On April 12-13, 2018 His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, along with members of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA and representatives of the Ukrainian History and Education Center of NJ eagerly awaited to greet the guests that arrived from Ukraine: Mr. Borys Filatov, the Mayor of Dnipro (formerly Dnipropetrovsk), along with his entourage which included Oleksandr Sanzhara, Secretary to Dnipro City Council; Natalia Chernyshova, Head of Economic Development and Investments, Department of Dnipro City Council; and Volodymyr Panchenko, Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Commission on Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade of Dnipro City Council and the Director of Municipal Company “Dnipro Development Agency” of Dnipro City Council.
The Mayor of Dnipro – Mr. Borys Filatov, was in the U.S. on a State visit, and had requested to begin his journey at the Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Honoring his request, and with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Archbishop Daniel gladly took time to show the honored guests around the Consistory, sharing with them interesting historical facts about the Church and the faithful in the diaspora.
The formal visit began on Thursday evening with the informal welcome of the delegation at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary. The student body of the Seminary welcomed the visitors to the Seminary and treated everyone to an informal dinner. Vladyka Daniel assisted by Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas, Mrs. Natalia Honcharenko, Director of the Ukrainian history and Education Center of NJ, Dr. Michael Andrec, Archivist of the UOC of the USA and the HEC and Pani-Matka Oksana Pasakas, Librarian of St. Sophia Seminary Library joined the student body in extending formal welcome to the guests of the Spiritual Center-Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
On Friday morning, Archbishop Daniel, assisted by Mrs. Natalia Honcharenko, Rev. Fr. Vasyl Shakh and Ms. Elizabeth Symonenko, Secretary of the Consistory, led a tour of the entire Metropolia Center, which began in the Ukrainian Cultural Center, the lecture facility, Archives of the UOC of the USA, etc. Leaving the Cultural Center, the group walked across the field, and over the bridge, to view the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church. Before going in, everyone walked to the street to admire statue of Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Princess Olha, and then stopped at the National Ukrainian American Veteran’s Memorial, where everyone was amazed to see a hawk sitting atop the flag pole, watching them from above.
His Eminence next led the delegation inside the Memorial Church where he showed them various icons, explaining their history and symbolism. Climbing up to the choir loft the delegation was able to admire the mosaic of Christ, which towers over the sanctuary. Vladyka explained that the church was constructed as a memorial for the victims of Ukrainian Genocidal Holodomor, which is why it is called the “Memorial” church. Having prayed in the little side chapel, everyone walked back out in to the sunshine, stopping for a moment to admire the monument to Archbishop Vasyl Lypkivsky.
Mr. Filatov paused to lay flowers at the monument to the millions of women and children victims of the Holodomor, before continuing to the Holy Resurrection Mausoleum, and to the crypt of Patriarch Mstyslav. The mausoleum was a cool relief to the heat of the outdoors, and everyone relaxed as Vladyka Daniel shared more history with the guests.
Having toured the mausoleum, everyone followed Archbishop Daniel as he led them around various points of interest – the Fisher Family plot, as well as, burial spots of some of the previous hierarchs of the Church, graves of numerous Ukrainian soldiers and heroes, and several dignitaries’ final resting spots. Have prayed and laid flowers at the cemetery, the delegation wound its way back over the bridge to the Consistory Building, where they spent some quality time in the St. Sophia Seminary Library, and the Museum Exhibit on the “Metropolitans of the Church”. At this point the tour was joined by His Eminence Metropolitan Antony who eagerly greeted the group and showed them around the museum display.
At the Library, one of the visitors, Volodymyr Panchenko, gifted the Library a copy of his book on “Theory and Practice of Ukrainian Economic Nationalism.” Before moving on, everyone stopped to sign the guest book in the museum exhibit before exploring the rest of the Consistory Building. Having viewed the main office space, everyone settled down in the luxurious conference room to enjoy a homemade lunch of traditional Ukrainian fare. His Eminence Metropolitan Antony started off the lunch with a prayer, and then offered everyone an egg off a single plate, which is a Ukrainian tradition promoting unity and understanding.
The laughter echoed through the open window, as the light-hearted banter ensued. However, all too soon the party broke up, as the delegation still had many places to visit. Thanking His Eminence for the gift of books, calendars and other materials, everyone exchanged contact information and promised to stay in touch, in order to help Ukraine rebuild, re-energize and re-establish herself in the world. With final goodbyes, the entourage drove off, confident in the continued prayers of the UOC of the USA on behalf of the Ukrainian nation and her people.
Mayor of the City of Dnipro Visits the Metropolia Center - 04/18/18
Text and Photos by Elizabeth Symonenko
Additional Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan