On Sunday, November 17, 2019 Very Rev. Fr. Petro Levko, pastor of St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Yardville, NJ and his Dobrodijka Maria Levko celebrated 40 years since they were wedded in the Mystery of the Holy Matrimony. The celebration of their 40th jubilee was extra special. Their children Very Rev. Vasyl Sendeha with PM Olenka and Very Rev. Michael Hontaruk with PM Anna along with the parishioners of St George’s parish prepared a surprise celebration.
Delicious dinner was prepared by the parish’s sisterhood of St. Olga. Friends and neighboring priests were invited. Everything was done in secret by the parishioners so it would be a complete surprise for their beloved priest and dobrodijka. They wanted to honor their Priest and Pani Dobrodijka on their anniversary in an extraordinary way and to show to them their appreciation for years of ministry. After all, in married Priesthood, both priest and his wife serve the needs of the parish family. Fr. Petro and his wife Maria truly have served the parish of St. George in the capacity of a father and mother of the parish for nearly twenty years now. They have been setting a great example for married couples to follow. No wonder why their parishioners wanted to honor them in a special way.
People were coming into the parish temple with smiles on their faces and bouquets of flowers in their hands.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel accompanied by Hieromonk Sophroniy, Deacon Sviatoslav Ghot, newly ordained Deacon Yurii Bobko and seven seminarians paid a surprise visit.
His Eminence just came back from the trip to the Holy Land, but found time in his very busy schedule to come and honor the anniversary couple. Archbishop Daniel along with clergy and seminarians were warmly welcomed by the parishioners of St. George’s parish family. Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was also extraordinary. Altar was filled with clergy and altar severs. Deacon Yurii Bobko was serving his very first Liturgy as he was just ordained to the holy diaconate the day before by His Eminence Daniel. Newly ordained Deacon Yurii along with his wife Olha were just starting their life journey by answering call to serve in the Holy priesthood. There was this feeling of uniqueness, realizing how the life of the Holy Church continues on in the service of the Holy Priesthood. As we were celebrating a milestone of a couple with years and years of service behind their back a other couple, practically newly wedded, were just beginning their service in God’s Holy vineyard.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Daniel called Fr. Petro and Pani Dobrodijka Maria upfront and has read special prayers of blessing their marriage union.
His Eminence Daniel, blessed and gave them a cup of wine to share which He obtained while visiting the Holy Land. Archbishop had an opportunity to receive this wine from monks in Cana of Galilee, place were Christ has performed His very first miracle while attending a wedding feast. Everyone present in Church with joy joined the choir in singing of “Many years.”
After greeting the anniversary couple in church, people entered parish hall to continue the celebration. Guests were welcomed to feast on a heavy-laden tables prepare with love by the sisterhood of St. Olga.
As Fr. Petro and Pani Maria were greeted by family members, parishioners and friends, it was evident that in their forty years of marriage, they as a couple have touched many people’s lives with their love and care. Even at the celebration of their anniversary they used a chance to honor, greet and share some words of wisdom with a young couple, newly ordained Deacon Yurii and his wife Olha. It was an amazing experience to share in the joy of parish family of St. George’s in Yardville as they have celebrated their Priest’s and Pani Dobrodijka’s 40th Wedding anniversary.
Photos by Subdeacon Yaroslav Bilohan and Seminarian Andrii Vatrych