2019 Clergy Conference of the UOC of the USA took place before the commencement of the XXIISobor of the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church (16-19 October, 2019) at the Spiritual Center of the Church in South Bound Brook, NJ.
As the morning rays of rising sun were gently gliding over the cross topping the main dome of St. Andrew’s Memorial church clergy often accompanied by their wives were arriving to the Metropolia center. The daylight just broke the darkness of night, but the Consistory of the Church was busy as a beehive with preparation for an important event in the life of the Holy Church.
The Conference started with Divine Liturgy led by His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Eparchial Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Church and President of the Consistory at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church. The epistle for the day was read from Ephesians 5:25-33. St. Paul in his letter was exhorting husbands to love their wives as their own bodies just like Christ loves the Church, which is His body. It seemed as God had arranged this epistle to be read at the beginning of the Clergy Conference to remind the married priests about the importance of their responsibilities to their families. Priests often ministering to the people under their care and fail to provide needed attention to their own families.
The Gospel for the day was read from Luke 6:46-7:1. Holy Evangelist was retelling Christ’s teaching in parable about the wise man who listens to God and builds his house on a solid foundation. His Eminence Archbishop Daniel preached about the importance of listening to God’s will and not being afraid to preach His saving Gospel to the world in our daily lives. His personal examples of God guiding Him through life and making him a vessel delivering light of Christ to those who were in a great need of it are always inspiring.
After delicious breakfast was served by Elite Catering, clergy gathered in a conference room for their first working meeting. His Eminence Metropilitan Antony, along with Archbishop Daniel, presided over the meeting. It’s an indescribable joy to be in the presence of brother clergy. It’s spiritually magnificent to share in the Holy Eucharist at one Holy Altar for those few days. It feels awesome to exchange pastoral experience with one another. Priests definitely need priests in their lives as His Eminence Metropilitan Antony has mentioned quite a few times during the conference. Working sessions turned to be very beneficial for our efforts to fulfill vocation to the Holy priesthood. Filled with encouragement, instructions and new ideas on how to live in Holy Priesthood every day of our lives.
At one of the last meeting session, the clergy had an opportunity to see the presentation of Mrs. Karen Ferraro, the president of the Sr. UOL, about the benefit of having the UOL chapter at the parish. Members of Ukrainian Orthodox League are indeed the working force in our parishes.
Towards the end of Clergy conference, clergy had an opportunity to learn about the endeavors of His Eminence Daniel as he worked tirelessly as exarch of Ecumenical Patriarchate at times putting his life on the line to unite the Church in Ukraine as well as to have the United church officially recognized and be granted the Tomos by Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. Clergy listened in awe as His Eminence shared with them in a brief speech how much work was put in to have the Church in Ukraine united and recognized by Ecumenical Patriarchate and now by other churches in the world. It was clear to everyone in the room that those were the events that changed history of Ukraine. There was no doubt that this became possible due to enormous efforts of His Eminence Daniel of the UOC of the USA and His Grace Bishop Ilarion of the UOCC. At the end of His Eminence’s speech everyone in the room stood to applaud his unforgettable and courageous work done in complete dedication to the Church of Christ and her life in Ukraine. His Eminence’s speech was a perfect way to end the Clergy Conference and with uplifting words of encouragement prepare clergy to start the 22nd Sobor of the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
Text by Fr. Vasyl Sendeha
Photos by Fr. Vasyl Pasakas and Elizabeth Symonenko