on behalf of all the clergy, monastics and faithful from Saint’s Peter and Paul, Saint Anthony’s Orthodox Church (Antiochian), Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church (OCA), Transfiguration Monastery from Ellwood City, and other visitors. In his responses to the greetings, His Eminence stressed his joy and pleasure to be here to worship and pray with the faithful of this community.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was then led by Archbishop Daniel and concelebrated by Father Paisius McGrath and Father Bogdan Bocur of St. Anthony’s Orthodox Church, and assisted by the seminarians and the Parish altar servers led by Lee Vordos. The Hieraerchical Divine Liturgy is always a joyous occasion because we are able to participate and witness the fullness of our Liturgical celebration in being led by our beloved Hierarch and to see the ranks of the clergy working together for the glory of God! This occasion was especially meaningful for the parish community in that at the Small Entrance, His Eminence, with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony, elevated our parish pastor, Father Paisius McGrath to the rank of Protopriest, with the right of wearing the gold cross. In his kind and generous words on this occasion, Archbishop Daniel, reminded Father Paisius of the responsibility of being a faithful shepherd of those placed in his spiritual care and of continuing to be continue in being faithful in the call to minister in the parish and in the many other ways he is called to be a minister and pastor. All present sang Axios and thanked God for this generous honor bestowed on our pastor and by extension to us as a parish community. Throughout the Divine Liturgy the Church rang with the wonderful voices of the Choir of Saints Peter and Paul, several visiting choir members- under the direction of Parish Choir Director, Eric Prokopchak and assisted by Bob Shott.
In his wonderful and inspiring Homily, Archbishop Daniel spoke of the importance of living out our faith in the daily circumstances of our lives. He spoke of how we live in a world that is adrift and the faithful children of God are beset on every side by challenges in a society that has become secular and turned away from the spiritual values of our Christian faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spoke of the necessity and vital role that we must play in practicing our faith in the midst of our daily lives and through lives of faithful service sharing the grace and salvation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need of this. He challenged all present to not just believe but to live our belief and in so doing to truly live out the Gospel message.
As the day ended everyone who was present was very thankful and overjoyed to have received our Archbishop as he came to our small corner of the world and for bringing the blessing of God to us in a special way. All the faithful from Saints Peter and Paul and the other local Orthodox parishes who were present were blessed to have come and have learned much from Archbishop Daniel about the importance of continued faithfulness in every aspect of our lives as witnesses to the salvation which we have received from our Lord and Savior Jesus. Our parish and community looks forward very much to the next time that Archbishop Daniel will again be able to visit our small corner of our world.
Archpastoral Visit to Sts Peter and Paul Parish In Lyndora, PA - 01/15/18
Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan