On the Second day of Pascha, April 9, 2018, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Wester Eparchy and the President of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA graced the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Palos Park, IL with his humble visit.
God’s beautiful nature had a little surprise for the second week of April. The bright morning sun by playing with its rays over the lightly dusted with snow grass, bushes and trees, for sure was making Palos Park look like a beautiful winter wonderland. The snowy white brightness of church grounds accentuated the true meaning of the second day of Pascha, also known as Bright/Clean Monday.
Early in the morning, the white minivan of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, making its way back to New Jersey after over a thousand-mile journey of Archpastoral parish visitations in the state of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois, pulled in front of the Church.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, accompanied by four seminarians Subdeacons Mykola Zomchak and Ivan Venhryn as well as seminarians Yaroslav Bilohan and Myroslav Mykytyuk have entered the temple to serve yet another Liturgy, celebrating Bright Monday of Pascha. At the altar, His Eminence was joined by Very Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul, V. Rev. Fr. Howard Sloan of Chicago Deanery and V. Rev. Raymond Sundland, pastor of Holy Archnagel michael Ukrainian Orthfodox Pro-Cathedral (Hammond, IN). Assisted by numerous subdeacons and altar servers, His Eminence led the Divine Liturgy.
The choir’s joyful singing directed by Subdeacon George Cepynsky carried on the celebration. The Gospel was read from John 1: 18-28. Then the time came for the archbishop’s word, and as he spoke, complete silence filled the pews. Even the anxious kids quieted down. Everyone was carefully listening as their spiritual shepherd preached about the reality of this world. His words were real. He spoke about life, real life. With inspirational words of encouragement, His Grace Daniel was exhorting us to ponder upon the true value of human life and the virtue of love. He was exhorting us to incorporate Christ words into our lives. The virtue of true love ought to be practiced with great diligence among each other if we want to have peace and tranquility in our community, if we want to overcome all the tribulations in our relationships and in our lives.
In his sermon, Archbishop Antony reflected on the mission of a parish in this modern secular world. His Eminence encouraged the faithful to live their Faith on a daily basis, confronting the false morality of the world with the acts of love and kindness that are based on the commandments of our Lord. He reminded them that they must see every other human being in the world through the eyes of God. When He looks at us He has proven to us the depth of love He has for us - to the point that He was willing to send His Only-begotten Son - our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to us. The faithful of the parish must BE CHRIST-like to all who need His presence, His truth, and His Love.
The Eucharistic canon served by His Eminence is a very humbling experience. The prayers over the prepared gifts weren’t just said, by His Eminence, they were prayed with sincerity of His heart. The parishioners of Sts. Peter and Paul were honored to receive the Holy Gifts form the hand of His Eminence.
The celebration then continued at the parish hall, where a lunch was prepared to honor the Second Day of Pascha. The sun was getting ready to go for a rest behind the tree spikes of the forest preserves as the parishioners and guests, wearied from all the excitement and joy, were leaving for home. It was truly a great day. The team of the seminarians along with His Eminence continued the Paschal journey by getting into the van, so they can stop at the hotel and rest for a bit, before the next stop - the celebration of the Third Day of Pascha at St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral Parish in Hammond, IN.